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REVIEW: The Blackout - SWG3, Glasgow 20/2/24

Photo and review by Lukas Neilson.

“Fuck The Blackout” wouldn’t be our choice of words, but they are nevertheless the words that the Merthyr Tydfil six-piece have decided to plaster across the backdrop of their stage for the evening. The Blackout have been largely inactive for what feels like an age, but since their fire was rekindled in 2022, a reunion tour had been rumoured to be on the cards. After sporadic shows throughout their home country and an appearance on The Avalanche Stage at Download Festival 2023, The Blackout are back for their first UK tour since 2015, bringing some new Glaswegian blood along with them for the ride.

The Glasgow show opens with the local lads in newshapes to warm things up – an exclusive appearance for this show on the tour. There is a timidness at the start of their performance that soon burns away as they fire through a short set of old and new material. ‘foreverend’ is an obvious standout in their set with its massive chorus and heavy closing section which showcases their versatility as a band. Another highlight comes in the form of ‘you’ll never be alone again’, a Funeral for a Friend-esque track that sees vocalist Ian Mann impressively belting out the titular refrain as the song closes out.

As the lights go down for Dead Pony, the nu-rock band quickly take to the stage and open with a bouncy, brief rendition of The Prodigy’s ‘Voodoo People’. For anyone else, this introduction could easily prove impossible to live up to, but thankfully Dead Pony bring mountains of energy to their future-hit filled set. Anna Shields proves to be wildly entertaining on stage, going as far to throw out punches and kicks amid breaks in vocal duties. Their sound is a big melting point of influences – the nu-rock elements of The Prodigy can be heard, but elements of pop-punk and grunge on tracks like ‘MK Nothing’ give the band an inescapable vitality that undoubtedly elevates the evening.

Main event time finally rolls around and the first thing (aside from the massive ‘Fuck The Blackout’ backdrop) that the audience may notice is the chair on the stage. The reasoning for this quickly becomes apparent as the band take to the stage, accompanied by co-vocalist Gavin Butler on crutches, his leg wrapped in a cast. They don’t take any time immediately to address the elephant in the room, instead blasting through ‘STFUppercut’ and ‘Ambition Is Critical’ before explaining the injury. Butler explains that he got ‘overexcited’ during the opening night of the tour in Manchester (jokingly blaming co-vocalist Sean Smith for the incident), and instead of cancelling the reunion tour he would likely play the rest of the shows seated. It’s wildly impressive how little this unfortunate development hinders the Welsh veterans, who overcome this barrier with remarkable ease. Aside from a few moments where Butler seems to be in genuine discomfort, with his bandmates checking in to make sure he’s alright to continue, it’s clear that nothing has really changed during their long time away.

Not only is tonight quite special for the audience, but it clearly means a lot to the band too. Sean Smith, who ramps up his typical eccentricity to compensate for his injured partner, is clearly quite moved by the response they are getting – and it’s no wonder why. The room is filled with thirty-something’s religiously belting out line after line in this packed setlist. One particularly special moment comes when the unprompted crowd chants ‘We. Are. The Dynamite’ – the title of their debut full-length, and the chant that features on the opening track ‘Tick. Tick. Boom’ – which in turn prompts the band to play along with the chanting. The band seem genuinely taken aback by how much love they’re receiving tonight, with Sean Smith going as far to cover his face and laugh in delight as the crowd scream “This was never going to be simple” during the closing moments of ‘This Is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things’.

Tonight was as cathartic for the angsty millennials of Glasgow as it clearly was for The Blackout. The 18-track set covered material going as far back as their first EP and extended as far as their last recorded single ‘Wolves’ from 2014. It’s unclear what the future holds for The Blackout – a fact that Smith and Butler remind the audience of repeatedly during the evening. For tonight at least, The Blackout are back, and even with an injured member, they are undoubtedly on top form.


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