When Drenge (Eoin and Rory Loveless) burst onto the scene back in 2013 amid a storm of hype it seemed like they were set to re-ignite the British rock scene. However, the early promise never quite became fully realised. Their 2013 effort was well received by the critics but never seemed to galvanize public excitement like fellow English rock duo Royal Blood a year later.
Support comes from Sheffield band Seize the Chair – sounding like a Joe Meek production by way of 80’s oddball’s Devo and standard 2000’s indie rock. An offbeat combo, but a thrilling live prospect. Tight and polished, the band warm up the crowd well, with a number of youngster’s pogoing down by the front of the stage.
Drenge come sauntering on at around half past 9 to the repetitive chanting, of “Yorkshire, Yorkshire”. Touring bassist, Rob Graham – a dead ringer for a young Jared Followill, exudes rock n’ roll cool – joining the two Loveless brothers on stage. Although aesthetically the sight of two band members has become more en vogue than three (Royal Blood, The Black Keys, DFA 1979), the added bass beefs up the bands sound substantially.
The band immediately dive into ‘Running Wild’, with a magnetic guitar riff that wouldn’t sound out of place on ‘Nevermind’. The band hardly stops for air as they blend their next four songs into each other. There’s not much in the way of variety, but its absolutely punishing. ‘Nothing’ features a monstrous, strutting riff that Eoin Loveless embellishes with intricate snarling guitar work. New track ‘We Can Do’ has the same sort of raucous stomp perfected by The Libertines circa 2002
Limbs fly endlessly in time to the various licks of ‘Bloodsports’ before the band leap into ‘The Snake’, the grooviest song in Drenge’s roster sounding like The Black Keys playing doom rock. “Face like a skull” is a bar mitzvah soundtrack on crack. The lackadaisical stoner ballad ‘Fuckabout’ is welcomed with a poignant, sing-a-long. The majority of the audience climb onto their partner’s shoulders while drunkenly swaying from the copious amounts of cheap cider. It’s a welcome change of pace from the pounding rush before it – a heady love-letter to idle adolescence.
There is no doubt – Drenge are a fearsome live prospect. Yet, their music can sort of feel like repeatedly smashing your head with a hammer. There is no let up, just wall to wall distortion, flurry’s of tribal drumming and droning vocals. For all of Eoin Loveless’ prowess with a riff his vocals lack the snarl or bite to lift this sort of repetitive punk sound.
Their infantile and sneering lyrics, “I’ll make you piss your pants”, and boisterous southern tinged rock appeals to the leather-clad youth that squeezed into the Brudenell on a chilly Monday night. Anyone looking for any hint of nuance or sophistication would be best walking on. However, those looking for a cathartic slice of heavy rock will not be disappointed.