REVIEW: Sleater-Kinney, 6 Music Festival, O2 Academy, Newcastle

OF all the headlines generated by this weekend’s BBC 6 Music Festival, the biggest is bound to be the return of US riot grrrl legends Sleater-Kinney.

Drawing fans from far and wide, tonight’s performance was the group’s first on UK shores in almost a decade, and in spite of an extended hiatus it seems Corin Tucker, Carrie Brownstein and Janet Weiss have barely missed a step.

Sleater-Kinney at 6Music Festival

Sleater-Kinney at 6Music Festival

Having initially emerged from the feminist punk scene of ‘90s Washington, the trio’s second coming is in the process of spawning a whole new fanbase, thanks in no small part to universally lauded recent album No Cities To Love.

With this in mind, their brisk 40-minute set came tailored to all, striking a satisfying balance between fresh additions and established favourites from across their revered catalogue.

As such, the wicked, razor-edged hooks of Surface Envy and A New Wave rubbed shoulders with lauded classics such as One Beat and Jumpers, sounding every inch their equals and drawing a raptuous response.

Having said that, it was a clutch of older numbers which provided the apex; namely a killer one-teo punch towards the end of their slot.

Normally a springy, excitable character, the charming Modern Girl gave Brownstein the opportunity to show a completely different side to her personality; a gentle interlude before the searing, Tucker-led Dig Me Out followed swiftly on its heels.

It wasn’t quite the life-affirming experience some may have hoped for, yet it’s difficult to recall a band who’ve taken a leave of absence and recovered their verve with such gusto.

More exciting still, with the summer festivals on the horizon, you sense their comeback is only just getting started.

* Tune into the 6 Music Festival across the weekend. See performances at www.bbc.co.uk/6music and highlights on the BBC Red Button throughout the week.