The final date on Blaenavon’s (pronounced bline-av-un) latest UK headline tour and their biggest headline show to date, also marked the release of their debut album ‘That’s Your Lot,’ and so I knew from the outset it would be a special show. Watching frontman Ben Gregory and bassist Frank Wright energetically move around the stage (the band is completed by Harris McMillan on drums) it was evident how much this particular gig meant to them. The spaces in-between the first few songs were enthusiastically filled with fond nostalgic memories of a band outing made to see WU LYF in 2011 at the same venue, a show which was clearly a turning point for the band. Ben even stated that particular WU LYF performance was the reason they do music now. Blaenavon formed at college and wrote songs together throughout their teens, one of these songs, “Swans” making it onto their album. Ben claiming that “’Swans’ is a remarkable song for me, because it was written when I was 15 and contains such clarity and sincerity, which I would usually be too afraid to utter nowadays.” The inclusion of “Swans” paying tribute to their past and how they began writing in very formative years of their life making this album the quintessential tribute to youth.
Their set consisted mainly of songs from their new album, however, they also paid homage to earlier releases playing “Into the Night” off their very first 7”, which filled the room with an infectious energy, causing the crowd to move instantaneously. More recent tracks were also received positively, for instance “My Bark Is Your Bite,” an upbeat and snappy song with a very memorable chorus: “My bark is your bite, it cuts like a knife when I lie,” and “Lonely Side,” which showcased a softer side to Blaenavon’s music, providing some light relief from the heavier songs preceding it. Another new number followed this; “Alice Come Home,” a tender and steady intro leading listeners to a loud climax and soon I was gathered up again in the raucous flailing limbs of the crowd. Ben, wearing a crown of yellow flowers (a reference to the album’s artwork, which was also alluded to by Frank, who graced us all with his complete lemon attire) endearingly thanked the audience for their support over the years in helping them create ‘That’s Your Lot,’ and soon we were launched into two of their most well-known tracks, “Take Care” and “I Will Be The World,” where, with a few whips of his long hair, Ben, in turn, whipped the crowd into a frenzy. The set almost came to an abrupt close when a crowd of smitten teenage girls initiated a mass stage invasion completely enveloping the band, particularly frontman Ben. Fortunately, he managed to wriggle his way to the front to finish playing the set with Prague ’99: one of the first songs they ever released, and a fantastic cyclical closing moment to an immensely memorable show.
Photography: Sarah Louise Bennet