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LIVE: Meryl Streek – The Shipping Forecast, Liverpool, 21/02/2024

Meryl Streek has had the benefit of a huge word-of-mouth campaign spreading the gospel about his debut album 796, a hate letter towards such disparate figures as landlords and the Catholic Church, amongst many others.

796 is one of those rarest of things these days, it’s an album that wasn’t made to storm the charts or get the artist further up the festival bills, it’s an album that feels like the singer HAS to sing, they have to get it off their chest, but it’s a record that makes you ponder how it will translate live, especially in the venue we are in this evening.

Visiting The Shipping Forecast is like visiting the away end at Everton, obstructed views caused by poles everywhere, and bearing in mind the type of performance we are looking forward to tonight, then this could cause a bit of a problem.

You see, Meryl Streek has a very cavalier attitude between the stage and the audience and likes to not blur the lines between the two.

At 9.15, he enters the fray and proceeds to prowl the stage like a caged animal in an Eastern European zoo, from one end to the other, over and over. He has the crowd’s arms up in the air for ‘Matter Of Fact’ which he dedicates to “music industry dickheads.”

His new material energises him further as he now bounces round the stage like a boxer in a ring. It sounds just as brutal as the older stuff, and he tells us there’ll be a new record at the end of this summer, “written in a council estate in Dublin.”

His stage set-up can be described in the same way as his beats can, as minimal and effective. It’s just him and a singular white flashing light which he uses to build a brutal atmosphere (which is also why it was so hard to get any photos of proceedings).

His trademark move of doing a chunk of the gig actually in the audience comes later in the night, and the crowd are more than happy to part like the Red Sea for a new song, written about his late Uncle Paddy with it’s infectious goosebump-forming chanted ending, “he’ll always be missed and he’ll always be loved”.

He leaves the best till last, ‘Death To The Landlord’ is a hate-filled bop (if you can have such a thing), throwing his full ire towards the Irish housing system – “you’ve lied so much teeth have become rotten” – and the closer is his first post-796 single, the hypnotic ‘If This Is Life’, which sends the crowd home satisfied. It’s been too angry a set for them to feel happy.

Some gigs you come out of with a warm fuzzy feeling of collective joy, whereas others can feel like you’ve had a cold shower whilst being slapped round the face. This is very much the latter. And this is very much a compliment.

Meryl Streek invigorates like very few others out there at the moment; it’s a ferocious 45 minutes in his company that has you wishing away the summer, waiting for that album number two.

God is in the TV is an online music and culture fanzine founded in Cardiff by the editor Bill Cummings in 2003. GIITTV Bill has developed the site with the aid of a team of sub-editors and writers from across Britain, covering a wide range of music from unsigned and independent artists to major releases.