Sheffield rockers Drenge may have received a sharp spike in interest recently thanks to Labour MP Tom Watson’s parting assertion that they are “an awesome new band”, but it’s visceral and absorbing live performances like tonight’s in the Limelight 2 that will surely see their popularity continue to increase. Brothers Eoin and Rory Loveless make up a guitar and drums duo, but their live setup is anything but lacking – one only need take note of the array of amp stacks and microphones which flank the pair on stage. The modest gathering of hipster-cum-metalheads that have assembled tonight are treated to a ferocious and potent set of rumbling garage-rock.
From the opening salvo of ‘Backwaters’ one thing is apparent: Drenge are loud. That may not exactly be news to anyone familiar with the pair’s self-titled debut, but it’s a rare thing indeed to see the same sort of emphatic oomph mirrored in a band’s live performance. Hyperbole aside, there are moments during tonight’s gig when the lower notes of Eoin’s powerchord strikes are enough to make one’s insides vibrate.
But whilst their loudness is impressive, it would be nothing to write home about without their deceptively clever songwriting, and it’s no surprise that some of tonight’s stand-out moments point towards the better moments on their album: ‘Bloodsports’ is jittery and taut and evokes a mini mosh pit; whilst ‘Let’s Pretend’ is a ten-minute-long angst-ridden love letter which offers a drawn out low in contrast to the band’s many short and snappy highs. And, whilst their influences are worn fairly openly on their sleeves – the likes of Queens of the Stone Age, the Stooges and an early day Black Keys all get a nod tonight – there is enough originality in their songs so that they only ever sound like themselves. By the time Eoin bluntly states “I don’t give a fuck about people in love/ they don’t piss me off, they just make me give up” (on ‘Fuckabout’), it’s clear that their dumb, brash noise hides some slightly more nuanced ideas.
As the brothers Loveless bring a lean set to a close with the ferocious ‘Face Like A Skull’, they leave the Limelight audience satiated; tonight’s convincing live performance further evidence of a promising young band on the rise. These ears will be ringing for some time. Andrew Lemon
Photo by Mike Burnell