GIG REVIEW: cleopatrick at Islington Assembly Hall
GOOD GRIEF! After nearly two years, the boys were finally back in town last week for a short and sweet sold out rip across the UK, hitting Tunbridge Wells, London, Birmingham and Nottingham with our fav Brighton babes Sick Joy.
We were (obviously) at all of the shows - the jewel in the crown being Thursday's appearance at Islington Assembly Hall, where the dazzling Toronto duo played to a jam-packed crowd of 900 adoring fans. As their biggest UK headline to date, and first time back in London after covid, the atmosphere in the venue was buzzing with anticipation. Sick Joy take the stage amidst joyous screams, launching right into furious grunge anthem Dissolve Me.
From the get-go it's apparent this is going to be an evening no one will be forgetting in a hurry. The spirit of the NRM community is alive and well as the audience bob up and down along with bassist Danny's meaty riffs - he's clad in cleopatrick merch, demonstrating the heartwarming mutual love and respect that this gang is all about. Frontman Mykl sports an equally iconic shirt that says "GIRLS INVENTED PUNK ROCK NOT ENGLAND" and we do truly love to see it.
Following up with the ridiculously-fucking-catchy melodies of Playing Dead, we know it really is better with the lights down. Karma and Ketamine is up next, sampling Mykl's impressive screams before drummer Sam smacks us about with the fat beats of Stumbler. Unreleased Talking To Drugs and aggressively invasive ear-worm I've Got More give us a delicious taste of the upcoming debut album, before the trio end their impeccable set on fan favs Vibe Sucker and Smiling Shame. The second Mykl's done he chucks his guitar to the ground and fucks off, in true rockstar style. If you need a crowd warming up, Sick Joy are your boys.
And then, suddenly, it's happening. A crooning melody echoes around the room as Luke and Ian take to the stage, and we all fucking lose it. They take their places and launch guitar-screech first into VICTORIA PARK with its delectably syncopated beats and classically cleo angsty hip-hop verses. When I say instant mosh pit, I mean instant. From there, we roll right into personal favourite sanjake - an ode to best friends Sanjay and Jake. We were at the release party back in 2019, and this song still slaps just as bloody hard over two years later. Jake lingers in tour manager mode at the side of the stage, completely unaffected, having heard it at least a million times.
Without so much as a breath we're launched into the addictive GOOD GRIEF, the first single from debut album BUMMER, and it's safe to say that I've never seen so many heads bouncing up and down together in my life. Luke radiates his signature effortlessly-cool aura as the applause dies down, thanks us for supporting the band, and does something more fucking artists should - tells the audience not to be dicks to each other so that everyone can have a fun night (the fact that people have to be asked not to harass women is completely insane, but we move). All bands should be looking out for their female fans like this, especially in such a male dominated scene.
THE DRAKE is next up, and as the standout track from the album, shit kicks off accordingly. Luke and Ian absorb the vivacious energy from the crowd and give it straight back - with every track, it feels like they're performing like their lives depend on it - nothing is ever half-assed at a cleo gig! We're abruptly thrown back to 2018 with the depths, before diving deep back into the album with FAMILY VAN, WHY JULY, YA, and NO SWEAT.
Then comes the moment everyone's been waiting for: hometown, the slow, ominous build creating ripples through the crowd until the chorus drops and we all completely lose it. This track has a whopping 56 MILLION streams on Spotify alone, so you can bet your ass there wasn't a mouth in the room not screaming the delectably provocative lyrics. Carrying on the raunchy vibes, we slow things down with heavy-hitter bernard trigger. As if he wasn't already doing the absolute most over at the drum kit, Ian jumps around and hypes us up between beats - not that this crowd bloody needed it.
For the emotionally introspective 2008, everyone puts their flash on - some covered by blue filters that were distributed amongst fans before the show - to bring the beautifully ruminative energy in the room even further into a mutual, self-indulgent depression. Talk about highs and lows! There wasn't a dry eye in the house afterwards - so don't ever think that these guys don't have range.
To ease us back into party mode, Ian takes the reins for PEPPERS GHOST, before the euphoria of cleo classic youth. Once Luke hits with the "MY FRIENDS ARE WASTED" all hell breaks loose in the ever-present mosh pit. This song has probably one of the best bridge/outros of all time, and no one wants it to end. GREAT LAKES is the final tune of the night, despite relentless chants for an encore - these two know how to leave the crowd wanting more.
cleopatrick will return to the UK next March with the lovely Ready the Prince for the second leg of their BUMMER tour, and if you haven't got your tickets already: hurry the fuck up. They will sell out!
UK 2022 dates
Review by Courtney Myers
Photography by Millie Hudson