U.S Girls – Soup Kitchen, Manchester – 18th May 2018

Secret Meeting score: 75

by Philip Moss

Having just released her most focused LP to date, 4AD artist, Meg Remy aka U.S Girls, kicked off her set with In a Poem Unlimited opener, Velvet 4 Sale – turning her back on the clean, heavily produced pop sound, and instead ventured in the direction of plastic jazz. Slower, the six piece band placed more emphasis on its considered groove and her voice which was transformed- showing a more side than what’s encountered on record.

Manchester’s dive bar basement in the Soup Kitchen was then transformed into a deleted Lynchian dream scene from Mulholland Drive, as Rage of Plastic’s keyboard stabs underpinned Remy’s sultry tones. Before, again, it drifted into an extended middle eight arrangement that fluttered into a jazz wig out- bringing to mind Badbadnotgood, topped with carefully constructed vocal melodies.

The ABBAisms of M.A.H are exaggerated even more in the live setting as shuffling, groove laden drums allow wah wah guitars to create a disco stomp. Remy shared lead vocals with her co-frontwoman, Murielle Victorine Scherre, and throughout they anchored the stage. At times, they doubled up front and centre, while at others they straddled the edges, but never losing your gaze or attention- particularly Remy who fluttered between an array of eccentric, mime-like, mannerisms and seductive posturings: reminiscent at times of her label mate, Aldous Harding.

Despite leaning heavily on her new record, there were glimpses of her earlier ‘noise collage’, sample heavy albums which acted as segue between songs, and Half Free highlight, Sororal Feeling, again is more considered as it feels like it’s played in quicksand. Every syllabic nuance of the beautifully constructed vocal melody is over exaggerated.

Pearly Gates most closely resembled its recorded counterpart, and received the best response of the night – its Kylie-a-like pop traits evoked a sea of movement in the Manchester crowd, led once again by the charismatic Remy, before she closed the set with a wild version of In a Poem Unlimited’s final song, Time – with its refrained closing mantra of ‘Be yourself, don’t be anyone else.’ A piece of advice the charismatic, quirky Remy has clearly adopted into her life.

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