It has been a while since I’ve been able to attend a Blindness show – since February pretty much every show they have played I have been committed elsewhere, so once this show was announced, and I realised I had a clear point in my calendar, it was finally time to catch up once more.
But before they took the stage, there were support bands to get through first. I missed the first couple of acts, but did see all of Vita and the Vicious, which frankly had me and my friends all scratching our heads. We quickly lost count of how many other songs and artists we heard in their material after the first two or three songs, and the sexy/oh-so-edgy schtick of the “show” quickly ran thin, with every bit of between-song banter being cliche after cliche and as unoriginal and tiring as the music, which was like a sixth-form bunch of wannabees trying their hands at new-wave and rock’n’roll after reading about it in a book.
Different strokes, and all that, right? Some in the crowd clearly loved it, but I was willing it to end by the second song.
The fact that Vita and the Vicious and Blindness are both fronted by female singers and shared the same stage that evening are the only two things that linked them, thankfully. I’ve been saying good things about Blindness for a couple of years, now (is it really two years or so since I first heard Confessions? Blimey), and the recent release of Glamourama as their long-awaited second single has only continued my interest.
And in the eight months since I last saw them, things have changed a little, it seems. For a start, they are still growing their fanbase – this was the biggest (and loudest) crowd I’ve yet seen them play to, and everything about the sound seemed that bit beefier. This benefitted just about every song, their mix of electronic effects and beats, along with Alex’s drumming and Kendra’s bass providing a monstrous bottom-end to every song, notably making the previously languid Sunday Morning much punchier, and somehow helping to emphasise the wonderful, cascading guitar effects and chorus of Not Something more than ever.
Last One Dies
The Next Monsoon
Serves Me Right
Irreplacable (Beyonce cover)
What the improved sound also did was to show off the whole host of guitar-trickery and occasional slamming riff from Debbie, no-more so than the storm of sound at the heart of Broken, the song where a friend (who hadn’t seen them before live) turned to me and commented on how intense they were. And, perhaps, it is that intensity that sets them apart from other bands around here at the moment. Judging on the enormously personal nature of most of the lyrics – and the jagged, brittle music that accompanies it – none of this is a “put on” for show, this is all too real.
There was even a new song I’d not heard before, too, which interestingly took the sound in a different direction, with a primal, heavy rhythm that took the song into the realms of PJ Harvey’s Meet Ze Monsta – and the Harvey link wasn’t done, either, with closing song Serves Me Right closed out with the coda from Rid of Me, if I heard it correctly.
As a way of finishing a gig, it was a pretty impressive full stop, so I was a little surprised to see an encore, and even more surprised that it was a throwaway cover of a BeyoncÃ© ballad! No, really – and it actually worked surprisingly well, and was also a nice way of lightening the mood a little after the previous forty-minutes or so of such intense music and emotions.
This was such an assured and powerful show that it is kind of mystifying that the band don’t appear – yet – to have the push they need to reach a larger audience, but perhaps getting another single out recently has been the start of greater things. Here is hoping, as the band are far too good for these small venues. If you haven’t heard them yet, you are missing out, that’s for sure.