Sunday 5 March 2023

The Slow Readers Club / Andrew Cushin - Leeds Stylus - 4th March 2023

The Slow Readers Club opened up their UK tour in support of their Top 30 album Knowledge Freedom Power with a packed out show at Stylus in Leeds on Saturday night. Mixing tracks from the new record with favourites from across their extensive back catalogue they delighted a crowd made up of a mix of Readers veterans and new fans. Support came from Newcastle's charismatic Andrew Cushin, serving his apprenticeship before he headlines venues of this size and bigger in the not too distant future.

Although he's usually backed by a band, playing solo holds no worries for Andrew Cushin. The Geordie is already a confident assured front man who's able to charm the audience with his humility and easy-going nature with them. Chatty between songs as he introduces them, addressing individuals in the front row and playing upon people's natural affinity towards anyone who speaks with a Geordie accent, his half hour set wins over a new set of followers as well as the sizeable element who've either crossed his path before or who have come specifically to see him.

He finishes the set on the Noel Gallagher produced Where Has My Family Gone and his influence is writ large across Andrew's songs that have clearly been inspired, like many young men of his age, by the legacy of the man. Where Andrew differs from many is the way he stamps his own personality wholly over it so it's simply influences rather than a poor imitation. He sings about losing his father to the demon drink, the joy of standing on the terraces of his beloved Newcastle United and does so with the ability to make the songs relatable to most people. This tour support is clearly designed to introduce him to a wider audience and is very much a success in doing that.

Six albums in and The Slow Readers Club now have a difficult decision to make each night with their setlist. Over an hour and a half there's crowd favourites that simply won't make the cut, particularly given Knowledge Freedom Power is at least on a par with anything they've done previously and the band are rightfully proud of the record they've produced as they grapple with trying to restore the momentum they'd built before COVID stopped them. Gig going habits have changed, chart position calculations have become much more heavily weighted towards streaming much to their disadvantage and people have less disposable income - but The Slow Readers Club live experience gives people a good reason to get out and lose themselves in the incomparable exhilaration of a gig where the audience comes together as one. Even if it becomes too much for one gentleman who gets carried away towards the end, removing his top and waving it around his head.

The set starts with Knowledge Freedom Power's opening track Modernise, a statement of intent from the band that the new record is going to feature heavily and in total they play half the new record. The title track acts as a call to arms in the encore, whilst Lay Your Troubles On Me's timeless quality is a set highlight as is Afterlife, in our view one of their best songs ever and has already clearly become a crowd favourite. They recently referred to it in a listening party as "Readers by numbers" but it's doing it a disservice to dismiss its power that easily. 

Many of the old favourites remain of course, it'd be remiss of them to discard songs with the power and connection of I Saw A Ghost, Plant The Seed, Forever In Your Debt, You Opened Up My Heart and On The TV. The latter sees the crowd take on the song's refrain and force the band to come back in before they could start the next one. They're in fine form all night, The Slow Readers Club are one of those bands that fans seem to be all in for once they've been hooked which creates a euphoric atmosphere of celebration and raucous chants of READERS between songs. It's simple, but then genuine connection often is that easy once you've achieved it.

They do still throw in a few curveballs. The standalone single Tell No Lies as well as Wanted Much More, Everything I Own and The Greatest Escape from their lockdown album 91 Days In Isolation show that they're still willingly to play the less obvious and musically more experimental rather than just crowd pleasers. They finish the main set with Feet On Fire, the only song remaining from their self-titled debut, yet it could easily slip in on the new record, such is the universal accessibility of what The Slow Readers Club have been about for the last dozen years.

They send everyone out the door buzzing with a final Lunatic, eight hundred or so arms raised skyward in time with Aaron before losing themselves for one final time in the chorus and heading out the door among a sea of beaming exhilarated faces. The Slow Readers Club are a guarantee of a good time gig, a switch off from the world outside, an arm round the shoulder to tell you that everyone here has the same doubts and fears as you do. Music as an escape is a powerful weapon against our demons, the power of an uplifting chorus, singing along with your best friend or a complete stranger to a song that talks to you. The Slow Readers Club understand that and deliver what you need.

The Slow Readers Club's official website can be found here. They are also on Facebook and Twitter.

They tour in the Spring calling at :  Glasgow SWG3 (March 6), Aberdeen Lemon Tree (7), Nottingham Rescue Rooms (9), Birmingham O2 Academy 2 (10), Bristol Thekla (11), Portsmouth Wedgewood Rooms (13), London Lafayette (14), Manchester Albert Hall (17), Berlin Lido (23), Hamburg Übel & Gefährlich (24), Antwerp Trix Club (25), Paris Supersonic (30), Rotterdam Rotown (31), Amsterdam Paradiso Tolhuistuin (April 1), Belfast Limelight 2 (14), Dublin Academy (15), Porto M.Ou.Co (29), Wrexham Rockin' Chair (June 30) and Holmfirth Picturedrome (July 2).

Andrew Cushin is on Facebook and Twitter.


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