Car Seat Headrest – Invisible Wind Factory, Liverpool – 19th May 2018

Secret Meeting score: 91

by Martin Ramsbottom

Crammed into the Invisible Wind Factory, an old warehouse on a forgotten part of Liverpool’s waterfront, there was clear anticipation from the crowd as the band launched into a brief groove before the wiry Will Toledo entered from stage-right to little fanfare, but a rapturous greeting. Opening with a cover of Talking Heads’ Crosseyed and Painless, Toledo was almost drowned out by the crowd repeating the words back to him as they moved to a worldbeat sound, replete with maracas and a cowbell that so punctuated Remain in Light.

The first live iteration of a track from their latest LP released on Matador, Twin Fantasy (Face to Face), was the instantly recognisible Bodys- a sure crowd pleaser but not delivered by a band going through the motions. Toledo seemed to draw energy from the wild crowd as beer flew through the air and sightlines became blocked by crowdsurfer after crowdsurfer, and it wasn’t missed by the band as “you guys are cool!” was called from the stage.

Other performances of tracks from the latest record, including Nervous Young Inhumans and Cute Thing, were all delivered with an intensity that is immediately convincing of the value that Toledo has put in this re-recorded material, and it was abundantly clear that the crowd have engaged with it wholeheartedly.

The highlights, however, were not necesarily with the new, but with the old. In particular, the modifications in the live versions of tracks from both Teens of Style and Teens of Denial. The triplicate of Maud Gone, Destroyed by Hippie Powers and Drunk Drivers/Killer Whales were anthemic and met by euphoric scenes from the Liverpudlian crowd, deceiving for an act still comparatively niche and confirming the brilliance of the tight collection of tracks that Toledo has stuck with for over a decade.

The final performance of the evening, the sprawling Beach Life-In-Death, was delivered with as much angst and conviction as on the record and a fitting way to end an incendiary evening. Over ten minutes of riotous cacophony, where a large section of the crowd had exited over the barriers and out the firedoors for no re-entry, the remainder of us filtered out through a sea of plastic cups and spilt drinks to reflect on a fantastic evening in the company of Toledo and co.

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