Live Review... Slaves
After the possibility of a second set of cancelled tour dates just days beforehand, Isaac Holman and Laurie Vincent are determined to not let a little thing like a dislocated shoulder interfere with one of the biggest shows they've ever played. O2 Academy Brixton welcomes the long line of anticipated fans into the loving arms of Baby Strange before second support act The Skints moves the audience into a more chilled out vibe before the chaos begins. After bounding on to the stage with vigour, strobe lights and Vengaboys' We Like To Party playing behind them, Slaves break into White Knuckle Ride. Their approach to keeping things fresh for live shows is definitely something that I've definitely noticed lacks with other bands but this duo seem to make a priority. Tune after tune from their Mercury nominated debut album destroy any hope of you leaving the venue resembling the same person you entered as. Sockets, Where's Your Car Debbie? and Do Something are just a few which thoroughly sweat the crowd up before Isaac introduces a brand new song, Hypnotise. Whether anyone knows the lyrics or not makes no difference as to the amount of energy everyone chucks into throwing shapes on the dance floor. Inevitably, 'throwing shapes' on the dance floor when it comes to Slaves includes throwing fists and elbows, which I experienced first hand and still have a fat lip from.
“Who here took the tube to get here tonight?” A quick covering of his back assuring that he does actually love Londoners, Isaac and Laurie storm through Cheer Up London, Ninety Nine and Sugar Coated Bitter Truth. As it's that time of the year and one of their final shows of 2015, with an intro of a Slade-esque “It's Christmas!” Slaves break into a confusing yet tremendous cover of Last Christmas. It's a weird feeling, moshing to the punkiest but most passionate version of the classic Wham track I've ever heard.
There are constant chants in remembrance of Laurie's dead goldfish, Gerald who, along with the Mantaray, seems to have become another whimsical mascot for the band. After The Hunter and In Dog Years Your Dead comes something I had hoped and hoped for since first finding out they were playing the Brixton Academy, Beauty Quest. They finish with Are You Satisfied? and Hey which gives everyone who's brave enough plenty of opportunity to get on shoulders and attempt to crowd surf.
Whilst waiting for the encore, topped with a Santa hat an old friend for Slaves' fans sweeps across the stage and over the crowd. The Mantaray has become such a mascot for the band but this time he returns with a more festive name. “Feed the Santaray! Feed the Santaray!” Another cover which has made it's way into quite a few more recent Slaves' sets is Skepta's Shutdown, which sure enough made an appearance last night. After a beast of a set that was now nearly over, I was left wondering as to what Slaves were planning on ending such a memorable show on. But, as soon as the short narrative of “two girls having a fight” began, it became obvious that they really were going to make this night memorable. The spoken lead up to the 30 second long screaming of Girl Fight is so much more satisfying than I could've ever imagined.
In one show Slaves put me in the perfect Christmas mood, caused me great physical pain and, as this was my last gig of the year, ended my year of live music on a fantastic high.
Photo by Nathan McLaren-Stewart, shot at Handmade Festival 2015.