Minor Victories - Magnet, Liverpool

by Steve Rhodes Rating: Release Date:

With a d├ęcor that time forgot, well at least since the 70s, the tiny Magnet venue in Liverpool hosts the indie supergroup that trumps all indie supergroups. After weeks of touring cavernous venues as main support for stadium behemoths Placebo, Minor Victories are in a relaxed, mischievous mood at their first headline show for some time, of their very short career, as they neatly demonstrate it's the first time they've been able to drink alcohol having had it banned backstage by their recent employer's puritan headliners.

With guitarist Justin Lockey absent this evening it is left to his brother James to deliver the (albeit tenuous) link to Editors, who along with a touring drummer and keyboardist, provide the solid, driving rhythm section. However it is the chemistry of the shimmering guitar-play of Mogwai's Stuart Braithwaite and Slowdive's Rachel Goswell's vocals (and occasional guitar) that provide the creative force of the band, with the two leads perfectly complementing and feeling completely comfortable with each other (as the whole band are), an issue which can often plague artists on a secondment from their usual day jobs.

The surging opener 'Give Up The Ghost' where we're treated to a rare, temporary co-vocal from Stuart, sets the scene for a performance full of swirling guitars, atmospheric keys, forceful bass and pounding drums, that effortlessly envelops the room and the immediately appreciative audience who nod politely to every beat. Though there are elements of each day-band that definitely stand out such as the speed of Editors' rhythm section and the reliance on effects pedals of Stuart from time to time, one aspect that focuses Minor Victories' uniqueness is the tone and clarity of Rachel's vocal, a good octave or two down from previous angelic form in Slowdive, but far more intelligible. Though still entrancing, it fits far better with the rest of the band, especially as Stuart regularly tones down his usual frenetic guitar-work, producing a more melodic and restrained output from his usual employment.

Rattling through their sole album, with 'Folk Arp', the deliriously dreamy 'Out To Sea' and the cinematic 'A Hundred Ropes' firm favourites with the crowd, it's 'Breaking My Light' that's the star of the show. Tender and emotional, especially with the gorgeous Les Revenants-style piano, and packing a huge atmospheric punch, it is a wonderful contradiction, mournful and uplifting, the absolute highlight of a terrific performance.

Though each member will go back to their day jobs, especially with new Slowdive and Mogwai albums in the offing in 2017, here's hoping there's still plenty of time for work to be carried forward with Minor Victories onto future tours and future releases as they are a joy to watch and listen to. They certainly hinted at it apologising for having no further songs and then replying to a witty call from the audience to 'write some more' promising to do so soon!

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