'It's fun to be back': Pip Blom storm Islington Assembly Hall
- Credit: Graham Hilling
Pip Blom hail from Amsterdam but they are ingrained enough in UK culture to name their second album Welcome Break, after the chain of motorway service stations they regularly encounter on tour.
“Welcome Break is definitely one of the better ones,” says Pip - the lead singer and rhythm guitarist in the band that takes her name. “Anything with a Greggs is good!”
They go on to spend longer deliberating their favourite service station than answering any other of my questions - which possibly suggests I have room for improvement as an interviewer! (For the motorway-philes out there, they can’t pick their number one but agree it’s a good day when they find a Pret a Manger. Bassist Darek is a big fan of Leon).
Their UK road knowledge is proof of extensive touring since their formation in 2016. With support from BBC radio stations, most extensively 6 Music, they have an ever-growing fanbase and the venues keep getting bigger.
I meet Pip, her brother Tender (lead guitarist), Darek and drummer Gini backstage at Islington Assembly Hall which is the venue for their biggest headline show yet. I ask how they’ve pulled off such a leap forward when the two years following the release of debut album Boat were hit by the pandemic and restricted touring.
Pip says, “Nothing in particular has happened, but the crowds are becoming more diverse.”
Darek says he “could get used to” bigger stages and he might need to with the tour having just finished supporting Franz Ferdinand around Europe - and are set to open for Bloc Party from next month.
- 1 The Queen’s Platinum Jubilee flypast: Where, and when, the planes will fly over north and east London
- 2 Missing: 29-year-old Islington woman found 'safe and well'
- 3 Major tube strike to follow Queen's Platinum Jubilee long weekend
- 4 Jailed: Members of 'sophisticated' drugs crime gang sentenced
- 5 New cabinet announced for Islington Council
- 6 'Wrong place, wrong time': Men convicted after fatal mistaken revenge shooting
- 7 Floating park between Camden Town and King's Cross
- 8 12 stolen phones recovered after stop and search in Hackney
- 9 Can you answer these 10 GCSE questions designed for 16-year-olds?
- 10 Man accused of sexual assaults in Camden and Islington bailed
“It’s just been really fun,” says Pip, “Especially with Covid we weren’t able to play for quite a while and then everything had to be postponed a number of times. It has been really nice to finally be doing this.”
The UK has a lot more venues (and service stations!) to explore than the Netherlands - and they have found a greater following here than at home.
“It’s always been better here,” Tender says. “There is more of a band culture. And it is a lot bigger here - there are only five big cities in the Netherlands!”
It was initially New York outfit Parquet Courts that inspired Pip to start a band, but the “supportive” UK indie scene has become a second home. Welcome Break was recorded in Ramsgate during the pandemic, where the studio-bound band put an SOS call on their socials for a good Samaritan to donate a rowing machine to ward-off cabin fever.
The resulting LP has been met with rave reviews since being released last November. A worldwide vinyl shortage led to the record edition only being released this week, although the band are semi-seriously hoping they are now eligible for ‘best album of 2022’ lists as well. The punk, indie and garage rock vibes enjoyed on Boat have been enhanced and moved forward on Welcome Break and it adds strong material to their live set. It Should Have Been Fun and Keep it Together are among those played from the new record. In keeping with earlier work, the new songs are mostly short, instant, danceable and impactful.
UK crowds, Darek says, are among the best (alongside ‘wild’ fans in Mexico) they have played in front of. Pip adds that she enjoys winning a crowd over with one person dancing “all it takes” to ignite an audience. But there is no need to worry about that at the Assembly Hall - with the near capacity crowd getting straight into the set. Older tracks Ruby, I Think I’m in Love and the classic double header of Tired and School get the biggest reaction.
The disco ball that hangs from the hall’s ceiling is only brought into use for an enthusiastic encore of Daddy Issues, perhaps the closest track the band have to a signature. In a packed hour, the band do not outstay their welcome in a set that is much like their songs - punchy, energetic and concise.
There are more dates on a rejigged UK tour and they are no doubt on the road as I write. Hopefully there will be a service station with a Greggs, or even a Pret, along the way.