Monday 3 July 2023

The Slow Readers Club / Ist Ist - Holmfirth Picturedrome - 2nd July 2023

The Slow Readers Club concluded a trio of weekend appearances with a sold out show at the Holmfirth Picturedrome on Sunday night supported by fellow Mancunians Ist Ist. A career spanning set delighted a rapt audience for ninety minutes touching all bases from their self-titled debut to this year's Knowledge Freedom Power.
"It's been a long time coming" Andy says half-way through their set of Ist Ist and The Slow Readers Club finally playing a couple of shows together this weekend (the Friday night show in Wrexham was beset by technical difficulties of neither band's making) and it's strange that these two bands' paths haven't crossed previously as they've both emerged from the Manchester scene to now selling out venues across the UK and Europe. There's certainly a fair mix of t-shirts from both of them in the crowd despite the show already being sold out when Ist Ist were added. 

The only disappointment is that they only get half an hour on a two-band bill so the set is restricted to just eight songs. With three albums to their name, they've got material for longer and the interchange of half the songs from Friday's set shows the dilemma they now have in selecting a setlist for half an hour. Out go the likes of Silence, Jennifer's Lips and Fat Cats Drown In Milk for Black, Extreme Greed and Trapdoors. Right from the start of Stamp You Out, its brooding intro tape setting the mood what's to come they exude a confidence that comes from the telepathic connections the four of them have formed and their ability to fill a room and hold the attention of even those less familiar with their work.

It's a brutal half hour in terms of little respite for the audience as between song chat is dispensed of and their big-hitting repertoire sets about its work. From the soaring pathos of Black to the anthemic built-for-bigger-rooms-than-this soaring Extreme Greed, Nothing More Nothing Less and the ageless Emily they combine power with moments of real subtlety amongst the noise. The detail in Joel's drumming, Andy's primal dominant bass lines and Mat's synths and guitar lines fleshing them out dovetail around Adam's dark intense vocals that sit dead centre. They're at the stage where venues of this size will be the standard for their own songs come album four. Tonight they win over new friends and delight the old.

Ist Ist played Stamp You Out, Something Has To Give, Black, Extreme Greed, Emily, Nothing More Nothing Less, You're Mine and Trapdoors.

There's a real sense of anticipation in the room as the last strains of The Slow Readers Club's traditional intro track I Feel Love die down and the remix intro to Modernise, the opening track from this year's Knowledge Freedom Power album, kicks in. The READERS chants fill the night air as the band make their way onto the stage and straight into the song itself. We're then taken on a journey through their six albums (plus non-album single Tell No Lies) that's a timely reminder of the strength of the band's back catalogue and the immediacy of the connections their songs have always made even back when they were playing to half a dozen people and nights like this felt a long way away.

They shrug off the left stack cutting out twenty minutes in, minor technical difficulties compared to Friday's show where Jim and Kurt were almost inaudible over the drums and backing track, to create one of the special communal nights that their gigs have become in recent years. From front to the back of the sloped floor, the crowd bounce as one to the likes of early tracks Feet On Fire and Forever In Your Debt right through to those from the latest record. What Might Have Been, Forget About Me and the lead-single-that-never-was Afterlife demonstrate both their progression as a band, none of those songs would sound out of place on daytime radio, but also the continuity of sound and the way in which once they've got you as a fan their music holds you.

The PA issues aside, the Picturedrome's sound allows us to really appreciate the strength of Aaron's voice, most notably on the aforementioned Afterlife, the powerful Two Minutes Hate and the more soothing Lay Your Troubles On Me. He's accompanied by an army of five hundred on the old favourites like Plant The Seed, Forever In Your Debt, I Saw A Ghost and the show-closing Lunatic, but you sense very much looking around as if everyone in the room knows every single word to every song they play. 

The connection the band have with their audience is a really special one, whether it be the moment the gig stops for a man to propose to his future wife to huge cheers, the t-shirts that seem to emblazon every second chest in the venue, Aaron's moments of reaching to bump fists with the front row or those where he simply holds the microphone out and lets the audience take over. As the night reaches its conclusion and Knowledge Freedom Power's title track sits in the middle of the encore and it is chanted back at the band with five hundred pairs of arms pointed stagewards in line with the song's simple three word chorus before everyone lets loose one last time on perennial favourite Lunatic, The Slow Readers Club feel like a band at the peak of their powers.

The Slow Readers Club played Modernize, Tell No Lies, The Wait, What Might Have Been, Plant The Seed, Supernatural, Forget About Me, Everything I Own, Forever In Your Debt, Afterlife, You Opened Up My Heart, Two Minutes Hate, Lay Your Troubles On Me, Cavalcade, All I Hear, Feet On Fire, I Saw A Ghost, Knowledge Freedom Power and Lunatic.

Ist Ist are on Facebook and Twitter

Protagonists, as well as previous physical releases, can be ordered via their website. A digital version with an additional eight live versions of tracks from Protagonists can be ordered exclusively from their Bandcamp. They support The Mission at Nottingham Rock City (October 24), Glasgow SWG3 (25) and London Roundhouse (28).

The Slow Readers Club's official website can be found here. They are also on Facebook and Twitter. They support Morrissey at Leeds Millenium Square (July 12) and finish the year at Manchester Yes Basement (November 24), Manchester Canvas (December 1) and Manchester New Century Hall (8).


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