Live at Leeds 2015: Chris’ Roundup

By on Friday, 5th June 2015 at 2:00 pm
 

Many a student night in Leeds has started at the University’s various music bars, and Live at Leeds 2015 was no different. The one key difference was that the action kicked off at midday. A trip to Mine saw Tibet, a young contingent from Wales with a ’60s sound and punchy guitars, take the stage. The Cardiff band have gathered support from Huw Stephens recently, and shows with Misty Miller are also helping raise their profile. They induced a vibrant punk sound to a crowd of 60 or so. ‘She Don’t Know’ takes influences from The Kinks, with attacking drums and an upbeat chorus, and it holds their set together. The blissed out B-side ‘My Girl’ has a mature sound, with building slacker rock and brooding harmonies. All in all, they deliver a cohesive and bouncy set and given their catalogue remains so small right now, that’s a feat.

Across town at Oporto we catch LIVES, a Liverpudlian contingent who have kept a quiet online presence so far. Sheltering from the drizzle outside, Oporto is almost shoulder to shoulder, and the quintet deliver a promising show of indie. “While you were waiting, use your imagination.” calls vocalist Jamie on ‘White Lies’ (streaming below), which is one of the few songs the quintet have actually released online. For the past year, it really has been a case of using your imagination, as we’ve waited eagerly to hear more. Since their breakout track though, they have been writing hard, and there are some exciting tracks played today. Sweeping indie riffs and rocky choruses course through the energy of this band, as they do on ‘Short Memory’, and despite the bright bursts of energy, frontman Jamie remains firmly in control. He makes it look so effortless that you almost forget he’s there during the thrashing peaks, before he throws himself towards the crowd and looks back to the stage as he takes in the hard-hitting soundscape his bandmates produce.

We pay a trip to The Key Club next, as things get heavier with a set from Get Inuit. Recently signed to Alcopop! Records, the Kent four piece seem to find the label “dirty pop” following them around almost inevitably, and it all makes sense in a live setting. They come across brutish, with psych riffs shooting through their set rapidly, as Jamie Glass leads the four-piece through their recently released EP. ‘Cutie Pie, I’m Bloated’ has a penchant for supersonic hooks and gutsy cries from Glass, as they jump across the stage. If there wasn’t a barrier, then they would probably have jumped off it. The crowd gives a warm reception nonetheless, as ‘I Would’ slams into lofty instrumentals and ‘Dress of Bubblewrap’ offers another nod to their fuzz-pop panache, which should see its way onto a debut album before 2015 is out.

Up the road at Leeds Uni’s Beckett campus, Port Isla arrive slightly later than planned due to tech problems. The venue fills (and punters rapidly begin to get impatient) almost as quickly as the Suffolk band’s rise since opening for George Ezra and playing a host of festivals in the past year. ‘In The Long Run’ is where their set begins, with joyful harmonies and an upbeat melody. Ever the showman, Will Bloomfield quickly apologises for the delay…”we were doing our hair” he explains cheekily. With their original set list out the window, they fire off a volley of incredibly well written folk pop that includes ‘Volcano’. No sign of their equally upbeat numbers like ‘Steamroller’ or ‘Sinking Ship’, however they are energetic and heartfelt all at the same time, as Bloomfield leads the band as though he’s been a frontman for years. He’s engaging to watch and witty too, not to mention his talents across guitars and keys, particularly as he charms on a song which he explains is about the band’s native Suffolk. The show is slick, and the songs keep getting better as the instrumentation continues to come together and now has added synth treats.

From stadium sized folk pop to indie rock, a return to Mine sees Dundee’s finest Model Aeroplanes pull out all the stops. Rory Fleming (vocals and guitar), Grant Irvine (guitar), Ben Buist (bass) and Kieran Moyles (drums) are undoubtedly on their way to some big things. As on of the tightest bands playing in this overcrowded genre, they make sure you remember them with a bevvy of infectious tracks, and this set includes new single ‘Drunk in the Pool’. They’re in danger of being renamed the ‘single-slayers’ given their canny knack for exuberant melodies, as Irving and Buist provide jagged guitar thrills on ‘Club Low’ and Fleming adds lyrics and persona that other young bands spend years trying to find. This band click so well on stage that they make it look like every show they play is the only show that matters, and from ‘Innocent Love’ to ‘Crazy’, the fun they have on stage quickly rubs off on the crowd.

Leeds’ reputation for live music would struggle without the community-owned Brudenell Social Club, which is where Bloody Knees take to the stage next. The trio from Cambridge produce the most spirited performance of the festival, as their garage punk roars into life with the seismic likes of ‘Stitches’. “And I’m covered in blood, but at least I’m having fun” yells vocalist Bradley Griffiths as the Brudenell comes to life with a circle pit.

Their energetic performance goes on to include a bloody moment no less, as the band’s close fans show reckless abandon to the slew of burly riffs, one reveller in the pit ending up with a bloody nose. The party continues until The Magic Gang bring a little more peace at first, the slow jam guitars of new single ‘Alright’ restoring some kind of normality. By the time their set launches into the JAWS-esque guitar lines of ‘No Fun’ however, bodies are flailing around the room again. There’s plenty of crowd-surfing from this loyal 50 or so fans who are present, with bodies tossed in the air triumphantly, before ‘She Won’t Ghost’ wraps things up. The Brudenell may have had one of the smallest crowds of the day, but it’s also clear this was the wildest crowd Leeds had to offer, clearly a sign of these fledgling band’s having some of the most passionate fans going.

Back in the city centre, Laura Doggett takes to the stage as part of the Communion-curated line-up at Holy Trinity Church. The West Country songsmith delivers a stunning performance, with spiralling vocals and an angelic soundscape of keys and percussion. Her breakout tracks ‘Phoenix’, ‘Old Faces’ and ‘Moonshine’ exemplify her graceful delivery; however, through the angelic twists of her songs, it all feels a little bit too well staged. There have been comparisons to the likes of Florence Welch sonically, but she remains rooted to the spot with only subtle hand gestures to inspire her performance. She proves stunning nonetheless, and more live exposure will hopefully see her sets become more vivid and expressive in the future.

Closing at Holy Trinity is Lucy Rose (pictured at top), on the path towards her second album, the follow up to ‘Like I Used To’, due out this July. Plagued by technical problems, she takes to the stage repeatedly to apologise for the delay, and some 45 minutes late appears acoustically and taking song requests from the audience. Humbled by the support of her patient fans, her acoustic renditions of ‘Shiver’ and ‘Night Bus’ were one of the most priceless ways she could repay them.

Despite being itching to show off her new material, she reluctantly succumbs to performing with a more stripped-back sound, until her band spring to life on ‘Bikes’ as the keys kick in and all technical problems are resolved. In an instant, the crowd grows delighted, whooping and hollering as Lucy and her band beam at the turn of events.

Taking to her electric guitar with defiance, she treats us all to her newest material that oozes of progression. There’s a marked development from the somewhat stripped back, even cagey stories of her debut, with the likes of ‘Our Eyes’ carrying a distinct set of bass lines and reverberating synthesis. “Wait, we are not fine, wait you are not mine…” she says with a grit that would have been out of the ordinary on her softer, folk tinged debut. This confident output makes for a striking arrangement of her other new tracks too; ‘Like An Arrow’ has the kind of resplendent, upbeat harmony she’s renowned for, but just carries an assertiveness that’s been missing in the past. ‘Until The End’ is another new track that has some punch to it, whilst she also performs ‘I Tried’, with a more left-field electronica influenced sound.

It’s a preview of an even more promising next step from Lucy and her band, and amidst the problems of this evening, the new tracks are well received. Seeing her perform in an intimate venue or church environment has been a must in the past, for the song writer who honed her craft at open mic nights. If her evolving sound and flourishing live show tonight is anything to go by though, she’ll be playing far bigger venues before the year is out and still captivating every member of the audience…

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TGTF is edited by Mary Chang, who is based in Washington, DC. She is joined by writers in England, America and Ireland. It began as a UK music blog by Phil Singer in 2005.

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