The Blinders

-DEAF INSTITUTE, MANCHESTER-

It’s Saturday night in blustery Manchester and it’s time for something loud, aggressive yet infectious all the same. Tonight’s supper is a run in with Doncaster’s latest and probably best export (because let’s face it the football team isn’t anything to write home about) which comes in the shape of a psych/punk trio, with strong horror themes and monologues taken from Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory… what more could you possibly want?

But first, a band landing firmly in the punk-rock zone, Strange Bones offer something that is potentially more violent than anything the Deaf Institute has seen before. To be fair to the four piece they haven’t hurt anyone yet, however the way this set is going – and how the rather angry frontman is going about his business – it’s all gonna end in tears. Fortunately, the only parts of my body in pain are my ears, with songs such as ‘Snakepit’ and ‘We the Rats’ giving me intense yet positive pleasure in that part of the brain whose job it is to go “FUCK YEAH!” any time something boss happens.

Their half hour set is coming to an end and I could easily listen for another half hour. Their cover of the Avelino song ‘Energy’ in particular showcases their raw yet exquisite talents. They’re not just some meatheads bashing about atop a stage with stringed instruments, but they’re talented musicians capable of taking songs from a completely different genre and making it ten times better, fair play.

But now, the moment everyone in this sweatbox has been waiting for, The Blinders. This will be the third time viewing the young trio and I’m quite excited, a feeling I haven’t had for quite some time to be honest. Not in this way anyway, a feeling that I’m witnessing a band on the rise, an act deservedly on the up, a band soon every fucker will know and love. Everyone in this gaff certainly KNOWS and LOVES the Blinders, with many wearing their Blinders t-shirts, owning excited and giddy faces as the lights go down.

An enormous cheer erupts as they enter the scene, with their opening song “Gotta Get Through’ getting everyone even sweatier. When I first heard the Blinders, on their 2016 EP Hidden Horror Dance, I wasn’t really that impressed. I thought the hooks were reminiscent of laddy bands such as Arctic Monkeys and didn’t think it was anything special. Over time though, which was probably helped with seeing them live, their redeeming factors of grotesque, throat slashing lyricism became more prominent, consuming their entire sound and eventually it all made sense (sorry if that last sentence didn’t).

The Blinders

Like right now, I can see the appeal. Their faces are serious, focused and angry, and not in an over the top way either, which is blatantly forced and cringeworthy. The music morphs their physical forms into imposing characters in a genuine manner. And as they carry on through songs such as ‘Swine’ and ‘Murder at the Ballet’, the electric atmosphere only gets more charged. It’s no wonder tonight’s show is sold out, it seems like the only place to be. Every foray into the crowd from singer Thomas Haywood gets the young contingent up top rowdier and rowdier, to the point where the tech guy has to stand on people’s heads to keep the microphone lead from being swallowed up, never to be seen again. It’s always an exciting moment.

You can literally see the effort on Haywood’s face, as the black makeup under his eyes drips and spreads every second, now causing wet dark smudges on his hands. I couldn’t help but wonder, is that a pain in the arse to get off your guitar? Ah well, my stupid musings don’t fucking matter, what matters is the stellar musicianship and charming persona the group exudes. Bass player Charlie McGough personifies this coolness perfectly, casually strutting back and forth providing a meaty rhythm section alongside Matthew Neale.

I wish I could talk in greater detail about every single nuance of the set but frankly, I’m having too good of a time to take note. I can say however, that renditions of ‘Brave New World’ and ‘Ramona Flowers’ are the best of the night. Brooding, atmospheric and politically relevant too, the former is hopefully the sort of track to come from their debut album, which is set to be released this year. With the declaration of no encore, the Blinders finish their set with another… well, blinder. I’m drenched in sweat, which to be fair could have been avoided if it wasn’t for this big fuck off blue coat I’m wearing. Alas, sweat or no sweat, what’s for certain is that I’m heading home extremely satisfied. The Blinders pulled off one of the best sets I’ve seen to date in Manchester, which is no mean feat. They were tight, loud and provided a great energy for the revellers to feed off as they no doubt leave here and go get fucked; it is Saturday night after all.

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I like nothing more than smoking bifters and criticising people much more talented than myself, it’s what I’m good at (I think), well sometimes I can be. I believe that getting wankered at a gig is crucial to the live review, you speak the truth, what you actually fucking thought. Rather than pussyfooting about, I like to be honest. It doesn’t bother me if people disagree with my opinions, that’s life innit. Listening to good music is vital to a healthy lifestyle, as well as the fruit and all that bollocks.