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3rd November in Nottingham….a murky, cold Thursday deep into Autumn.  Damp leaves under foot and what feels like endless days at work BUT this Thursday was one I’d been counting down to for some time!  The Slow Readers Club were in town and playing at The Rescue Rooms and I was getting to photograph and review Manchester’s if not the country’s most astounding new sound….. not a band that has been formed from failed talent shows, not a ‘here today and gone tomorrow’ band.  They are not new to Nottingham, having performed here before at Bodega earlier in the year and also in the city as one of the main acts of the Dot to Dot festival. Screen Shot 2017-11-29 at 09.47.15

What’s their sound?  How do we pigeon hole it for a review? Wow that’s tough… because across their 2 previously released albums (3 if you count ‘Live at the Library’) you’ll find that each and every song stands up for itself and could been put up as a single.  Indeed on the band’s fan page it’s amazing to see such a wide range of tunes described as people’s favourites further endorsing my statement above.  Their sound is one of synth/indie/pop… the most recent quote I heard was ‘like an upbeat and poppy Joy Division vibe’.  Suffice to say they can make the most leaden footed gig goer ‘stomp’ along to their tunes.  ‘Stomping’ being the aptly named ‘on the spot’ dance adopted by fans and band alike! This band has grafted, developed its own sound and organically grown its huge following of ‘Readers’, as their fans have christened themselves, and it’s a chant you will hear in growing volume between songs and to beckon the band to the stage. There are stories abound of fans randomly hearing  this shouted as they enter a pub, shop or music venue on being spotted sporting the band’s T-shirt or hoodies.  

This is leg 5 of 7 of their biggest UK wide headline tour to date, having sold out every venue.  Many venues including the 2000 capacity albert hall had the ‘sold out’ banner against them many weeks before the date!  If that doesn’t give you reason to be curious and make you give them a listen…. 

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The venue beckons with wafts of familiar tunes, laughter and hub bub of expectation from eager fans.  Pass collected and I’m in.  I’m greeted with lots of ‘Hello’s’ and ‘It’s great to see you agains’  In all my years of going to gigs this band’s fans are without doubt the friendliest and most courteous. There’s a broad range of ages and as many ladies as men, this demonstrates the appeal and breadth of appreciation for this band across ages and gender. It’s a welcoming atmosphere and indeed security are renowned for being able to have a night off and put their feet up when these fans are in town.  It’s all about the music for the fans.  It is for the band too but they have now developed their ‘stagemanship’ to a level that now perfectly showcases their professionalism and drive to take that next step to national recognition.  They have a growing army of famous fans and the music media already champion this sound. 

Finally, we are busting at the seams… everyone crowbarred into the fantastic venue, balcony full and the chant grows “READERS”…”READERS”…. the lights dim.  First on stage is drummer Dave with a wave for the crowd, Kurtis on lead guitar follows  and  strides across to stage left and performs his trademark little bow with the tumbling hand like an Elizabethan gent.  Next on is Jim, master bassist, flashes his white teeth and to no surprise the habitual ‘I love you Jim’ shout rings from behind (probably ED!) Finally, in his new ‘Lunatic’ coat we welcome Aaron.  Lead singer and Starkie stomper.

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‘We’re the Slow Readers Club’ he states.  Understated and no fuss…. cue huge cheers

We’re off and the amazing light and sound kicks in, Ash from Light and Sound has pulled it out the bag once again!  Out the traps is ‘Fool for your Philosophy’ from the latest album Calvacade.  The place is bouncing and the goosebumps kick in as the crowd mirror Aaron’s delivery.  It’s a testament to the band’s musicianship that each and every song delivered across the set is as close to the recorded version as you could actually expect a live performance to achieve.  

We rattle through song after song, current, old and new…. the smiles, the volume and the banter from the crowd grow. This is what live music is all about. We had the re-introduction of the keyboard on stage on this tour and this was warmly welcomed by all.  Aaron demonstrated his talents beyond his voice with his accompanying on the keys, making the performance even more authentic and engrossing – also great for photos!

We pause at one point for the band to mention a fan that has travelled over from the states specifically to catch them across 2 gigs.  This is why the fans connect, the band truly appreciate the fans as much as the love for them is demonstrated for them.  As the cries of ‘Juli, Juli, Juli’ fade the lights spark into life and we stride through to the end of the set.  From Sirens, Start Again, Grace of God, Not The Only One,  One More Minute to a mind-blowing rendition of Feet on Fire, Through The Shadows, Plant The Seed, Lunatic, Block Out The Sun, You Opened Up My Heart (this one is new and a major song of the future!!), Know The Day Will Come.

Leaving the stage to tumultuous applause, whistles and that chant the guys were all smiles and waves.

We weren’t done.  The crowd bayed for their return and after a brief delay they emerged stage right to keep us high on the buzz of the evening.  We were treated to 3 more songs, Cavalcade, Forever In Your Debt and finally I Saw A Ghost to round of and push to a crescendo of 500 people singing and dancing in unity to what is an anthem to many!

As the lads left stage following a well deserved bow, it became apparent that a great many of these people would be sharing this again with me tomorrow night in Manchester.  That’s what this band means to people.  These fans are truly a family and I feel that love and inclusion having shared tonight with them.

A 3rd studio album follows early 2018 and a new single “Lunatic” is currently receiving critical acclaim. But that is no surprise to me and the other “READERS”

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Words an Photography by Paul W Dixon

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