Photo by Dena Flows (Under License Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0))
SOFT PLAY (a punk-rock duo formerly known as Slaves) returned for their first show back in London after being on hiatus since 2019. They announced their return in December 2022, with a name change for the band which sparked a lot of controversy amongst their fans.The main complaints were that changing their name due to sensitivity reasons wasn’t very ‘punk’ of them, but others just argued that Soft Play is not a good band name.
They responded to the accusations of not being ‘punk’ with their first music release since 2019: a single called ‘Punk’s Dead.’ It addresses their name change and all of the backlash they received alongside it, even including some of the outraged messages they received from fans as lyrics in the song. This is the first song they played when they came on stage at Electric Brixton, a 1,500 capacity venue which sold out in minutes (alongside their support act: up-and-coming punk/indie fusion, Opus Kink).
SOFT PLAY has only two members: the lead singer and drummer, Isaac Holman and the guitarist, Laurie Vincent, but they have the stage presence of a whole band. The whole set was high-energy and all of the audience were involved; there was a moshpit in the middle during every song, for those who didn't mind leaving drenched with sweat and adorned with a handful of new bruises. Even the fans standing at the sides, avoiding the anarchy in the middle were headbanging.
Vincent jumped around the stage playing the guitar and crowd surfed whilst maintaining the tune. Both him and Holman joined the excited fans in the middle of the moshpit for the beginning of ‘Fuck the Hi-Hat.’
Holman joined the middle of the crowd on more than one occasion to introduce the songs in a story-telling manner, explaining their backstories. Before their song, ‘Girl Fight,’ he sat in the middle of the crowd, with fans sitting down around him in a ‘circle time-esque’ fashion, and explained his inspiration for the short, fifteen-second song which, unsurprisingly was from witnessing a fight between two girls in the early hours of the morning, after a night out.
They played a range of songs; ‘The Lives They Wish They Had’, from their last album release, Acts of Fear and Love back in 2019, which is a commentary on modern day society and the desire to always want to have the best and be the best. They also played ‘One more Day Won't Hurt’ from their 2019 EP Velvet Ditch, and a hard punk-rock cover of Wham!’s song ‘Last Christmas.’
The majority of the songs included in their setlist were from their debut album Are you Satisfied? which was released in 2015 and is full of fan favourites including ‘Cheer Up London’ and ‘Where’s Your Car Debbie?’ Which was a personal favourite of mine and included another storytime from the lead singer beforehand; where we found out that the inspiration behind the song was that Holman was trying to help his friend (Debbie) find her car after she had parked it in the local woods.
They ended their set with ‘The Hunter,’ a song that reflects their rejection of capitalism and the system and highlighting the greed and lack of concern from those in power. Fans left the venue relieved about their return and excited for the inevitable new music that will be released, with their change of band name completely forgiven and forgotten.
Edited by Lucy Blackmur, Music Editor