Blacklisters | Live Review

Blacklisters @ Exchange, Bristol. 16.05.15.


Blacklisters played a set almost exclusively comprised of material from their upcoming second album.

Last night, a large northern man screamed in my face for about half an hour and then I went home. It was brilliant, and I’d recommend it to all of you. Now, I’ll concede that if I were to read that as an opening statement, I’d probably want more context too. So, I’ll elaborate. Last night I saw Blacklisters live.

Given that Bristol has never been especially well-known for its noise rock scene, one would be forgiven for being a little concerned to discover that, upon arrival at Exchange, they themselves made up fifty percent of the audience. However, the room quickly filled out, and in the meantime any early birds were treated to the sight of all four members of the Leeds-based band stoically setting up their stage, each wearing that quintessentially northern facial expression of grim resolution. You know; the one that says ‘winter is coming’.

The thing is, as soon as Blacklisters kick things off (and kick things off they indisputably do), a curious thing happens. It becomes apparent that, for all their screaming, thrashing, and sullen pre-show countenance, they are, at their core, a very happy band. Frontman Billy Mason-Wood’s glee was palpable as he howled and slurred the opening bars of ‘Trickfuck’, and drummer Alistair Stobbart battered his kit with such abandon that on several occasions parts of it fell off.

Speaking of Stobbart’s kit, the band were unfortunately beset by technical difficulties from early on in the set. It is a testament to Blacklisters’ stage presence, charisma and prevailing sense of humour that the audience, myself included, were perfectly content to watch seventy-five percent of the band scrabbling around on their hands and knees searching for a lost piece of drum kit for several minutes, while Mason-Wood provided a scathing commentary from offstage, in amongst the crowd.

In fact, Mason-Wood spent very little of the set on the stage. When he wasn’t on the floor in front of it, snarling in our faces; he walked, reeled and swayed among us, alternately coiling himself in his microphone lead and staggering suggestively like a six-foot-two zombie go-go dancer. The most terrifying kind.

With the exceptions of a couple of tracks from their debut LP ‘BLKLSTRS’, including ‘Clubfoot by Kasabian’ and the aforementioned ‘Trickfuck’, Blacklisters played a set almost exclusively comprised of material from their upcoming second album, ‘Adult’, which is due for release in autumn. Thematically, our only clue as to the artistic motivations behind the new material came from Mason-Wood himself, who introduced new song ‘Shirts’ with the tagline: ‘This song is called Shirts. It’s all about wearing really nice shirts.’ Enlightening.

Though much of the material was new, the performance was in keeping with previous form; Dan Beesley did utterly unspeakable but immensely entertaining things to his guitar, while the truly formidable rhythm section that is drummer Stobbart and bassist Owen Griffiths churned out the chugging, mechanical, yet simultaneously uneasy and intricate time signatures characteristic of the band.

After the end of the set and a brief chat with Beesley and the irrepressibly cheerful Mason-Wood, I left Exchange sweaty and fatigued, yet refreshed at having seen not just a rock band, but a group of genuine showmen. I also understand that they were able to recover all the pieces of Stobbart’s drum kit, which is nice to know.

Check out ‘Trickfuck’ right here:

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