It almost feels like stalking. I’ve certainly followed Steven Ansell and Laura-Mary Carter around over the years. From that captivating moment when I first heard Getting Boring By The Sea some fifteen years ago I was smitten by their edgy, wall of sound and the inventive spark between them. There was the Blood Red Shoes ULU gig in London when Steven launched himself over his drumkit and a major stage invasion followed. That time when they were having a backstage tiff whilst swigging champagne from the bottle at the Offset Festival and their scorching hot set at the Electric Gardens festival in Kent too. Oh yeah, and when my partner and I even travelled to Berlin to see them support Maximo Park – then headline local venue the Bang Bang Club where we were so enthusiastic the locals wondered if we were the parents of Steven or Laura!
Appearances at Truck Festival and Latitude Festival were lapped up to as well as many London headline gigs. Their set at the fantastic Cro Cro Land bash in Croydon was phenomenal too. So often have I stood by the monitors I’m wondering if Blood Red Shoes may actually be responsible for some of my gig induced hearing loss. Hell even on a holiday walk to Hove we saw Laura-Mary and Steven in a cafe in Brighton. Hmmm so yes, it feels like stalking!
So here I go again – older, not wiser – with Steven and Laura-Mary this time making their hefty noise at The Garage. Kicking off with the heavy, pounding Elijah with Laura-Mary sonorously cutting through the thickening Highbury air. Another Get Tragic album track follows with Steven taking lead vocals and bashing his drums ferociously on Bangsar. Laura-Mary passes through a Goldfrapp haze on the more electro and less frenetic Morbid Fascination – taken from the most recent Ghosts On Tape album. She has rarely sounded so sinister and beguiling.
Unlike the steamy, sweaty venue, Blood Red Shoes are just warming up really. Classic tracks follow with the utter perfection that is Getting Boring By The Sea then Don’t Ask featuring the trademark Steven/Laura-Mary vocal interplay and an unrelenting beat – almost making me wish I’d actually broken the wax seal on my limited edition vinyl Fire Like This album….almost, but of course I never will!
Steven announces “London – are you awake now!?”. We’ve been wide awake since you raised your first drumstick to the air, mate.
The grungier stuff is always welcome and Laura-Mary takes the lead on the magnificent This Is Not For You. Steven points his drumsticks to the roof yet again and sings “are you listening, are you watching now?” and Laura-Mary moves around with her usual grace and steely coyness. They really are a powerful duo but on this “tour of a gig” as Steven jokingly refers to it, they have expanded their line-up. As if their sound could be more full on!
More recent tracks like On The Hook from 2021 sees Steven going all Iggy Pop to a psyched out industrial rock backdrop. It’s a breeze compared to the ninety second sonic attack of Je Me Perds – a mosh-tastic assault with Steven and Laura-Mary at their most shoutiest!
An Animal is proof that there’s more to Blood Red Shoes than pounding noisy rock though. It’s a delicious garage rock affair with gorgeous blues-rocking guitar. Black Distractions is even more bluesy and closer to White Stripes than grunge.
Laura-Mary still looks as composed as ever but Steven is properly sweating now and The Garage air could combust at any moment. Steven draws a breath and laments how they normally tour in the winter rather than the heavy heat of the summer. Back in 2008 their gigs had fans on the stage, in 2022 Steven would welcome just a fan to keep him cool!
So they try to cool the mood with their latest gothic chiller Murder Me with a frightfully good Laura-Mary singing “I know what you want, I know what you fear. I’ve been watching you…”. Its a Highbury horror and the front row just check that it really is red wine Laura-Mary is swigging! She’s back and smouldering on Eye To Eye before another choice track from the latest BRS album – the dark new wave vibe of Sucker.
Before everyone melts and Steven passes out with exhaustion there’s time to send another Ghosts On Tape song – I’m Not You – into the North London night. Steven climbs on to his drum kit to survey the scene and a job well done. There’s time too for me to grab another set-list for the collection…it almost feels like stalking.