Slaves; the two-piece from Tunbridge Wells that unexpectedly rose to fame in 2015. Their debut album reached number eight in the UK album charts, they played Glastonbury festival several times in one year, they brought grime and punk together with their incredible cover of Skepta’s ‘Shutdown, they sold out their November tour with demand for extra dates and upgraded venues, and most importantly, they brought the passion back to punk.
Walking out to ‘We Like To Party’ by The Vengaboys, and the happy-go-lucky nature of Slaves is back in full swing – it might’ve been over four months ago that I last saw them take to the stage, but their cheeky character has not been tarnished. The dirty bass of ‘Ninety Nine’ cuts right through the Euro dance-pop and it immediately becomes clear that the duo mean business. Bustling through ‘Live Like An Animal’ and ‘Despair and Traffic’, the intensity increases with every second. Isaac Holman’s shouts pierce through the speakers as Laurie Vincent’s addictive bass bellows through the 02, creating a ripple of movement that cannot and will not be contained.
In between the brief breaks of rapturous applause and deafening bass, Holman does his usual drawn out, yet beloved song introductions that could easily rival that of Dolly Parton. One that particularly resonates is the speech before their classic, ‘Cheer Up London’. If it wasn’t obvious that Slaves were critiques of the current constraints of society just from their name and ballsy lyrics, then Holman’s spiel directed at “those in the suits,” makes it stone cold clear. “If you’re not happy in your line of work, fucking do something about it,” cries Holman to a crowd largely made up of young people on the brink of deciding their career path. And in a time where the arts are malnourished and “go to university” is being forced down people’s throats, Slaves’ do-what-you-want attitude is desperately needed.
“This one goes out to those who have been there since the beginning,” announces Holman before erupting into the almighty ‘White Knuckle Ride’ – a song which summarises the band as a true punk act with its disregard of conforming to society, and the sheer chaos it creates. Ending with the track that, ironically, began their turbulent journey after their blinding performance on Jools Holland; Slaves maintain the vengeance and venom during ‘Hey!’ that will with no doubt leave a lasting imprint in earshot.