If I were to ask you to think of a city known for it’s music scene, I have a sneaking suspicion that Manchester would be fairly high up on your list of answers (said the unbiased Mancunian girl).
With this in mind, let me talk to you about The Slow Readers Club. This band has, with much determination and a loyal following of fans, steadily snowballed into a giant of the Mancunian music world. They’ve been releasing and performing music for nearly ten years, have toured the UK several times over and even filled tents at festivals such as Kendal Calling and Victorious Festival – but here’s the twist. While ticking off this huge list of achievements, The Slow Readers Club members were all still holding down their regular 9-5 jobs, and were an unsigned band. Long live rock and roll- but only out of office hours, naturally.
Relatively recently, the band’s popularity exploded to a whole new level, with the help of radio plays from the likes of BBC Music Introducing and XS Manchester.
The first time I heard ‘Supernatural’, with it’s heavy guitar coupled with the incredibly versatile voice of Aaron Starkie, I knew I needed to hear more; there were unmistakable hints of Joy Division, Editors and Depeche Mode all mixed into one, addictive sound.
Shortly after becoming hooked on their latest album, Build a Tower, I heard on the grapevine, about a small acoustic set they would be playing in Albert Square in Manchester. Needless to say, I rolled up to the gig and couldn’t help but get caught up in the atmosphere; it was impossible not to feel lifted by the energy of the dedicated crowd in such a small space. They mentioned their upcoming gig at the 02 Apollo, and I for one, after what I’d seen that night, had every intention of being there.
Cut to December – since the acoustic session, there had been a huge buzz about the sold out Apollo concert on radio and social media. I’ve always felt that that there is something quite special about a band playing in their hometown; it’s something that perhaps can’t be explained in words, only felt in that moment the band walks out and that first chord plays. I’ve been to my fair share of gigs at the Apollo and it has the potential to be an incredible venue when the band feels and responds to the vibe of the crowd – I had a good feeling about this one.
Just like the acoustic session, the diversity of the audience was such a beautiful sight- young, old, couples, lone wolves, families – you name it, they were there. I’m not sure why (and feel free to call me the cheesiest human on earth after my next comment), but it really did bring me a warm, little feeling of joy to see music bringing people from all walks of life together.
It’s okay, I’ll see myself out.
The lights dimmed and through the haze of the spotlights, Starkie appeared in a thick black coat, collar popped, closely followed by Kurtis Starkie (guitar), James Ryan (Bass) and David Whitworth (drums). By this point, the bands words were barely audible over the noise and chanting of the crowd. Blasting straight in to ‘Lunatic’, all expectations I held were immediately exceeded – this was clearly a band that had honed their set and blended perfectly well together to create something extraordinary.
The set spanned several albums, meaning that fans were left happy, regardless of when they had joined the band’s journey. We all knew what we were waiting for though, and the encore didn’t disappoint. The two final songs, ‘I Saw a Ghost’ and ‘On the TV’, saw the crowd turn into a collective superpower. ‘I Saw A Ghost’ is one of the band’s older tracks, from the album Cavalcade, and is probably one of the most well known from their back catalogue. It’s the final song, though, that brings with it a catchy, chant-able loop of guitar goodness. If you don’t believe me, have a look at this video on their Instagram, filmed by the boys themselves… I must warn you, I take no responsibility for this tune being stuck in your head all day/week/year.
The Slow Readers announced at the end of their set, that they would finally be giving up their day jobs in late December, in order to live the dream and pursue their musical careers full time.