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  gig reviews - nov 04

The Polyphonic Spree
Manchester Academy 2
Businesses around the world know only too well that the secret of being a good team leader is; to have a team that doesn't need leading. Tim DeLaughter from The Polyphonic Spree has this down to a tee. The 20 plus choral indie tantalizers oozed fun and the transcending of ethereality was achieved in 'Hold Me Now' and 'Follow The Dayí. The Spreeís infectiously hypnotic rhythm meant that even the energetic pit was the epitome of grace and elegance. An enchanting flute solo intro to 'Soldier Girl' seeped into the mind of the Mancunian worshippers and will never leave. 

De Laughter ingratiated himself to his devotees; with his theatrical Philip Schofield hypnotized to pretend he is Jack White stage presence. He was bathing in the lake of peace and liberation he had created and, all you could do was dive in and join him.

Dave Adair

The Delgados + Sons and Daughters
8.10.04 The Leadmill, Sheffield

I invite you, in all seriousness, to ponder a possible fine line between The Delgados and Travis. 

You can do it while Sons And Daughters are on: a band who, between repeated pleas to the audience to come closer to the stage (I've paid eleven quid and I'll stand where I bloody well like, sunshine), stab out some fine, frenetic Throwing Muses rhythms and terse vocals, and even reclaim the marvellous mandolin from REM. They are not bad. They look great. They are the Franz Ferdinand with two or three melodies instead of just the one.  

But before you take a daffodil and beat me to a glittery pulp for dissing your beloved Delgados, allow me to explain that nobody is dancing. It's like London. I know nobody dances at Belle & Sebastian gigs either, but there ought to be something more here. Fran Healy inspires one to crouch down and retch, but if I were a girl then Emma Pollock, not Polly Jean, would be the one inspiring me to get up and make music to beat up boys by. 

So why is nobody dancing? The Delgados' music is too beautiful and pure and otherworldly, and you don't want to spoil it with physicality and sweat. Or it is too measured and you don't want to spoil it with randomness. Or you like the theory of The Delgados much more than you like the practice, and you never knew it, or you knew it and you kept it a secret because all your friends love them to bits. I realise that I have been listening avidly to this band for more than a couple of years without forming a single idea as to what any of their songs are about. They trade in emotional vagueness: vacantly impressionistic, broad-brush lyrics whose only real meaning is borrowed from the splendour of the voices delivering them. 

Why is nobody dancing? Have you ever tried to pogo in 3/4 time? It isn't all the band's fault, though. The whole timetable is fucked. We are shy indie types, and we need a few drinks to loosen our limbs. But when the house lights enforce the encore curfew it's still not 10 o'clock; and never again, reader, will I or you or any of us experience a life-altering gig in a venue bigger than, say, the Charlotte in Leicester. Not when there are people who do want to dance queueing outside for the club night. 

But if a global Popkiss government held sway, and every band really were forced by law to split up after recording a maximum of one album, then we would have missed the sublime The Great Eastern: a terrible loss, sure, but possibly a price worth paying to be spared the blankness and disappointment I feel tonight on belatedly seeing this invisible band, The Delgados, for the first time. My next eleven quid goes on watching three nights of unsigned bands instead. 

Pete Popkiss

Corinne Bailey-Rae
10.11.04, Hi Fi Club, Leeds

Corinne Bailey-Rae unveiled her new work to a packed Hi-Fi club on Wednesday night. She has built up a body of songs that will, all being right in the world, launch her solo career as a singer-songwriter. The room was heaving while the queue still stretched around the block, Corinne was visibly taken aback by the turn out; the crowd were eager and supportive.

Backed by a ten piece band; two keyboards, alto and tenor sax, trumpet, guitar, bass, drums and backing vocalist, one could expect a solo artist to be somewhat diminished, but not here. Her command of the songs was complete, and whilst the guys behind were more than competent, this was her show. 

Her voice has strength, range and a soulful beauty; as she sings the refrain ďDonít say that Iím falling in loveĒ, you are held by the sincerity. She plays with the melody of ĎBreathlessí, harmonies build up and the varying elements of the song create an emotional crescendo of sound. 

These are new songs, but they feel instantly familiar, they echo the sounds of Jill Scott, Erika Badu and Norah Jones, resulting in music that isnít ground breaking, but replenishes this tradition with a new voice and vigour. Corinne is good at what she does, constructing real songs with a narrative that draws you into them, singing with a heartfelt talent. 

Lucy Gibson

Downdime + DJ Baboon + Delores
24.10.04 Brudenell Social Club, Leeds

Whatever you are Ďin toí there is the danger of becoming isolated, be it music, art, theatre or any of their seemingly infinite sub-genres. Absorbed and comfortable it is easy to box ourselves in to that which comes easiest to us. Yet this cuts off huge swathes of culture, which can illuminate and expand our horizons in unexpected ways. An approach that embraces eclecticism, experimentation and an open-mind is surely the legacy that the late and great John Peel has left us. I still donít know how one man could possibly have liked such a diverse range of music, certainly at times the extent of his eclecticism would drive me mad, but as a listener to his radio show, you would have music opened up to you. Butting Hip Hop next to Prog Rock allowed for the underbelly of British music to be slashed open on national radio. There is a huge void left by the departure of this prodigious man and is not one to be underestimated.  

On Sunday night, in blithe ignorance as to the card history was about to deal, a beacon was lit towards pushing forward, on a local level, what John Peel started over 45 years ago; a platform for blending musical genres and showcasing new talent. 

Various Sources is the brain-child of Paula Hughes. Sunday saw the launch of her independent label, Arctic Circle Records, and featured sets from Downdime, DJ Baboon and Delores. This is the start of a series of nights that juxtaposes the different styles and approaches to music making that are emanating from Leeds.  

Downdime, a raucous four piece, tread a musical path that is more common north of the border. They have an enveloping sound created through catchy bass-lines and twinkling melodies, which brings them in line with the sound of Sons and Daughters and The Fiery Furnaces. They have the imagination and ability to push their music much further, and will doubtless retain the amiable nature they possess both on and off stage. 

A fiery and imaginative set pursues the funky and soulful sounds of DJ Baboon. Rhythmically tight, the intelligent approach of Delores throws up questions of what we expect from a band with a single vocalist. Operating almost as separate entities there seems to be little cohesion between vocals and band, as the male contingent push through a number of instrumental tracks as the set draws to a close. But Fuzzyís vocals stay with you beyond this and the promise of her voice aligned more closely to the musical driving force is an exciting prospect. 

Various Sources is here to champion these differing approaches to a wider audience, experimenting with the raw materials that already exist in Leeds, and hopefully being one of the many fragments of a wider movement, which embraces eclecticism and diversity. 

Lucy Gibson

David Viner + Siobhan Parr
The Cockpit, Leeds

Iíve wanted to see David Viner for a while and yet due to other commitments or general incompetence on my part the opportunity has always just escaped me. Tonight however was my chance to make this a thing of the past.

Before fulfilling this task though we had support from Siobhan Parr. Possessing one of the strongest voices Iíve heard in quite some time itís hard not to be instantly attracted to Siobhan's songs. Sadly for me though this just didnít last. There was nothing that kept me compelled. Yes her voice is beautiful but the songs it was being given to sing failed to use it to its best abilities and my attention began to waver. A genuine shame.

It was down to Mr David Viner to lift me from the slight slump this left me in and from the moment he took the stage appearing as if he may have had a couple of ales I knew he would.  Vinerís music is very much a sort of dirty R & B (and yes I mean Rhythm and Blues and not whatever that shite is that they pedal nowadays as R & B yet has neither rhythm nor any sense of what the blues is. Sorry I digress) and I donít think Iíd be wrong in saying that he probably owns a couple of early-ish Stones albums. This is no bad thing for the songs I get to witness tonight show what a superb songwriter Viner is. They are at times dark, at times romantic and at others just foot stompingly good. They are all held together with Viner's semi-growl and entertaining presence on stage. If anything my only quibble with the evening is the choice of venue and the length of the set. Itís the kind of gig that would have been so much more enjoyable in a more intimate venue and Vinerís set was far too short for my likings.

It took me a while to get to see him perform live but it was well worth the weight I assure you.

Luke Drozd

Rocktober, Various bands
October, Leeds

Right, for those who arenít aware Rocktober is a yearly event held in Leeds in October (get it? Oh forget it then) and offers a couple of days of first class music and a damn good excuse for a few beers. I will also level with you; due to work I was only able to attend one of the evenings this year so this is sadly only a review of day one. Iím sorry, I know Iíve let you all down.

Boasting a selection of some of the finest bands doing the rounds at the moment, many from Leeds itself the line-up for the first evening featured not one dud. From the openers Monster Killed by Laser to the magnificent Bilge Pump closing the proceedings you could not put a slightly drunken foot wrong (musically at least).

However the highlights of the evening were proffered by two bands, the Midlands finest, Lords, and the wonderful That Fucking Tank.

Lords although starting shakily (partly put down to a hangover in the ranks) pulled together to entertain and delight with there Beefheartian rock grandeur.  Any man alive who is yet to here their song ĎLed Zepí is truly missing out. 

That Fucking Tank offered up a dose of tight extremely loud danceable instrumental rock and showed why they are definitely one of the best bands making music in England today.

My ears hurt, I was tired but content. I was then locked out till 3.00 in the morning but thatís a completely different story.

Luke Drozd