The Slow Readers Club



Between songs, this low-lung call rings out around the walls of Gorilla like a football chant, like Utd fans singing “Roo-ney” back in the day. A quick scan of the crowd and it’s a real stew… some grey beards (perhaps surprisingly for a band of this relative youth) but up front – locked like limpets – are a gaggle of totally besotted female fans, singing every word of every song, shaking singer Aaron Starkie’s hand and joining in the boozy football chanting. It reminds me a little of seeing Blossoms live and realising how raucous the fans of that tinkly Stockport outfit actually are.. or even seeing footage of The Smiths: romantic whimsy from Morrissey met with total yobbish abandon on the floor.

But before we even get to all that we need to recognise the support – the ever fabulous Liam Frost, not so much Slow Readers Club as ex Slowdown Family, now front and centre for a solo acoustic gig. I have written about Liam quite a bit, and reviewed him here on Silent Radio before, and truth be told, he is half the reason for being here now – as a Gallagher might say. Tonight the new songs sound good, but will need to settle, like a newly laid floor. What really moves me, again, is Liam’s final track, the perennially gorgeous ‘The Mourners of St Paul’s’, which sounds as strong now as when first I heard it. I find Liam at the bar post-set and he tells me the new songs are from a new upcoming album. Delighted to hear a new Frost is on the way (of the sonic rather than meteorological variety).

A brief pause to replenish my tasty beverage and The Slow Readers Club take to the stage, in what is now a totally packed room, this Gorilla busting out of its little Gorilla pants. Most of the set comes from the most recent album – Build a Tower – the band’s third and what still stands as a really rounded, accomplished long player; maybe the high point of a career that has lasted most of this decade (following a previous incarnation as Omerta in the previous one), although as Starkie says – lest we forget – this is still their first year as a professional band.

They are local boys, which might have something to do with the buzz from a crowd watching their team play at home, but our kid has seen them in that there London and said they smashed it down there as well. If you need a sonic synonym, I guess a route one pass would take the ball from Editors on tracks like the fabulous ‘Opened Up My Heart’, with a nod towards Joy Division and a cheeky slide pass to the celestial electronica of someone like Depeche Mode. But really they don’t sound like an awful lot out of Manchester… which is good when the more derivative stuff is indeed awful.

The set opens up, just like the album, with the electronic pulses of ‘Lunatic’; and progresses through tracks from all three albums, including ‘Sirens’ from 2011’s eponymous debut and ‘Plant The Seed’ and the title track of 2015’s Cavalcade. During ‘On The TV’, Kurtis Starkie’s guitar riff is picked up by the crowd and chanted back to the band throughout the song until its very end, superseded by another round of “REEE-DERS – REEE-DERS”. Someone nearby thrusts his colourful walking stick in the air. It’s that kind of night.

There is real energy in the performance and a kind of a determined, ineffable – even militaristic – feel to the mechanised drive of the band – there’s something about the black clothing they all wear that gives the band an immediate monochrome, Kevin Cummins feel. Take the marching drums on ‘Supernatural’ and the stylised nature of Aaron Starkie’s vocal – the hypnotic chant of “I must obey” and the quasi-religious splendor to the thing.

The taut, plucked guitar of ‘Supernatural’ announces the end of the gig. Aaron Starkie explains they would have done an encore but the stage steps meant it was pointless walking off, only to walk back on, so they’ll play the encore straight through. The Readers Club is slow… but the world is catching up. You get the feeling this crowd would have carried them back on. Even the guy with the walking stick.

The Slow Readers Club: Official | Facebook | Twitter

Simon is a writer, broadcaster and countercultural investigator. Over the last 15 years he has written for everyone from The Guardian to Loaded magazine, presented television for Rapture TV and hosted radio programs for the likes of Galaxy. He has also found time to earn a Masters Degree in Novel Writing and write three books (a collection of journalism, a guidebook to Ibiza and one on financial planning for young people – the most varied publishing career it’s possible to have) and establish and run a PR company, Pad Communications, looking after a range of leisure and lifestyle clients.He currently splits his time between researching his PhD at Leeds University, looking into various countercultural movements; consulting freelance for PR clients; writing for the likes of Marie Claire in Australia, The Big Issue and the Manchester Evening News, where he reviews concerts, theatre and is their Pub & Bar Editor. He is also broadcaster, appearing regularly on Tony Livesey’s late night 5Live show for the BBC, and also for BBC Radio Manchester Gourmet Night food and drink show.Simon’s main focus has been music and travel. His career has included editing Ministry of Sound’s magazine in Ibiza for two summers and also writing two long-running columns for DJmagazine – ”Around The World in 80 Clubs” (which took him everywhere from Beijing to Brazil, Moscow to Marrakech) and “Dispatches From The Wrong Side”. A collection of the latter was published in the UK and US as the book Discombobulated, including tales as varied as gatecrashing Kylie Minogue’s birthday party, getting deported from Russia, having a gun held to his head by celebrity gangster Dave Courtney and going raving in Ibiza with Judith Chalmers. He has recently written for the likes of Red magazine, Hotline, Clash, Tilllate, Shortlist and the Manchester Evening News. Pad Communications has recently consulted for clients as varied as Manchester nightclubs and New Zealand toy companies.On a personal note, Simon is a Londoner who left the capital at the age of 18 and never looked back. He sees himself as a citizen of the global dancefloor having lived in Sydney, Los Angeles, Ibiza and Amsterdam. However his life is now rather more sedentary. After all his adventures he bumped into and subsequently married his highschool sweetheart from their North London Grammar. They now live in Stockport with their four children and four chickens, trying to live the good life. Simon recently turned 40 and is steadfastly refusing to have a midlife crisis – as in, growing a ponytail and buying a shiny red sports car.OK, maybe he’ll buy the sports car…