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DUM DUM GIRLS @ THE DEAF INSTITUE, MANCHESTER 31/03/11 – REVIEW BY PHIL KING

Occasionally a group comes along that manages to strike a perfect balance between image and musical ability. Obviously it’s a difficult trick to pull off and history is littered with bands that have got it wrong, but, if it’s done right, then the result can be particularly stunning. The Dum Dum Girls are such a group, one whose identity perfectly parcels the music they make.

Tonight the Dum Dums play the Deaf Institute which is possibly one of Manchester’s coolest venues and a perfect setting for these four young female rockers.  As expected the placed is packed and there’s and expectant buzz in the air as everyone waits for the band to take the stage and play.  You don’t have to look hard to see that tonight’s crowd is mainly composed of men of all ages and there are very few women in attendance.  Why this should be I’m not completely sure because when the Dum Dums contemporaries like the Vivian Girls or Warpaint recently played the Deaf Institute there was a good mix of genders that came to see them.  But tonight it mainly men and there’s a clamour around the stage when the band eventually spark the evening into life.  Looking fabulous in elegant black dresses and their trademark patterned tights, Dee Dee, Jules, Bambi and Sandy race through the urgent ‘He Gets Me High’ from their new EP.

From the off it’s one of the most unusual light shows I’ve seen at the Deaf Institute in that the band have decided that a single red bulb is all that’s required to illuminate their performance, while the audience supply a constant barrage of camera flash.  At times it quite disorientating and at one point bass player Sandy takes the opportunity to tell everyone that it’s like being subjected to a psychedelic light show, which is an apt description, but does nothing to stem the waterfall of white light.

Choosing to serve up a mixture of new songs and selected tracks from their Sub Pop CD, ‘I Will Be’, the girls charge breathlessly through each selection with military precision. Drummer Bambi strikes her snare with unfiltered aggression and keeps Dee Dee’s and Jules’ inventive guitar lines tethered firmly to the beat.  Each gem has dark undercurrents, which, with the help of Dee Dee’s articulate vocals, render these sparkling pop tunes a little off-kilter. There’s a subtle intelligence at work and though each song is stylistically similar to each other, the band give each song enough character to make it special. Though each girl in the band has her own abundant charms, its lead Dum Dum Dee Dee who is the main focal point, and she holds the eye with some smooth dance moves while she drives the songs on with her lissom singing.

The girls finish their set with album highlight ‘Rest of Our Lives’, then return briefly to play a lovely version of the Smiths classic ‘There Is a Light That Never Goes Out’ a light which is obviously attached to the cameras that are still flashing away until end of the song.  And with that the girls are gone, returning only to pose for photographs with their fans and sign their names on the merchandise. 

As I said when I began this review, there are few outfits working today whose image and music are perfectly suited.The Dum Dum Girls are one of them and on this showing they’re certainly poised for greatness.

(Couldn't resist posting this great cover 'There Is A Light That Never Goes Out' by Morrissey, although filmed in Berlin)

Setlist:

He Gets Me High
Hey Sis           
Catholicked
I Will Be
Bhang Bhang, I'm a Burnout
Take Care of My Baby
Jail La La
It Only Takes One Night
Wrong Feels Right
Teardrops on My Pillow
Everybody's Out
Lavender Haze
Rest of Our Lives
Encore:
There Is a Light That Never Goes Out

Review & photos by Phil