A venue as imposing as Glasgow’s St Luke’s is guaranteed to provide a compelling atmosphere for any show. Pairing such an impressive venue with an act as peculiar as Dry Cleaning has all the makings of a captivating evening. Sadly, this did not work out as planned, as the openness of the space clashes with the introverted nature of the music, resulting in a largely lacklustre show. 

Multiple elements of the performance deserve praise. The support act, Dancer, opens the show with an electric performance that fills the room and amps up the crowd. Dry Cleaning themselves come on with unwavering dedication to their music and characters, even if each member seems best fitted to a completely different genre. Bassist Lewis Maynard delivers particular enthusiasm throughout the gig, as his hair never gets a moment’s respite from his manic head banging, regardless of the style of song that’s played. Meanwhile, lead singer Florence Shaw consistently delivers her uniquely captivating image, her characterisation evoking the image of a secondary school art teacher coping with the effects of a stressful day and a full bottle of red wine. She’s strange and relatable all at once, and it’s impossible to keep your eyes off her. “She is completely mesmerising”, as the die-hard fan next to me observes multiple times. 

It really is a shame for the band that that fan is not the one writing this review. Despite her enigmatic performance and the passion of the band, it can’t help but be observed – by those of us a little further removed- that something is not right. Though the beautiful stained-glass windows and gothic architecture add so well to the band’s aesthetic, the open nature of the venue ultimately creates a space that they are ill-equipped to fill. The odd lyrics, and interesting vocals, so important to Dry Cleaning’s music, are lost to the air, never quite reaching the audience. Moreover, the alluring quality the band relies on, is heavily diminished by the inability to really capture what’s happening on the stage. 

For an act like Dry Cleaning, who rely so heavily on subtle details, and a poetic style, a larger venue can pose a threat. In this instance, the threat overcame them, laying their limitations bare for all to see. Despite all this, the band’s plethora of dedicated fans respond to every element of the evening with an uninhibited joy that is unique to a band of this character. They are clearly an act who have earned the commitment of their fans and it would be great to see how their reception could be truly elevated by a more appropriate venue.