In 2002, Rough Trade released the compilation Rock And Roll 1, a collection of cuts which represented the lineage of garage rock from MC5 through The Stooges to the torch carriers of the moment, The Kills and The Von Bondies. Liverpool was ably represented by the wonderful Clinic. It illustrates a genre of music which has remained primal, primitive but always immediately engaging and affecting, representing the frustrations, hopes and an explosive outlet for multiple generations. One of the artists on stage tonight had a leading role in at least two of the tracks on this album, is doubtless on drinking terms with half a dozen more of the Detroit-based gangs, and is rightly regarded as a cornerstone of the movement.
Mick Collins formed THE GORIES in 1986, before establishing The Dirtbombs and getting involved in various other bands from his home city’s unparalleled garage rock scene. I’m guessing the members of OHMNS were born some 10 years later to a world which had mutated garage rock into grunge before it returned to its intended form at the time of Rock And Roll 1’s release.
The many bodies in The Magnet have tonight’s support act to thank for re-energising the love for Collins’ crew in these parts. For a band that play more than their fair share of gigs across Liverpool’s live venues, in various running order positions, this one is the perfect opportunity to take their ramshackle charm and channel it into a performance which everyone who has seen them know they are capable of.
It’s a focused set. Harder-edged, the foursome dig deep and deliver what is the best set we’ve witnessed from the band. Drummer Kingy’s patter is still present but without pulling focus from Ohmns’ incredible ability to produce hook-laden rock pile drivers. It’s mostly new material tonight and could signal the band hitting the next level.
The three legends take to the stage and ensure the sound tech is representing them correctly. “Welcome to The Gories’ sound check,” quips guitarist Dan Kroha. The Gories on record may be all raw power and little varnish, but they obviously care about the sound they are emitting. A sound that is pure Detroit: the howling vocals and squawling, fat guitar licks fit perfectly in the Magnet’s jazz basement aesthetic and the front rows become increasingly animated and considerably sweatier as the night unfolds.
Vocal duties are swapped between both frontmen, and Peggy O’Neil keeps the primal drums thumping. Their decades-spanning back catalogue is ably represented with a few amped-up blues covers thrown in for good measure. View From Here, the track from the Rough Trade compilation, is even more potent and urgent than the recorded version. For a band who have earned such status there are no airs and graces, they plough through their set with workman-like ferocity and the crowd respond knowing they are witnessing a special gig. The front row is made up of members of Ohmns as well as other Liverpudlian garage heads, doubtlessly photosynthesising the blues rock energy.
The band finish on the classic Nitroglycerine, a song that embodies The Gories’ potency and vindicates their standing as leaders of the genre. This gig has also done just the same.