Life Without Buildings were always coy about their artworld activities.Yet, whether by accident or design, the three singles and solitary album of stop-start post-punk left behind by vocalist Sue Tompkins, guitarist Robert Johnston, bassist Chris Evans and drummer Will Bradley in their short lifespan before splitting in 2002, now sounds like a perfect artistic statement.
A Rough Trade Shops post-punk compilation arrived on the back of the Franz Ferdinand/Bloc Party/Rapture jangular art-rock explosion called LWB, two years too early. As it stands, this 12 song live retrospective recorded in Australia remains as uncorrupted by trend-spotters as their studio debut, Any Other City .
Recorded in and possibly on heat, Live At The Annandale Hotel sounds equally crisp, clipped and controlled, confirming a debt owed to Talking Heads, The Slits and even Altered Images. Beyond such reference points, it’s through the Tigger-like bounce of Tompkins’ estuary-accented scat euphoria that you get some sense of what a thrilling live proposition LWB could be.
‘The Leanover’, ‘Let’s Get Out’ and ‘New Town’ remain fresh, utterly urgent sugar-rush whirligigs. Oh, and a couple of exclusives—‘Liberty Feelup,’ and US only single, ‘Love Trinity,’ captures a band at their peak, tumbling in full flight towards posterity.
Neil Cooper is a writer and critic