I may have been a bit quiet on the gig scene of late, but when I heard that The Blinders were headlining Deaf Institute a few months ago, it was a date I couldn’t miss after being blown away from their set at Blackthorn Music Festival in July 2017. There is something a little special, and a little bit dangerous about this Doncaster/Manchester band, and it’s something that has no limits as to how far it can soar.
Unfortunately, I missed the two support bands, Lyerr Band and Strange Bones, but I was reliably informed that both bands were fantastic, and ideal support for a band that is really gathering momentum.
I was, however, just in time to see, Patrick T Davis, deliver three passionate poems directly before The Blinders took to the stage. When he first appeared, I think people were a little taken back by what was going on, but by the end, Davis was cheered rapturously as his witty, Mancunian delivery, focusing around aspects of today’s society, struck a chord with everyone. It’s no secret of The Blinders’ love for poetry and literature, their lyrics are oozed in such powerful scribings, so to have a poet perform beforehand was just another added string to the bow of originality the band whisk up for their live shows.
As soon as Davis finishes, the band are practically onstage, launching into show opener, ‘Swine’. The buzz sweeps around the venue with the boisterous crowd bouncing up and down. Lead guitarist and vocalist, Thomas Haywood, is dressed coolly, looking like one of the pioneering rebels from the 1960s. His face is smeared in black make-up that stretches from his eyes, down his cheeks and onto his neck. The significance of it escapes me, but it looks like war paint, as if saying something ritualistic is about to be seen tonight.
‘Swine’ is the perfect example of The Blinders’ unique and modern psych rock sound, with lively and fiery performances from every band member. The drums from Matty Neale are heavy and rumble along like a tribal beat that prepares you for battle. The weapon of choice is Thomas Haywood’s evocative and eerie fender guitar, which hypnotises you into submission. There is nowhere to hide! With potent such as, ‘I need not to be the man on the street,’ and, ‘There is no hope,’ which are belted out repetitively to sting your soul, ‘Swine’ carries the essence of a 1960s anti-establishment classic, and it’s not the only track to do so.
‘ICB Blues’ is another protest anthem of epic proportions and is a firm fan favourite as the madness on the floor below them spills over into an aggressive mosh pit. With lyrics that attack America, in particular, police brutality, the content is again like a throwback to songs born out of the riots of the 1960s. The tune is phenomenal, drenched in intensity and passion with an ethereal guitar riff and a thundering bass arrangement from Charlie McGough.
‘Brave New World’ is another that invokes such a rebellious notion, given its obvious links to Aldous Huxley’s classic novel of the same name.
Not all the tracks are as fiery and pulsating. The likes of ‘Ramona Flowers’ is slower, yet still carries the same theme of sinister evocation as a typical Blinders track. The slower songs are a chance for Haywood to show his own lyrical prowess as he screams and rants in much the same way as Jim Morrison used to do all those years ago in the style of an eccentric poet. It’s refreshing to see someone in the same mindset do something similar today, and to do extremely well too.
They end with the same flurry as they arrived, with drums that rumble and an attitude that’s soaked with rock swagger. Towards the end of the song, Haywood takes the mic stand and places it into the middle of the crowd in front. He climbs down amongst the mayhem of the audience and carries on playing and wailing, sending the crowd into a screaming frenzy as the set comes to a crashing crescendo, finishing with Haywood still in the audience.
What I like about The Blinders is their ability to change the dynamic of a song in a seamless and effective way. Songs that start with a high tempo can suddenly slow down, and vice versa, changing the mood entirely. There is no structure, its unpredictable, and its unstable, exactly like the regimes they subtly attack, except this works for The Blinders.
There’s something truly quite hypnotic about their music. It sounds like the Wild West meeting the North West. If Tarantino ever fancied creating a film in Manchester, then The Blinders would be perfect for the soundtrack… or it could also soundtrack the darker moments of the novel, ‘Lost in Manchester, Found in Vegas’, if the book was ever made into a film.
The Blinders are still on tour throughout the UK in February. They are confirmed for this year’s Kendal Calling, and also on the bill for Cabbage’s, ‘Glamour at thee Ritz’ night on 19th May. Do not miss out!
Photos by Trust-a-Fox Photography. Please ask permission before use.