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:: Circus Girls ::
27 September 2006 / The Roadhouse / Manchester
By Ged Camera

When the Circus Girls played at Buxton last New Year, eyewitnesses swear it lasted 3 hours or so. Not that it felt like an agonising few hours, rather a long, enjoyable session...

So what will the band do tonight when they're sandwiched into a half hour slot between two other bands?. The trio (bass, vocals & guitar) move purposefully from the dressing room to the stage. Vocalist Alan Owens immediately generates intrigue & humour as he shouts “Look at me trainers man! Top gear! ”...

For those not familiar with the excellent Roadhouse venue, the speaker stack is lined up across the stage, forming a barrier between artist and audience, so the band are only visible from the knees up, on in the case of the diminutive Owens, his waist. The same mischievous humour surfaces regularly throughout the set (“Where
were we / all your lives”) and the sparsely attended gig has the fun factor feeling. There are no girls, not even those of a circus type. The
bassist Roger Lyons also sets the laptop running, the essential 4th member of the group. Lyons is also the regular programmer for New Order but never comes across as someone who gives less that 100% in anything he does. So his expertise is applied as skilfully to the Girls as anything else.

The initial style is a dark, taut pulsating bass beat, reminiscent of a very very angry Depeche Mode and then we go on a magical musical tour. The vibrancy pounds from the speakers, causing welcome distress to limbs that want to move, and the brain that’s trying to work out where that sample has come from, all held together by the gnarled vocals of Owens. Visually - according to one onlooker - he resembles the application of a bastard mutant gene from Mark E. Smith, combined in a lab with a strain of DNA from Vinny Reilly, whilst being exposed to a dose of Phil Oakey's biomatter - a comparison Owens would no doubt be proud off.

The laptop controls the pace of things, stopping Owens from grabbing a mid break ciggie, or a sip of his pint – after all they are only on for half an hour and we still have to move into the Motown style harmonies, glam rock and the in general their kitchen sink rock. Far from being rooted in the past, the band mutates their sounds into something valid for today. As Phil E Reilly, sorry Owens proclaims “Come and join us/Be part of the gang”...

pix with kind permission - (c) Ged Camera 2006

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