The Warlocks : Liverpool University

Smack's back...

Smack’s back. Post-Kurt, nobody wanted to be associated with the brown stuff and cocaine replaced it as the rock star’s favourite drug. But the great news for third world farmers is that in 2003, many of our favourite new bands have a monkey resident on their backs.

Psychedelic drone-rockers The Warlocks are this year’s ultimate heroin band and tonight feels like something of a spiritual homecoming. Because Liverpool is a city that’s produced more high-profile smackheads than the rest of the world combined – The La’s Lee Mavers, Brookside’s Jimmy Corkhill and most famously, poppy-seed residue loving peacenik John Lennon.

But for The Warlocks, drugs aren’t just a form of escape – they’re a lifestyle choice. It’s the reason they look so hungry – they spend all their money on drugs rather than food – and would you use a spoon from their kitchen? It dictates how they sound (like if Spiritualized‘s Jason Pierce joined a biker gang), even how they light their stage in sepia and hazy green instead of blues (because it’s impossible to find veins under the latter.)

Songs like ‘Hurricane Heart Attack’, ‘Inside Outside’ and ‘Isolation’ from the excellent ‘Phoenix’ LP are each given the 10 minute plus psychedelic blow-out treatment, but the best bits are when The Warlocks are up rather than down. Tracks like the dippily pop ‘The Dope Feels Good’ and the marching groove of ‘Stickman Blues’ prove that whoever it was that said the drugs don’t work was lying…

Imran Ahmed