Review: Asylums at Vinilo Record Store, Southampton

Review: Asylums at Vinilo Record Store, Southampton

words and pictures by Peter Nicholson.

With any review of a gig, honesty is always the best route to follow for the reviewer. Otherwise, what’s the point? Anything else would simply give a false impression of the gig.

So, to be frank, it was a wet and windy night, the clocks had recently gone back, so 7pm felt more like 9pm, and Netflix and the sofa were tempting, but I headed out to catch Asylums at an intimate in store gig at Vinilo Records on Queensway in Southampton (November 2). And how glad I was that I made the effort. The welcome from the Vinilo team was a great start to the evening.

Unfortunately, there weren’t many of us there, but those of us who resisted the temptation of the sofa on this November evening, were treated to a heart-warming, stripped-back performance by two of the band. 

Photos: Peter Nicholson –

I’d listened to the new album (Signs Of Life) in the afternoon and was looking forward to hearing how they would strip the sound back for the show. I wasn’t disappointed. Opening up with very Punk track, and album opener, Scatterbrain, before moving on to the very pop-feeling of latest single, Instant Coffee, it was obvious the guys were letting their talents show regardless of the small audience. The album does lend itself well to a stripped back feel, and I was left really looking forward to seeing them as a full-stage four-piece.

Luke Branch (vocals and guitar) and Jazz Miel (guitar) made the songs sound much bigger than the set up seemed to allow. Clever use of guitar effects skilful vocals filled the room.

This was their fourth album, and their experience really showed. Having played in the region before, they are old hands when it comes to the Isle of Wight Festival, having appeared there three times in the past. So, a small intimate gig like this one was a different, yet still enjoyable experience for them.



I chatted with the band after the set, and started asking about the previous albums:

The albums you’ve done have quite a varied sound, was that intentional?

“Not really, our first album was our “Never mind the B******s” and a total punk sound, we went mad on that record, it was so much fun. The second was almost a “space rock” album which did really well. Then we did one with Steve Albini, but the timing was so bad because of Covid hitting. So we wanted to really mix up the sounds on the latest album. We’re really pleased as it’s had some really good traction.”

What about touring? Any plans?

“We wanted to wait to see how things went with the album first, we love making records and as we all have families, we prefer to play select shows. We want to stay friends too, so touring is important to get right.”


How does the writing process work for the band?

“We always start with a kernel of an idea, without many lyrics, and then Jazz starts to add his layers to it. We made a lot of the album without finished lyrics. We try to wait to make sure they’re really relevant before we finish the album. We like to weave things in up to the last minute. We’re all involved in the process. Our drummer is so talented, he scored the strings on the album. There’s four tracks with strings and we got a live string quartet in for the day. It was so emotional to hear. While they were playing in the studio it was overwhelming for all of us. We certainly want to do that again.”


Tonight felt like a bit of Sofar Sounds show, that intimate feel. Have you played at a Sofar show before?

[Jazz] “Yes we have. We played one in London, the audience is so quiet and attentive, it’s quite nerve-racking. That was the show that I had to try to ignore the huge spider that was crawling up Luke’s arm!” [Luke laughs as he remembers].


It really was a pleasure to hear and to meet the two guys from the band. If you do get the chance to see them live, I’d certainly recommend it. I’d  recommend the latest album too. Thanks to the team at Vinilo Record Store for making me so welcome and for hosting these amazing shows in the heart of the city.


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