If you’re on here and haven’t heard of The Blinders yet then there’s really no excuse.
The up-and-coming trio have been championed by the likes of Steve Lamacq and BBC 6 Music. More importantly, you may recall that Northern Soul‘s Lucy McNamara interviewed them on our podcast back in February. On that podcast, she asked them about their roots and, while they are from Doncaster originally, they spoke of the wider access to venues and the music industry since moving to Manchester.
This then, their final sold out headline show at Gorilla before Kendal Calling in July, may have seemed like a celebratory homecoming gig, but singer and guitarist Thomas Haywood made sure to point out (twice) that they were from Doncaster.
Visually and sonically, The Blinders are a spectacle to watch live. Haywood moves like a star, coming across almost like Brandon Lee in The Crow with fey androgynous poses and an unpredictable hint of chaos. When you can actually take your eyes off him, you also have the sharp-dressed Charlie McGough stage left, a bopping, brooding, snarling figure on bass. Completing the line up is fresh-faced Matthew Neale on drums and backing vocals.
Set opener Gotta Get Through threatens to become a terrace-style anthem before breaking down into dramatic Spaghetti Western bursts. The energy and theatricality in the live performance brings new life to the song and makes the studio version seem rather refined.
When they play recent single L’etat C’est Moi, the mood becomes even more euphoric. Despite the band’s emphasis on poetic and political lyrics, repetition of a vocal hook is a common trick of theirs and the building line “I’ve got divine right” gets ever more aggressive here, working the entire audience up into their own ‘state’.
By playing two potential encores in the first three songs you wonder how they can keep this momentum up, but the grungy Hate Song and anthemic Brave New World are highlights to follow, sending fans and the volume into new frenzied territories.
The political slant to the band’s lyrics is welcome in modern times. Songs like Murder at the Ballet have the wordy romanticism of someone like Alex Turner and they can be both direct (Hate Song) and open to interpretation (Rat in a Cage).
With the same old (literally) major festival headliners year on year, there’s a gap at the head of the table for a fresh new guitar band. The Blinders are clearly a band to become obsessed with, a devotion in the fan-base with many knowing all the words already. There’s a unity between band and fan and when Haywood says “we’re all in this for the better they say” (Berlin Wall) you feel that everyone there was part of an ‘us’ against the ‘them’.
A triumphant and memorable show. These guys will no doubt be playing at bigger venues after their debut album comes out in September.
To listen to Lucy McNamara chat to The Blinders for the Northern Soul Podcast, click here.