The Blinders – The Haunt, Brighton – 10th November 2018

Photo by Jamie MacMillan

The latest band to offer a very modern voice of dissent in a world of discord, Manchester’s The Blinders steam into Brighton for a night of sweaty, intense and dark post-punk. First from an interesting line-up, Brighton’s Swoon. A fascinating, heady combination of punk and electro, they ignore the empty space that is initially present in front of them and seize the show as if it is their own. Their recent Fun Police EP release is one of the most exciting debut releases for some time, and there is a potent energy to their live performance tonight. Expect to hear a lot more about these in the months to come.

Following them are White Room, who are increasingly looking like the real thing. Surely capable of headlining The Haunt in their own right soon, there are plenty of the crowd who are here just for them. Playing a tight set with supreme confidence, frontman Jake Smallwood peacocks, every inch the star. There’s a whole lot of magic wrapped up in this band, little threads drop from each track, all containing their own little mystery to unravel. ‘Shoot’ in particular is a frenetic, post-punk meets art-rock slab of delight.

When The Blinders emerge and blitz straight into ‘Gotta Get Through’, the sharp intake of breath can be felt, rather than heard, before one of the rowdiest shows down at The Haunt for a while erupts into a full tempest. ‘L’etat C’est Moi’ follows, singer/guitarist Thomas Haywood at points either leaning deep into the crowd or down on his haunches. Bassist Charlie McGough is like a coiled spring, ready to fly at any point, his seemingly tetchy mood brought on by a stage invader trampling over his pedals. The crowd and the mosh-pit seem to teeter on the very edge of chaos at points in the early parts, somehow not quite descending into a full meltdown and pulling back just when trouble seems unavoidable.

An explosive, furious set continues, a blistering performance taken largely from their recent release Columbia. ‘Where No Man Comes’ thunders along on its glam rock stomp, ‘I Can’t Breathe Blues’ takes the breath away in its ferocious crescendo. Older singles ‘Swine’ and ‘Ramona Flowers’ are dropped in to remind the crowd that this power and vibrancy are not new, riding ahead of a storm that finally bursts during a mighty rendition of ‘Hate Song’.

This becomes one of those occasions where a live performance transcends the original record, where the original tracks (though faithfully performed) are lifted to new heights by the fervour of a room. The intensity down the front adds something to this, even despite a lack of interplay between band and crowd (with the exception of McGough’s glares). As he and drummer Matt Neale stalk off, leaving Haywood alone to finish with the more meditative ‘Orbit (Salmon Of Alaska)’, the night drifts to a pleasingly cinematic finale and an eye opening show draws to an end.

Jamie MacMillan

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