When While She Sleeps first announced they were going to not only crowdfund their third album, but write, record and mix the entire thing in their own, purpose-built studio complex, the scene held its collective breath. While the premise of taking their future into their own hands was an exciting one, the fact was that Sleeps are a band that have had no shortage of hurdles in front of them in recent years, and there was a worry that, away from the power of major label backing, this could accelerate a nosedive back into relative obscurity.
Luckily, this is no ordinary band. With the crowdfunding target long smashed and You Are We landing to universally rabid acclaim (and, as is later announced, a Top 10 chart position), the Sheffield quintet have decided to put on an intimate album release show, with tickets predominantly going to those who donated to the album. It’s a typical move from a band who have always been about people power, and tonight, as they kick into the new record’s title track, there’s an air of triumph rising up from the Old Blue Last’s dirty floorboards (albeit an air that smells suspiciously like beer and sweat).
If there was any trepidation about Sleeps’ slightly tweaked new formula not sitting well with their hardcore fanbase, the delirium that greets tonight’s opening number doesn’t so much dissipate any lingering doubts as send them packing back to the dark corners of YouTube comments from whence they came. And the love for the new stuff doesn’t end there. Civil Isolation, Silence Speaks and a throat-scorching Hurricane already sound like classics: easily big enough to fill venues 50 times this size and pulling responses that plaster shit-eating grins over everyone onstage. Set staples like Seven Hills, Four Walls, This Is The Six and a pulverising Brainwashed – still easily the band’s heaviest moment – remind everyone of just how mighty a catalogue Sleeps have already amassed in their short time, and while there’s not much in the way of stage patter from Loz Taylor tonight – keeping it mostly to the “Thank you”s and “This is amazing”s – it doesn’t matter: this is a party that feels like a victory lap before they’ve even got started. Believe in this band.