- Fort Baxter
The cultural and musical denizens of Liverpool have been looking on with tears in their eyes in recent years as many beloved hubs of creative activity have met their end. These venues are central to the city’s character, and losing them leaves a huge drought in our cultural reservoir.
There is a chance, however, that with the DIY optimism and persistence of teams that run places such as Maguire’s Pizza Bar, we will see a rebirth of musical subcultures in our fair city. This place has a distinctly organic atmosphere; it exudes true punk ethics with its individuality. Tonight, as the bar room fills by the minute, it is an exciting place to be.
As it turns out, this is a night of firsts for both acts on the bill. For opening act FORT BAXTER, this evening marks their first live show since they formed. The three women take a short while to tune and gather themselves before gingerly starting their set. The trio have a brand of melancholic, gloomy garage rock that sounds akin to the likes of Speedy Ortiz or Dinosaur Jr. While it’s clear to see that they’re nervous at first, they soon slip into a comfortable niche for the larger part of the set. It’s a convincing first show for them. Based on that performance, their future could hold a lot of promise.
Another first of the evening, for headliners SPARE SNARE, is that this is their first-ever show in Liverpool. This may be quite hard to believe, considering that they formed in 1992 and have been releasing music ever since, but Maguire’s is hosting them for the first time in our city. There is a heavy air of anticipation as they walk onto the stage to start their set.
Their energy and musicianship is unrelenting as lead singer Jan Burnett dances enigmatically throughout the set. The band have clearly maintained their youthful charisma despite their career approaching the 25-year mark. And, even despite their legacy perhaps demanding a larger venue, they’re somehow perfectly apt for this small room in the back of Maguire’s. It’s a DIY, lo-fi affair and this band lends itself to the small but intense environment.
The reference points vary from Document-era R.E.M. to Gang Of Four and Clinic as they plough through a whole host of songs such as Super Slinky, And Now It’s Over, We Are The Snare and Photograph Me Properly. It’s a truly varied set that spans their entire career up until this evening. There are some mixed reactions within the crowd at first, but before long the few indifferent faces adapt to join the rest of those that are smiling contentedly. The Snare have entered Liverpool with a bang.