After a huge year, Slaves return to The Ritz once again and play a stellar show to an enthusiastic Mancunian crowd. With help from cockney punk good guys Wonk Unit and the up and coming Spring King, tonight is set to be a memorable evening of great music in a warm and fan favoured venue.

Starting the party on this bitterly cold night are the delightfully fun Spring King. The four piece have been gathering a shit ton of buzz lately from singles such as ‘Mumma’, ‘Who Are You?’ and the humongous ‘City’, so I’m confident of a healthy return in the live format. Thankfully, these kings of Spring are awesome (in the true American sense) and pleasure the senses persuaded by a more classic form of poppy-rock eras in music. Harmonies in pursuit of crowd satisfaction, indie girl orgasmic choruses and bags of energy on stage, the boys show off their great ability for song writing with pin point accuracy. The potential is bloody ridiculous.

Next up, and almost in stark contrast to the previous performers, cheeky chappy cockney punk band Wonk Unit also please the packed crowd with an engrossing set of stories told through a three chord mantra and “Oi,Oi” flavoured vocal hinge. Visceral yet funny, highlights include ‘Johnny Rambo’ and ‘Elbows’. Frontman Alex Johnson has a fantastic ability to connect with an audience and engage the lay people with the unit’s music. “This is a poem I wrote for my nan!” Makes me laugh incredibly hard, as he riffs off a short primary school effort which is absolutely perfect. The use of trumpet and keyboards is also interesting. They’re not your typical copycat punk band, they have many layers which easily sets them apart from others. Wonk Unit’s eclectic range of song matter and charming on stage persona makes for an extremely entertaining experience. Well in lads, you absolute legends.

And here comes the noise. A noise made by people who know exactly what they’re about to receive. Slaves are one of those acts you can watch 100 times and not be bored, they’re quite a musically moreish outfit you may say. Entering the stage via the football chant like sing along that is ‘We Like To Party’ of Vengaboys fame, the Kentish duo arrive to an eruption of young Mancunians as the giant fleshy wave rips and roars into life. The pair explode into the menacing ‘Ninety Nine’ which is one of the deeper cuts from their 2015 Mercury Prize nominated album Are You Satisfied?

And with the fantastic intro out the way, Laurie and Isaac then re-explode, removing shirts in the process, into the mammoth ‘Live Like An Animal’. My head is boinging like a bouncy ball, I can’t contain myself any more. The whole room is shaking along with the floor, as if The Ritz itself is jumping up and down on a giant trampoline.



Ripping through more BIG tunes such as ‘Sockets’ and ‘WOW!!! 7AM”, it suddenly dawns on me how good this band are live. It’s astonishing what two men with a drum kit and a guitar can produce. I mean its not the most technically proficient music ever, but it certainly has drive and a passion which seeps into the audience and seems to create a third monster instrument of interactive joy.

With the incessant strobe effects almost sending me into some sort of seizure, the highlight of the set has to be ‘Cheer Up London’, with its militant marching pace and Goliath chorus. (I’m running out of words for the description of “BIG” I am very aware of this). YOU’RE DEAD, ALREADY! DEAD, DEAD, ALREADY! Ripples around the airspace, along with half pints and the occasional leather jacket. “This is fucking marvellous!” I mumble to myself, as I look on excitedly at the showmanship produced by drummer/lead singer Isaac Holman. Lapping up the almost hyperbolic appreciation from the punters, the duo exceed the hugeness of the last song with an even greater rendition.

‘Hypnotised (Fuck No)’ is probably the most PUNK I’ve seen Slaves. When I speak to people about them they always seem to scoff up “Who said punk’s dead?!” I think we can all agree, punk is dead in terms of mainstream musical culture (in the UK anyway), so it is nice to have a group who are so popular, showing a domineer so aggressive and in your face (for lack of a better expression), like the “good old days” of the late 70’s. They look like punks, and that southern jab jab hook vocal delivery does indeed put them in the right category of musical rebels fighting against a once again shitty, almost corrupted and blind-eyed British music landscape. Fair play to the boys.

Finishing up now with the soundtrack to a broken Britain in my opinion, ‘Hey’, soars higher than most of the songs before. ‘Where’s Your Car Debbie?’ is always a fan favourite, yet the ditty above I think is their most powerful in terms of actually saying something interesting. It’s almost a riot at this point, I can feel the rage of young lads and gals burning like wildfires across the now Carlsberg soaked floor. And with one last scream from self-drenched maniac Isaac and glance of major appreciation from Laurie, they leave; and so do all the crazy mother-fuckers in attendance tonight.

What an amazing gig, seriously, it was boss. Slaves now have a difficult task of keeping up this live reputation for years to come, and I hope their future releases hold up. I’m extremely positive that they shall succeed, and not disappear into the ether of overrated, over embellished groups and singers. Please don’t go away lads, you’re one of the best live acts in years and we want more.

P.S. DON’T TRUST THE FLIES THEY ARE GOVERNMENT SPIES! (“Sugar Coated Bitter Truth”) – A sentiment I can stick by in today’s messed up world.   

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Liverpool born music writer with passion for punk and Everton FC