A new venue on me, this one – I’m not sure if it had previously been under another name? – and heading up York Way for the first time in a while brought home just how quickly the King’s Cross area is changing as regeneration takes hold. What was a grotty, forbidding area with little other than industrial units and decaying buildings is swiftly becoming a new area of inner-city London, and maybe in time there may be more venues up here. The pub itself was quite pleasant, even if the basement venue where the gig was had a very low ceiling indeed.
supporting Spotlight Kid (not covered)
The Star of Kings, London N1
I was there, of course, to see Blindness once again – and while I’d have liked to have seen The Spotlight Kid, sadly it wasn’t to be as I had commitments elsewhere later in the evening, and later running of the bands than planned meant I couldn’t stick around for long enough. But I did see the two bands that were on before and after Blindness, so I’m covering them as well.
The Inevitable Daydream were the first band on, an impossibly young-looking three piece who apparently have a great love of early nineties alt-rock and shoegaze, judging on what they played. Still quite raw-sounding, they probably need to polish some of their songs somewhat, but they could be an interesting prospect in time.
I was left somewhat cold by The 286, who followed Blindness. Billing themselves as a “rock orchestra” and elsewhere described as “creat[ing] a unique sound that you expect from a musical collaboration between The Beatles and Beethoven” makes for rather lofty aims that, in a small, basement venue, has to be said are difficult to reach. The seven-piece band – including a cellist and a violinist, if I saw correctly – were certainly a tight, well-drilled band, but rather than offering anything different, to me they sounded like many other pedestrian indie-rock bands that happen to use some classical influences (or at least bring in a string section). There was certainly a Beatles influence there – I could swear that I heard a snippet of one of their songs somewhere – but more than anything the band weren’t doing anything new with it. They’ll no doubt be successful, but they sure as hell aren’t as original as they might like to think.
So, inbetween these two bands, there was my first Blindness show of 2013. Yeah, so I saw them more times in 2012 than any other band (five times, I think?), but I like their music so much – and with so little of it released so far – going to see them live each time I can allows me to hear the songs as they develop. However things didn’t look great prior to their set, with technical issues and the loss of their drummer Alex after this show clearly proving to be something of a stress.
Last One Dies
The Next Monsoon
What was interesting, though, was that as they took the stage – and another big crowd appeared out of pretty much nowhere in the few minutes before – that most of those problems seemed to melt away once they ripped into Last One Dies. For me easily the strongest song they’ve not yet released, playing it as the set opener means it packs an almighty punch, and is the perfect hook for anyone unfamiliar with the band.
The short – only six song – set was perhaps a good example of the old clichÃ© of “triumph over adversity”, too – instead of wallowing in those earlier issues, they channelled all their anger and frustration into a blistering version of Broken, the searing, jagged freakout at the heart of the song even heavier and nastier than ever, a spiral of demons that threatened to consume it. Newer song The Next Monsoon that followed it, sounded even more primal than before, too, like a long-lost cousin of PJ Harvey’s Meet Ze Monsta, but with an eerie sense of restraint that means it wrongfoots by never quite exploding like you think it might.
Things were closed off, as normal, by the singles, and Confessions sounded better than ever, that fury once again channelled through it, and as the song petered out, Beth was on her knees, head bowed, seemingly emotionally spent. Blindness are the kind of band, though, that are an emotionally challenging band. They don’t play nice with sounds – instead adding jagged edges to otherwise clean pop hooks, and concentrating lyrically on the darker side of emotions – but that is part of the attraction.
While a new drummer is now needed, this perhaps may slow down their live shows for a while – but I’m convinced that they will return stronger. The fight shown in their songs gives ample evidence for this, and the promise of new material this year sounds intriguing. The only question, from the quality of their songs, is what on earth they release first.