They’ve been called “the most important band in Britain“, proclaims Bobby Vylan of punk-duo Bob Vylan as the band is warming into their riotous set on Saturday, 25th November. It is the tour’s final night, and Bob Vylan are in high spirits. After starting the show with some stretching and meditation, a sky-high jump signifies the band are ready. From then onwards, the pace rarely relents.
Bob Vylan has been making waves on the UK music scene after impressive live performances at Reading & Leeds, and Download Festival. The band plays to a sold-out O2 Kentish Town Forum, and the North London crowd is electric. Every drum beat is met with louder screaming and jumping as most pits pop off spontaneously. When Bob Vylan crank the energy, the audience does, too – it creates an atmosphere that is hard to rival.
All the while, as the tempo and energy are turned up again and again, Bob Vylan makes time to create an inclusive atmosphere. Partway through the set, as the two-piece band prepares to play a new single, “He’s The Man,” Bobby Vylan asks the men to step back so the women and non-binary people can come to the front to enjoy the show. He openly scolds one man who initially refuses to move until he complies. It was a gesture rarely seen in the punk scene and a reason why the band is quickly becoming beloved by their fans.
The set is complete with touching moments. Bobby Vylan’s daughter joins him on stage to perform “Dream Big” while announcing three generations of Vylan in the building. While their sound can feel aggressive, Bob Vylan is a band powered by love. What some may see as controversial lyrics about police brutality and the first time he was called Nxxxer are inch-perfect appraisals of modern British society.
There is much beauty to be found in the music of Bob Vylan. Despite its loud and pugnacious overtones, pull away at the surface and its music that holds a mirror up to the truth as it says, we see you. And what are you going to do about it? In times when the world feels like it is falling apart, we need bands like Bob Vylan to hold us all together.
Words + photography by Robert Alleyne