Photography: John Middleton / johnmiddletonphoto.co.uk

The Slow Readers Club

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  • Shadowparty
Arts Club 15/4/19

Years of hard work have led to the Manchester-based quartet SLOW READERS CLUB selling out shows up and down the country, one of which being tonight. Arts Club is their latest stage on their biggest tour to date. They have been steadily building up a loyal fan base since 2011, and three albums later, their place in the northern music scene has been firmly cemented next to some of the region’s finest.
A crowd of loyal fans have made the pilgrimage to support the band, who are still riding high on the release of their 2018 album, Build A Tower. Right from the start, the room is all fired up; you can tell this is a gig people have been waiting for a long time. Even before the support act comes on, the crowd are chanting “Readers, Readers, Readers!”. It’s a war cry I assume is common practice at all of their shows.

Yet, a tad longer and we are allowed to enjoy the anticipation as supergroup SHADOWPARTY take to the stage. Comprised of Tom Chapman and Phil Cunningham of New Order, Josh Hager from Devo and Ellen Lewis on keyboards there is definitely a Manchester theme running throughout the evening. They make for the perfect accompaniment to the main act.

As The Slow Readers Club emerge onto the stage to a surprising, but not unwelcome, Donna Summer track, the chanting is joined by fists in the air and beers in the hand. Phones are in their rightful place, inside pockets, and the 80s inspired synths of Fool For Your Philosophy, taken from the group’s second album Cavalcade, ring throughout the room.

You can instantly tell where the band have taken their inspiration from. Hailing from Manchester it is no surprise nuances of Joy Division, New Order and The Smiths are laced throughout their musical style and lyrical storytelling. It’s definitely a modern Manchester sound, and one to be proud of.

Taking tracks from all three albums and a few new unreleased songs, the crowd hang on every word front man Aaron Starkie, who belts out from atop a speaker. His voice is deep and reminiscent of the 80s indie bands mentioned before, but he is able to show off his impressive vocal range in songs such as Lunatic and You Opened Up My Heart from their new album. Backing vocals from the room shouting back the lyrics only adds to the songs distinctive sounds.

The great thing about this gig is that everyone knows all the words to everything. The majority of the songs have an anthemic vibe to them. It feels like one of those shows you go to when a band that has been around for decades plays all of their classics. The 16-song set is performed with hardly a break in play as Block Out The Sun, Feet On Fire and I Saw a Ghost drive on the crowd for a closing worthy of an arena gig. The opening riff to On The TV has everyone, literally everyone, bouncing and is the perfect way to end the night. Straight up indie rock. No frills needed.

You can tell this tour is a celebration of their perseverance and determination to get to where they are now. Starkie reveals that this is the first year they have all been able to give up their day jobs and focus on their music full-time. With shows like this, being signed to Modern Sky and fans following them round the country, they must be doing something right. That’s if the cries of “Readers, Readers, Readers!”, continuing long after the band have left the stage, is anything to go by.

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