“No Holds Barred”: The Blinders at The Cluny, 16th Oct 2018

Written by Live Reviews, Music


Having never been to The Cluny before, the pessimist inside me was expecting a relatively threadbare crowd, but instead there was a healthy and energetic audience that befitted The Blinders’ intense set of political punk-inspired rock. ‘Gotta Get Through’ was the perfect start to the gig, a combination of pulsating guitar, powerful drums and lyrics shouted in a manner reminiscent of Slaves that set the tone for the evening.

‘L’Etat C’est Moi’ was driven by a menacing bassline from Charlie McGough that complemented the rather dark lyrics concerning our subservience to the state. ‘Brave New World’ is one of their better-known tracks and undoubtedly one of the most impressive on their set list. One of the many songs from the album ‘Columbia’ that is influenced by the dystopian fictions of Orwell and Huxley, it combines an addictively catchy riff and memorable chorus with inherently political lyrics that address the modern day as some sort of twisted dystopian world.

Frontman Thomas Haywood takes aim at Trump, TV culture and the Kardashians throughout the song to an eardrum-bursting musical backdrop, and this effort undoubtedly produced one of the best reactions from the eager crowd. ‘Where No Man Comes’ is almost a lyrical rewriting of Orwell’s 1984, with lines such as “I work to rectify the party’s lies” and “in your dreams is when your mind betrays you/I swear by it we’re not at war with Eastern Asia” making it clear where the inspiration for this song lies.

[pullquote]Thomas Haywood takes aim at Trump, TV culture and the Kardashians [/pullquote]

Each line is delivered with aggression and the verses are fairly stripped back instrumentally in order to give each word a real sense of weight, making the comparisons between the oppressive Orwellian world of 1984 and our own reality even more profound. ‘The Hate Song’ is an embodiment of the political angst that is at the very root of The Blinders and their music. It possesses that same raw energy that has made the likes of Cabbage and Slaves so popular, with angrily recited lyrics such as the refrain of “dance, dance, dance to the hate song” that accompanies a superbly chaotic crescendo.

Perhaps the only disappointment of the night was the absence of ‘Orbit’, a song that is reminiscent of spoken word poetry. Haywood critiques ideas of class and inherited wealth with a poetic rhythm, backed by little more than a simple drum beat and a hauntingly ominous piano. Given that the band had a short set it makes sense that they opted to keep their performance upbeat and energetic, but this song is arguably one of the best from their debut album and hopefully will be given a live airing in the future.

The Blinders, in a time where there are debates over whether music and artists should be overtly political being started by Piers Morgan, deserve credit for writing music that is imbued with political and cultural references. They have the potential to be one of the most significant modern torchbearers for politically tuned music, and if you can appreciate no-holds barred songs that couple brain-melting instrumentals with punchy lyrics that tear the often-absurd society in which we live to shreds, then go and see The Blinders live.

Last modified: 18th October 2018

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