Howling Bells Live Liverpool 16.03.2009

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“Cities Burning Down” ( Disco Bloodbath Effect Remix) By Howling Bells

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There are some bands I seemed almost preordained never to see, on two previous occasions I have held in my grubby little hands, tickets to see Howling Bells, and on both instances I have been cruelly thwarted by the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, oh and the missus.  Finally a gig at Liverpool’s 02 Academy would, I hoped, prove to be third time lucky in my quest to finally catch this fabulous band live.

My sense of anticipation began to reach feverish new heights when I received a text from a friend who was in the throes of a condition known as ” post Howling Bells gig euphoria” following their performance in Sheffield .  “Nights like this make me think I could probably survive if the only band in the world was Howling Bells …Mind you The Joy Formidable was pretty …well…formidable…Monday should rock your world” it read.  And do you know what? He was right, it did!

The Joy Formidable

Unbelievably  I had finally made it to a Howling Bells gig and it kicked off in fine style with an awesome display of sonic beauty from The Joy Formidable who produced an incredible live set, full of passion, power and raw energy, that may have had some wondering how it could be possibly topped.  The response was universally positive amongst the audience, which included an eclectic mix of students, Goths, and stately gentleman like my good self,  as many beat a hasty path to the merchandise stall to snap up copies of The Joy Formidable’s marvelous mini album, “A Balloon Called Moaning” .  The fact that I had already downloaded the album as a freebie, didn’t really come into play, as when something sounds this good you just have to own it!


After four years waiting and spending the preceding days avoiding walking under ladders, ensuring I didn’t tread on the  cracks in between paving stones  and surviving Friday the 13th  unscathed, the moment was nigh and Howling Bells took to the stage. Simply put, they gave a quite magnificent, spellbinding, performance which exceeded my already high expectations and will live long in the memory.  Juanita was the perfect front person, prowling the stage, exuding a cool charisma whilst prompting and cajoling  the typically reticent Liverpool audience to participate; at one point she climbed over juanita 4the barrier to join the crowd herself.  She proved that she truly is one of the great female performers amongst her peers , and should anybody tell you differently they are obviously an oaf, a buffoon or possibly descended from this fine fellow here… The band effortlessly switched between the synth driven, futuristic soundscapes of their recent epic album “Radio Wars” to the windswept goth-country of their much loved debut with consummate ease and provided a solid  innovative and exciting backdrop for Juanita’s voice to weave its subtle magic. And what a voice! At times recalling the bruised vulnerability of Harriet Wheeler from The Sundays, or the languid nonchalance of Mazzy Star’s Hope Sandoval, whilst at other points fueled by PJ Harvey-esque bursts of passion, it never fails to be anything other than mesmerising. It really is like swimming in a lake of black honey. The evenings highlights included “Treasure Hunt“, “Broken Bones”, “Digital Hearts”, a spanking version of “Low Happening” plus an impromptu guitar solo in the middle of “Into the Chaos”.


Alas all good things come to an end and all too quickly the evening was drawn to a close with a suitably breathtaking version of  “Cities Burning Down”.  It’s nights like these that just reinforce how great live music can be and I have now discovered that post Howling Bells gig euphoria is a feeling that is rarely bettered! I hope I don’t have to wait another four years to see them again!  They are one band I’d certainly  now travel any distance to catch live!

Verdict: A Triumph!!!

“Golden Web” And “Cities Burning Down” By Howling Bells-Live Liverpool 16/03/2009


“Low Happening” And “Digital Hearts “ By Howling Bells-Live Liverpool16/03/2009


Thanks to hotdogboy23

“The Greatest Light Is The Greatest Shade” By The Joy Formidable- Live Liverpool 16-03-09


Ritzy pip
Vp and The Joy Formidable's Ritzy Bryan


Howling Bells Buy “Radio Warshere or download here
The Joy Formidable Buy “A Balloon Called Moaning” her

Interview with Juanita here

Album review here


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0 thoughts on “Howling Bells Live Liverpool 16.03.2009”

  1. I was in attendance and saw your impressive Howling Bells T-Shirt also. Yes Liverpool audiences do normally sit back a little, but Juanita and the boys certainly whipped them into shape. Another great Howling Bells night. Pity you missed ’em the last few times mate

  2. Nice to read a review that doesnt say “Juanita’s hot” or “Nice legs” but one that appreciates the bands fantastic music

  3. I thought the whole evening was fantastic. I enjoyed the howling Bells but i thought The Joy fomidable were equally as impressive. I agree the crowd was quiet but it was a Monday night if it had a Friday it would have been bouncing.

    • The crowd were quiet but they did warm up after a while. Mind I treat every gig I go to like its a Friday night myself 😉 – its never pretty the next day! Yeah both bands were incredible. I missed the first support alas

  4. I missed the first support act too, but yup you summed up the night it was a triumph. I hope people ignore some of the negative reviews for “Radio Wars” as it seems many reviewers had made their minds up. Howling Bells tried to develop their sound, and the reviewers sulked ! Some reviewers are idiots. Nice article

  5. Reading this makes me more upset that I couldn’t go Blast It ! Sounds fab. yes I’m jealous

    COMEBACK SOON JUANITA AND THE BOYS. Liverpool loves you !

  6. I like the reviews and articles here, mainly because the author (s) are obvioulsy such music fans and the wallpapers are impressive. An additional bonus is the regular coverage of Howling Bells. They are one of the finest bands on earth, and Im glad you got to see them finally.

  7. Hi there – I was also in Liverpool, up front to your left, you can just about see the top of my head in one of your videos. We were drawn there to see Joy Formidable who I’ve seen a few times, so I was a newbie to Howling Bells. They were pretty damn good, I now understand the love they get shown. Both HB and TJF were on top top form, fantastic. The first band up, Chew Lips, were pretty good as well. Their singer started off by saying it was the emptiest room they had ever played to and she actually did a pretty decent job of getting the crowd warmed up a bit. The singer, Tigs, climbed right over the barrier and came out walkabout in the crowd, which was pretty neat, especially when she found that getting back was not so easy. Nice crowd there as well, friendly vibe all round

    • Hello
      About what The Chew Lips, said a lot of bands say that Liverpool doesn’t draw the biggest of crowds, which is a shame given the musical heritage. But it was a Monday night I suppose …The Academy 2 is my favourite venue though, small enough to be intimate but big enough not feel claustrophobic. Was a good atmosphere, and a good mix of people

      Great performance by both bands, pity we missed the first band

      • We saw Joy Formidable at the Magnet in Liverpool a few weeks ago. Again mid-week and again a small but enthusiastic crowd. I think the mid week has more to do with it AND Howling Bells had played in Manchester the night before. I think that might have more to do with, viz Animal Collective NOT playing in Manchester, hence the Liverpool gig having to get upsized. Excellent blog BTW, we have a lot of common musical taste and you have turned me on to some new stuff like Vote Show Pony. A couple of pics of Howling Bells in my own much smaller blog, link in signature. Cheers

        • Thanks!

          Yeah bands tend to prefer to do Manchester and mop up the Northwest crowd or vice-versa. The Howling Bells were based here for 3 months when recording their debut and always try and include the city on their tours which is nice.

          Damn TJF played the Magnet ! Wished I had of spotted that! We put a few bands on in there last year , but didnt really pull a crowd !

          Nice pics there mate


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