4th March | Thekla

It’s been over 2 years since The Orwells came to Bristol and tonight you can tell the crowd are looking forward to the band taking centre stage. As we wait for support act Dead Pretties to kick off the night, the boat is already filling up with enthusiastic music fans.

Dead Pretties are met with applause and approving sounds, while lead singer Jacob Slater gives a ferocious performance, with a raspy quality to his voice that reminds me of Pete Doherty in his early days with The Libertines. Orwells’ singer Mario Cuomo is watching the band from the balcony, while other members watch from the crowd. This is probably because he is fairly recognisable, and even hidden away he still gets spotted for a quick selfie. Dead Pretties’ new release ‘Social Experiment’ has people nodding along to its indie charm while other songs have a more Clash-like punk vibe. The performance leaves the audience geared up and ready for the night ahead.

Frank Black tribute song ‘Black Francis’ opens up the performance and, as with most songs, hearing it live makes me love it even more. As the set goes on guitarist Matt O’Keefe’s amp starts cutting out, then finally completely when ‘Put the Body in the Bayou’ is played. Despite this the crowd really don’t seem too concerned and the band carry the song through really well. Afterwards there is a bit of commotion and O’Keefe desperately tries to solve the problem with the help of their crew. Amongst the chaos the singer announces with a drum track “We’ve got guitar problems, drinking problems, family problems, relationship problems…” which is met with laughs, we can all find something to relate to in there. The Orwells apologise for the amp problems, but personally I feel it didn’t detract anything from the gig and I’m sure others would agree. Once the issue is fixed the band have a second lease of life, playing songs off their second album – ‘Let it Burn’, ‘Gotta Get Down’ and ‘Dirty Sheets’ being particular highlights all met with a raucous response from the crowd. Cuomo has great interaction with them, often leaning over for photos and generally falling about with them.

They close with the attitude soaked ‘The Righteous One’ and then it all feels like it’s over just a little too soon. As the band leave and go back to their green room, the crowd start chanting “One more song…” which doesn’t seem likely as we all know Thekla has to get ready for its club night on a Saturday. To our surprise the band burst back onto the stage shouting what sounds like “This is life!” and then proceed to drench the crowd in beer, exploding cans everywhere. A perfectly anarchic response to a perfectly anarchic night?

Check out the video for ‘The Righteous One’ below.