Photos (c) Hannah Broughton
Slaves are still dragging around the same humour and it feels a bit like your uncle telling a joke for the third time.
A lot has changed for Slaves since we first saw them here in Bristol. The heavily-tattooed pair have been signed to a major label, received a Mercury nomination and of course hit much larger venues. Their show at Anson Rooms however raised a few questions as to whether the duo are as refreshing as they first seemed.
Their unique live show was undoubtedly a catalyst in sparking said level of success. Early gigs were not only memorable for that angsty energy, but because of the humour and anecdotes that came with it. Now though, the reminiscent stories have lost their sense of freshness. As frontman Isaac Holman regales the crowd about how they came up with the inspiration for ‘Where’s Your Car Debbie’ it feels a bit like your uncle telling a joke for the third time.
Tonight is blighted by the crowd themselves. Slaves’ shows used to be packed with people who gave a shit about bands like Wet Nuns and Pulled Apart By Horses, now though it feels like a bunch of lads have funnelled into the venue off the back of their Reading and Radio 1 exposure. This makes for a male-dominated environment of people throwing fists and elbows, making for a bit of a shitty experience.
Half way through the set guitarist Laurie Vincent hurls a banana into the crowd which is quickly caught and lobbed back. It’s the sort of random act we’ve come to expect from Slaves – during their last few tours a giant Mantaray became a crowdsurfing fixture. The setlist itself doesn’t leave much room for hanging about. We hear urgent belters like ‘White Knuckle Ride’ and ‘Cheer Up London’, these are both tracks that will naturally always incite a certain level of chaos and trauma.
The band should also be credited for their impulsiveness and agility onstage. They react to numerous shouts for their cover of Skepta’s grime anthem ‘Shut Down’, despite needing to pause near the end, it’s a testament to both Holman’s lungs and the spirit of the pair. Needless to say, things have changed massively since their rise to recognition. The band have very much stayed the same, whilst the venues have gotten bigger, crowds seem to pack more dickheads and it all seems a bit forced. Unlike those who could see through these factors, I leave the venue feeling slightly let down.
Check out ‘White Knuckle Ride’ here: