By: Alan Ewart

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Support: The Wytches | website

Pyramids, Portsmouth | February 24, 2015

I managed to catch part of the Slaves set at last years Reading Festival and had been looking forward to seeing them again ever since. The opportunity arose on Tuesday evening as the Slaves were out on the road on the 2015 NME Awards tour alongside Palma Violets (who I also saw a Reading last year), The Fat White Family and the Wytches. The Amazing Snakeheads were supposed to be on the bill but sadly they split on the eve of the tour.

It looked a great lineup but it was primarily Slaves that I wanted to see. Isaac Holman (drums and vocal) and Laurie Vincent (guitar and vocal) may be looking forward to their forthcoming album release on Virgin records but these are guys who have come up the hard way on the pub circuit.

With Slaves being a duo you might expect a reasonably laid back, perhaps acoustic, performance. If so you would be in for a surprise because this is a duo who create a sound big enough to blow any hardcore band off the stage. The energy is nothing short of astounding, I was exhausted and I was watching.

By the time they had reached their forthcoming single “Feed The Manta Ray” Isaac had ditched his shirt and was streaming with sweat as he uttered his drum and belted out the vocals in true punk fashion. The spirit of punk certainly lives on with bands like Slaves, whilst they take their performance and music very seriously they don’t take themselves too seriously as Isaac demonstrated at the end of “Manta Ray” as he joked “what a stupid fucking song.” I don’t know why but I was strongly disappointed that the member of the crew who had made appearances earlier in the tour dressed as a Manta Ray was missing.

Slaves showed how professional they are as they overcame a number of technical difficulties during their set, they laughed and joked with the crowd as the problems were sorted and when they played crowd favourites like “Where’s Your car Debbie“, “Sugar Coated Bitter Truth” and “The Hunter” they had the crowd sweating, seething and moshing their way through the set.

It is clear that Slaves have found a way to connect with the audience – they sing about everyday things in a sharply observational way. It brings a smile to the face of the mundane, a laugh to the drab and colour to the bland. They connect with people in the same way that Joe Strummer, Ian Drury and Joey Ramone did. The audience feel that they are part of the show and the get right into every aspect of it. Having seen Slaves in The Pit at Reading Festival last year and now on the NME tour I cannot wait to see them perform on the 20k Capacity NME stage at reading in August this year. I am convinced that the release of their debut album, ‘Are You Satisfied?’ out June 1st on Virgin EMI and appearance at Reading Festival, Camp Bestival and Bestival as well as a number of other festivals will ensure that Slaves are the name on everyone’s lips this year.

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