LIVE: Petrol Girls / Jake & The Jellyfish @ Hyde Park Book Club, Leeds

By Tom Walsh

In a darkened basement, under the gaze of a stitched together flag bearing the words “no love for a nation”, Petrol Girls are calling for the start of a revolution. It is a call for a better world where people are allowed to live their lives free from persecution, away from the poison of racism, homophobia, toxic misogyny, and everything that keeps the boot on our throats.

Ren Aldridge relentlessly paces between songs as she unleashes her manifesto. It is one of a world without borders, where our political discourse is not dominated by Brexit or crippling austerity measures that hurt the poorest people, and one where we actually make sure that the ones we say we love are okay.

But before any of that, Aldridge takes a moment to appreciate the smaller things in life, “I love a gig where you can get a cup of tea,” she laughs.

Petrol Girls’ mini jaunt across the UK has brought them to the hidden escape of Leeds’ Hyde Park Book Club. Following the release of their incredible sophomore record, ‘Cut & Stitch’, they translate the intensity and fervour of their intricate hardcore to the stage. Before that, however, it’s the turn of locals Jake & The Jellyfish.

While originally having elements of ska and folk, the four-piece have seemingly shaken things up to become a straight-up punk band, in the more traditional sense. Think a blend of Off With Their Heads and Strike Anywhere and you’ll pretty much have found the sound of Jake & The Jellyfish. While it’s a much different tone to Petrol Girls, it is a gentle introduction to the virosity about to ensue.

Aldridge explains the flag adorning the wall was pieced together from the flags of every country they passed through on their recent European tour. “Apparently making a flag from other flags is considered very illegal in certain countries,” she admits.

Petrol Girls manage to control the pace of the show with brief monologues to break from the onslaught each song brings. They open with the enormous ‘The Sound’, a masterpiece of gradual build-ups and explosive choruses. Every word is spewed from Aldridge’s mouth with an almighty slice of venom as drummer Zock Astpai lays waste to his kit.

Tracks such as ‘Big Mouth’, ‘Monstrous’, and an excellent rendition of 2016’s ‘Slug’, sound exceptionally huge. Aldridge commands the stage acting out every line as she delivers a beautiful, sneering critique of the society we live in. However, through the rage and the anger, Petrol Girls are a band of optimism – they know things can change.

Aldridge’s booming, rasping call of “I choose to fight” on the anthemic ‘Naive’ is the rallying cry for change. As she almost whispers the words “we’re not finished, we never fucking will be” there is an electricity in the room, the hairs on the back of your neck standing on end as you feel suddenly energised to change everything that’s wrong in this world.

If a revolution is what Petrol Girls desire, we want to be in on the ground floor. Honestly, go and see this band.