The Julie Ruin Live at Manchester Gorilla 4th December 2016

Photo by Jack Kirwin -JK Photography-

My drummer Putz and I arrive at the venue and ask security for the tour bus. We want to give the bus driver the letter I have written to Kathleen Hanna. The bus is by the hotel we are told, so we decide to try our luck getting the letter to Kathleen inside the venue. We are standing outside as Putz finishes her cigarette as this goth couple with pigtails turn up asking if anyone is selling tickets to this sold out Julie Ruin show. No one is. My hair is in pigtails too, which may become more relevant later…

We enter the building and go up into the venue. The back room of the

Photo by Jack Kirwin -JK Photography-

Gorilla is packed to the rafters with people. We’ve missed the support acts due to our train. I ask a guy in the crowd who they were. “Rattle” he says. They were a duo facing each other on drumkits apparently. He enthuses about them and I make a mental note to check them out.

 

The couple with the pigtails come and stand by us and are joined by another friend in pigtails. We all have them. They are friendly and loud. I go to the barrier at the front and pass the letter for Kathleen Hanna to the soundman to pass to their guitar tech, who will “try to pass it on.” I’m

Photo by Jack Kirwin -JK Photography-

given no promises, but I am thrilled. I hope she reads it. I once tried the same thing with Courtney Barnett,  resulting in meeting her in Liverpool.

We are not waiting long when the Julie Ruin take to the stage, the legendary Kathleen Hanna in a dazzling silver sequined prom dress that catches the light. They launch into ‘I Decide’ and Kathleen cries out in her babydoll shouting singing voice as she animatedly moves around the centre of the stage. The audience is in the palm of her hand, clapping appreciatively and hanging on her every word… except that is, for the three with the pigtails who are loudly talking to the displeasure of Kathleen who attempts to reprimand them from the stage. They don’t notice and continue.

Before launching into ‘Time Is Up’ Kathleen Hanna gives a speech about how you don’t have to be fifteen to be in a band. She dedicates the song to people “in our age range- the 40-50 year olds” and compliments the audience on being a nice mix of ages. The gig is age 14 plus. In fact the whole set is peppered with stories and speeches about Hanna’s experiences growing up with an alcoholic father and psychiatric nurse mother, who was in denial about the family’s reality. She tells a touching story about how her mother created a Suggestion Box- something that was like trying to optimistically put a bandaid on a gaping wound of dysfunction. The pigtails crew talk loudly over it. Kathleen is pissed

Photo by Jack Kirwin -JK Photography-

off about that. “I don’t mind if you want to talk, but not when I am talking about my abuse.”

 

The set continues with a genius cover of Courtney Barnett’s ‘Pedestrian At Best’ which gets the place bouncing. They don’t play my favourite songs from previous releases, instead focusing more on playing tracks from their latest album entitled Hit Reset.

photo by Hannah Golightly

At one point Kathleen Hanna holds up a copy of a zine that a fan has made and given to her. She reads aloud from it. She points to the Sheffield Girl Gang in the audience. It’s ace because I am friends with them on twitter, though had no idea they would be there or what they even look like. The set ends with aptly named and upbeat number ‘Let Me Go.’ We are all left wanting more. Putz had said earlier that “they won’t play any Bikini Kill songs though will they?” I said I doubted it. We were both wrong as the band return to the stage to kick our asses with the revolutionary call to arms of ‘Rebel Girl.’ It’s the perfect encore and the crowd is left satisfied.

 

Kathleen Hanna’s Vocal Pedal

The Julie Ruin Pedal Board by H. Golightly

 

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