REVIEW: Slaves, O2 Academy, Newcastle

Take a cursory look at the charts, and you'd be forgiven for thinking today's youth gorge on an exclusive diet of Drake, Little Mix and Taylor Swift.

Friday, 18th November 2016, 10:05 am
Updated Monday, 21st November 2016, 12:27 pm
Slaves' Laurie Vincent struts his stuff at the O2 Academy. Pic: Gary Welford.

It's true that mainstream rock has been in decline for the best part of a decade, yet the masses who filled Newcastle's O2 Academy last night proved that demand remains not only for guitars, but also that for raw, raucous punk spirit.

It's not entirely clear why Slaves have become poster boys for this new generation.

Isaac Holman of Slaves in action at the O2 Academy in Newcastle. Pic: Gary Welford.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Sure, being on a major label can't have done them any harm, but that alone doesn't account for healthy record sales or near sold-out UK tours. Perhaps they're simply in the right place at the right time.

Duos are very much in vogue, singing drummers are a growing trend, and with the rise of Royal Blood, the same can be said for bass and drum combos.

That, of course, is before you even consider the energy and commitment of their performances, and for all the other factors it's that which got tonight's crowd jumping.

Hailing from Royal Tunbridge Wells in Kent, the pair comprise drummer and lead vocalist Isaac Holman and guitarist/bassist Laurie Vincent, and it's the former who provides the bulk of their lifeblood.

Isaac Holman provides the rhythmic backbone for Slaves' high-intensity singalong songs. Pic: Gary Welford.

His kit only consists of a pair of drums and cymbals, but the sheer force with which he thrashes it is a slight to behold - as is the sweat he draws from doing so!

There's nothing particularly unique or sophisticated about their songs, but when they're dealt with this much punch and conviction, there doesn't really need to be.

A similar sentiment can be applied to their sound, whose bare-bones aesthetic was often filled out the crowd's fiery contribution.

Spit It Out - the lead single from new album Take Control - for instance, had most of the audience screaming with an intensity rivalling that of Holman himself, while the high-octane rush of Sockets proved a standout from last year's Mercury-nominated record Are You Satisfied?

Slaves inspire a steely devotion among their young crowd. Pic: Gary Welford.

For me, though, the highlight came (somewhat predictably) in the form of Cheer Up London, a furious and thrilling romp which proves just how far a catchy riff and repetitive shout-along chorus can go.

The extent of their popularity might be difficult to comprehend, yet as the entire floor morphed repeatedly into one giant mosh pit, it was impossible to deny the devotion they inspire.

For what it's worth, LIFE look well on their way to achieving the same effect.

Playing the main support slot, the Hull quartet delivered a storming half-hour set, providing a taster of their upcoming debut album.

Slaves are a no-frills duo who deal in big beats and shoutalong choruses. Pic: Gary Welford.

With a more fulsome, rounded sound and plenty of quirks to boot, they're a group who're tailor-made for larger stages - particularly singer Mez Green, who was clearly in his element.

Mixing the vocals of Mark E Smith with the mannerisms of Jarvis Cocker, his charisma adds an extra dimension to frantic nuggets like Go Go Go and Popular Music, and seemingly won a host of new fans in the process.

With an electric live show, a captivating frontman and bags of crossover potential, there's no reason why they can't emulate Slaves' success come the new year.

Slaves' singing drummer Isaac Holman in typical pose. Pic: Gary Welford.
Slaves' Laurie Vincent switched between lead and bass guitar throughout the set. Pic: Gary Welford.
Slaves' singing drummer Isaac Holman. Pic: Gary Welford.
LIFE have a captivating frontman in Mez Green. Pic: Gary Welford.
Main support band LIFE are due to release their debut album next year. Pic: Gary Welford.
Isaac Holman of Slaves in action at the O2 Academy in Newcastle. Pic: Gary Welford.
Isaac Holman provides the rhythmic backbone for Slaves' high-intensity singalong songs. Pic: Gary Welford.
Slaves inspire a steely devotion among their young crowd. Pic: Gary Welford.
Slaves are a no-frills duo who deal in big beats and shoutalong choruses. Pic: Gary Welford.
Slaves' singing drummer Isaac Holman in typical pose. Pic: Gary Welford.
Slaves' Laurie Vincent switched between lead and bass guitar throughout the set. Pic: Gary Welford.
Slaves' singing drummer Isaac Holman. Pic: Gary Welford.
LIFE have a captivating frontman in Mez Green. Pic: Gary Welford.
Main support band LIFE are due to release their debut album next year. Pic: Gary Welford.