It’s been 2 years since Blood Youth last played here at the Star and Garter in Manchester, and sadly with poor attendance numbers at the time. They are back on tour to promote the new album, Starve, recently released on the 22nd February so it’s good to see the small bar downstairs filled wall to wall and many more stood outside waiting for the signal to go up to the main room. Once upstairs we’re in a medium sized room for about 200 people and it’s already getting close to that. I secure a spot at the side of the stage and wait for the show to start…
First up tonight is God Complex, a 4-piece hailing from Liverpool, who arrive on stage to a roar from the crowd. Opening acts usually get a raw deal where crowd numbers are concerned but not tonight, as they deliver a blistering set to some obvious fans in the audience. They delivered a good first set playing an explosive mix of blackened hardcore, death and sludge which certainly warmed everyone up for the bands to come.
Lotus Eater are up next with a homegrown style of gloom, they bring an interesting brand of dark street culture from the depths of Glasgow and blend it with punishingly low-tuned and guttural hardcore, creating a sound and atmosphere that is huge and unique, with the crowd lapping it up.
After a quick kit change, it’s time for Palm Reader, 5 lads from Nottingham, and it’s clear to see they have a large following here tonight as they launch into a ferocious set which has the audience surging to the front. I only just manage to cross the floor and back quickly for some more shots before the mosh pit is in full flow.
Stepping things up considerably, these boys deliver a fusion of post hardcore and metal that has the entire floor banging away, with an intensity and stage presence more suited to a much bigger venue. They raise the temperature of the room considerably as they deliver mainly tracks from last year’s album Braille, with a couple of older ones thrown in for good measure. Unfortunately, they ran out of time, but I shall definitely be looking to catch them again when they headline their own show.
Another kit change, then we wait as the floor fills, the room is now packed to its capacity. To flashing strobes Blood Youth push through the mass of fans now crowding the front of the stage, opening with “Spineless” with its insanely catchy riff being reminiscent of the raw edge of early Slipknot. Chris Pritchard’s screaming guitars providing a perfect accompaniment to Kaya Tarsus’ great vocals, ranging from guttural screams to harmonic melodies.
Dropping the tempo slightly, “Cut Me Open” follows with its catchy chorus and has the crowd screaming along. I have given up trying to move for better shots due to the seething mass in front of the stage. A trio of songs next from the previous album Beyond Repair, before returning to the new material and “Keep you Alive” and “Nerve”, Matt Hollinson leaning over the crowd as he hammers out his bass, Kaya stood next to him demanding a circle pit, I didn’t think there was room… I was wrong.
Then another couple of older tracks and the floor is a seething mass of hot sweaty fans and the floor is bouncing. Literally. I’m worried we are all going to end up downstairs as a few fans manage to find their way onto stage for stage dives. “Two years ago we played here to a dozen people,” announces Kaya, “We can’t thank you enough for tonight!” he continues and you can see he means it.
After launching into “Starve”, the title track from the new album, he then launches himself onto the crowd who duly hold him high above their heads like some unholy messiah, before returning him to the stage to finish with “Exhale”, a gut-wrenching track with demonic vocals, white noise and screeching guitar. Sam Hallett’s perfect timing somehow keeps it all together.
Despite the audience screaming for an encore, sadly the club has a strict cut-off point, so we don’t get one. Blood Youth blew me away tonight. These 4 lads from Harrogate have come a long way in the last 2 years. I look forward to seeing them at bigger venues soon and they have just announced they are playing Reading & Leeds Festival.
If you’re into hard and gutsy 90s metal brought kicking and screaming up to date then catch these boys when you can.
Photos by Drew Scott Photographic