After Manchester grime MC Bugzy Malone and up and coming Rat boy’s energetic opening performances at the NME awards on the 2nd January it was Drenge’s time to take to the stage at Rock City once again, not long after their performance as a support act for the Maccabees in November!
The crowd were fired up and ready for more mosh pits after being whipped up into a frenzy by the previous acts. It was made up of an unusual variety of generations presumably attracted by the diversity of acts showcased at the NME awards tour gig. Drenge were touring in support of their new album ‘Undertow”, released on April 6th 2015, coincidentally the same day as American rock band Tool’s release of their debut album also titled undertow in 1993.
This is the trio’s (including the addition of bassist and childhood friend Rob Graham, playing on 3 tracks) second album after the success of their first self-titled album and launching of their career, unusually from the resignation note of a Labor MP in 2013 – “If you want to see an awesome band, I recommend Drenge”. The name and first album title translates to “boys” in Danish, but is also said to be a description of the sound the band feel they make on stage! The new album shares a similar narrative feel of escape, adventure and entrance into the unknown, as captured in the album artwork of a car driving off a track in a deserted woodland landscape. An album inspired by nature and the moors was what lead vocals and guitar Eoin Loveless had envisaged and delivered with songs such as “The woods” “Standing in the cold” “Running wild” and “The woods”. This was a similar focus to the first album, which gave us a “raw grunge-inspired pop blues sound… cultivated from the country landscape” (Aneet Rijjar, Rovi) and desire to escape from brothers Eoin and Rory’s routes, a small village in Derbyshire.
The first 3 songs played at the gig were off the new album, opening with “Never awake” which immediately got the crowd excited and craving more of the post grunge sounds. The second half of the set included tracks from the first album, with the energy reaching a crescendo in crowd pleaser “Bloodsports”. The crowd pushed back and opened a huge circle mosh pit, which exploded into raucous fan- led chaos! I’m sure Eoin was slightly nervous at this point as he revealed to Pierre in his interview that behind the “nonchalant rock star” charade he does worry for the safety of his mad fans. However the energy levels were brought back down to a safe level, with “Fu*kabout” which followed, a beautiful heartfelt sing-along which reminds me of Alex Turner’s solo material, such as the soundtracks off the film Submarine. The band finished on their “favourite” song to play live which is “Let’s pretend” a song they haven’t brought out on tour for a while, which concluded the set perfectly. A show that had led the crowd through a whirlwind of emotions, set them against each other in mosh pits but finally brought unity to the venue with the repeated lyrics “I wanna be your friend” and impressive instrumentals which produced swaying and a reflective atmosphere leaving everyone in a state of in trepidation for the main act to come- Bloc party.