It’s been six solid months since we initially clapped eyes on Blaenavon and paid witness to one of their galvanising live shows. Just a stone’s throw away from Brighton’s pebbled front, the Hampshire threesome put in an electrifying stint at a rammed Concorde 2, playing what they described as one of their finest gigs to date in support of Brooklynites DIIV. As their scintillating set unspooled that evening, the band’s brooding indie pop filled the spectacular space and incited blood vessel-bursting singalongs and frenzied limb-flailing from an adoring gaggle of ticket holders. It was something special indeed and arguably the moment singer Ben Gregory, bassist Frank Wright and drummer Harris McMillan came of age and evolved from school friends with bags of promise into an insuppressible rock powerhouse.
Tonight is all about building on that dazzling momentum, with Komedia Studio Bar in the heart of the North Laines providing the setting for the first night of the Blaenavon‘s ‘That’s Your Lot’ tour – a precursor to the debut studio album of the same name. From the outset, they’re every bit the act that piqued curiosity previously, spearheaded by Gregory who sashays onto the stage smeared in black lipstick with eyes as dark as the night sky outside. Mirroring the style of a Robert Smith-indebted romantic, he takes place behind a mic stand with a bouquet of flowers masking taped to it, as the room eagerly awaits the first strains of something from their blistering back catalogue.
Then McMillan’s cymbals crash, the floor toms rumble and Gregory and Wright jerk into life amid the percussion-led introduction of ‘Hell Is My Head’, every bit the vaunting rock gods that emerged that night last September. It’s a thunderous call-to-arms that sends the room into near meltdown, but it’s one of so many tonight: ‘Pray’ is delivered with life-on-the-line vigour, ‘My Bark Is Your Bite’ thrills combining flash of fang lyrics with stadium-ready guitar lines and ‘I Will Be The World’ packs a punch with its ocean-sized chorus.
Such is the band’s knack for a hook, each tune across the 60-minute set is greeted with immediate recognition. Even awe-inducing slow-build ‘Alice Come Home’, posted online mere hours earlier, invites a huge response – unsurprising considering it matches Foals‘ master stroke ‘Spanish Sahara’ for sheer grandiosity. Then, of course, the dizzying melodies of closers ‘Orthodox Man’ and ‘Prague ’99’ cement things, turning the crowd into a choppy sea of beserk bodies that occasionally wash up on the stage’s shore. For a split second there’s panic, but it’s par for the course. The untamed youthfulness is all part of the Blaenavon live experience, and they conclude their show crowdsurfing to cacophonous squawks of feedback which ricochet around the bar. With that, the glorious setlist is complete, and once again the take-home feeling is one of euphoria. That’s our lot… until next time, of course.