For the past year or so the punk monster that is Slaves has been rapidly building momentum. With live stints on Later…With Jools Holland and a ferocious backing by practically every Radio One DJ, tonight’s sold out show proves the Kent duo are already a force to be reckoned with. Slaves are about to hit super sonic speed with the release of their new album ‘Are You Satisfied?’ on the 1st of June.
But before they hit the stage, openers Crows head out to a rather empty room. Playing a no frills set, they spend their time cracking through as many songs as possible, rather than interacting with the audience between songs. It’s a noble effort, trying to get as much of their material heard by new ears as possible, but unfortunately the lack of breaks and introductions make all of the song blend into one, nothing distinctly interesting standing out. As the set progresses more people enter the room, giving Crows polite claps between each song. They finally introduce themselves before the last song, but it all seems a bit too little too late. (2/5)
Next up and hoping to do better are Baby Strange. The trio from Glasgow play a more up tempo set compared to their predecessors getting the crowd nodding their heads. Stand out songs include ‘VVV’ and ‘Friend’, but although they play a solid set, it seems to fall a bit flat on tonight’s audience. The sold out room are here to see a band full of attitude, feeling and presence which both support acts seem to lack. On another bill I’m sure both Crows and Baby Strange would be welcomed additions, but playing along side Slaves they seem to lack something, and come off as a rather odd choice of support. (2.5/5)
The wait is almost over, as Skepta’s ‘Shut Down’ is played into the room to a rowdy crowd, who have clearly all heard Slaves rendition of the song for Radio One a week or so ago. As Slaves enter stage right, the audience are pulsating with energy. They kick off the set with ‘White Knuckle Ride’. Slaves are one of those bands that appeal to everyone, which is evident looking around at the crowd, seeing old and young, “alternative” and modern fashion, girls and boys – most people can relate to the music.
They play a set full of old favourites and new songs off ‘Are You Satisfied?’ – most notable is ‘Sugar Coated Bitter Truth’ which sounds massive and stands out in the best possible way between their normal punky songs. The stamina shown by drummer and main vocalist Isaac Holman should be commended, putting in as much energy at the end of the set as he did at the start while not faltering once with the vocals.
Recent singles ‘Cheer Up London’ and self-proclaimed aquatic ballad ‘Feed The Mantaray’ have the room bouncing, the latter featuring a special guest appearance from the mantaray himself, diving onto the crowd to chants of “Feed the mantaray. Feed the mantaray”. Although the audience shout for the cover of ‘Shut Down’, Slaves finish the set on ‘Hey’, with both Isaac and guitarist Laurie Vincent joining the crowd for the last half of the song.
The band were tight, setlist near perfect, backdrop brightly lit and the room covered in sweat, Slaves have somehow upped their game! (4.5/5)
Words and photos by Carrie-Anne Pollard