Over the last few years, Hampshire indie rock trio Blaenavon have made a name for themselves through a relentless touring and festival schedule, which led them to sign to Transgressive record label – whose current roster also includes Gengahr and Foals – and Primary Talent agency. The band continue to ascend in popularity and status, releasing compelling debut That’s Your Lot earlier this year.
Opening with ‘Hell Is My Head’ and the irresistible ‘Let’s Pray’, it was clear from the outset that this would be a lively gig, helped by relentless energy of both the band and a particularly enthusiastic, mostly youthful crowd who sang along to every word. Vocalist Ben Gregory is considerably more versatile and melodic in his singing than many of his contemporaries, which topped off the indie rock instrumentation nicely and was matched by his truly compelling stage presence.
While there was never a dull or disappointing moment, it definitely felt that this was a gig that got better as it went on. By the time the group’s latest single release ‘Monte Carlo Kid’ made its live debut, the audience were well and truly enraptured, which paved the way nicely for a premiere for a new track from album two. ‘All Your Vanity’ showcased many of the hallmarks of the group’s melodramatic but catchy sound, while expanding on the tracks from That’s Your Lot in terms of its musical scope. If it is anything to go by, the group’s sophomore release will be very special indeed.
Returning to the present, however, the singalongs for ‘Lonely Side’ and ‘Alice Come Home’ echoed around the room, a mark of a fervent fan base and a band who are every bit as good, if not even more so, live as they are on record. ‘Take Care’ and ‘I Will Be the World’ showed a darker side to their music, the latter inciting a particularly large mosh pit. Blaenavon’s most popular tracks ‘Orthodox Man’ and ‘Prague ’99’ were a logical and satisfying end to a hugely impressive set. The crowd were especially loud for a Monday night, and the band unbelievably polished considering it was their first tour date. Having grafted for years to get to where they are, it seems there is no stopping Blaenavon now – and with good reason.
Words by Dom Penna and photos from Manchester Gorilla by Megan Robinson.