The Blackout @ HMV Institute, 9th April 2011


Having missed openers Hyro da Hero, next on were USA visa abusers, The Swellers, whose testosterone confused ersatz RAWK made me wish likewise. Boys Like Girls, I am so, so sorry. Please come back!

Two factors defined tonight’s teenage demographic. Firstly, with Easter break exam revision purdah imminent they’re committed to going last-chance mental. Secondly, it’s their seeming invulnerability to a sonic bombardment of weapons-grade bio-hazard post-Hard, VERY Hard-Core rock. Are The Blackout bastard spawned from the same mutated Eisteddfod from Hell that gave us Kids In Glass Houses and The Joy Formidable? Which begs a further question, if the Welsh are still seriously pissed-off about us Brummies stealing their water, what the hell are they drinking instead?


Fronted by the conjoined vocal chaos of Gavin Butler and Sean Smith, the latter sporting what appears to be a blonde toupee with the aesthetic appeal of bleached dog sick, we needed to be afraid, very afraid. Opening with ‘Ambition’ Smith megaphone incites the kamikaze mosh-pit whilst Butler appears ready to fight/roger all and everything: two legs good, four legs better.


Meanwhile, to approximate the sheer bludgeoning physicality of Gareth Lawrence and Rhys Lewis’ drum and bass blitzkrieg one needs to drink ten pints of snakebite then head-butt an anvil – repeatedly. The strobe and back-lighting complimented the sound-mixer’s triumph over a potential Sysiphan nightmare. One notes that the PA crew had wisely treble taped the leads given that the demonic duo practice, and need to do so often, their Roger Daltrey mic-swinging technique.

During ‘Fire’ the ferocious guitar solo suggests inspiration drawn from a once ill-advised belief that an industrial sander might pass as sex toy.


“If you know this next song then you’ve illegally downloaded it, you Brummie wankers!” Smith quips by way of introducing ‘Said and Done’. There’s lots of positive attitude pep-talk that ought to have sounded sick-bag cliched but with this band its Everyman embracement rang sincere. And Hey to the young lady proudly waving her helvetica font HOPE T-shirt from the balcony (don’t fret, mom, it wasn’t the one she came in!).

Brutally engaging. Exhaustingly cathartic. Just remember kids…read all the questions first!


Setlist: Ambition, Children, The Fire, Murder, Prep, High Tide, Said & Done, Spread Legs, Hope, Top of the World, Sunblock, Never By Your Side, Nice Things, Riot, Uppercut, Higher, S.O.S.

Review – John Kennedy
Photos – Katja Ogrin

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