THE BLINDERS (Holly Pimlott/Northern Exposure)

“Donny born Manchester bred” is how The Blinders like to describe themselves. From the crowd of loyal fans assembled before them at New Century Hall last for their last Manchester show, it’s clear that in the decade that they have been releasing music, The Blinders have well and truly earned their adopted Mancunian status.

Thursday 14th of March’s show should have been one of celebration and triumph. Just two weeks before, the band had released the best work of their career, their incredible new album ‘Beholder’, a tumultuous and spellbinding listen from start to finish. But in a totally unexpected yet, characteristically Blinders fashion the band took to Instagram just one week on from the record’s release to announce the cancellation of their European tour, and a shock hiatus, stating:

“It’s time to take a break for us. The past ten years have been an incredible journey. We’ve swam in the seas of California. We’ve driven through the mountains of Spain. We’ve played beside the fjords of Norway and in the fields of Glastonbury. We’ve sung to each other on the porch of a ranch in TX. We’ve drank margaritas in Beverly Hills and drove to Lithuania only to freeze our bollocks off and drive all the way back again”.

THE BLINDERS (Holly Pimlott/Northern Exposure)

“But now, for a break. To take a step back, to pursue something else for a while, to see where the next road takes us.”

The band marked the end of their short UK tour with a night at Manchester’s New Century, a recently refurbished venue which has hosted legends from The Kinks to Jimi Hendrix over its lifetime, a fitting setting for a final farewell from one of this generation’s most formative bands.

Entering the stage to album opener Ceremony the band took their places to the soundtrack of Charlie McGough’s pumping bassline and Thomas Castrey’s experimentally thrashing drums, setting a deliciously moody and atmospheric tone for the rest of the set.

THE BLINDERS (Holly Pimlott/Northern Exposure)

One thing that’s for sure, The Blinders play LOUD. As a seasoned gig-goer myself I know the importance of wearing earplugs … despite admittedly not using them as much as I should. But the first note of The Blinders’ first song had me rummaging in my pockets in search of my trusty set earplugs and popping them in my ears, in hope of still being able to hear in the morning.

Despite the tour originally planned in support of their latest album, the band gave their debut ‘Columbia’ the level of attention it deserved, heading straight into the epic Et Tu, followed by the ultra-cool Brutus. Not many bands can say they can orchestrate a ‘Wall of Death’ by their third song, but not many bands are The Blinders. Thomas Haywood acted as the perfect front man, directing the crowd to split down the middle as he bellowed out Brutus’ outro, “they’re gonna build a Berlin Wall”, before allowing chaos to ensue as the song came to its finale.

THE BLINDERS (Holly Pimlott/Northern Exposure)

Beholder’s Iggy Got Camero brought a welcome change of tempo, and a chance for the crowd to catch their breath between what otherwise was a wall-to-wall high energy set. The beautiful acoustic waltzing song let Thomas’ haunting vocals and delicate lyricism shine through, a special moment as the hometown crowd heard the song live for the first and possibly last time.

Fan favourites and hit singles Forty Days and Forty Nights and Ritual of the Crocodile Men whipped the loyal fans into a frenzy before an emotional rendition of latest single While I’m Still Young.  

THE BLINDERS (Holly Pimlott/Northern Exposure)

The encore was a suitably clattering crescendo, Brave New World and Ramona Flowers sparking chaos in the pit, with the band giving it their all for one ‘last dance’ with their fans. Of course, The Blinders decided to choose something a little off piste for their final song, with Black Glass bringing the show to a poignant close.

It’s unclear what’s next for The Blinders, and with a hiatus on the immediate horizon, there was an air of sadness as the room emptied. For now, fans are left to wonder when they may hear from their adopted hometown heroes again. We’d like to hope it won’t be too long, but one thing’s for sure, Manchester will welcome them back with open arms when they’re ready.