Babes In Toyland
Oran Mor, Glasgow
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The only thing less likely than a lacklustre Babes In Toyland reunion was them ever reuniting in the first place. Yet there we were, 18 years after bassist Maureen Herman's final shows with the Minneapolis femme-punk trio, and 13 years since Kat Bjelland last played Glasgow under the Babes In Toyland name. We were the best-dressed crowd in Glasgow, featuring the most babydoll dresses and tiaras huddling together outside in the rain this side of the smoking ban; they were our raucous, thrilling, occasionally terrifying big sisters.
Bjelland - a coin-operated Living Dead Doll of a frontwoman - sang from the back of her throat and the whites of her eyes, kicking out at some imaginary nemesis so high that you could see her pants. If her range was restricted to Hammer Horror so much the better: it included the sadistic cackle and disembodied scream punctuating Bruise Violet and the creepy, nursery-rhyme sing-song of Won't Tell. Band co-founder Lori Barbero kept time like a metronome on drums, while Herman swayed back and forth on bass as if possessed.
Those scream-along lines one cannot quote in a family newspaper were perfect catharsis, with the confrontational Bluebell a particular highlight. But the sheer force of their live show was underpinned by friendship and fun, from Bjelland polling us to find out if we had "ever laughed so hard you p***ed your pants" to the set's riotous conclusion with Sweet 69.
But that's Babes In Toyland: ear-splittingly loud, two minutes a song and completely inappropriate. Those of us too young to have seen them first time around would not have had it any other way.