For a band organising a tour without management or agents, the Lovely Eggs seem to have amassed an impressive cult following – with fans including Iggy Pop, who provided vocals for their most recent single, “I, moron” as well as providing a reminder that he is still in fact alive. Passing the vocalist Holly Ross and her husband, drummer David Blackwell outside, I find they are sincerely engrossed in conversation with some eager fans, and as I enter the basement of Stereo I hold high expectations for an intense and energetic performance from the psychedelic rockers, given that videos taken from the previous night involved an army of topless middle-aged crowd surfers (which seems to be a recurring pattern at Lovely eggs concerts) – I am both disappointed and somewhat relieved to report that the crowd surfers were absent on this occasion.
It was evidently a night for quirky and unconventional performers, as the stage was warmed up by the eccentrically dressed electro punk duo Arch Femmesis, entrancing the audience with their mesmerising pounding rhythms and sensual lyricism. This was followed by the acerbic poetry of Thick Richard, who ignited the room into fits of laughter with his scathing cynicism and candid confessions of forgetting his lines.
Walking onstage to a now heaving crowd, many of whom have patiently waited two years for this exact moment, The Lovely Eggs set forth their outlandish essence before they even begin playing as they strut on stage to the tune of Chopsticks. The no-frills duo need no warming up nor introduction as they pick up their instruments and immediately launch into the hard-edged riff of Witchcraft, from their album This is Eggland.
At first the audience seems tentative and reserved. Perhaps merely out of practice after two years of a stagnant live music scene, they nonetheless struggle to mirror the zest of the band as they kick into songs from their most recent album, “I Am Moron”, with lyrics teetering on the edge of absurdism; “I wanna thousand freaks to tell me that flat earth is real,” Ross chirps, pandering to wackiness in a way that can feel a bit too obvious at times.
It appears I’m not the only one with high expectations for the evening as Holly, clearly dissatisfied by a seemingly timid audience (at least by punk standards), interrupts the performance to reprimand us on our concert etiquette, protesting the folded arms of the unenthusiastic observers and inviting the more energetic attendees to the front. Feeling like I’ve just been told off by my mum, I notice this lecture has undeniably caused a perceptible resurgence of the crowd which now stutters to life – on a personal note, it also freed me from my position stuck behind an obnoxiously positioned pole (seriously Stereo, sort it out!).
The band serenades us with the charming and stripped down “Fuck It” which despite being the slowest song on the set, does little to curb the crescendo of enthusiasm brewing among the crowd. If there’s one thing the Lovely Eggs enjoy it’s a good mantra and the crowd is swept into a surprisingly cathartic choir of “fuck its”.
If one thing is certain, it’s that Ross’ fiery spirit hasn’t been doused since her days in riot grrrl band Angelica. Her energy is infectious and at points she synchronises her animated headbanging with an eager crowd. The surrealist lyrics are charmingly delivered by an unapologetically thick and strangely comforting Lancaster accent, as are her witticisms and anecdotes interspersed between songs, which are so unaffectedly affable that it feels as though an old friend is chatting to me. A heartfelt moment in which Holly invites us to raise a toast in memory of a deceased fan really emphasises their sincere and valued connection with their fans.
My view consists of a sea of grey haired or balding heads ardently bobbing up and down, belonging to like-minded punk rockers with an insatiable hunger for noise, not stifled by the years behind them. The carefree attitude of the band is perfectly summarised by Holly who says, “Life is full of wrong notes… and sometimes you just have to play ‘em”. If wrong notes were played, everyone was having too much of a blast to notice. The concert comes to climactic ending with “Return of Witchcraft”, boasting a faster tempo than its recording which gathers the crowd into a manic flurry of flying limbs and and sees Ross completely let loose, bouncing across the stage with an alacrity scarcely seen by artists half her age, and viciously strumming her guitar above her head. As I receive my fair share of leather clad elbows to the face, I come to the realisation that whoever says punk is dead has clearly never been to a Lovely Eggs concert.
Leaving the venue, I find myself still under hypnosis, absentmindedly muttering the words to “You Can Go Now”. If I’ve learned anything it’s that the Lovely Eggs know how to create a good ear worm; if you didn’t know the songs before the gig, you can be assured you’ll be humming them the whole way to the chippy afterwards.