For a band who have yet to release their debut record, Slaves seem to have already nailed the art of playing live. From opener ‘White Knuckle Ride’ onwards throughout the hour long set, the energy coming from the band never falters once. Not even mid set technical problems with Laurie Vincent’s guitar can derail proceedings. Frontman and drummer Isaac Holman is a truly engaging live presence and ensures the crowd are entertained with between song banter ranging from everything from what Newcastle’s favorite biscuit is to the Bigfoot that terrorised Tunbridge Wells, inspiring goofy fan favorite ‘Where’s Your Car Debbie?’. Holman introduces each song with anecdotes that are witty and bizarre in equal measure,his persona cutting between charming and menacing. In this way, I am reminded quite a bit of the great John Lydon. Judging by the amount of older punks at the back of The Cluny, away from the rampant pogoing of Slaves’ younger fans, it seems the band have already got the old guard onside.Being a two-piece punk band presents a lot of challenges and restrictions, and detractors could easily scorn the lack of variety on show here tonight. While the buzzsaw riff and frantic, stand-up-drummer pounding may eventually wear thin, there is little evidence of that tonight. Slaves seem to revel in their restrictions and imbue their many of tracks with a huge sense of riotous and juvenile spirit that works well alongside the anger and fury in others, It all gets a bit Mighty Boosh as a bloke in a Mantaray costume struts about during the nutty ‘Feed The Mantaray’ but the crowd lap it up. Isaac is capable of an impressive, terrifying howl and the massive strobe lights flanking the stage help the sensory attack of ‘Okay”s stadium eating riff. It’s all fantastic, vital stuff, and for just two men, Slaves generate a bone-shaking amount of raw power.
Finishing their set with a colossal one-two of ‘The Hunter’ and early single ‘Hey’, both members end up diving into the crowd. Isaac keeps snarling throughout and somehow, the crowd lift guitarist Laurie to his feet as he channels the spirit of Iggy Pop to stand and grab the lighting rig. It’s properly amazing to watch. The lads predictably tumble down back into the crowd and enjoy one last victory roll about with their audience.
Come June 1st when Slaves’ debut LP asks ‘Are You Satisfied?’, judging by the performance at The Cluny, Newcastle will holler a huge ‘Yes’.