Live Review: The Slow Readers Club, Sheafs and Eyre Llew @ Rock City

Complemented by electrifying production, The Slow Readers Club's performance thrilled the crowd at Nottingham's Rock City earlier this month. Christabel Smith and Alex Melnikov review the show and share their thoughts on support acts Eyre Llew and Sheafs.

The spacey, dreamlike sounds that reverberated around Rock City captured the crowd that had gathered early to listen to Eyre Llew open the show for The Slow Readers club. It felt as if there was a cascade of drums and guitars when each song built up to the epic heights hinted at by the slow and delicate beginnings. The soothing but powerful vocals echoing from the front man (at times in Korean!) swept through the venue, and it was pleasant surprise recognising his Nottingham accent as he addressed us between songs.

''Stirring electronic beats introduce each new song on the set list and the room is as excited as if it was the first song all over again''

The white-light strobing and smoke machines that complimented the mythical sounds of Eyre Llew fell away to reveal a more worldly guitar band, Sheafs, rousing in a very different way. Multiple times during their fierce performance I felt the defiant gaze of the front man on me as he seemed to challenge every member of the crowd to disagree with his dark lyrical dissection of modern society. After the show, the guitarist was giving out Sheafs leaflets and he told me their main influences included the The Cure, Joy Division and The Strokes. This young Sheffield based band capture the post punk momentum immortalised by the bands that inspire them. Their last song, new single Spectator, has an anthemic quality for all those who feel like their personal plug into the matrix isn’t operating at full voltage. “Ignorance is bliss, Ignorance is commonplace” is repeated numbly over the ring of electric guitars.

“Readers...readers...readers” is the collective chant that responds to the dimming of the lights that means the wait is over. Urgent melodies spew from the guitar and the drums pound, with the distinctive vocals of Aaron Starkie soaring sweetly and then diving into a deep, almost warlord-like-speech tone. He smiles as he enjoys the energy being transmitted between the musicians and the people that are raising their hands, drinks, and bouncing around the now-packed dance floor. Stirring electronic beats introduce each new song on the set list and the room is as excited as if it was the first song all over again. The Slow Readers Club never lose the crowd. Their latest album, released last year with the simple title 91 days in isolation, is engaging and melodious. Tonight, it is clear the album is best witnessed out of isolation - in a lively crowd, in this iconic venue.

Manchester has a reputation for being a nucleus of exciting music and this indie-rock/pop band have flourished in this backdrop. The tour is heading into Europe in 2022 to effortlessly draw in new members to the club.

Written by: Christabel Smith

On a chilly Sunday evening, The Mic was in the warmth of Rock City to check out The Slow Readers Club. The Manchester doom indie rockers were on their long awaited tour 18 months in the making, with the pandemic especially ill-timed for the band.

After releasing their most successful album yet, The Joy Of The Return, which peaked at number 9 in the albums chart, the Manchester quartet were due to go on their biggest tour yet before the pandemic hit. Previously selling out a home show at the Manchester Apollo before the release of their last album, this tour was the next step for the band to capitalise on their cult following and expand their appeal nationwide.

''The band waste no time in pumping through their tracks, striking the perfect balance of audience interaction''

As usual, Rock City never fails to allow the artist to create a close intimate feel to their performance, and this night was no different. Right from the start, frontman Aaron Starkie’s distinctive range of vocals filled every corner of the venue, evoking shades of fellow Mancunian Ian Curtis. The Wait and Fool for your Philosophy quickly introduce the unacquainted in the audience to their dark and dystopian lyrics. The hardcore fans at the front, most of them giving the impression that they would’ve been at the front during the heyday of the same bands that the Readers emulate, don’t miss a lyric, echoing Starkie’s words back to him.

The synth heavy singles You Opened Up my Heart and Plant the Seed then invite the rest of the crowd to move about and get into the mood, delivering sounds that perfectly compliment Starkie’s vocals and which are impossible to stay still to. The band waste no time in pumping through their tracks, striking the perfect balance of audience interaction, aided by their fans bookending each song with bellowing chants of ''Readers''.

If anyone had missed the dystopian themes, then the song Two Minutes Hate spells it loud and perfectly clear for the audience, with its Orwellian influence present throughout the song. This depressive theme continues with All I Hear and All the Idols, the former being a song of despair about the state of British politics, “No you can't resist the change, there’s a choice already made.”

Forever in Your Debt is then dedicated to the crowd in gratitude for all their support over the last few years. There’s genuine sincerity in the thanks from a band that only three years ago were balancing the band with full time jobs, and over the pandemic had to rely on their fans subscribing to their Patreon content to keep going. The thanks is, of course, met with an even louder echo of ''Readers'' from their faithful fans.

The gig then resumes on a different note, with the melancholic Block Out the Sun starting off slow and building up the pace throughout, setting the tone for the rollercoaster of fast-paced hits to follow. I Saw a Ghost kicks it all off, perfectly exemplifying the Readers' skill of mixing upbeat indie-electro beautifully with dark lyrics. New single Tell No Lies follows with Starkie bouncing about as he delivers the lyrics, injecting the crowd with the final piece of energy for their closing song Lunatic, after which we hear ''Readers'' echo in every corner of Rock City for the final time.

Whether you're a long time fan or watching a band, finally on the well-deserved rise, for the first time, the variety in their catalogue offered something for everyone, and you’d be a lunatic not to check them out when they next return to Nottingham.

Written by: Alex Melnikov

Edited by: Amrit Virdi

Featured image courtesy of Christabel Smith. No changes made to this image. Permission to use granted to The Mic.

In-article videos courtesy of The Slow Readers Club and Eyre Llew via YouTube.