Saturday, March 26, 2022

The Blinders // London

The Blinders are the creative masterminds behind one of the most ferociously captivating musical universes I think I’ve ever indulged in.

Akin to their overt influence from Orwell’s dystopian ‘Oceania’, their catalogue appears to exist in a universe in which oppression and hyper-capitalism prevail; their set wasn’t even three songs in when it became exceedingly evident that the society they’re singing about is not unlike our own. 

The band’s expanded lineup as a five-piece has really allowed their unique live sound to flourish. Their melodic opener ‘Barefoot Across your Water’ immediately showed off what this new lineup has to offer. Bringing to the stage a more soulful sound than what their audience may typically be used to, the introduction of keys and a second guitar revealed just how layered their music really is - melodically and lyrically. 

Frontman Thomas Haywood’s formidable penchant for storytelling is truly astounding, providing a sort of cosmic adulation to the literary greats he summons when performing lines such as ‘something wicked this way comes’ and ‘two two, and two make five.’ Haywood provides the audience with an enduring political narrative which sits on the fringes of dystopian nihilism. Staring at his observers with an almost primal intensity, the frontman implicates his audience in his incendiary rhetoric. Where Haywood really impresses is in his ability to somehow make his guitar sound less like an instrument and more like a machine gun - despite losing a string very early on. Perhaps this sound is exactly what The Blinders need to depart from the potential pigeonhole that is the dystopia. The apocalyptic atmosphere generated in the 250-capacity venue acted as a candid reminder that we are all in the trenches together, seeking some sort of musical release from the tribulations of modern politics. 

The rest of the band were certainly not lost to Haywood’s seismic force. Bass guitarist Charlie McGough expertly infused songs such as Forty Days and Forty Nights and Ramona Flowers with elements of intensified swamp rock that would not sound out of place on an album by the likes of The Gun Club or The Birthday Party. His talent on bass is supple in every sense of the word, accentuating the band’s entire set in his provision of a rhythm that was nothing short of killer. 

Drummer Thomas Castrey certainly proved he knew how to pack a punch, with his evocative sound erupting from his instrument like walls of canons. Highlighted in his mighty contribution to the performance of double header tracks Et tu and Brutus, Castrey armed the stage with a sort of kinetic energy that is only comparable to a rocket. This energy was heightened by the presence of keyboard player Johnny James, augmenting a melody which sounded like it came from the brainchild of Ray Manzarek and Vangelis. 

The set aptly ended with Haywood catapulting himself into the audience, zealously joining his brothers in arms. Never have you seen a more favourably disposed crowd to being whacked in the face with a winklepicker. 

Abbie Cronin
Image: Niall Lea

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