The duo 'Cheer Up London' and then some
Luke Scanlan
13:38 26th November 2018

Slaves are a band that have had almost no right to get where they are. Punk when punk isn’t a thing. Unapologetic, loud and in your face. As lead singer and drummer Isaac Holman says before smashing out ‘Fuck The Hi-Hat’, Slaves were written off before they had even began life as a two-piece. So, in that case, fuck the haters? Here they are, playing their biggest headline show to date, at one of the country’s landmark venues.

Stellar support comes from the hotly tipped Lady Bird, along with Willie J Healey, who is soon to head off on a headline tour of his own. Then there was Slowthai.

Recently featured as Annie Mac’s Hottest Record, many at the Palace were eager to see what all the fuss was about. If controversy is his vehicle of choice to reach the top, then he’s definitely on to something. He stutters through an unconvincing set, whilst kindly taking time out to vomit onstage. The crowd boo, he grimaces, then proceeds to tell his fans to F their mothers. Lovely chap.

Thankfully, Slaves are a polished outfit. With three studio albums and hundreds of live shows behind them, the stage was set for a monumental evening.

Opening with their riotous take on Skepta’s ‘Shutdown’, Slaves take the “hell for leather approach”, by subsequently smashing through ‘Sockets’, ‘Bugs' and ‘Magnolia’. Ally Pally is absolutely rocking, and this explosive start has loads of fans searching for their absent shoes. This is carnage like we have never seen here before. 

The love between Isaac and his tattooed guitarist Laurie Vincent is the rose between the thorns of their gritty style. This is British music’s biggest bromance. The relentless marching from Isaac and he stomps through each song is mind blowing - and goes some way in explaining his ripped torso - this is one hell of a workout. Laurie is mysterious on stage: spinning meaty and demonic webs of sound whilst remaining quiet between songs.

The faces in the crowd are a testament to the appeal the boys from Kent have. Old, young, punk, indie-kid, wannabe roadman.... they are all here and all bound together under this one cause: to release all that weekday anger.

Massive tunes ‘Cheer Up London’, ‘Wow! 7am’ and ‘Chokehold’ are brilliantly aggressive. For ‘Feed The Mantaray’, the boys invite a fan wearing a mantaray costume onstage, and with ‘Cut & Run’, two young lads have their night made as they perform the entire dance routine to perfection.

The one downfall of Slaves in such a slot is that it is a long time for their brand of music. Whilst they are all big tunes, they sometimes blur into one and sound a bit same-y. Slaves being the best Slaves is them in short, angry bursts. It is hard to sustain that over a headline slot lasting just over an hour.

This is a mega performance from a band who have secured the most devoted cult following on the British music scene. The crowd are there to scream, vent, to take the piss and just have fun. It feels special, it feels united.

Photo: Ben McQuaide