The dark, winter nights have certainly set in, as a queue of eager fans huddle together outside of Newcastle’s O2 Academy, chatting among themselves and making friends to pass the time.
They are here to see Slaves, a “post-ironic punk” duo from Royal Tunbridge Wells in Kent, who exploded onto the scene in 2012 and have rapidly been gaining momentum ever since- appearing twice on ‘Later… with Jools Holland’ and receiving a 2015 Mercury Music Prize nomination for their debut album ‘Are You Satisfied?’
The crowd floods into the venue, forcing in their masses to the centre of the floor in a fight to get to the front.
It is noticeable that tonight the crowd seems to be made up of a younger generation, perhaps due to the band’s diverse range of influences, or perhaps because of their infamous anecdotes which are frequent across social media, from their own Instagram accounts to their Youtube episodes ‘Slaves TV’.
The ‘Take Control’ tour sees the guys perform their second studio album live for their fans- an album produced by 1980s legend and Beastie Boys frontman Mike D. After two fairly unmemorable support acts, the lights dimmed as a cheer rippled across the crowd, as Laurie Vincent and Isaac Holman take to the stage.
The backdrop of tonight’s performance features one of guitarist Laurie’s own designs, which also emblazons the cover of their latest album, a balaclava ridden, garishly bright design. Away from Slaves, Laurie is an artist, having recently hosted his own series of exhibitions as well as designing his own fashion brand ‘Young Lovers Club’.
Switching things up from the previous date’s set list, the gig kicks off with the clash of Isaac’s standing drum kit and the opening notes of “Hey” shake the walls of the former 1920’s bingo hall.
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Shirtless and dripping in sweat, frontman Isaac addresses the crowd in a thick, Kentish accent: “Newcastle. What an honour, what a privilege, what a joy”. Song after song, the crowd only become rowdier, screaming along in unison to the bands anarchic lyrics, which talking of the sour taste life in modern Britain has left in the disillusioned youth.
The evening provides a set list that will please old and new fans alike, from tracks released in the early days ‘Where’s your car Debbie?’ and ‘Girl Fight’, to newer numbers like ‘Same Again’ and rap influenced anthem featuring Mike D himself, ‘Consume or Be Consumed’.
It’s not often that a band provide such a wealth and variety of songs on tour, tending to only stick with the album they are promoting at the time, but Slaves deliver a wide-ranging mix, hinting that- while they are clearly gaining status in their industry- they haven’t forgotten the punk influenced jams that got them to this place.
And they have a stage presence to match, with Isaac angrily thrashing away like a man demented behind his kit, while Laurie’s Dr Martin clad feet stomp their way across the stage, shoulders shaking to the beat.
The mix of attendees could be to thank for Slaves unique style, citing influences from Black Flag and Crass to Joy Division and Boy Better Know, having performed live on stage with grime star Skepta following a memorable BBC Radio 1 Live Lounge cover.
The evening slows down a little for ‘Steer Clear’, but not for long as crowd pleaser and old favourite ‘Cheer up London’– which speaks of the distain of commuters travelling to and from jobs they “don’t enjoy”- rallies the crowd up.
But the guys have saved the big guns for last, and as the snaking guitar riff of what could be described as their biggest hit “The Hunter” brings the night to a ground-shaking close.
Chattering breaks out amongst the crowd as the guys make a speedy exit to the side lines of the stage, and yet, the lights do not come back on. “Where have they gone? Do you think they’re coming back? They must be…”
A flash of green and red from the stage and the mass of bodies breaks out into a flurry of celebratory chaos.
After such a long set, a four song encore is a greatly appreciated extra, a scuzzy mash up of old and new featuring ‘Lies’, ‘White Knuckle Ride’ and chaotic insight into shedding your inner negativity: ‘Spit It Out’.
A night eventful and thrilling from beginning to end, this Brit-punk pair certainly know how to put on a show and the message they share with their audience filters out with them, back onto the cold streets of Newcastle.
‘Take Control’ is available now via Virgin EMI Records.
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