Remember 2006? The Arctic Monkeys had the music world in a frenzy, Kasabian were the kings of the football fans, The Strokes spoke to the arty crowd and The Libertines had us all wanting to be rock stars. This reviewer was 17 and, along with my college mates, at the start of my journey into proper gigging and indie clubnights. It was over a decade ago now; our lives are so different, but music still excites us, unites us and inspires us. With so many bands cashing in on this nostalgia with ‘Ten Year Anniversary’ tours of their mid-noughties albums (The Cribs, The Enemy and The View, to name just a few); is there a band around that can bring together my crowd, with the newer music fan? Dirty Circus could be just the group to take on that challenge. They’re a no-nonsense, rock and roll band with a hard core, old school following, brimming with gigging experience but also with new ideas and a freshness to their sound to back it up.
Hailing from Wigan and Leigh, they first catapulted to the top of the North West music scene in 2005; becoming notorious for energy packed raucous live performances and winning an army of devoted fans, known as the DC Elite, giving the band football terrace style support. With an impressive CV including a label deal with Columbia Records, work with Hacienda Legend Mike Pickering, a tour support slot to Madchester royalty Happy Mondays, and a very special appearance at Glastonbury Festival, they’re back for round 2 and seem to have something of a point to prove.
I was lucky enough to catch a few of their legendary gigs first time round, and their big comeback gig back in April last year, so anticipated that Friday was going to be a cracker. However, I knew that this review could not be simply a recommendation based on my own, possibly rose-tinted gig memories, and so I wanted to try and take a step back and appreciate the ‘Circus, as if experiencing them for the first time. I was glad that I did. The venue was The Old Courts; a not for profit building doing great things within the local arts scene. We made our way round to the Bailiff’s Bar, after accidently wandering into a pretty laid back acoustic night in another part of the building first. This underground intimate part of the building seemed much more what we expected, and the ramshackle guitars of opening act Ravellas invited us in to the dancing crowd. These lads have a refreshingly determined attitude and are creating definite waves up north. They received a great reaction; I asked around and they seemed to have already made some new fans tonight. Check out their facebook page for their latest videos, upcoming gig news and a truly brilliant festive ode to ‘pigs in blankets’.
Just after 10pm, Dirty Circus took to the stage. The audience, made up of both new and old fans, almost seemed to ‘take their places’ on the dancefloor. As they launched into their first song ‘Jobseekers Allowance’, the crowd seemed slow to get involved. However as the second song rolled in, the place began to bounce as we all got on board. The singer, Christopher Binns, clearly buzzes off the audience reaction, and he was soon swaggering round the stage; singing and performing with the fans rather than at them; a great frontman quality. Much of their set is feverish, and deafening led by their talented bassist (Jon) and fast paced drummer (Whittle); but there are stripped back moments that give the hypnotic sound of Ste’s lead guitar time to shine. Binnsy’s gravelly vocals are Shaun Ryder-esque which, along with the uproarious uplifting atmosphere, adds to a definite Black Grape vibe. New songs are greeted with the same warmth as old tunes; the crowd bouncing and nodding along throughout the entire set. By the time fan favourite ‘Sweet Taste of Money’ kicked in, both the band and audience were whipped up into a sweaty and chaotic frenzy. A few songs later, the ringmaster’s job here is done. The crowd were left wanting more, and the party atmosphere carried on into the night.
Dirty Circus are entering into a new chapter; with a rumoured EP in the working, and more live dates being added by the day. They are dripping in self-belief, and you can see why. They have a ‘take us as we are’, in your face attitude and know they’ve got the music to prove themselves worthy. The ‘Circus could be coming to a town near you, so if you can get down to a gig, I recommend it.. They play Night & Day Café on 23rd Feb, and Bar Quaye in Leigh on the 3rd March. See you ringside.