SlavesO2 Academy 16/11/18
Hailing from Tunbridge Wells, Lawrence William Vincent and Isaac Llewellyn Holman have arrived in Merseyside to paint the town magnolia. “Did you know that 65 per cent of UK homes contain at least one magnolia wall?” I bet you didn’t.
I arrive at the O2 Academy with my Dad in tow, because let’s face it, my Dad is punk rock! Having spent the previous weekend conversing about British punk bands like The Clash, The Damned and The Slits, I’ve managed to convince him to check out the equally abrasive SLAVES. He knows what to expect… We’ve previously seen the band tear up the O2 Academy, two years prior. What we didn’t anticipate, however, was to hear an entire crowd of punks singing along to Eurodance in the form of We Like To Party (The Vengabus).
Never taking themselves too seriously, Laurie and Isaac bound onto the stage midway through the track to the roar of the crowd; laying into their instruments for Sockets from their 2015 debut Are You Satisfied? Seizure-inducing stage lights, pounding drums, chopping sludge riffs, and an aural assault send the crowd into a frenzy. The energy emanating from Slaves – and the crowd in equal measure – leaves us soaking in sweat by the time they followed up quick-fire with the ferocious Bugs, and the infectious, grooving Magnolia, from their latest offering Acts Of Fear And Love.
Emerging from a cloud of dry ice and without much pause for breath, Isaac launches into a rant regarding the earlier years of their career. No one wanted to form a band with the duo, so Isaac and Laurie decided to create Slaves themselves – with a DIY aesthetic and punk rock attitude. “Fuck ’em! Who’s laughing now?” This doesn’t stop hecklers from asking the same stupid fucking questions. “Where’s your hi-hat?” Isaac looks around at the crowd for a moment. “Fuck the hi-hat” he screams in unison with the capacity crowd, leading the band into the song of the same name from 2016’s Take Control.
The energy never dissipates as the night progresses, and under the shared spotlight Laurie and Isaac waste no time delving further into Are You Satisfied? and Acts Of Fear And Love. Personal highlights include Cheer Up London – dedicated to the miserable bastards of London (and Liverpool) – The Lives They Wish They Had, Where’s Your Car Debbie? The groove-laden riffs of Chokehold only contribute to the bounce of the masses.
Isaac knows how to engage with the crowd, even on slower tracks like Photo Opportunity. As Laurie dons his acoustic guitar, Isaac asks that everyone puts their mobile phones back in their pockets, leading into lyrics “Hello, what are you trying to do to me?/This is not a photo opportunity”, before pointing towards the crowd with the playful exclamation: “Put it away, dickhead!” Slaves’ trademark comical banter continues with their introduction to Feed The Mantaray, as Issac waxes lyrical about their merch guy – dressed up as a mantaray – who was keen to partake in crowd surfing earlier on in the tour.
Pulverising his standing drum kit with sheer velocity during Sugar Coated Bitter Truth and Beauty Quest, Issac continues his aural aggression with lyrics: “Now you’re a slave to their every command. You can try to talk but they have cut out your tongue.” Laurie matches this brutality with blistering guitar patterns, ending the night on The Hunter by colliding into the amp behind him – leaving his guitar suspended upside down as the band embrace and leave the stage. It is absolute chaos.
As we leave the feedback behind us I turn to my Dad and say just one word: “Pub?” Wiping the sweat from his brow, he turns to me laughing and replies “What a stupid question!”