Last Wednesday, I saw Slaves at Rock City – the second concert at the venue in consecutive nights – the duo is becoming regular in my gig calendar. I had previously seen Slaves at Radio One’s Big Weekend last year, and then at their own sold out crazy headline show at Café Indiependent a couple of months ago. While the latter was part of the band’s exclusive Back in the Van tour, Slaves’ show in Nottingham was in support of their sophomore album Take Control (which was released after Are You Satisfied?, the follow up to their 2012 EP Sugar Coated Bitter Truth). The successful release has led to a tour which has sold out several venues across the UK, including Rock City.
I had seen Courteeners at Rock City the previous evening, and it has become one of my favourite places for live music. As I have mentioned in previous blog posts, Slaves, like Royal Blood, may only have two members, but they sure create an amazing sound! Isaac is the main vocalist and plays the drums, whilst Laurie plays the guitar, bass and contributes to backing vocals.
The Support Acts
The two support acts for Slaves at their Rock City were Shame and LIFE. Unfortunately, I did not get to see five-piece Shame perform as circumstances meant I only made it to the venue in time to see second support, LIFE. This band harvest punk at its core and its music carried a lot of zest and drive to it, and they provided an excellent warm-up to the main act! They managed to get the crowd moving which is a feat for any support act, but especially for one who were supporting such a popular band, which the crowd could barely contain their excitement to see.
Quality of Vocals and Instruments
Even before the band arrived on stage, the crowd was eager and it was exhilarating to be part of a crowd which was so excited for it to begin. Slaves are a punk duo from Kent; rather than vocals being sung constantly, there is typically a mash-up of spoken word mixed with rap within their songs, thus judging vocals is different from other concerts I have reviewed. Isaac is a strong main vocalist; rather than the lyrics being performed in a bland monotonous way, he inserted varying tones, pace, and volume into his vocals. Songs including ‘Spit it Out’ and ‘The Hunter’ have a touch of screamo in the choruses, and thankfully Isaac could hit all the higher scream vocal sections in these songs, which made the crowd wild. Laurie also added punchy backing vocals to support Isaac’s vocal work throughout.
Perhaps the hardest part of being a duo in music is not only creating a loud enough sound live between members but also handling instrumental duties. Luckily, Laurie is a skilled guitarist and bassist, while Isaac is a powerful drum player; together they created a wild and energetic atmosphere the whole evening. For the entirety of the concert, except when the pair invited special guests on to the stage, there was no additional backing, and the only two people on the stage were Isaac and Laurie; no one else needed to join them as they are both gifted live performers with their respective instruments.
Energy and Interaction with the Crowd
I adored Courteeners the night before, but the one thing I felt lacked from the gig was audience interaction from the stage: Slaves were constantly talking to us and keeping the energy levels up. There was an unshakeable buzz from the lads and it roused up the crowd a treat! All the way, through the energy from the set, dancing and mosh pits were initiated; I usually avoid mosh pits due to being 5”3 at a push, but the drive from Slaves willed me into the pits! The skits which Slaves performed were incredibly funny and led on perfectly into their songs. Isaac and Laurie, despite their gritty stage persona, showed how grounded and respectful they are, encouraging crowd control and praising security for the wonderful job they did during the concert.
The Set Itself
Admittedly, Take Control is not my favourite album from Slaves, but I loved the choice of songs they selected to play from it, including ‘Consumed Or Be Consumed’, ‘People That You Meet’, and Spit It Out’. My opinion of the album even improved after the show as I loved the live performances of tracks featured on there. I was delighted that a lot of their set comprised songs from their eponymous album, which is my personal favourite: tracks performed off Are You Satisfied? were ‘Feed the Mantaray’, ‘Sockets’ and ‘The Hunter’. Slaves took me by surprise by playing my favourite song by them, ‘Where’s Your Car Debbie?’ – As soon as they started the introduction to this song the crowd went insane! They made the most of their set time, with Rock City imposing a curfew of 10pm on that night.
The gig was breathtakingly fast and barely stopped for a moment and this reaffirmed that Slaves are definitely my favourite band to see live, and I cannot wait to see them again.
Edited by Declan Godfrey.