REVIEW: The Blinders @ Gorilla, Manchester

The Blinders/ Afghan Sand Gang Photography by @manc_wanderer

In its current socio-political climate, the UK has naturally seen a surge in political punk artists shouting out to combat the angst of modern Britain. The likes of highly-acclaimed British bands Idles and Shame are amongst the array of artists giving Punk its voice in recent times – both with albums out in 2018 – and in a similar vein, come Doncaster’s The Blinders. Spinning their own take on the genre, the trio are a refreshing addition and have been building a phenomenal live reputation over the past few months, whilst adding to the punk-invasion in entirely their own way. Thanks to an energising setlist and their ability to deliver with a hard-hitting dose of sense, the three-piece are now on everyone’s radar; selling shows out up and down the country without fail. As we saw at the back-end of 2017, The Blinders highly anticipated gig in their spiritual home of Manchester’s Gorilla sold out months in advance, making my first time watching the northern favourites truly significant.

Before the main show, kicking off the night were Afghan Sand Gang.  An indie/ desert-rock outfit, ASG are a rising group delivering atmospheric, synth-led chillers with the ability to create an ambient atmosphere throughout their set. A notable aspect of ASG’s sound is down to the fact that the band substitute the traditional drummer with synthetic drums, a growing trend in modern acts in the UK – especially within the bedroom-pop scene. As one would imagine this is partially down to space, supported by the sound created which tends to have a more hazy, DIY feel. We’re looking forward to seeing what these guys 

The Blinders - Afghan Sand Gang

The penultimate act of the night was courtesy of the great Patrick T. Davies. Davies is a contemporary poet; addressing various relatable topics which range from mundane living in your twenties to making generalisations of the readership of national press outlets, all the while stating his views on modern artists and northern musical peers, including The Sherlocks and heavyweights The 1975. 

Now comes the time that the fans are waiting for, the main party… The Blinders set. Entering the stage to Arthur Browns ‘Fire’, frontman Thomas Haywood storms the stage plastered with trademark black paint spread down his face – an appearance that Arthur Brown himself would have approved of as the band instantly kick off with ‘Gotta Get Through’, a single ladened with blistering psych-led guitars, harsh basslines and heavy vocals.  After playing a number of their songs with full gusto, the trio slip in their most recent release ‘L’Etat C’est Moi’ – always an interesting part of any gig which can sometimes fall short. If the crowd’s reaction is anything to go by, the latest offering is clearly a success in the making as the packed-out Gorilla audience throw themselves about the room again, engaging in befitting fashion to the band acting similarly on stage. A sold-out gig in a thoroughly energetic room, the face makeup Haywood first showcased has now started to bleed down his face, marking a stark representation of the sheer intensity of the gig and the impressive showmanship the young band evoke.

The Blinders

Their biggest hit, ‘Brave New World’, is clocked-on early by fans in the room as Charlie McGough’s distinctive bassline introduction ensures that by its end everyone knows what’s just around the corner. On the night, ‘Brave New World’ served to be a modern anthem for “doomed youth”, (I mean, the original has been taken by some men in their forties).  It’s impressive to see how the audience connects to The Blinders material – the crowd in attendance is full to the rafters with both finding-their-feet teenagers and adults alike who have first handily experienced the topics brought to light from the band’s hard-hitting lyrics. Straight after The Blinders tear the room with the sorely apocalyptic banger, the group play an extended version of ‘Ramona Flowers’. There was a lot of emphasis on this song, with the crowd singing along to this twisted ballad – in perfect timing and enhanced by their doting audience, The Blinders manage to flip the feel of the room and amping it to become something truly atmospheric. 

Cliché, but first impressions are everything and my first impression of The Blinders was striking. The adrenaline and energy of the trio’s performance on stage shows that the band clearly go all-out when playing live, and The Blinders are quickly establishing this reputation for themselves – with an explosive set and their ability to engage and read their audience, the band are able to create more than a performance but a lasting relationship with their fans. I would not be surprised if The Blinders were playing to crowds two times, maybe even three, of the size within a year. Coming leaps and bounds since an intimate set in November 2017 for Off The Record Festival at a venue a fraction of the size of tonights venue, The Blinders are making many festival appearances and have just announced a UK-based tour where they are playing a number dates up and down the country – if you haven’t seen this band before, make sure you snap a ticket soon because they are sure to sell out!

Check out out stripped back session with The Blinders below!