Dry Cleaning review: One of the freshest and most interesting bands around

Dry Cleaning play Norwich Arts Centre.

Dry Cleaning play Norwich Arts Centre. - Credit: Casey Cooper-Fiske

Anticipation hangs in the air at Norwich Arts Centre as a sell-out crowd awaits the arrival of one of the most hyped new bands of the year, Dry Cleaning.

Their unique sound, which sees spoken word vocals collide with buzzsaw post-punk riffs, has pushed the band's debut album New Long Leg to the top of the end of year 'best of' lists, including being named Rough Trade Album of the Year just weeks before their arrival in Norwich.

Dry Cleaning play Norwich Arts Centre.

Dry Cleaning play Norwich Arts Centre. - Credit: Casey Cooper-Fiske

On stage the group presents a much heavier version of their sound than on record, with guitarist Tom Dowse hurling his guitar around Pete Townshend-style, as singer Florence Shaw gives a deadpan delivery, with chaos ensuing around her.

This unlikely combination makes the band one of the freshest and most interesting bands around, with the clash between music and words creating a dream-like feel.

Dry Cleaning play Norwich Arts Centre.

Dry Cleaning play Norwich Arts Centre. - Credit: Casey Cooper-Fiske

Opener 'Sit Down Meal' with its creeping drum beat, provides the perfect slow burn start as it is gradually devoured by spiky squealing guitar, while album highlights 'New Long Leg' and 'Scratchcard Lanyard' get the crowd moving as the night goes on.

As the end approaches, the band's ode to Meghan Markle, 'Magic of Meghan', seems particularly poignant on the day the Duchess of Sussex finally won her court case against the Mail on Sunday, with the song's lyrics picking apart the misogyny and racism she suffered since marrying into the royal family.

Another set highlight is 'Unsmart Lady', which sees guitarist Dowse unleashed to send wailing guitar sounds thundering around the room while Shaw declares "don't cry, just drive".

Dry Cleaning play Norwich Arts Centre.

Dry Cleaning play Norwich Arts Centre. - Credit: Casey Cooper-Fiske

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Shaw's abstract and sometimes cynical spoken word lyrics have an essence of the razor-sharp tongue of The Fall's Mark E Smith, while the music swirling around them is gritty and grinding, sometimes building to a more bouncy and direct sound with a pounding bassline.

Live, the mix between Shaw's slow delivery and the band's often high tempo rock 'n' roll, disorientates the audience in an enjoyable way which sees vocals and instruments fading in and out of focus.

Dry Cleaning play Norwich Arts Centre.

Dry Cleaning play Norwich Arts Centre. - Credit: Casey Cooper-Fiske

This effect gives the impression no two Dry Cleaning gigs will be the same due to the audience's shifting focus meaning each person's experience will feel different, ensuring fans will be eagerly awaiting their second visit to the fine city.




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