We Like To Party by the Vengaboys rings around Glasgow’s ABC before punk duo Slaves take to the stage; it’s safe to say that of all the songs in the world, this blast from the past was not expected tonight. Isaac Holman and Laurie Vincent don’t play by anyone else’s rules though, and by the time they bolt onto the stage, the crowd is already jumping and the party is in full swing.
They quickly launch into their opener Ninety Nine, cementing their intentions for the night ahead. It’s bursting with aggression, led by Vincent’s galloping bass with Holman’s sneering vocals on the chorus. This moves seamlessly into the equally abrasive Live Like An Animal, which has brilliantly menacing riffs from Vincent, followed by Despair and Traffic, its huge, echoing chorus filling the room.
Following the release of their debut album, Are You Satisfied?, in June last year, the two lads from Kent have been heralded for their mini punk revival. Their guitar, drums and voice set up is so simple yet so effective, particularly when they play live, becoming an almost visceral force. The attitude-laden racket they create is reminiscent of classic 70s punk, while their grime influences allow them to remain incredibly relevant to today’s music scene. A quick scan of the predominantly young crowd indicates that they have won fans from numerous trends and genres; there is a fair mix of Adidas tracksuits, Fred Perry polo shirts, mod haircuts and skinheads on show around the venue.
Their debut album hits you right in the face from first listen, but the songs are even better when they are brought to life in this ferocious manner. Holman is all about the crowd participation, often bellowing out words from pending songs and getting a suitably rousing reaction. Fan favourite Sockets cranks up the atmosphere another notch as he frantically spits out its lyrics, while The Hunter and White Knuckle Ride have a primitive energy about them that is hard to top. You certainly wouldn’t know that the drummer had dislocated his shoulder a few weeks previously, resulting in this date being rescheduled, as he frantically pounds away at his drum kit effortlessly for the duration of the gig while screaming out his lyrics simultaneously.
It has to be said that Slaves don’t delve into the kind of cutting political commentary that bands like Sleaford Mods do; they are perhaps not as gritty as they believe themselves to be. Some of their songs are just plain daft; In Dog Years You’re Dead and Where’s Your Car Debbie? are two stand-outs for this reason, the latter about walking a girl back to her car after reports of a Sasquatch in Kent. However, this is all part of their charm.
It’s good to see that the punk duo don’t take themselves too seriously; they often take breaks in between songs to have humorous banter with the crowd. They are likeable guys who clearly love what they do and are all about having a good time, ensuring that their fans do too. At one point, the pair convince security to let a boy stay in the venue following an impressive crowd-surfing attempt and they receive a heroes’ response. However, admirably, they do stop a song at one point to tell off a guy who they believe to be a harassing a girl in the crowd. The duo have been very vocal in the past about ensuring fans have a safe experience at their gigs and it’s good to see that they are true to their word in this instance.
Slaves know how to put on a punk show, and they rattle through their 16 song setlist in just under an hour. They are undeniably an exciting addition to British rock music and it’s unlikely they’ll be seen in venues of this size again anytime soon. Are you satisfied? Most definitely.