REVIEW: Slaves, O2 Academy, Newcastle

Slaves played to a packed O2 Academy in Newcastle. Pics: Katy Blackwood.
Slaves played to a packed O2 Academy in Newcastle. Pics: Katy Blackwood.
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Slaves celebrated their return from an injury lay-off in Newcastle with one of the most intense gigs of the year.

The punk duo of Isaac Holman and Laurie Vincent have been one of the biggest breakthrough acts of 2015, and the Academy was filled to capacity for a high-octane, blazing performance that few bands would be able to top.

Slaves are one of the best punk bands to appear in many years.

Slaves are one of the best punk bands to appear in many years.

The original date was postponed when drummer and lead vocalist Isaac dislocated his shoulder on tour, but there was no sign of the injury, even though Laurie asked him if it was OK following an apparent niggle as they took to the stage.

The delay did at least allow for a venue upgrade from the smaller Newcastle University, and the crowd made the most of the space to jump around and sprawl out in front of a band with the potential to write the anthems of a generation.

Their debut album Are You Satisfied? is packed with revolutionary rhetoric, and, on the evidence of this show, Slaves could be the most relevant punk band to appear for decades - and certainly the most popular.

Two support acts had earlier taken to the stage, including Ho99o9, a fusion of hip-hop and hardcore punk from the United States.

The Slaves gig was upgraded from the original venue of Newcastle University.

The Slaves gig was upgraded from the original venue of Newcastle University.

A bizarre spectacle full of grim theatrics, their din was defiled and not particularly tuneful, but succeeded in getting the crowd hyped up for the main event.

Another duo, The Rhythm Method, opened, and were comparatively nondescript, although they showed glimpses of hit potential in the same vein as Rat Boy and Jamie T.

The audience, awaiting the arrival of Slaves, were treated to the diverse sounds of Skepta and the Vengaboys before Isaac and Laurie bolted onto the stage to raucous approval.

The opening track, White Knuckle Ride, was well-received and full of energy, despite coming from their self-released 2012 EP.

Slaves guitarist Laurie Vincent in action at the O2 Academy.

Slaves guitarist Laurie Vincent in action at the O2 Academy.

The more familiar Sockets, Despite and Traffic and Live Like an Animal then followed, before a new song called Take Control.

Isaac then addressed his recent injury, saying he'd "been in the wars" and had missed playing live shows.

Later he discussed his recent activist concern of unwanted groping at shows, including his admirable promise to stop a performance if he sees it happening, although no such problems arose tonight.

He did, however, distribute water in case of dehydration and police the crowd on multiple occasions - as well as sparking a round of applause for the security staff.

Isaac Holman showed no signs of the shoulder injury which saw part of the Slaves tour rescheduled.

Isaac Holman showed no signs of the shoulder injury which saw part of the Slaves tour rescheduled.

It was all evidence of a musician using their platform beautifully to try to make the live music experience as wonderful as possible for the fans, and in this Slaves are a band that many could learn from.

The fans themselves were frenetic but respectful, perhaps aware of Isaac's watchful eye, as the cauldron of the central standing zone vaulted, bopped and crowd-surfed to create an electric atmosphere within the Academy.

The Hunter and Cheer Up London were the standouts for the fans, both appearing late on before Slaves performed album title track and acoustic breather Are You Satisfied? from atop the crowd barrier.

They then returned to the stage to thank the audience and promised a swift return to the city, before concluding an excellent show with angsty crowd favourite Hey.

Confusion then developed, as the crowd awaited the traditional encore as Boyz II Men's End of the Road played through the sound system.

Some left, perhaps aware no more was to come, but the majority stayed and booed when it finally became clear that the show was over.

The punk duo of Isaac Holman and Laurie Vincent have been one of the biggest 'breakthrough acts of 2015.

The punk duo of Isaac Holman and Laurie Vincent have been one of the biggest 'breakthrough acts of 2015.

It took the appearance of the stage crew to finally make the crowds leave in large numbers, but only after they'd finished singing Christmas songs, ending the evening in high spirits.

Drummer and singer Isaac Holman said he'd missed playing live shows.

Drummer and singer Isaac Holman said he'd missed playing live shows.

Support act Ho99o9 got the Academy crowd suitably hyped up before Slaves came on.

Support act Ho99o9 got the Academy crowd suitably hyped up before Slaves came on.