Live Review: Slaves - The Old Blue Last, London 17/08/2018
A Friday night is the perfect time for a celebration, even if it is the middle of the month and just slightly too far away from payday to be able to fully enjoy yourself – not that it seemed to deter anyone. All the beer taps were decked out in black and white balloons adorned with the band’s name and the crowd were mostly kitted out in accordance. DIY Magazine had teamed up with the East London boozer, The Old Blue Last, to host a launch party for Slaves’ third album, ‘Acts of Fear and Love’.
Kicking off the night was Brighton quartet, Thyla, who brought their alternative sound to the unsuspecting crowd. It must always be a little bit nerve wrecking to be the first support act when there is such a mixed bag of sounds on the line up, but Thyla carried it off, very well. Their set was a mash-up of dreamy pop songs with a few hints of a new-wave sound seeping through. Halfway through the set, singer Millie Duthie invited the crowd to move a little closer as the band brought a little melancholy with a song that talks about the struggles of sobriety; “In my dreams, what does it mean? What does it mean to be sober?” Though not lingering in misery for too long, Thyla brought the crowd back into an energetic state with their raucous single ‘Blame’, which left everyone a little riled up and eager for more music.
The next band to take the stage was LIFE, who were all too keen to pick up where Thyla left off. Describing themselves as “Hull’s infamous DIY band, fucking the industry so you don’t have to”, LIFE were full of theatrics, as frontman Mez commanded the crowd with the stage presence of Johnny Rotten and Alex Turner’s lovechild and his brother Mick who’s eyes would occasionally roll back in their sockets, during intense moments. LIFE are as punk as it comes, with their lyrics that are politically charged and about observations of society in the social media age. Introducing the song ‘Euromillions’ as being about “Donald Trump and Brexit” the first hint at the potential of the crowd was shown, with lyrics like “you have the right to bear arms if you’ve got the right coloured arms, on the right side of the law” showing just how lyrically cunning they could be.
Final support came from slowthai, who wasted no time in getting into performance mode. He whipped off his t-shirt and leapt off the stage into the middle of the crowd. Bringing out a fellow rapper, the performance quickly switched to what can only be described as a Fight Club rap battle, with both of them jumping around and bouncing off each other’s energy, with a hoard of sweaty bodies around them. Quick to pick up on the energy from LIFE, slowthai went on a rant about the Tories and incited a not-so-friendly chant about Theresa May. The crowd were reacting positively, but I feel as though his set might’ve been better received slightly earlier in the evening.
When it was finally time for Slaves to come on stage, you could feel the heat of anticipation in the air. They opened up with songs from their first album ‘Are You Satisfied?’ much to the excitement of the crowd and when singer/drummer Isaac Holman announced that it was guitarist/bassist Laurie Vincent’s birthday, the crowd had a celebratory singalong. Slaves then played Ninety Nine but after crowd surfing, Laurie lost his ring and got the crowd to split and have a look for it, much to his embarrassment. Within seconds they found the ring, with Laurie’s response being; “This is why we have the best fans in the world.” Next in the set were new songs ‘Chokehold’, ‘The Lives They Wish They Had’ and ‘Cut and Run’ which saw Isaac invite 4 people onstage to perform the dance routine of the song.
Slaves let a bit of sentimentality slip through their fierce punk demeanour just before playing ‘Chokehold’ and told the crowd that when they were in their second year of being a band, they “played The Old Blue Last 17 times” and then went on to tell of a time where they played to a crowd that was the grand total of two people after they playing‘Fuck The Hi Hat’ and ‘Girl Fight’ which got the biggest mosh pit of the evening. Ending the set with fan favourite, ‘The Hunter’, Slaves were nothing but thankful to their fans for all of their support and left the stage with a bout of crowd surfing.
Whilst the band only played a handful of songs from ‘Acts of Fear and Love’, it is safe to say that nobody left the room disappointed. They’re still the same garage/punk band that their fans know and love and they definitely know how to put on a good show!
Words by Tyler Damara Kelly and Photography by Joe Dick