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Live review: Thee Oh Sees @ Nottingham Rock City (16/05/2017)

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San Fran garage-rockers Thee Oh Sees have gone through many line-ups and monikers over a 17 year old history but have always stuck to one thing – raucous, primal, enthralling garage rock.

Thee Oh SeesTheir latest set at Nottingham’s Rock City displayed a band that to this day performs with no pretence, no pretentiousness and no fucks given.

The current configuration - two drummers, one bassist and long-time leader John Dwyer turned up on stage to test their own equipment, no roadcrew in sight. A brief flash of the riff from ‘Interstellar Overdrive’ by Pink Floyd, a clatter of drums and the band were off immediately hitting their stride and never relenting.

As always it was Dwyer, guitar played just below his chin, that was the centre of attention and orchestrated the garage punk onslaught from the left of the stage, the rest of the band lined up continuing to the right.

Few front-men play with such skill but also such wild abandon, as if possessed by the ghosts of garage rock past. Losing the keyboard player from the pre-2013 split Dwyer now comes with a range of gadgets to add the lines of keys and other effects to tunes during and between each number.

Dwyer writhed and flailed through a near-flawless set that took in classic garage-rock grooves, psych freak-outs and acid jams.

Sure, this is rock music that pushes little in the way of boundaries but perfectly distils the pure essence of the very best of rock n roll.

The majority of the set was comprised of material from wonderful new records Weird Exits and Odd Entrances but it was still older offerings that pack the real punch like the woozy version of ‘The Dream’, the frantic ‘I Came From the Mountain’ and the soaring psych-punk of ‘Toe Cutter/Thumb Buster’.

The band give their all to every note, the set drips from every surface and ears ring but everyone leaves knowing they have again seen one of the best live rock bands on the planet.

Thee Oh Sees never change, but when they are this good, why would we want them too?

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