So as you can probably tell by the title, I went to see The Blackout at The Borderline in London last Sunday.
I was one of the lucky people who won tickets to the intimate show, having been entered into the prize draw after pre-ordering the new album ‘Hope’ from HMV.com.
There was only 100 pairs of tickets up for grabs so the show was quite small and intimate in comparison to the environments the boys have no doubt grown used to with bigger stage space and the audience being not quite so close that the band could fall on them – as singer Gavin Butler nearly did at one point :P.
We got in and were seated right by the left hand side of the stage near the door to the backstage area, and what did stand out to me was that while there were young audience members (early to late stages of teens) there were also older people, which proves that it isn’t just screaming girls and the younger generation that this -and indeed other bands like this – appeals to but the older generation too.
The support came in the form of ‘Tek-One’, a two piece that consisted of a DJ and a drummer.
I’d never heard of this band before so when I saw the mixing board and drum set onstage, I was anxious to see what my ears were going to be met with, and I really liked it.
The music was a very Dubstep, Drum ‘n’ Bass type sound which I found myself likening to Pendulum, and although the crowd scarcely moved during the set, the boys were not put off and continued to put everything they hand into it, drummer James thrashing around on his kit and DJ Howard rocking to the beat of the tracks, and at times beckoning the audience to make some noise.
Although the crowd did appreciate a play of a mix track which incorporated a sample from The
Blackout’s Higher and Higher – DJ Howard urging us to sing along, which we did – However, I got the impression that the crowd consisted of mostly early teens who were too young to appreciate the rave sound, or older people who had grown out of it, and not enough people of the age to bridge that gap and get the crowd going.
But you can’t fault the boys for trying nor for effort, and personally I really liked the boys set and could see myself going to see them in the future.
You can check them out here, and their remix of Higher and Higher is out on ITunes.
After a very lengthy set change, screams erupted from the crowd as the Welsh headliners emerged from the darkness of the backstage area.
Playing songs from all previous albums – as well as obviously treating us to a few new songs from upcoming release’ Hope’ – songs such as Children of The Night, This is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things, and set closer Save Ourselves, among others, all producing a mass sing along and a frenzy of movement and punching fists. They also played two of my favourite songs back to back –Top Of The World and Silent When We Speak– which I’d never heard them play live before :).
The atmosphere of the gig was one of intimacy and informality, the band interacting with fans as well sharing anecdotes and just generally making the crowd laugh, singer Sean Smith giving his mic to people in the centre of the crowd numerous times, particularly during the rap section of Higher and Higher, asking the crowd before hand if anybody knew how to rap, insisting a guy had to do it as “Girls can’t rap”.
This prompted guitarist Bob to say, “If you’re saying girls can’t rap just look at ‘Lil Kim”, to which drummer Snoz replied: She can’t rap she just gets naked!
However, Sean did pass the mic to a girl and after the song quickly and wittily said, “And I think I proved my point that girls can’t rap.”
He also offered his mic to the crowd during the start of It’s High Tide Baby, saying, “I’m not gonna sing any of this so it’s up to you.” (He did sing it from the second verse onward though!)
The boys also shared little anecdotes onstage, one of which being Sean telling the crowd something that Gav said during their radio interview that same day. “We were doing a top 40 count down and Gav got to Nicole Scherzinger and said: Nicole Scherzinger, that’s really hard to say but not for me.” Sean going on to reveal that he found this really funny.
Gav was also very talkative, he and Sean bouncing off of one another- as well as literally doing so when performing due to the small stage space- and also urging us to “Move around…guys at the back come down let’s have some fun…I know it’s a small venue, doesn’t mean we can’t move about.”
It could never be said that The Blackout don’t make the effort, the boys very visibly sweating like pigs throughout the set, from Gav and Bob’s face’s being drenched in it, to Snoz’s sweaty exterior and his long hair curling and sticking to his face, you can see that the boys are putting their all into this, and having fun doing it, the guys smiling and laughing at each other throughout.
The heat was pointed out by Sean who cheekily asked us “Is anyone really hot? does anyone else wanna take their top off?”, In response to which a guy shouted ‘Yeah’ and started to remove his shirt. Sean in mock annoyance exclaimed “It’s always the men! Put your shirt back on BRO! we don’t wanna see moobs, we wanna see real boobs!”
It was later in the night that the same guy exclaimed ‘Come home with me!’ at the band, to which Sean again said it was always men who were willing, and joked that Gav would go home with him :p.
The guys asked the crowd which of us had previous album ‘The Best In Town’, and then proceeded to ask how many of us illegally downloaded it. However, Sean did thank us for pre-ordering Hope and joked that it was a waste of money and now we’ve heard some of the songs we probably want to take it back.
Sean: “I dunno, can you take back a pre-order? Take it back!”
Gav: “Keep the money, I just want it out of my house!”
The gig was very much this atmosphere, sometimes the boys not even breaking between songs, but when they did thanking us and engaging in cheeky banter, thus making it very comfortable.
After the gig Sean and Matt came out to meet fans and Sean was also nice enough to stand and answer a question for me for this blog. (Read Below:)
Me: So the album Hope was through Pledge Records, which is funded by fans, and you’ve sold out a tour on an album that’s not even out yet. How do you feel about that as it’s all been funded by the fans? (obviously I may not have put it as eloquently as that as it was rather nerve-wracking!)
Sean: “It means the world to us”… “It blows our minds”… “We were in Sydney in Australia and we just woke up and thought, what are we doing in Australia?”…”When we started we didn’t think many people were going to like us, but they do”
Me: it’s ‘coz you’re good!
Sean: That’s debatable…
I would’ve argued more in their favour but I knew he wanted to go somewhere, so I just said “Well we’ve seen you 3 times and you’ve got some pretty hardcore fans so…” and I just gave him a hug and left, but I was like you’re still going to fight me on this? Did you not see us all in there and the looks on our faces?
It just goes to show that despite their success, the lads have stayed grounded, seemingly devoid of arrogance and still don’t realise just how good they are.