Published on October 18th, 2018 | by Nigel Cartner1
The Blinders Live at Academy 2, Manchester – 15/10/18
It may have been a typically drab Monday evening in October, but there was nothing dreary about the opening date of The Blinders’ month-long UK tour, which kicked off at a sold-out Academy 2 in Manchester. Their avant-garde and edgy approach to psych orientated rock ‘n’ roll have enthralled audiences over the past couple of years, making the night, and the tour, a hotly anticipated one.
After two support acts, Calva Louise and White Room, suitably warmed the crowd, it wasn’t long before the room was plunged beneath the mercy of a prolonged echoed drone that created an illusion of uneasiness. The sense that something spectacular was about to erupt was palpable. After several minutes of this, the mood turned even creepier as Gene Wilder’s voice percolated through the speakers, and ‘Pure Imagination’, from the classic film, ‘Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory’, overlaid the dulcet murmured spell the crowd was under. The music and words, abruptly stopped, swiftly replaced by a poem being spoken in a broad Mancunian tongue that told of an alternate world, ‘Columbia’, the name of The Blinders debut album released only a month ago. The album itself is a twelve-song slab of psych rock that assaults and deranges the senses, and has received much critical acclaim so far!
The three band members appeared onstage, welcomed by huge cheers and screams as the poem reached its climax. They immediately hurled themselves into the menacing album opener, ‘Gotta Get Through’, possibly one of the most explosive ways to open a show/album I’ve ever witnessed. The track is unnerving, pulverizing, and packed with fire and energy that’s unleashed as a spate of hedonistic rage. There are reminiscent shades of a mid 90s Prodigy track about it, particularly with the intensity and sinister vibe surrounding it, highlighted by the way the vivacious guitar attacks in ferocious sprays like an uncontrollable sonic flamethrower.
There was no time for composure after the opening adrenaline rush as the hypnotic, ‘L’Etat C’est Moi’, was up next, carrying an ominous guitar and bass riff that oozes some sort of insanity and unrelenting eeriness. ‘Brave New World’ followed and is perhaps The Blinders most well-known concoction to date, featuring on the current William Hill advert. The crowd were again effervescent as this brilliantly philosophical and cynical track about the world we live in today almost incites a riot such was the power of the meaningful delivery. ‘ICB Blues’ and ‘Swine’ attain the same reaction, both electrifying songs that swell up the kind of energy fit for an internal and external revolution.
These songs, and most in The Blinders’ locker, have the innate ability to build spine-tingling suspense, often starting with a protracted period of thumping, trance-like, rhythmic drumbeats that strategically elevates tension within the audience. The striking and snarling guitar, drenched in filth and smut then hammers in, which is then crowned by the screaming, wailing vocals of Thomas Haywood that sends the crowd into a warped frenzy.
Speaking of Haywood, his actions and mannerisms are like a ‘reincarnated Jim Morrison, especially with the way he throws himself to the floor to writhe around while belting out his potent and ingenious set of words which ruthlessly portray today’s world. In general, the lyrics combine profound, thought-provoking poetry with powerful bursts of repetitive savage statements, all fuelled by observations of political and social hardships, and the dark, uncertain times created off the back of them. It’s these honest themes that make up a typical Blinders track, and with the drums, bass, and guitar sitting formidably behind it, it makes for one hell of an exciting trip into the unknown.
Songs continue to bombard and keep the flow of energy meandering along at pace. ‘Et Tu’ is a short, sharp, shock of high tempo foot stomping rock poetry, and ‘Hate Song’ is another unsettling song motivated by the way the band sees the world. ‘Rats in a Cage’, and ‘Ramona Flowers’ are just two of a few that make up the set finale, and both carry a different tone to the rest of the show. The former is quite an upbeat rocking track as far as Blinders songs go, yet the latter is more like their repertoire, but slower and more psychedelic in delivery.
The show ended with no need for an encore, the crowd had been taken on enough of a whirlwind without the need to dive in head first for more. At the show’s peak, the image was sheer hedonism as heads, hands, arms, and in some cases, pairs of legs could be seen gyrating in the wake of the carnage emitted by The Blinders’ charismatic sound.
I’ve been saying for a while now that they are one of the most exciting bands since the millennium, and supporting my claim is the fact that next summer they are supporting Blossoms at Edgeley Park in Stockport along with The Coral and Cabbage. But before then, a full UK tour is currently still in effect with tickets available in some places.
Photos by @manc_wanderer
See more photos via Instagram
Please ask permission before using any of the photos!