The first time I ever saw Abattoir Blues play was upstairs at Brighton’s Hope and Ruin in 2013. They were playing amongst some other great now-defunct Brighton bands; Bayy and Homeschool (bonus points if you know which top 40 album making indie 4-piece members of those bands went on to become). Ever since then Abattoir Blues have gone on a very exciting journey. They’ve toured with Yak, The Wytches, Dilly Dally and Wolf Alice. They’ve released some of the most energetic, crushing and honest music Brighton has seen for a long time. That show upstairs at the Hope seems not so long ago but tonight we are gathered at Green Door Store for what is Abattoir Blues’ final show.
First on is Sulky Boy who have had a line-up reshuffle since I last saw them. Drummer, Andrew Farmer has now been switched to lead guitar and Dan Moore is holding the esteemed position of Sulky Boy bassist. Their set tonight is not for indulging in new, unreleased material but in keeping with the nostalgia of tonight, they rip through some Sulky Boy greatest hits. Tracks such as ’Carmela’, ‘Orange Avenue’, ‘Birch Trees’ and most recent release ‘Amorous Battle’ (or as singer Dan Taylor calls it ‘are you really going to call it that?’) all shimmer. It’s always a pleasure to watch this band and tonight is no exception.
Next up is Kagoule who released their longly anticipated second album ’Strange Entertainment’ last year. I had fallen off the radar a bit with Kagoule and hadn’t seen them play for ages. Their set was a generous mix of the new album and their 2015 debut ‘Urth’ from 2015. Singer and guitarist Cai pulls sounds out of his guitar like no one you’ve ever heard and trying to follow what he’s playing is like hearing someone speak another language. I’d forgotten just how tight Kagoule play as a unit and as they trudge through the muddy sounds of tracks like ‘Glue’, I make a note to never forget again.
So the time has come for Abattoir Blues to take to the stage for one last time. Green Door Store is rammed and to be blunt, this band means a hell of a lot to a hell of a lot of people. It’s always hard to ignore an Abattoir Blues set and as they rip into ‘Awake’, a song that has been sorely missed from their set for a long time, we know we’re in for a bumpy ride. The phrase ‘as if it could fall apart at any moment’ is overused but those who’ve seen Abattoir Blues before know this is exactly how their shows go and some of us have even seen it fall apart occasionally too. As they career through their set, arms reach from the crowd, lungs are bursting, tears are rolling, limbs fly and Green Door Store’s ceiling-hung disco ball gets a good few kicks from crowd surfing boots too. Frontman, Harry Waugh, is full of all his usual charm, bumbling and giggles and Harry’s passion, honesty, vulnerability are just a few of the reasons you can’t help but latch onto this band. The prize pig, the anthemic ‘Blinded’ is brought to the table as second-to-last song. Anyone who has ever seen this band will know this song. It requires no introduction. ‘Why do we even try?’ Rings out louder than ever as we all suddenly realise this really could be the last time. The same goes for the beautiful yet destructive landscape of closer ‘Sense’. We all don’t want it to be over, ‘one more song!’.
After a 12-song set, Harry assures us ‘We haven’t got any more songs!’ (We all secretly know their cover of ‘Fairytale of New York’ could do with a dust down, right?) ‘Blinded, again?’ Harry suggests. The perfect answer. Abattoir Blues smash through ‘Blinded’ again and we all get a second chance to get drenched in it. And then it’s over. I would say go check out Abattoir Blues live but you can’t because that was the end. No more, it’s done. We all count ourselves very lucky to have known this band and to have bare witness to its funeral. Bands come and go but a rare few make a real indent in our lives and what we talk about when we talk about bands. It’s hard to explain to someone who has never seen or heard this band before but they honestly possess a rare combination that allows us to hit back at the things that weigh us down, how stupid rent is or how embarrassing our government is and just see 5 lads who actually give a shit. The guttural sound of Abattoir Blues will be greatly missed and can never be replaced.