Gig Review by Simon Saynor with Photography by Mark Loraine

On this particular Sunday this is definitely our church. Arguably the finest small venue in the country play host to the force of nature that is The Blinders. It marks the halfway point of their first headline tour on the back of phenomenal debut album ‘Columbia’. That it entered the charts at number 54 is testament to the word of mouth buzz that this Doncaster trio have been creating over the last few years.

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For the first leg of the tour they are supported by Manchester based (via London) Calva Louise. As with The Blinders genres go out of the window. Is indie-grunge-pop-rock-punk a genre? I’d spoke to the band beforehand and with singer/guitarist Jess Allanic the word that springs to mind is demure. That’s left in the dressing room though. On stage she is a wild, jumping, note perfect banshee. They’re a band that get your feet moving instantly and the rest of you soon follows. A band that make you smile (drummer Ben even managed to sweat a smiley face into his t-shirt). Latest single ‘I Heard A Cry’ is a post-punk gem of a pop song (I told you genres go out the window tonight). It bodes well for debut album ‘Rhinoceros’ which drops next February. It’s a high octane set that is over far too soon but the perfect aperitif to The Blinders. Definitely ones to watch.

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The Brudenell, like several venues on this tour, is a sell out and there is a definite scent of anticipation in the air as The Blinders intro thunders round the room. Drummer Matty braves the shadows first, a nod and a wave before taking his seat behind a kit that is gonna take a battering tonight. Charlie (bass) and Tom (guitar/vocals) join him in the darkness, prowling the stage. We’re all in this together but they have a look of malevolent spirits hunting their prey. They launch into album opener ‘Gotta Get Through’, lyrically a throwaway song written purely to be a strong start. It is. There’s a Link Wray feel to it. If Tarantino ever hears it he’ll be all over it. The lyrics belie what is to follow.

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The Blinders have been hailed as one of the most important up and coming bands. Obviously the wall of noise they create is a massive part of this but also the lyrics. They are heart on their sleeves overtly political. “It was a natural evolution for us” Tom tells me. It’s not posturing. It is something they genuinely believe in. Naturally in today’s climate Trump and the Tories are foremost in The Blinders sights. ‘L’etat C’est Moi’ (‘I am the State and subjects all you are’), ‘Brave New World’ (‘In come the idiot king, he built a wall and he built it high’), ‘Brutus’ (We’re all in this together for the better, so they say’) are just three of many, many examples. Interspersed with the political dynamite is genuine poetry, backed by the soundtrack of your favourite nightmares.

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If we touch on the genre subject again let’s go with, er, well imagine The Doors formed in 1976 but were transported into the early 21st Century. That’s the best I can do. They are, as I said at the beginning, a force of nature. Tom Haywood resplendent in his death mask make up (till the sweat takes its toll) thrashing his guitar into submission, his voice both angry and vulnerable at the same time. Charlie McGough (ridiculously cool, ridiculously good looking), a cross between Wilko and Foxton, machine gunning the crowd with his bass, never missing. Behind all this Matty Neale batters the living daylights out of his kit, always on the beat, at times a blur, the driving force of The Blinders live.

And then there’s the crowd. It’s an old fashioned mosh pit, the kind that a lot of venues frown upon these days. There will be several bruised but happy bodies by the end. It’s wonderful mayhem.

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We get 11 songs off the 12 track album with fan favourites ‘Swine’ and ‘Ramona Flowers’ thrown in too. It took some guts to leave both off the album. During the pulsating ‘I need not to be the man on the street’ drop on ‘Swine’ Tom bravely joins the throng. It really is a sea of arms and legs. Credit for getting himself and his guitar back on stage unscathed. ‘Hate Song’ follows. Punk-blues. As it picks up the pace I genuinely fear for those in the melee. The set ends with ‘Et Tu’ naturally followed by ‘Brutus’. For me the whole album revolves around ‘Brutus. A brooding call to arms. It’s a seven minute opus. By the apocalyptical climax Tom is again in the crowd. His guitar makes it back to the stage before he does, just in time for the encore – ‘Orbit’. Just Tom’s voice and guitar. It’s mesmerising. It’s a great first encore but I’d love to see the full band back for one last cataclysmic closer. (‘Swine’ would fit the bill nicely in this reviewer’s humble opinion).

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And it’s over. Even those of us too old (and fragile) for the chaotic mosh pit are left breathless. The Blinders leave nothing on stage. Definitely a force of nature.

Set List:
Gotta Get Through
L’etat C’est Moi
Brave New World
Where No Man Comes
Free The Slave
I Can’t Breathe Blues
Swine
Hate Song
Rat In A cage
Ramona Flowers
Et Tu
Brutus
Encore:
Orbit

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