With second album, ‘Cavalcade’, released only days earlier, Manchester indie/electronic band, The Slow Readers Club’s gig at The Academy 3 was hailed as perhaps their most important to date. They didn’t disappoint as they continued to impress a growing fan base that sold out tonight’s show, a remarkable achievement for an unsigned band.
The second album was to understandably dominate the setlist, opening with the fiery, ‘Start Again’, which set the tone for a blistering collection of energetic tunes that the audience bounced and sang along to, showing that The Slow Readers Club are really capturing the hearts and imaginations of those in attendance.
‘Sirens’ and ‘Forever in Your Debt’ follow and you start to get a feel for what The Slow Readers Club are all about. Taking influences from former Manchester legends, the lively beat and pace of New Order is merged with the subtle despair and darkness of Joy Division, and there’s the occasional sprinkling of Depeche Mode and The Killers to add further afield influences into the fray.
Lead Singer, Aaron Starkie sings confidently and in a similar haunting and overpowering style as a couple of the aforementioned predecessors, with comparable lyrics around relationships, anguish and torment. However, there’s something a little more innocent about his vocal, prevalent in the more heart rendering tracks such as ‘Here in the Follow’, ‘Cavalcade’ and ‘Know The Day Will Come’, which all carry an emotional pull that deviates from the pulsating aspect of a typical Slow Readers Club concoction, showing they are brave enough to push their own boundaries to something a little different from just being a typical upbeat electronic based band.
Personal favourite and past single release, ‘Don’t Mind’, falls into the more relaxed category, and is a track to instantly strike a love affair with. Slow, meticulous and cool, but deep and meaningful, it takes you anywhere you want to be, invoking contrasting images and emotions within each listener which is the sign of a great track, and quite typical of Manchester based song writing.
‘I Saw A Ghost’ is a recent single release and an obvious fan favourite judging by the elevation of decibel levels and mood from the crowd. ‘Fool For Your Philosophy’ and ‘Feet on Fire’ could be songs that New Order didn’t get around to recording with funky electronics and raucous bass lines from James Ryan, who is a prominent figure throughout with a mixture of rumbling and dynamic arrangements. Guitarist Kurtis Starkie (Aaron’s brother) can be so intricate and inventive in his riffs, almost like a trickling sound at times, especially on ‘Forever in Your Debt’ and ‘Don’t Mind’, which makes them such intoxicating tracks. Drummer David Whitworth, who was also looking after the electronics this evening, was an important presence to keep the powerful, bouncy component of key tracks at the required tempo.
The crowd wouldn’t let them get away with sloping quietly off stage at the end of the main set without coming back for one more track. Aaron announces that this is actually their first ever encore, so history was made in that respect. They play ‘One More Minute’, another energetic track, which left the crowd in buoyant mood before they took to the streets of Manchester with the belief they’ve seen a band who will continue to rise.
This was the first time I’d ever seen The Slow Readers Club and thanks goes to Philip Howe of Mancunian Ways for politely forcing me to listen to them late last year. It was a very accomplished and professional performance, and I didn’t expect anything less after hearing the ‘Live at The Manchester Central Library’, (quite an apt association when you think about it) performance released late last year, which was superb and sounds so clear that it could be a studio recording. It actually made my top 10 albums of 2014, and there’s a good chance ‘Cavalcade’ will make the top 10 of 2015. Things are looking bright for The Slow Readers Club and it’s surely only a matter of time that there momentum takes them to the next level.
Photo by Matt Johnston