Barb Wire Dolls + Warhead @ Bannermans Bar, Edinburgh 24th May 2017
Last night I was at Bannerman’s Bar, a cosy/dingy, rock-orientated pub and music venue set in the underground vaults in Edinburgh’s Old Town. The support band of the evening was Warhead, a metal band from Bathgate. They were… OK. Nothing to really distinguish them from thousands of other metal bands in terms of either the music or their live presence. Even so, it was a shame to hear them announce that this was their last gig. They handed out some free t-shirts to the front rows before departing from the stage for the final time.
Greek/American headliners Barb Wire Dolls, on the other hand, felt spectacular in such a confined venue (as they arguably would in any size of venue). While vocalist Isis Queen and guitarist Pym Doll use their female sexuality freely and blatantly, it’s in such an aggressively confident and directed manner that it looks far less like desperate pandering than a flashy ploy to seduce and subvert the predominantly male rocker audience. They wear cherry red lipstick in the most defiant manner possible. They are akin to PINS in their ferocity and hearkening back to that fertile 80s/early 90s period of alternative rock, but with a vastly different demographic orientation.
Their attitude is unashamedly punk, the music a little bit Sex Pistols with some L7/Nirvana grunge and maybe a touch of The Cult thrown in, Isis Queen’s stage appearance similar to an amped-up Blondie. She knows how to engage and connect with the audience members by picking them out, pointing and singing directly at them in an unsullied yet seductive gesture of confrontation.
Their material (songs such as Heart Attack and Back in the U.S.S.A.) has a catchiness that lifts them above average, but the main thing here is the energy and fuck-you attitude that pours out of the band in buckets. They are what they are, if you don’t like them - tough shit. On the flip side they have such an undeniable sense of showmanship and joy in the slabs of gruff mayhem they serve up that the prospect of not liking them is a mightily difficult one to grasp.