THE SLOW READERS CLUB + SAD BOYS CLUB + SHADY BABY – CHALK, BRIGHTON 11.10.21
Manchester’s four piece The Slow Readers Club who specialise in indie electro doom pop, were finally back in Brighton after covid had played havoc with their scheduling. This concert should have originally taken place at the Concorde 2 on 20th March 2020, but was one of the very first to be lost due to the pandemic. The rescheduled concert for this evening was taking place at CHALK.
They might not have actually realised it, but they were more or less playing in the same building as they did back on Tuesday 9th April 2019, as they had played The Haunt back then (as part of their 32 date tour), which like a caterpillar to a butterfly, has morphed into a fantastic concert venue for the city. Having formed back in 2009, amazingly this was The Slow Readers Club first ever full concert in Brighton.
As a matter of fact, the lads had actually played an acoustic set a couple of hours earlier to 60 lucky fans in the sadly lost Vinyl Revolution record shop that was in Duke Street, Brighton, where they performed a handful of tunes including ‘On The TV’, ‘Supernatural’, ‘I Saw A Ghost’, ‘Frozen’ and ‘Lunatic’. Watch that performance HERE.
When it comes to ‘merch’, The Slow Readers Club tends to sometimes think out of the box. For instance, when I had the pleasure of seeing them live at The Haunt back in 2019, I was able to purchase and sample their exclusively launched own signature dry-hopped lager, “Slow Brew”, which was a collaboration with Signature Brew, the East London brewery. Tonight at CHALK their merch stall was selling bright white stainless steel water bottles, which would no doubt last for many years to come.
The Slow Readers Club are a quartet that rose out of the ashes of an earlier Mancunian outfit called Omerta, and are now made up of Aaron Starkie (vocals/keyboards), Kurtis Starkie (vocals/guitar), James Ryan (bass) and David Whitworth (drums).
The fellas walked on stage at 8:29pm wearing their customary trademark black garb and performed a 74 minute set consisting of 18 compositions selected from their past decade of work. The venue was very busy in the end but not quite sold out.
Here is a band that can easily throw out a bouncy beat and the loyal mainly middle-aged following will jump to it. In fact I would hazard a guess and suggest that quite possibly a proportion of those punters present tonight, would in fact be here at CHALK for the very first time, as they have obviously been following The Slow Readers Club around the country, judging by the various local dialects heard and the current tour t-shirts on display.
During this evening’s performance, I heard nods to several other established artists, including Depeche Mode, New Order, early U2, The Editors and even early Gary Numan at times, however, having said that, TSRC are their own band, as can be gleaned in their albums ‘The Joy Of The Return’ (2020), ‘91 Days In Isolation’ (2020), ‘Build A Tower’ (2018), ‘Cavalcade’ (2015) and self titled debut platter (2011).
Tonight they came on stage to ‘The Wait’ with its deep synth bass sound from their 2020 ‘The Joy Of The Return’ which was my favourite track played by them back at The Haunt in 2019. This was a good sign. ‘Fool For Your Philosophy’ from their ‘Cavalcade’ album was up next and the audience were clapping away merrily.
This was a big step up in quality from tonight’s two support bands (see below) and the lighting display reflected this, with impressive use of strobe lighting, which taxed our photographer Sara somewhat, but as you can see from the many excellent photos in this review, that she shone through with her expertise. The only nag regarding the lighting was for a song or two, the searchlights were literally blinding at times and the heat from them would instantly warm your face. Having said that, the venue was a little on the cold side this evening, but nothing that a cuddle couldn’t cure!
We found their instrumentation rather interesting at times, especially James’s long necked bass guitar; Kurtis’s Hagstrom guitar which had a rare outing on ‘Everything I Own’ from 2020 ‘91 Days In Isolation’ album; as well as his usual axe of choice, namely his Gibson Les Paul guitar. Frontman Aaron with his occasional use of Jimmy Somerville style falsetto and Pete Wylie (of Wah!) style vocal delivery, was in charge of the Korg Kontrol 49 USB MIDI controller keyboard with accompanying laptop, where I would suggest most of the electronic sounds were emanating from.
We were soon on to ‘Supernatural’ (from their ‘Build A Tower’ album), with David’s intro drumming in the style of The Glitter Bands ‘Let’s Get Together Again’ and Kurtis’s New Order sounding guitar interplay. ‘Two Minutes Hate’ and ‘Jericho’ were up next, with Aaron tinkering around with the keys. These went down rather well with the crowd as they shouted “Readers! Readers! Readers!” at the band.
‘Paris’ was unleashed just past the midway point and it made me recall the lyrics “The grabbing hands grab all they can, Everything counts in large amounts” from Depeche Mode’s 1983 hit ‘Everything Counts’. This was followed by ‘Everything I Own’ which Aaron informed us was penned during lockdown. The new 2021 single ‘Tell No Lies’ was given an airing next and has a stomping beat, which was very welcomed by yours truly.
They didn’t bother with any mock encores and so carried on all the way through until the conclusion at 9:43pm. Before that, they had unleashed ‘Feet On Fire’ and ‘Block Out The Sun’ (both from their self-titled 2011 album). These were most welcomed and David’s drumming was tops on these. ‘On The TV’ is an anthemic track and the audience bounced accordingly! The set concluded with the pumping beats of ‘Lunatic’ from the ‘Build A Tower’ album and the punters bounced merrily away. I can honestly say that they didn’t play a dud track all night.
The Slow Readers Club are:
Kurtis Starkie (vocals/guitar)
Aaron Starkie (vocals/keyboards)
James Ryan (bass)
David Whitworth (drums).
The Slow Readers Club setlist:
‘The Wait’ (Intro) (from 2020 ‘The Joy Of The Return’ album)
‘Fool For Your Philosophy’ (from 2015 ‘Cavalcade’ album)
‘You Opened Up My Heart’ (from 2018 ‘Build A Tower’ album)
‘Plant The Seed’ (from 2015 ‘Cavalcade’ album)
‘Supernatural’ (from 2018 ‘Build A Tower’ album)
‘Two Minutes Hate’ (from 2020 ‘Two Minutes’ Hate’ single)
‘Jericho’ (from 2020 ‘The Joy Of The Return’ album)
‘All The Idols’ (from 2020 ‘The Joy Of The Return’ album)
‘Forever In Your Debt’ (from 2015 ‘Cavalcade’ album)
‘All I Hear’ (from 2020 ‘The Joy Of The Return’ album)
‘Paris’ (from 2020 ‘The Joy Of The Return’ album)
‘Everything I Own’ (from 2020 ‘91 Days In Isolation’ album)
‘Tell No Lies’ (from 2021 ‘Tell No Lies’ single)
‘I Saw A Ghost’ (from 2015 ‘Cavalcade’ album)
‘Feet On Fire’ (from 2011 ‘The Slow Readers Club’ album)
‘Block Out The Sun’ (from 2011 ‘The Slow Readers Club’ album)
‘On The TV’ (from 2018 ‘Build A Tower’ album)
‘Lunatic’ (from 2018 ‘Build A Tower’ album)
You can find The Slow Readers Club on Spotify.
More info on the band HERE.
The main support act for the evening was Sad Boys Club, who are Jacob (vocals), Chris (guitar), Tom (drums) and Pedro (bass/keyboard).
They appeared on stage exactly at 7:30pm and opened up their seven song set with their latest single ‘Your Mind (Makes Mine Seem Fine)’. We immediately noticed that Pedro was kneeling on the floor on stage left (which is our right) whilst playing his Arturia KeyStep – MIDI Controller Keyboard & Polyphonic Sequencer. Couldn’t someone have sorted him out with a stand or table? Thankfully it was only for this opening number though, as he reverted to his normal standing bass playing position for the remaining six numbers.
Frontman vocalist Jacob is certainly a rather animated character as he stalks up and down the stage in an endeavour to engage with the audience. The couple from Reading that were standing next to us, were most certainly won over. For myself the jury is out. For instance, Jacob – who I incidentally spoke with after their performance and is a very nice fellow – had a decent look a few months ago when he was sporting a mop of striking red hair, whereas this evening it was black and kept on reminding me of Rowan Atkinson and Jeff Goldblum, which isn’t arguably the ideal image for an up-and-coming band’s frontman, but hey it’s only cosmetic isn’t it!
Tonight the four guys offered us music of a slightly funky indie vibe that might be of interest to some Radio2 listeners. The longer the set went on for, the more in the groove the band got and the more Jacob became animated. Tom’s drumming on their penultimate number ‘Dead Fridays’ was rather decent, as was the ever so slightly New Order-esque guitar work.
Their final number, ‘Know’, was their most powerful of the night and had a great solo from Chris on guitar. They kept to their allocated time slot and concluded bang on 8pm. They most certainly get an “A+” for effort, especially Jacob, but to be honest, they didn’t actually inspire me personally.
Sad Boys Club are:
Pedro (bass/keyboard/backing vocals)
Sad Boys Club setlist:
‘Your Mind (Makes Mine Feel Fine)’
‘Here Comes The SAD’
‘Could Have Beens (& What Ifs)’
‘Don’t Let It Get To That’
We seriously whizzed down to CHALK to endeavour to catch the opening act of the night. A while ago, we noted that it was to be Lacuna Bloome who we have enjoyed seeing live on a number of occasions over the past few years. However, it seems that post lockdown, the band have slipped into an hiatus and thus were replaced on the bill by a brand new Brighton quartet.
The band in question is called Shady Baby and they formed a mere 4 weeks ago and tonight was their debut performance. The members comprise of Sam Leaver (guitar/vocals), Craig Glynn (bass/backing vocals), Tom Jackson (drums) and Laurie Debenham (guitar/backing vocals).
They are an indie garage rock band that fall somewhere between Beck, a melodic version of Nirvana (guitarist Laurie was sporting the Kurt Cobain look), and a heavier version of Tom Petty. They took to the wide clean CHALK stage at the stupidly early time of 6:46pm, which barely gave anyone time to get home from work, eat a meal, change their clothes and make it back out again. Even we struggled to get there in time, but thankfully we made it courtesy of locating a reasonably near parking bay that very kindly relieved me of the princely sum of £7.60 – Robbers!
Once in the venue, we made our way to the bar, where there was absolutely no queue – I wonder why? Then we parked ourselves at the front of the venue for the duration of the three sets.
Shady Baby performed their handful of numbers to a mere 30 people. Yes I counted them and that included us! At the end of the night the venue was well on its way to full capacity, and just think how many of those would have enjoyed this new band, if they had been given time to get to the venue. The 10pm curfew was madness on a Monday night.
The Shady Baby 21 minute set was littered with twangy guitar riffs and drums to accompany them. Pick of their tunes for me were ‘Come To Life’ and ‘Held In’. I could see the keenness on bassist Craig’s face as he was willing on frontman Sam to give us 30 punters something decent to remember. They succeeded! At 7:07pm they vacated the stage. As yet, they do not currently have a second gig planned, but they are now on the case and looking to book a few more in Brighton, so keep your eyes peeled!
Shady Baby are:
Sam Leaver (guitar/vocals)
Craig Glynn (bass/backing vocals)
Tom Jackson (drums)
Laurie Debenham (guitar/backing vocals)
Shady Baby setlist:
“Demo 1” (working title)
‘Come To Life’
‘All Too Late’
You can find Shady Baby on Instagram.
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