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gig reviews -nov 05

The Subways + The Kooks + Forward Russia
Blank Canvas, Leeds
This review is late. Very late. Iíd like to say itís due to an artistic endeavour to mirror this musical event but itís not Iím just lazy. Very Lazy.

The evening started off well enough and apart from being charged £3 for a plastic bottle of beer having to stand inside an empty storage space under Leeds City Station in which someone had thoughtfully left a stage set lying around. These minor quibbles aside the Blank Canvas does have some great acoustics and both Forward Russia and The Kooks took full advantage of them.

Yes things were going well until the end of The Kooks set and everyone waited to see what Rock Ďní Roll antics The Subways would be providing for us tonight. So we waited, and waited and then waited some more. After 40 minutes and numerous tunings up by the bandís guitar tech the people were getting restless. 10 minuets later after alternating between booing and chanting the Subways appeared to a delighted crowd and all was forgiven.

What followed was a giant chant-a-long with an energetic audience that mirrored a very kinetic on stage performance by the band. I really did want to get into this and feel some of the enthusiasm everyone else around me did. But after nearly an hour of mind numbing standing around and a set of very samey sounding and uninspiring songs I decided the best course of action was a swift retreat to the local pub.

Andrew Livesey

A Hawk and a Hacksaw + Benjamin Wetherill & 7 Hertz
31.10.05 - Holy Trinity Church, Leeds

Halloween, the evening of ghosts and ghouls and chavs with eggs. Well this year we geeks were offered solace for the threats and fears of trick or treating in Leeds Holy Trinity Church, heck if God canít keep the evil ones away who can? 

Itís always a spectacle to watch a band in a church and Holy Trinity is a particular favourite of mine and tonight is certainly no exception. The evening begins with new comers to the Leeds live scene, 7 Hertz. A contemporary classical outfit with elements of folk, they are stirring and absorbing. Strings and wind instruments meld together before shooting off on wondrous tangents. On the couple of songs where vocals are included the acoustics of the church allow them to sore into the rafters. Hair raising stuff and probably the surprise highlight of the evening.

The next to woo us by candle light is Benjamin Wetherill, the balladeer for a time passed. His simple folk tunes, a mix of traditional English and American styles, never ceases to impress. Itís as if the risen spirits of Guthrie and Fornby have taken up residence in the body of a mild mannered English gent all for our entertainment.

Finally the eveningís headliners take to the stage in front of what is by now an almost full church. I must admit to being quite a new comer to Hack and a Hacksaws music but once youíve heard a few bars its hard not to warm to their bizarre folk ways. Playing a blend of eastern European polka driven folk and a more American slant they didnít disappoint live being at times beautiful and considered and at others discordant and wild. It is music that is all encompassing and truly without compromise.


Ladytron + Support
18.10.05 - The Cockpit, Leeds
Sometimes bands are better left un-named. So due to a ludicrously early start time tasty was left in the dark about the identity of tonight's support act. This was definitely a case of a bedroom band which should have stayed in the bedroom. A couple of geeky blokes producing the most rudimentary bleeps from some electrical equipment and 'My First Guitar' lesson chords on guitar, put though a distortion pedal. And these were the musicians. The female vocalist, despite looking the part produced one of those beer curdling displays that made most people head for the bar area.

Cometh the hour, cometh the man. or in this case, three men and three women. Ladytron's live set these days is bolstered by additional live drums and bass, which during my last outing made for an extra element that breathed life into the otherwise mechanical output from the album. And tonight is no exception, although the new songs appear to focus more on Helen's solo vocals rather than the previous interplay against Myra's robotic monotones. there are moments when it even looks like they might be enjoying themselves - that is certainly not ubercool as even Wednesday's metro describes them. The encore of '17' was telling - perhaps Ladytron know they haven't managed to eclipse this genius of electro and angst yet and it plays on their minds. But the rockabilly thrash ending was worth the admission price alone.


The Kaiser Chiefs
19.10.05 - Leeds Town Hall
Admittedly not being a fan, this was always going to be a bit more of a voyeuristic experience than an enthusiastic one. But fair play to the kaiser boys, their second gig of the day in the highly impressive Leeds Town Hall delivered all the bells and whistles you would expect of a live show from a band who have performed at Live 8 in Philadelphia. Pyrotechnic light shows, cine films, crowd surfing a crowd sing alongs a plenty. The atmosphere was a bit edgy, with a large football crowd contingent and the constant hamming up of the Leeds connections.

More interesting still, the aftershow party. What a curious affair, school tables and chairs, school disco style lighting, a miserable concrete council ante-room and £3 cans of Grolsch being sold from a trestle table. Not very rock and roll really. But soon enough Peanut's Dad was pole dancing, The Cribs were looking moody and the proud relatives assembled greeted their homespun musicians. Still bloody weird though.


iLiKETRAiNS + Redjetson
24.10.05 - Brudenell Social Club, Leeds
Despite comrade Blanchard's best efforts of drenching Agent Procter with cold lager to cool him down, it's a boiling hot night in a packed Brudenell Social Club to see home town boys iLiKETRAiNS release their single 'Rook House For Bobby' with able support from Redjetson.

Redjetson produce huge walls of sound from delicately scripted build ups which go on and on. I know the set was cut short by the Brudenell's strict curfew but they only got through 4 tracks. A bit too long and a bit too samey, part spoiled by their own sound engineer but a good effort al the same.

But the night belongs to iLiKETRAiNS who have made a great effort with Engine Room to deck the tables out in chess boards, homage to 'Rook House For Bobby's subject, ex chess Grand Master Bobby Fisher. Sporting their genuine vintage BR uniforms despite the oppressive heat, iLiKETRAiNS take the guitar squall and death vocals to another level, mainly because they know how to throttle back when needed, rather than steam ahead (if you'll forgive the pun). Despite the motley crew assembled on stage as the male voice choir for finale 'THE BEECHiNG REPORT', the band manage to retain a stately grace that transcends decades and emotions. A powerful experience.

Shane Blanchard

Shout Out Louds + Absentee + The Legends
26/10/05 - The Garage, Islington
It seems to be a stipulation of tonightís line-up that every band must have five members and a keyboard player. Swedish upstarts The Legends may actually be the veterans of the bill having already released two albums and a handful of EPs, but their youthful appearance is very much in keeping with their rigid stage performance and the songs ainít up to much either. Like 95% of all bands they donít deviate beyond the one sound theyíve chosen to call their own Ė in this case an unexceptional brand of indie-pop which recalls The Strokes, Ride, The Jam and New order at various points, without being anywhere near as interesting..

I fear weíre in for a similar experience when Absentee takes the stage not longer after, but no! Despite looking like four farm-hands whoíve enlisted the help of Thelma from Scooby Doo to play keys (and make a slightly sour comment about the threadbare audience Ė steady on now!), they have (gasp!) songs that you can actually tell apart, and their singer possesses a rather marvellous gruff voiceÖthe indie Leonard Cohen, anyone? Iím obviously not the only one enjoying their set because, by the time it finishes, the number of people watching has multiplied substantially. Iíll keep my eye on this lot, and perhaps write a more substantial review of them in future.

Now, a recent NME live review dismissed Shout Out Louds as dull. Iím can now confirm that, while the above statement proved a little harsh, they donít fulfil my expectations. Seemingly unable (or unwilling?) to replicate the delicate sonic layers that made their album such a delight, they instead strip everything down to dry, trebly guitars and end up sounding more like The Strokes (yes, them again) with Robert Smith on vocals. Donít get me wrong, they put on a reasonably energetic show and the likes of ďThe ComebackĒ and ďA Track and a TrainĒ sound pretty good but, for me, itís a case of the headliners having the rug pulled out from under them by their own support act.

Will Columbine