The Slow Readers Club + Desperate Journalist @ Thekla, Bristol – 17th November 2017

Posted by Zyllah Moranne-Brown on Friday Nov 17, 2017 Under Rock

Review by David Stone with photography by Jessica Stone

Multiple generations packed out one of the UK’s most unique venues as Slow Readers Club rocked the boat at Thekla in Bristol on 17th November. The Mancunian four-piece rolled into the city’s cargo-ship-turned-music-hall halfway through a sold-out UK tour, and were greeted by stacks of fans who were chomping at the bit to see the headliners right from the start.

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Every lull in excited chatter, each break between tracks on the 80’s classics pre-show playlist was punctuated with a signature call:“REEAADDERRRRRRRRRRS!”
It’s a call and response – sort of a Marco Polo game for the most raucous Slow Readers’ fans.  The response (of course) is:“REEAADDERRRRRRRRRRS!”

It’s a simple game but I’d imagine it’s one that only gets more enjoyable as the night goes on and the merriment intensifies. After a few solid rounds it’s time for post-punk youngsters Desperate Journalist to take the stage. The four-piece quickly endeared themselves to the ship’s patrons, getting heads bobbing and feet tapping along to their simple yet diverse rhythms, accompanied by shimmering melodies and vocals with a suitably desperate edge. A fantastic showing from the London four-piece who even earned themselves a well-deserved “JOUURRN’LIIIIIIIIIIIST!” Or two from the crowd before the end. Definitely a band that’s well worth checking out!

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A quick turnaround on the switchover and a couple more rounds in, the crowd were buzzing to see the headliners, Slow Readers Club,  take to the stage. A rousing rendition of Jefferson Airplane’s ‘Somebody to Love’ rang through the cargo hold, and lo and behold it was time for the…“REEAADDERRRRRRRRRRS!”

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Joined by a buddy live streaming the opening of their set on Facebook, the room quickly filled with driving, doom-tinged electro pop tunes that had everyone – young and old alike – jumping, moving and dancing throughout.

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The band pumps out a fresh, modern take on the tones made famous by bands like New Order and Depeche Mode – topping classic 80s-influenced guitar & synth tracks with frontman Aaron Starkie’s effortlessly cool, collected vocals. Guiding their Bristol contingent through a 15-track set, Starkie looks every bit the leader on stage. Flanked by brother Kurtis on guitar and bassist Jim Ryan literally marching his way through each track, their presence had the crowd alive and engaged throughout. Gals in their 20s, guys in their 60s bouncing to the beat and joining in with the hits, providing waves of applause punctuated by one more round as each track drew to a close: “REEAADDERRRRRRRRRRS!”

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There’s a comforting consistency to The Slow Readers Club, and if you’re a fan of bands like Interpol, Editors or the 80s legends mentioned earlier they’re absolutely worth a look. From opening track ‘Fool For Your Philosophy’ to encore-closer ‘I Saw a Ghost’, the band put out a well-paced set of danceable electro-pop tracks that reinvent the sound of some 80s greats for the modern era.
“THEEKLAAAAAAAA!”

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Note: It’d be remiss to write about a show at the Thekla without mentioning the current campaign to protect the venue from an uncertain future, due to a new residential development that’s received planning approval close to the mud dock that the ship is moored in.It’d be an incredible shame to lose such a unique and special venue in the coming years. There’s an excellent write-up on the situation over at The Line of Best Fit, and a campaign to raise awareness under the #SaveThekla hashtag on social media. Please give them your support if you can!


Setlist:
Fool for Your Philosophy
Sirens
Start Again
Grace of God
Not the Only One
One More Minute
Feet on Fire
Through the Shadows
Plant the Seed
Lunatic
Block Out the Sun
Opened Up My Heart
Know the Day Will Come
Cavalcade
Forever in Your Debt
I Saw a Ghost

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