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  • Matt Codd

The Snuts @ O2 Academy: Scotland’s Greatest Prove They Are One Of The Best Around

The Snuts are currently on a mammoth tour of the UK in support of their exceptional sophomore album Burn The Empire. The album itself is a politically charged one, filled with highlights, an accomplished effort for a band still in relative infancy. It builds on the success of their debut W.L. in almost every aspect in a sonically and visually ambitious effort; that ambition translated perfectly to the stage.

On what was a chilly Saturday evening, The Snuts played to a sauna at Sheffield’s O2 Academy. The band names Sheffield’s own Arctic Monkeys as a major influence and with their lightning delivery and genre-blurring tunes, it’s easy to see just where that influence has been put to use. Now, armed with a thunderous 21-song setlist, the West-Lothian band delighted with their brand of anthemic indie rock. In a career spanning set, The Snuts played what felt like the entirety of their first two albums as well as a couple of older gems too, no stone left unturned.

The step-up was evident even before they took the stage. In a room that was abuzz with excitement and anticipation, the screen installed behind the stage lit up with images and videos of historic civil unrest and political movements that tied in perfectly with the overarching theme of Burn The Empire. As the lads entered, it was a fever pitch before they opened with ‘Pigeons in New York’, which set the tone for the rest of the night. The song’s theme of togetherness and acceptance was a mantra held all night with both the crowd and the band relishing every second.

This track was bravely followed up by arguably the band’s biggest hit to date in ‘Glasgow’. Such a towering and well-known track would usually be reserved for a rousing set-finisher or encore-closer. But the Scottish rockers saw fit to treat the crowd early, and it was an inspired move. ‘Glasgow’ is an anthem of gigantic proportions, and it whipped the crowd into a frenzy, setting a tempo and tone for the rest of the night. There was going to be no respite for the remainder of the gig.

For a band that has just released their second LP, they have a command of the crowd and an understanding of their fans that is rarely found in bands arguably still making their way in the scene. The Snuts knew what the crowd wanted to hear, and they gleefully delivered every second. Be it new hits like ‘Knuckles’ or ‘The Rodeo’ - complete with its continental Ole’s chanted by the crowd as though they were fans of prime Barcelona – or older singles like ‘Seasons’, the variety on display was jaw-dropping at times.

Though The Snuts may sometimes be misrepresented as simply another in the rich vein of current festival anthem makers, they set themselves apart on moments like ‘13’ and ‘Zuckerpunch’, showing incredibly political savvy, tackling huge issues like poverty and social media with tact and empathy. These are by no mean empty calls-to-arms, but meaningful statements from a band with much experience of such issues. Lead singer Jack Cochrane introduced ‘13’ with a touching monologue telling the crowd how the moving track was inspired by close friend of the band, drawing parallels with their hometown and the Steel City – Working Class areas, deprived by a certain government. Cochrane was met with a chant of “Fuck the Tories”, and it wouldn’t be the last time it was heard.

There was more than enough room for the rest of their greatest hits though. Banger after banger bombarded the O2 Academy, personal favourites from W.L. like ‘Always’ and ‘Juan Belmonte’ were met with fervorous joy from all with their driving drumlines and insatiable beats. Tracks from Burn The Empire were received with equal excitement – ‘Hallelujah Moment’ was a particular highlight, with it’s incredibly danceable funk-rock stylings that delighted the room.

Finally, the absolutely heavenly ‘End of the Road’ closed the initial set. The gorgeous duet features rising star Rachel Chinouriri on the album cut, but here Cochrane and co were joined by their incredible support act, Heidi Curtis. The song’s crescendo to the end was rousing but just like that, it was over. The Snuts had played 19 tracks at an incredible pace, the gig had flown by. Now, the crowd was chanting for the encore, and they didn’t have to wait long.

The boys returned to a huge roar, as some familiar, infamous faces floated onto the screen behind them and the first chords of ‘Burn The Empire’ began. Boris Johnson and some of his well-known friends bobbed up and down behind the band as Cochrane railed against modern society and those in charge of the nation. Another chant of “Fuck the Tories” followed before an insane closing moment provided by the much-loved single ‘Fatboy Slim’. The infectious track sent the crowd into pandemonium with an ingenious inclusion of Fatboy Slim’s seminal track ‘Praise You’ as a makeshift bridge. It was a fitting conclusion to an incredible gig. Ingenious, inventive, and intoxicating; The Snuts proved to the Steel City crowd that they are possibly the most exciting band in the UK right now. If you go see them, you’ll soon recognise that too.


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