The Blinders – Live Review – York Crescent
By Ceri Saunders, November 2018
When you hear a debut album as powerful as The Blinders’, you expect the show to smack you round the face from start to finish. Since the Doncaster-born three-piece’s debut, Columbia arrived in September, they have been taking their disillusioned, politically fuelled musical message to every corner of the country – and for their first show at The Crescent in York, some 250 punters were ready and waiting for a dose of what they had to offer.
Support came from York’s very own Faux Pas, thrilled to be returning to one of the city’s most prolific live music venues, and Brighton five-piece White Room – both of whom brought their own energy and substance to the stage, making the most of their opportunity to impress and entertain a mostly young and influential crowd ahead of the night’s headliners’ appearance.
And when they were ready, the room knew about it. Lights dimmed beyond their normal level and the rumble of a specially sampled ‘entrance’ track – featuring ‘Pure Imagination’ from the original 1971 Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory – which continued to escalate and immerse the crowd into their dystopian take on the world.
“Thrash in to opener”
Two minutes later, it was time for action. The lights were up, and lead guitarist/vocalist Thomas Haywood – aka Johnny Dream, his on-stage and on-album-cover alter ego – bassist Charlie McGough and drummer Matt Neale burst on to the stage.
No introductions are needed as they instantly thrash in to album opener ‘Gotta Get Through’, much to the crowd’s delight. A swirl of moshpit-goers take their position at the foot of The Crescent’s tiny stage, echoing back each and every word Haywood screams into his microphone.
And this sets the tone of the gig. From ‘Gotta Get Through’ the trio instantly lead into ‘L’Etat C’est Moi’, following the album’s trajectory. But there’s a problem – they’ve opened with arguably two of the biggest songs from the album. How were they going to maintain this pace and energy for another hour?
“A lot to say”
It’s after ‘L’Etat C’est Moi’ that Haywood utters the only words he would for the entire gig – “We’re The Blinders” – as the group continue to play tracks from their debut. And it’s strange – for an album I was so excited to see performed live, the gig after the two openers seemed distinctly lacklustre.
Tracks like ‘Salmon of Alaska’ brought things down to a snail’s pace, and while the positioning of this on the album works well, it seemed to slow the gig down to a grinding halt.
There’s no doubt that these youngsters have a lot to say – their album and their image is testament to this. But when it comes to bringing this to the stage, it doesn’t quite translate. Yet.
The Blinders are a young – and relatively fresh – band. They no doubt have plenty of gigs ahead of them, and time to nail their stage presence. Perhaps I expected too much – after all, it is all about the music. But The Blinders have some work to do if they’re to become one of the best live acts in the country.