Drenge make a powerful comeback for their first tour in 3 years
The 2nd of May, 2018, Gorilla.
It is the fifth night of Drenge’s ‘Grand Reopening’ tour — their first in 3 years — and the audience at their long sold-out show at Gorilla is full of expectation.
There are wild cheers as the band struts out in matching navy boiler suits and Eoin Loveless proclaims “it is good to be back in Manchester”, beating his chest like a gorilla. Drummer Rory Loveless ceremoniously cuts a red ribbon that crosses the stage under a banner that reads ‘Drenge present the grand reopening’. The band pre-empts the chaos to come: “play fair, look after each other”, before launching into unreleased song ‘Bonfire’.
The Loveless brothers started Drenge as a duo with the addition of Rob Graham for their 2015 album Undertow. With yet another new member, the now-quartet sounds formidable and tracks from their self-titled first album have a new depth and power. “Have you all warmed up and done your stretches?” quips Eoin, leading an impromptu group stretch before military- style drums signal the start of ‘Dogmeat’.
Other songs from their first album include ‘Bloodsports’ and ‘Nothing’, with its unrelenting grunge riffs and gory lyrics filling the venue. The mosh gets progressively more violent throughout the set, culminating in a frantic circle pit more than half the size of Gorilla during ‘We Can Do What We Want’ as Loveless half-sings, half shouts “no-one tells us when to stop, no-one takes account, and no-one steps in or has the guts to call us up.”
The band pauses the set to give the crowd a deserved break and to sing happy birthday to a boiler-suited crew member, presenting him with a candle-clad caterpillar cake. It is undeniably ‘Drenge- style’, accompanied by coarse bass. This is followed by new song ‘This Dance’, which is slightly less dark and heavy than tracks from their previous records, with spiralling guitar layered over brutal basslines but still mosh-worthy.
The venue is unbearably hot and sweaty, but there is the occasional relief when Drenge plays slower songs. “I’m sitting down and I’m hot but we’re going to play ‘Standing in the Cold’”, jokes Rory. The audience claps and sings along enthusiastically and the track evolves into a bluesy yet hammering guitar solo.
Eoin also performs ‘Fuckabout’ which is evidently a fan favourite as he doesn’t have to sing a word himself. Despite it being a slow, acoustic song, several members of the audience still see it as an opportunity to crowd surf.
The set closes with ‘Running Wild’, as Gorilla pounds with noise and transcends into a realm of untamed mania. Drenge leave the stage, hot but triumphant, and in full knowledge that for their fans those 3 long years were well worth the wait.