My only live experience of Sheffield-based Drenge prior to tonight was in a television studio in Kent, the band performing a couple of songs to promote its self-titled début album in 2013. At the time, Drenge was very much just youthful brothers Rory (drums) and Eoin (vocals and guitar). Watching them perform, one sensed a bratty petulance bubbling under the surface, something I appreciated, particularly as I later discovered that, rather delightfully, the lyrical content that rejected ideas of romantic love was matched by the lads’ perfect surname: Loveless.

Now supplemented by two additional musicians on keyboards/second guitar and bass, the four-piece step out before us tonight in boiler suits with the letter D attached on a white patch by the right shoulder of each outfit. It’s a look that blends well with Gorilla’s famous stage backdrop, as if the lads have showed up to repair what The Guardian described as “like the controls from a 1950s spacelab”.

At odds with all of this is the chosen stage decoration, which consists of a schoolyard summer fête-style banner in pink and yellow announcing the Grand Reopening tour, as the band literally cuts the red ribbon before beginning the set with new tune ‘Bonfire’, its bellowed spoken-word vocals and heavy bass reverberating under the railway arches.

With a mere two albums released to date, the band is back from something of an early-career hiatus. This can clearly be a risk for a band with such a palpable connection with its audience. Gorilla had sold all tickets for tonight back in February, and the pent-up anticipation is being released in the pit, where it’s bedlam with arms and legs flailing wherever I look. It’s warm, but the heavy-breather directly behind me is providing pleasant ventilation.

‘The Woods’ hits the spot whenever I hear it, and live no exception, with Eoin’s dour vocals and menacing guitar lines in the verses carried away in the chorus by waves of melody, something not always to the fore in Drenge’s spiky, short and snappy songs. Highlight of the bunch is arguably ‘We Can Do What We Want’, a proper head-lodger of a tune that charges along with reckless abandon.

The rendition of ‘Fuckabout’ in the encore is extraordinary in that it sees Eoin come out solo with acoustic guitar to strum the chords as the crowd sings in unison lines like “I don’t give a fuck about people in love”. Eoin himself doesn’t sing a word for the entirety of the song. And there really is no need to because the crowd’s recollection of the words and indeed the devotion to the band across the whole set was never in any doubt. Love might not be on the agenda for Drenge, but it’s a word that blatantly applies to the outpouring of affection from crowd to band. Another hiatus would break many hearts.

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Steve Jones

Apart from about five years in total, I've always lived in Manchester. Shame about the weather and lack of beach, but I do like it here. My all-time favourite gig would have to be The National at the Academy in about 2010, although I did get Matt Berninger's mic cable wrapped around my neck (that was a close one). My guilty pleasures include the music of Bruce Springsteen, and I also felt a bit bad for feeling such joy at seeing Counting Crows live in the early 2000s. I recommend Lifter Puller, a rather obnoxious and unpleasant-sounding band that I can't seem to get enough of, even though they are long disbanded. Amongst my Silent Radio gigs, I was blown away by John Murry. I'll let you know if anything tops that one.