Slaves | Live Review & Photoset

17th August | Rough Trade

Photos: Jeff Oram

On Friday, Slaves popped into Rough Trade to celebrate the release of their third album, Acts of Fear and Love, with their short but sweet set captivating and charming the crowd in equal measure.

Indeed, the devoted collection in attendance were treated to a momentous occasion: the Kent-natives’ first ever acoustic set. For a band so closely associated with the recent resurgence of British punk, this was a curious proposition, however what could easily have been shambolic was instead triumphant, effortlessly emphasising the diversification of their sound upon Acts. Opening number, ‘Magnolia’ drew euphoric giggles from the crowd, but then a song that’s first line is, “Did you know 65% of UK homes contain at least one magnolia wall? I bet you didn’t,” is always going to hold comedic value.

The wide-spread grins of all watching were only exceeded by that of frontman Isaac Holman, perkily prowling the stage, sipping on a cuppa between songs and proudly declaring, “We’re feeling great. We’ve just released our new album so we might go and get a Subway or a Greggs, let our hair down a bit.” After showcasing ‘Daddy’, a song about “a man who’s lost his way,” the duo dipped into the back catalogue, ‘Steer Clear’ from 2016’s Take Control received with much delight. Guitarist Laurie Vincent then asked those at the front to sit down for the new album’s titular closing track, an arena-ready, emotionally substantial anthem, displaying a level of refinement previously untapped by the band.

As the brief set reached its climax, the pair played the titular track from their 2015 debut Are You Satisfied?, a furious ninety-second call to arms. The almost ritual chanting of the 200-strong crowd, drowning out Holman, seemed to answer the question with a resounding yes. The closing track was ‘Photo Opportunity’, one of the singles released from Acts and perhaps Slaves’ most complex effort to date. The introspective, inquisitive number sees the band confronting their own issues, grappling for answers in a precise, knowledgeable manner.

Signing records and chatting to people after the set, it’s clear that Slaves are a band of the people, and with Acts, they’ve created something both fascinating and enjoyable for people to chew over.