Cambridge on a Monday night isn’t the easiest of crowds to get revved up, but still fresh from the release of their latest record Strange Creatures in February, Sheffield noise-mongers Drenge had a good crack at it earlier this month.
Valeras are all florals and art school haircuts, the Reading-based foursome (five when guitarist Cat’s not on holiday) dishing out delicious, broody grunge that more than makes up for The Wytches’ sudden drop out as support. Striking is Rose Yagmur’s soulful vocal which would sound just at home in an R&B setting as it does over blistering scuzz from guitarists George and Katie. Forthcoming single Your Honey is a highlight, blooming from a sullen intro to an all out stomper with a gnarly instrumental section too.
Drenge have gained a fourth member and a third album since ADM last saw them, supporting The Maccabees way back in 2015. You’d be forgiven for not recognising them tonight, such is how different their presence is.
The boys’ appeal was always in their relentless, punky energy but it seems they’ve chosen a different approach this tour; LP3 title track Strange Creatures makes for a relatively low-key start, and Backwaters, formerly a renowned pit-starter, isn’t the same spectacle in its new slowed-down form. It’s not until almost two thirds through when anything more than a head-nod is inspired from the crowd, We Can Do What We Want and Bonfire Of the City Boys kicking the tempo up at last.
When he isn’t gripping the mic stand like a lover, Eoin Loveless dances haphazardly around the stage, matching the synth jitters of Teenage Love, dedicated to roadside diners on the A1. Behind him, brother and drummer Rory crashes away in the shadows like a machine.
The simmering energy eventually reaches boiling point with The Woods under eerie green haze, followed closely by Let’s Pretend, a brutal hurricane of a song that builds and builds to glorious crescendo. ‘Bloodsports’ wraps up the brief encore in a frenzy of flailing bodies and wicked noise.
With their curiously experimental third record, Drenge have made themselves an outlier in the rock landscape, but one still armed with a live show that’s as excitedly feral as it’s ever been.