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Live Report: Blood Sport
Daniel Dylan Wray , December 12th, 2017 12:52

After seven years of techno, post-punk, industrial noise, polyrhythms, mangled vocals and brain-melting live shows, the mighty Blood Sport have called it a day. Just a few months after the release of their ‘Harsh Realm’ EP on Helena Hauff’s Return To Disorder label, Alex Keegan, Nick Potter and Sam Parkin play one last show at the Leadmill.

photo by Natasha Bright

There’s something unsettling about watching the dying moments of a band you truly love. It’s like revisiting a tried-and-tested recipe, but something tastes off. The Sheffield trio lock into a groove that sees baritone guitar and electric guitar intertwine in a flowing back-and-forth. The drums begin the showdown with the drum machine, each hammering against the other in tempos that are as often complementary as they are discordant. This push-pull dynamic all joins together in a mutated fury of jagged rhythms that feels precariously combustive, a perfectly executed delivery of chaos that sounds as riotously unpredictable as it always has.

As the show moves on, the temptation to cling onto every thrashing beat, garbled vocals and chugging guitar feels increasingly futile as they sprint away from you and you’re left watching a band disappear. Every fresh sound made is one closer to the grave, and you’re in a state of euphoric misery.

Blood Sport have always been synonymous with wild progression and futuristic expansions, leaving a question of ‘what next?’, so it is unsettling to try and apply a sense of closure. As they hammer out their final noises, it still feels like they’re hurtling forwards rather than slowing down. This uneasy context rattles back and forth, mirroring the sounds bursting out of the speakers.

Bands call it a day when they pass their peak, when things begin to wane or the idea tank is drained, but this final Blood Sport show is a ferocious paradox - a band throwing in the towel while at the height of their fighting powers. A sense of joy comes from witnessing a group still so full of excitement, but there’s a sickly bitterness in knowing they’re capable of so much more.

But they play their final ever show free from gooey sentiment, gimmick or deviation from the Blood Sport model: it’s a non-stop hour of heady, immersive and pummelling music that traverses through genres as frequently as it obliterates them.

Blood Sport truly have been my generation’s answer to Cabaret Voltaire - a Sheffield-based group who embraced the developments of dance and electronic music and filtered it through a completely sideways set-up, they were even lauded and remixed by Richard H Kirk. And, like, the Cabs, perhaps their greatest accomplishment was also one of their largest hurdles - they have always felt a little too far ahead of their time.