‘Twas the night before mischief night, and not a soul was stirring; Getintothis’ Matthew Eland gets spooky with The Blinders
Winter is here, and it’s hit hard.
The clocks have changed, plunging us into five months of full evening darkness, and the temperature has dropped, giving us icy windows and frosty mornings. By rights we should be warming our hands by the oil drum, but we’ve been tempted away from hearth and home by The Blinders, who are currently in the middle of their first major headlining tour.
Chances are you’ve already heard about this lot, probably on these very pages, and it’s time to work out if they’re worth the hype. Out-playing their mates is one thing, but they’re rolling with the big dawgs now. Their new album Columbia has just been released on ModernSky UK and they’ve had a track added to the BBC6 music C-list. The Doncaster three-piece have their eyes set on bigger things: different rules apply.
This, then, might be their biggest test of all: can they replicate their Sound City set, which ended with singer Tom Haywood being held aloft on a sea of chanting fans? It’s an image from a summer that now seems distant on this frosty and frigid evening.
White Room are the warm-up. Their singer certainly looks the part, with his immaculately pressed kecks and cream blazer; the thin white duke with 90s curtains. It takes them a couple of songs to get their groove, but by track three they’ve turned all angular and spikey and it’s much more up our street. They’re at their best when straddling the line between spooky high drama and creepy camp, with their sinister synth interludes faring better than the more straight-faced psych. They invoke pastoral cannibalism and synthy 90s indie (there’s that decade again; maybe that orange and green tracky we used to have will finally become cool), with a hint of Suede thrown in.
Soon it’s time for the headliners. They have a long, long, long intro. The five minutes of Eraserhead noise gives us chance to inspect the entwined trios of ouroboroses, powerful red strobe lights, and the roadie who spends a lot of time checking the guitars and making sure that everything is carefully taped down. Then Gene Wilder starts singing that Willy Wonka song, and it seems the band are about to come on…but no! There’s a recording of someone singing a poem after that.
Before it goes fully Spinal Tap, the band appear and play album opener Gotta Get Through. Charlie McGough‘s bass shakes the floor and pounds in our chests. This is followed by L’Etat C’Est Moi, which brings a welcome bit of swagger. Brave New World invokes the Pixies and at times the group also seem to be channelling a surf-rock version of Favourite Worst Nightmare-era Arctic Monkeys. Haywood‘s proselytizing also invokes Liverpool cult metallers Metro Manila Aide from years ago; when Haywood leans over their crowd and speaks, he has them in the palm of his hand.
By the time they get to Hate Song, the room is hot with sweat and body heat. It’s a scent that can’t be bottled, and testament to the esteem in which this group are held around these parts. They have the crowd-pleasing loud bits to get people jumping, plus a literary sensibility that sets them apart from other lad-rockers. A couple of wavering tempos indicate that there’s still work to be done and one senses that they’re still missing that one big singalong, but all indications are that The Blinders will be around for a while.
Images by Getintothis’ Lucy McLachlan