LIVE: Single Mothers @ The Key Club, Leeds

By Tom Walsh

If there’s one pertinent question in punk at the moment it’s, ‘Why isn’t everybody listening to Single Mothers?’ The self-proclaimed ‘band that split up in 2009 and have been touring ever since’ are a unique bastion within a genre where originality can be found somewhat wanting at times.

There is a swagger and a sneer to each track as they flit from chaotic bursts of fully loaded hardcore riffs to melodic swinging ballads. All the while, it is held together by enigmatic frontman Drew Thomson who, in the words of Lisa Simpson while describing Jim Carrey, “can make you laugh with just a wild flailing of his limbs”.

Thomson is a fascinating character who introduces himself to the Leeds crowd as being “from somewhere in your heart”. Resplendent in a black shirt, jeans and box-fresh white trainers, he conveys a genuine sense of appreciation for everyone in attendance, regularly reaching to embrace the handful of hardcore fans on the front row who echo back his every word.

In a recent Vice article, Thomson spoke in-depth about his struggles with alcohol abuse and how sobriety has sharpened his focus. This realisation has seen him pour all of his efforts back into Single Mothers, and with a string of tour dates and the tantalisation of new music on the horizon, there is hope that the days of regular implosion are in the past.

Thomson is not only an inspired lyricist, penning some of the most brutally honest, funny and heartbreaking lines you are likely to find, he is also an engrossing live performer. No matter how small the crowd, each attendee is captivated by his posturing, swinging of hips and laying on a thin slice of camp to the aggressive hardcore punk music being played over the top.

There are moments of rustiness as an early rendition of ‘Overdose’ needs to be restarted with Thomson giving an apologetic “we haven’t played this one for a while” as he misses his cue. However, this is the only misstep in a flawless set that encapsulates why Single Mothers are such an underrated band within the punk and why it is a travesty they are so often overlooked.

The double header of ‘Half-Lit’ and ‘People Are Pets’ shows the raw, visceral outlook that early-year Single Mothers harboured, while ‘Leash’ provides an almost unexpected ballad. Thomson has a lot to say but he eschews his normal monologues for a packed 45 minute taking us through the back catalogue including ‘Metropolis’, a new track promised for a forthcoming record.

A familiar question is poised by Thomson in the snarky, self-deprecating ‘High Speed’ as he proclaims “Here’s my pledge of allegiance to the kids I can already hear making fun of this. ‘I like the older shit. Whatever happened to Single Mothers?'” With a closing rampaging rendition of ‘Christian Girls’ Thomson puts a definitive full stop on this rhetorical request.

Whatever you are doing, whatever you have been listening to. Stop. Listen to Single Mothers. You can thank us later.