Christmas is a week away, but crikey, even the most excitable seven year old after Santa’s been would struggle to match the smile on Jordan Allen’s face. The band, not just the man, give off the air of people who are just thrilled to be here. Turbulence has affected them (“some of the band decided it wasn’t for them, so we’ve had six months off. But we’re back,” says Allen rather matter of factly) but in the spirit of what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, they’ve just announced their biggest headline show for the spring and their songs crackle with the energy of a band who is ready to take them all on. Bursting out of Bolton with a similar sort of hard to pin down something that The Virginmarys have a little further south, JA do rock, scruffy punk and the Manchester sound with aplomb. Songs like “Rapture” don’t so much as defy comparison as stick two fingers up to anyone that tries. “Naked” does likewise while “Rosie” is as catchy as you please. Radio X led the praise for Jordan Allen with the line: “trust us they’re going to be huge” on this evidence, it’s hard to disagree.
Goodness knows I have written before on the site that too many festivals are killing live music, but, done right, they are ace for finding new bands.
Take Slow Readers Club. In the summer of this year, I was in a park in Nottingham in a dodgy poncho and a band from Manchester came on. A mate of mine had seen them previously. He told me they were great. He wasn’t wrong.
The Slade Rooms, like everywhere else on this tour, is sold out. It was weeks ago and the chants of “Readers, readers” are good enough to give you an indication that this four piece is about to hit the big time.
Last years “Build A Tower” record – their third – crashed into the top 20, and they start with one of its numbers in “On The TV”.
That one is typical of what they do. Dark,, tight, angular rhythm – and the drums on “Supernatural” are particularly strident – but with a lush synth background, as on the wonderfully haunting “Lives Never Known”.
They sound like all the bands you think they will (and maybe want them too?) but they do it superbly and moreover add flourishes that are entirely their own, as on the slower “Don’t Mind” or the soaring “Grace Of God”.
SRC strike you as the type of band, firstly with plenty to say, but also one that is eager to evolve. That’s surely why they add two new songs, “The Wait” and “Problem Child” and also why they are not doing your same set every night like many would. “Lost Boys” played early in the set, is one of number chucked in fresh (“we saw some of the faces from last night, so we’ll play you some different songs” says singer Aaron Starkie)
There’s a dip right back to the start of their career too, for “Black Out The Sun” – but what there isn’t is an encore, which is always good for bonus points around here.
Instead, another early tune “Feet On Fire” is followed by one from the second record in “Forever In Your Debt” and then “Lunatic” from “….Tower”.
That one has significance to me personally given it was that one they played first at the festival, and that was the one where you go: “blimey these are good.”
Watching a full set here, it’s clear they are better than “good” but as Starkie puts it himself: “it’s been a great year, this is the first year we’ve been a full time band…..but next year”, he smiles…..”will be better…..”
Don’t bet against him. The Slow Readers Club are getting there fast.