It's been a whirlwind five years for Slaves. Having this week celebrated their first half decade with a one off gig at The Tunbridge Wells Forum where they recorded their first E.P, 'Sugar Coated Bitter Truth', they ventured a little further into their home county of Kent (Laurie's favourite four letter word) to play Margate's Dreamland. As part of a fantastic summer bill of musical entertainment that has already featured, amongst others, The Kills, Gorillaz and most recently Toots and The Maytals, Slaves came to the seaside as guests of By The Sea Festival.(Late September will be the festival's third year at this iconic venue).
Slaves may have literally been sixty five miles from home but in The Hall By The Sea, in the highest corner of the U'K's oldest theme park, they took up residence in a venue that in the distant past has played host to The Who and The Stones. Nostalgia however had only a little to do with an extraordinary night that saw Isaac and Laurie riffle through a blistering set that totally mesmerised all before them with its pace and intensity.
Supporting Slaves were fellow Tunbridge Wells band Lady Bird and Brighton four piece Black Honey. Izzy from Black Honey described Slaves as "two of the nicest people in Rock 'n Roll...or the world" and she clearly meant it. Looking a little like a young Lauren Laverne and sounding on occasion just a little like Gwen Stefani she and her band did far more than just set the crowd up for the main event; they were an absolute delight in their own right. The sound the band generated was fabulous. (They had quite obviously been given access to far more of the venue's sound mixing 'toys' than any support is normally afforded). A joyously playful delivery of 'Hello Today', a belting, 'Somebody Better', and a raucously infectious, 'All My Pride', ensued. Before calming the crowd briefly Izzy and her band closed out their succinct set with a quite brilliant delivery of 'Corrine'.
Having played Truck Fest the day before Slaves needed no time to get into their frenetic, fever pitch set. With a new stage set up that included two large video screens set aside a neon Slaves sign the band looked even more the complete package as they took to the stage. Laurie and Isaac were straight into their stride opening with crowd pleaser, 'Sockets'. The high octane and unrelenting pace barely took a breathe from the first drum beat. Rather fittingly, given their location, 'White Knuckle Ride', followed quickly after as the packed crowd fed on the energy that was being unleashed before them. An explosive, 'It's An Epidemic', preceded an incendiary strobe lit ,'Live Like An Animal', with Isaac's drum beats triggering an intense battery of white lights.
There were a few moments of rest for the duo. During amusing interjections that included a sing-a-long in support of Jeremy Corbyn and an explanation of why there were only two of them on stage...."'cos no one wanted to play with us, f**k 'em, who's laughing now? Me an' Laurie that's who." Suitably re-energised Slaves delivered a hyper-manic 'F**k The Hi-Hat' before a venomous 'Do Something'. Isaac asked the crowd to put their phones down before the pair launched into the controlled delirium of 'Hypnotised' and then gave a explanatory monologue about past events in Royal Tunbridge Wells that involved sightings of Big Foot and acts of kindness and chivalry before Slaves tore up The Hall By The Sea with another rocket fuelled anthem, 'Where's Your Car Debbie?'
Slaves new slant on Punk ripped up Dreamland with a wild, barely tamed menace. They didn't take themselves too seriously; at one point they even parted the crowd in half to let Sonya, the barmaid, deliver two pints of a "very British cocktail"...Lager and lime! Baxter Dury joined them on stage for a loved up take on 'Steer Clear' and Isaac and Laurie gave a tongue in cheek explanation of why kent is more superior than London (No tube, no Uber etc) before setting about 'Cheer Up London', a thunderously bass heavy 'Consume Or Be Consumed' and break neck take on 'Hey'.
The pair came back on for a three track encore that featured the amusing, 'People That You Meet', a potent ,'Beauty Quest', and, finally, a rousing version of, 'The Hunter' closed out a quite brilliant set. Watching Slaves live is an event in itself, regardless of the music. The intensity and the energy is almost exhausting to watch. Laurie, and in particular Isaac, give it their all on stage to deliver up a performance that is utterly breathe taking. The packed crowd at Dreamland witnessed a superb gig by a band at the top of their game and judging by the comments as they left they knew they'd just experienced something more than a little special.
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'Smalls Change (Meditations Upon Ageing)' arrives in April.