Live Review: The Blinders @ the O2 Ritz

Doncaster trio ‘The Blinders’ hit the stage on four UK dates at the end of April, and I was lucky enough to have caught them at their largest headline show to date, at the O2 Ritz in Manchester. They served us with an immaculate performance and left countless people walking away from the venue dumbfounded and full of adrenaline.

The forming crowd was introduced to the jangly quartet ‘Working Men’s Club’ who performed with high spirit and charisma. It was a shame to see the band face several technical difficulties but nonetheless great to see them power on through their set. They continued to have fun through their performance, their smiles and chemistry dominant as they presented their unique sound to many new admirers. They have a bright future ahead of them upon their next few releases.

The second support was ‘The Ninth Wave’ – hailing all the way from Glasgow. The co-fronted quartet mesmerised many new fans in the audience with their powerful stage presence and 80’s inspired tunes. Both frontmen owned the stage and unquestionably left us riled up for the main act.

Credit: Sam Crowston

After what felt like years of anticipated waiting, the stage’s lighting turned out and the eerie collage of political messaging and air-raid sirens flooded the venue. The energy of the crowd elevated and many began to cheer, almost brimming with excitement. The stage’s ambience turned red and almost dangerous once the intro had finished – and the trio entered the stage.

Drummer Matty Neale welcomed the first track ‘Gotta Get through’ with his fierce drumming, before the rest of the trio claimed their parts, already thrilling the audience. The crowd moshed, screamed and danced along with their friends, celebrating the work of the band through all sixteen songs (including three new tracks).

The production value behind the trinity was also monumental. Even down to the appearance of the band, everything seemed immaculate. Lead singer and guitarist Thomas Hayward wore the now iconic Columbia face paint around his eyes and sang the lyrics with his heart on his sleeve. Bassist Charlie McGough rocked his powerful bass stance, even sometimes posing as if the guitar was a gun and aiming it into the crowd during particularly riled up moments. Neale’s presence was also widely felt despite him not being in the clear eye of the audience. He was heard drumming with an overbearing sense of passion that is difficult to find in many other modern-day bands. All three lads clearly took pride in what they were doing.

The setlist was interfaced with further short audio interludes, gearing the audience up for the next instalment of the show and giving the band members a minute or two to cool down and freshen up. I’ve never seen this done before and thought it was an incredible idea that really makes them stand out compared to the next artist.

Credit: Sam Crowston

After the end of their main set, the audience was left impatiently awaiting their hoped return. To our joy, the trio reentered the stage for two more songs – Orbit and Swine.

Orbit shied away from the full intensity post-punk narrative that we’d exhibited for the last fifty minutes and handed us the most mellow track from the band’s debut. It was eerie to feel the lyrics almost spat at us so much enthusiasm which was only made stronger by several members of the audience joining in with belting out the melancholy verses.

There was a brief interval between tracks before the trio plummeted back into their angst-filled rhythms. Hayward disappeared into the audience during the bridge, interacting with various members whilst they shouted the lyrics along with him. “There is no hope” they sang, again and again until it had built enough momentum for Hayward, McGough and Neale to erupt into the last 30 seconds of incredible instrumentation.

The band exited the stage shortly after the incredible closer, acting as if it was nothing. Over one thousand fans were left admiring the set they had just seen, struggling to take the excellence in.

I look forward to seeing the trio burst with energy and passion again soon, after all, there is no set quite like The Blinders’.

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