The last time self-confessed popular boy band duo Slaves rolled through Belfast, I missed out due to circumstances of my own doing. With a ticket in the bag and eager for a good bounce to their frantic tunes – the morning of the show I decided to mangle my leg on the stairs in the University running late to class. After persisting to the doctor that I was ‘alright’ and that ‘Slaves were playing in the town’ – I was met with a confused, and slightly worried, demeanour and the unforgettable words ‘who the hell are Slaves? You’ve got to get this leg reset!’ Let’s just say, I was not happy upon being kept in until 2am.
Fast forward to 2018 and I was thrilled at the announcement of their return in support of their latest sonic offering ‘Acts of Fear and Love’ featuring the gritty new single ‘Magnolia’. Did you know that 65% of British homes have at least one magnolia wall? I bet you didn’t!
Tonight at Limelight Belfast, Slaves were joined by two support acts – Kent trio Lady Bird and Dublin’s own The Murder Capital. Most of the time, I don’t do background checks on unfamiliar support acts before a show. I turn up early, like everyone should do anyway, and let them surprise me.
Also known as Slaves’ favourite new band, fellow Kent citizens, and Girl Fight Records signees, Lady Bird took to the Belfast stage ready for a bit of fun. To put their sound in a nutshell, think of gritty lo-fi Slaves anthems performed as a 3-piece, whilst mixing up their sound with the likes of Cabbage, Streets-esque vocals, and very early-Arctic Monkeys chops. They made a hell of a racket at an incredible pace, and keep the growing crowd’s heads’ a-boppin’ to opener Social Potions, and songs featured in their set including Shag Tally Tastic, Boot Fillers and the darker Baby! which closed the set. They were noisy with swagger, instigating a dual guitar and drum attack which sounded huge, setting the correct tone for the evening’s proceedings.
The Murder Capital, hailing from Dublin, came on stage in a bombardment of static and feedback. The five-piece had this sinister vibe oozing from them, eying up and challenging the crowd in preparation of the first offering. From the get-go, this band meant serious business. Frantic, energetic and aggressive are the only three adjectives to describe their performance in support of Slaves in Belfast. Amidst the chaos, the members of The Murder Capital began throwing themselves about the stage. As a follower of the Irish music scene, I’m utterly surprised I never came across these lads before this show. Apologetically, I didn’t catch any of their song titles, but I highly recommend this band for fans of Joy Division, Iceage, Gallows and Gang of Four.
Thankfully, they are coming back to Voodoo, Belfast on 12th December, so take the opportunity!
Here we are, 3 years later and with a fully intact leg. The night before, I was browsing the web to check out past live videos of my favourite tunes from the back-catalog to get psyched up!
Two-piece Kentish punks Slaves hit the Limelight stage to the choppy sounds of Sockets before kicking the energy up a level with pounding drums, powerful vocals and bombarding lights. Following this up with ‘Bugs’ and the infectiously catchy and grooving ‘Magnolia’ – the band was already overloading the energy meters with big choruses and attitude, accompanied with quick aggressive movements and one hell of a stage presence. The duo’s performance can only simply be described as a ferocious aural bombardment littered with distortion-laden bass heavy riffs and energetic pounding rhythms designed to control the masses to bounce. The band know what their people want. A good fucking time!
What I also like about Slaves is their crowd interactions and cheeky anecdotes, especially when it comes to the likes of ‘Fuck the Hi-Hat’ and their dedication to all the “miserable b******s of London and Belfast who need some cheering up” before the in-your-face anthem ‘Cheer Up London’ which was excellent to hear unleashed in the flesh. This also goes for the boy from Nandos who got crowd surfed during the tamer acoustic ballad(?) ‘Are You Satisfied?’ with the boys telling the crowd ‘not to let him down until were finished’.
Highlights of their set included ‘Where’s Your Car, Debbie?’, ‘Chokehold’, ‘Sugar Coated Bitter Truth’ and the punchy set-closers ‘Beauty Quest’ and stomper ‘The Hunter’. From start to finish, Isaac and Laurie put the pedal to the floor and pulverised the brains of attendees tonight.
All hail Slaves!
Review & Photography Steven Donnelly