Fessing up at the beginning of this review is going to save a lot of time later and, hopefully, go some way towards placating the Slaves fans out there. I went to the gig to see Baby Strange. They are one of my favourite bands. The bias is all mine, because I know I was in the minority. Having said that, I go to gigs with an open mind and have been won over before, so I didn’t know exactly what the night had in store.
We reached the venue just before Baby Strange were due to go on stage. The venue is small, but it was sold out and the atmosphere was good. I’d been waiting for another chance to see them live. The doubting part of me is always apprehensive, thinking they might let me down, but so far my luck is holding. Baby Strange have never put a foot wrong. Sadly unable to catch them on their recent joint headline tour with Dolomite Minor, I was thankful that they had the support slot for the evening.
The Glasgow lads wasted no time in launching into the fast, brutal post-punk they do so well. I was surprised when the new single ‘VVV’ was played as the second track. It’s so strong I thought they would play it later when the crowd had warmed to them, but they had the confidence in their other material to bring it out early. The rest of the set carried on at a blistering pace, played with fiery precision. ‘Pure Evil’, ‘Luver’ and ‘Distance Yourself’ were all there. You could see the crowd interest increasing as the set went on. By the end there was a lot of appreciation, with more than one request for the band to play more. Having seen them live before, I can only say they go from strength to strength. I noted the last year has seen them relax a little. There is an ease and confidence to the performance which wasn’t there when I saw them last, but their live set remains as vital as ever.
There was quite a wait before Slaves took the stage, but they were quick to put their Kent-boy mark on the evening. The crowd loved them, the pit at the front going crazy and people crowd surfing, at the insistence of the band, although they could touch the roof of the basement venue as they did so. These boys make a lot of noise considering there’s only two of them, and they have really caught the popular imagination. ‘White Knuckle Ride’ sent the crowd wild and they stayed that way as tracks like ‘The Hunter’ and ‘Feed the Mantaray’ fed the frenzy. The banter made things personal, the rapport drawing the crowd further into the experience. It was a good set, full of what the crowd wanted. If you like Slaves, they played a blinder.
If you can sense a slight lack of enthusiasm here, I apologise. Everybody went wild for Slaves, but I still left thinking Baby Strange were the better band. I’m sure the majority of the crowd would say I don’t know what I’m talking about, but, hey. It’s just personal taste when it comes down to it. As I said at the beginning, I’m biased and unashamedly so. All in all, it was a sizzling night in a suitably sweaty venue. And you can’t say fairer than that.