In a previous article, I wrote about the reformation of cult nineties band Babes In Toyland. Shortly after this announcement, a friend obtained tickets to their London show. On the 26th of May 2015, the Babes played Shepherds Bush Empire. Babes In Toyland’s live show is a full on intense and confrontational experience in the best possible way. Kat Bjelland’s gut wrenching howls are as thrilling as ever. Maureen Herman and Lori Barbero are still on fire as they thrash through a seventeen song set and an encore. The Babes have still got it and even more heartwarmingly they are absolutely loving the experience of playing live together again. The camaraderie between these three women can be felt off stage, they’re not just bandmates, you can tell they’re also good friends. This chemistry could not be duplicated with anyone else.

The band opened with the fast paced stomper He’s My Thing off their 1989 album Spanking Machine. The crowd immediately erupted. The crowd was made up of many young women in their twenties like myself who perhaps may not have even been born when these albums were released. Babes In Toyland while having a strong “original” fanbase but also have a powerful cult following. The power lies in the timeless nature of their songs that seem to resonate with people still. Kat Bjelland is a powerhouse of talent. As a lead vocalist, she is mind-blowing and as a lyricist she is exceptional. Vocals are passed over to drummer Lori Barbero during the track Drivin’ off 1995’s Nemesisters. Lori also brings back the cowbell during the electrifying Sweet ’69 which resulted in me personally between propelled backwards during the crowd carnage. If I may borrow from Portlandia, the dream of the ninties is alive at a Babes In Toyland show. It’s a unique and unifying experience. Babes In Toyland also stomped through fan favourites such as the infamous Bruise Violet (commonly believed to be about Courtney Love), Bluebell, Handsome and Gretel and an encore of Spanking Machine’s Dust Cake Boy.

Babes In Toyland were supported by the amazing Skating Polly and PINS.

Full set list in sequence here:

  1. He’s My Thing
  2. Bluebell
  3. Spit to See the Shine
  4. Oh Yeah
  5. Bruise Violet
  6. Interstellar Overdrive
  7. (Pink Floyd cover) (jam)
  8. Right Now
  9. Swamp Pussy
  10. Won’t Tell
  11. Drivin’
  12. Ariel
  13. Handsome & Gretel
  14. Spun
  15. Pearl
  16. Ripe
  17. Vomit Heart
  18. Sweet ’69
  19. Encore: Dust Cake Boy