• Charlotte Hardman

Vukovi at Star and Garter, Manchester - 31.01.19 / Louder Live

It may still only be January, but already, the UK has been blessed with some brilliant tours in 2019- and with the month drawing to a close, Scottish alt-rockers Vukovi were determined to end the month on the highest possible note! Ahead of the release of their second record later this year, the band have embarked on an intimate headline tour to kick-start their new era in style- and their show at Manchester’s Star and Garter certainly proved why this year is looking to be their biggest yet!

The day, however, wasn’t off to a great start, as the night’s planned support had to pull out of that night’s show due to complications likely caused by the recent horrendous weather conditions. Despite that setback, stepping up to the plate with only a few hours’ notice were local lads Oxbloods who, despite being prepared for a chilled-out evening in less than half a day earlier, took the crowd completely in their stride. Their affable, happy-go-lucky stage presence, coupled with their swinging, upbeat choruses made them an instant hit with the audience, who were jumping and clapping along by the second song! Spiked with the occasional flavoursome scream, ‘Stockholm’ boasted a relentlessly driving bassline and thundering drums, while the groove in the melody of ‘Minefield’ was woven together with its heartfelt lyrics to make it a radio-ready hit. Closer ‘Clinton’ was a hidden alt-rock gem, packed with crunchy, grunge-tinged guitars, and infectiously danceable chorus that captured the attention of even the stagnant rear portion of the packed-out room, ending their set in a euphoric cacophony of sound. Pulling together a set of that calibre on such short notice is no mean feat; it proved that Oxbloods are a band earning their stripes and poised to make great waves in a blossoming Northern alt-rock scene.

Scrambling through the crowd to a chorus of screams, the night’s headliners, Scottish duo Vukovi took the already excitable crowd and whipped them up into a veritable frenzy! Even vocalist Janine Shilstone herself looked taken aback as the opening notes of ‘And He Lost His Mind’ rang out, causing a rippling tsunami of jumping body and even the occasional crowdsurfer to go flying through the air like leaping salmon! After what Janine described as a ‘shitty day’, the passion that rolled off the crowd in waves ‘cheered [her] up so much’ as the band raced straight into their upcoming new single ‘Claudia', to be taken from their second full length record, which follows the release of their debut self-titled LP in 2017. The track carried the same impassioned melodrama of their last record, pulling on some swaying, grungy undertones in the depth of the bassline, which was topped off with a burst of vibrant vigour in Janine’s impassioned delivery. The other new songs getting their first taste of live performance that night also went over well with the rapturous audience, in particular ‘Violent Minds’, whose heartfelt lyrics struck a chord in the hearts of every one of the members of the crowd with an arrow-sharp poignancy. Perhaps the most raw, authentic moment of the night, however, was the emotional ballad ‘Colour Me In’. Janine ordered the lights to be turned down low, and a forest of phone lights appeared, illuminating the stage like a sea of shimmering crystals. Couples held each other close as the gently lapping waves of the beautiful lyrics and the soft, dripping notes washed over the walls of the room.

This was still a rock show, however, and Vukovi, a band known for their riotous explosions of colour and exuberance, didn’t let the party stop for long! The raucous ‘Animal’ burst through a haze of distorted guitars with the unremitting vaulting of its melody that had the whole room bouncing off the walls in a feverish whirlwind of excitement, while the anthem for the forgotten outcast that is ‘Weirdo’ was screamed with a violent fervour by the many young women crammed into the small room like sardines- a powerful statement of ownership over a space and a scene which is so often dominated by male authority, a true moment of unadulterated freedom. ‘Target Practice’ was an instant crowd pleaser, with its raucous gang vocals that bookend the choruses and its fierce, anger-fuelled defiance that drives the crashing drums! Closing out the night was ‘Boy George’ named for an icon of individuality, and a song that promotes just that- the unapologetic abandon with which the crowd sang, danced and surfed along was testament to that! As the final crescendo of the night came to its thunderous conclusion, with Janine stage diving into the crowd and guitarist Hamish Reilly shrugging off his guitar and handing it to a fan in the front row before making his exit, the sudden realisation that it was over so quickly came down on the room like a ten tonne weight- the show had been ablazing lightning strike that was over far too quickly for all concerned!

Despite the disappointment at how quickly the evening came and went, it was clear that Vukovi put on one hell of a live show- their passion and energy is infectious, it is impossible to leave without a huge grin plastered on your face! Their fizzing sparks of energy never fail to warm you up, even on the coldest of winter nights, and with that second album peeking over the horizon like the first rays of sunshine, it is certain that there will be a lot more brilliant storms of colour coming from Vukovi to colour in the summer months and beyond…

Vukovi still have one date left of this tour:

06 Feb- The Garage, Glasgow (SOLD OUT)

The band have yet to release a new single from their upcoming album, however you can check out the video for 'And He Lost His Mind' below:

Also, why not check out Oxbloods' latest video for their song 'Minefield' below too:

Connect with Vukovi via Twitter: @Vukoviband

Connect with Vukovi via their website: http://www.vukovi.co.uk

Connect with Oxbloods via Twitter: @oxbloodsmusic

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