Image: Alan Wells
With the recent release of their debut album Columbia, three-piece alternative group The Blinders performed a seismic set at Sheffield’s HMV.
Hailing from Doncaster, the trio comprising of Thomas Haywood (vocals/guitar), Charlie McGough (bass) and Matt Neale (drums), have caused quite a stir in the UK alternative music scene with their singles and 2016 EP Hidden Horror Dance. Similarly, they have achieved success on national radio with the likes of BBC Introducing, BBC Radio 6 Music and Radio X playing their tracks.
The Blinders presented a punkadelic demeanour by opening their 30 minute set with a political attack on those in power with ‘Free the Slave’. The lyrics projected by Haywood’s enthralling expression may be subliminal to some, yet it’s clear that “free the ageing man… and the conservative values that chain him/free the flying bird from the corrupt air” is a direct retaliation against the systematic corruption inherent in modern-day politics.
Following this with ‘Gotta Get Through’, the politically charged urgency of the trio showed no sign of burning out.
The punk poetry erupting from Haywood during ‘L’état C’est Moi’ provided a visceral, enigmatic tone to the set, with such grit as “I’ve got divine right” being repeated. Consequently, this song, in particular, oozed a no-nonsense, confident attitude unique to bands in the neo-post-punk genre; paralleling the song’s meaning – “I Am The State” as said by French Grand Monarch Louis XIV at the peak of his power. The conviction exuded by the band emphasised this sentiment. Moreover, the blistering riffs of McGough and Haywood added to the dark, almost garage rock feeling The Blinders effortlessly master.
The anthemic ‘Hate Song’, a highlight of the live performance, made it difficult not to move along to its catchy, upbeat tempo. Despite being a song packed with energy, the band’s nonchalant attitude gave the in-store atmosphere a relaxed feel, contrasting with what you would expect from a rock band. Both this song and the catchy riffs in ‘Brave New World’ felt reminiscent of Sheffield locals SHEAFS, as both bands are able to create an entrancing spirit, captivating the crowd with their confident, pithy probes. Haywood did just that later on in ‘Brutus’ by asking “does my vote count for anything?” in the same way Lawrence Feenstra of SHEAFS projects himself in ‘This Is Not a Protest’.
The Blinders are a band worth experiencing live. Enrapturing, politically injected lyrics enable the gig-goer to encounter an alternative to what is seen in mainstream media.
Catch them on their headline tour alongside White Room and Calva Louise this October and November, you won’t be disappointed.