It may be bitterly cold on the sodden streets of Birmingham, but inside the basement of The Sunflower Lounge, one of the city’s most beloved venues, This Feeling have set up a scene warmer and more inviting than Keanu Reeves’ heart.
The Surrenders are the first to take to the stage as the crowd begin to pile through the door. Their charismatic charm carries through the psychedelically draped guitars all the way through to the 60’s inspired swing. We’ll definitely be dropping this five piece onto our radar. Following them up comes The Cosmics who speed up the tempo with a rock and roll sound that makes this cramped basement feel much larger than it really is.
It seems the leather jacket clad, brogue wearing crust that was formerly known as Manchester is beginning to be restored to its former self; and it’s thanks to band like these, The Blinders, that my love for the city and the music it breeds has been restored. Although they may be from Doncaster originally, their feet are firmly settled in the North West.
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It’s hard to do the whole politically outraged thing well at the moment, since it seems every tom, dick, and harry are launching opinions into their music, but The Blinders seem to be on a potentially self-destructive journey; launching attacks at every single establishment causing an issue, whether it be the government or the NME. Their blunt unabashed voice is something we love, we don’t see them getting sucked into the cushy corner consisting of industry relations anytime soon, and we commend them for that.
They know they’re good, not in an arrogant kind of manner, but it’s obvious from curtain to close as they traipse around the stage and into the crowd with a youthful buzz. “Murder at the Ballet” acts as a hellish rendition of Arctic Monkey’s “Do I Wanna Know?”, a grimacing image is portrayed before the tension builds into a frantic, yet concise, attack of bass and guitar.
Another one of their songs that strikes a poignant tone is that of “ICB Blues”, a song I initially thought to be relating to Orgreave, with their Yorkshire roots and all. However, strikingly they’ve samples the final words of Eric Garner as he was asphyxiated by an NYPD officer. Vocalist and lead guitar Thomas Heywood plays the role of the belligerent officer in question as bassist Charlie McGough wanders the stage with a hypnotising stare. Before looking straight into the crowd and firing his bass as though it’s a gun, the lyrics “targeting the youth, and a bullet as my brain” ring out. Their showmanship is second to none and their word is their passion.
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The thing is with The Blinders, unlike most young bands, their story is solid and the voice is already set in stone, Thomas knows how to sing a tune and does it with his head held high. Between songs the big woolly jacket that must’ve left him sweltering under the lights is pulled off to reveal the words “Pig Fucker”, originally the name of their single “Swine”, but that’s not exactly radio friendly now is it. This is without a doubt the heaviest number of the set and leaves the crowd in an absolute whirlwind that begins to flow over onto the stage, an interaction between crowd and artist that you won’t see for much longer as these lads are destined for bigger platforms. Despite the riotous tone of the tune it brings me back to something more sinister, an evil that seeped from something seemingly innocuous. As University of Manchester security tore apart the homes of people residing at The Ark, a small self-sufficient community under a fly over in the heart of Manchester. I observed. Peoples treasured belongings being tossed out of reach, irretrievable and irreplaceable as though the homeless’ existence was meritless. As the guitars blast and the lyrics “In this bitter city there is no hope” reverberate throughout my mind it takes me back to how I felt in this moment.
All in all, The Blinders are not something to be missed, a truly unique sound in a world rife with anger. Now that’s definitely something difficult to achieve. Laden with a tone that will resonate with you further than the room you’re inhabiting at the time, and will challenge your thoughts at every given opportunity.