February 27, 2020
Brixton Academy, LondonThey still do punk rock better than anyone, but the veteran US band have ably stepped into icy electronics, disco and offbeat pop
Sleater-Kinney review – versatile guitar heroes reach perfection
The creative reinvention Sleater-Kinney undertook when joining forces with producer Annie Clark (AKA high conceptualist St Vincent) for their ninth album, The Center Won’t Hold, came at a cost. Longstanding drummer Janet Weiss announced her exit last summer, saying: “The band is headed in a new direction and it is time for me to move on.” But while the album’s wonky electronics and darkly offbeat pop sensibility marked an emphatic shift from their original minimalist punk aesthetic, it is still unmistakably the work of Sleater-Kinney – as tonight’s show attests.
Their ranks expanded by new drummer Angie Boylan and multi-instrumentalists Katie Harkin and Toko Yasuda, the band draw much of their electricity from the tension between the icy electronic elements and the furious punk essence. The ominous simmer of the latest album’s title track opens with Corin Tucker ditching her guitar for an electronic drum, but it’s the mid-song lunge into Nirvana-esque thrash that is its genius stroke. The sleek disco throb of Hurry on Home is lent a delicious edge by Carrie Brownstein’s cool rasp and wild guitar heroics. Meanwhile, an encore of Broken, with Tucker singing “She stood up for us when she testified” over Brownstein’s synth, feels especially resonant the day after the Harvey Weinstein verdict.
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