Music | Live in Leeds – Bonobo,China Rats and Belgrave Music Hall preview
Bonobo takes Leeds by storm with a spellbinding show at Canal Mills
Having started as a cult figure of the downtempo electronica world in the early 2000s, Bonobo (aka Simon Green) has risen to a pioneering position within the electronic music scene. It is for exactly this reason that the crowd at Canal Mills in Leeds are beside themselves with excitement as we wait for the Bonobo live ensemble to grace the stage. Launching straight into ‘Cirrus’ – the biggest hit from The North Borders – triggers a notable amount of head nodding. The fullness of the sound at this stage feels alarmingly, well… un-full. Despite the tightness of the live musicians replicating the mostly electronic feel of the new album, the crowd are by no means fully immersed. However, a few numbers later – after we are treated to some standouts from Black Sands – things take a positive turn. With a live flautist stepping up to the microphone and enchanting the audience by annihilating the the lead riff from ‘We Could Forever’, everyone is convinced by the sheer force of Bonobo’s live show. This standout track is followed by lengthy improvisations by the saxophonist and the musician who undoubtedly stole the show: the drummer. Guest vocalist Szjerdene then tops off the outfit, providing a soulful and delicate touch to evening. Green thanks the audience for their roars of excitement on numerous occasions, almost as if he is still coming to terms with the devoted fans. Following bows to exit the stage, the crowd are left in awe of an artist who has mastered the talent of producing as well as being able to replicate it live.
China Rats (3/5) – Brudenell Social Club, 01/10/13
The Brudenell Social Club is already buzzing with nose piercings, head bands, ‘vintage’ clothing and oversized khaki jackets by the time I arrive in the early evening. Sadly almost none of these ‘eccentrics’ (cough) make their way to ‘The Games Room’ to watch indie pop rockers China Rats. Despite the lack of screaming girls and the ever present ‘older fans’ who I suspect are mothers and fathers at the gig (you’re never too old for your mummy – don’t forget that) China Rats roar into life with a ferocity and musical tightness which is almost unheard of for a gig on such a small scale. Smashing through such hits as ‘Dead Beat’ and ‘She Never’, with their own brand of brash indie rock, they throw out gnarly gang vocals and riffs with a little more jagged edge, giving their live shows certain precedence over other similar bands. It has to be said, though, the middle of their set drops off into songs that rip off everything from The Ramones to Green Day. With a little more of their own imaginative flair and slicker formula injected into the performances end, they manage to bring it back with favourites ‘To Be Like I’ and ‘No Money’. The latter sees the only real reaction from the crowd all night and herein lays the problem. China Rats and their live game depend solely on the quality of their songs and of the audience’s number (or lack thereof). At this level they are good, the vocals are pitch perfect and roaring at times, the riffs tight and small touches like downing a beer in the break of ‘Nip in the Bud’ before bringing it to its crashing finale, add to the overall effect. There are small touches of live professionalism which will serve them well in the future but it’s not enough yet. Not just yet.
Belgrave Music Hall and Canteen opens its doors
Leeds added another gig venue to its repertoire last Wednesday, as Belgrave Music Hall opened its doors to visitors for the first time. The opening event, sponsored by Vice’s Noisey and You Need To Hear This, was a showcase of everything the soon-to-be hipster hangout has to offer – good food, cool drinks and an opening line up of up and coming bands that you may or may not have heard of (depending on how trendy you are). A spacious canteen style ground floor is where the attending mass grouped together, getting a taste of the ‘beach-style’ menu whilst drinking in the shabby-chic surroundings ahead of the live performances. A neon sign directs up to a rooftop terrace, which after climbing two flights of stairs, reveals itself as the perfect place to come and drink in the Summer. It’s all very picturesque with its faux grass and picnic benches, except for the fact it’s a cold Leeds evening. A very nice touch indeed is the music which emanates from the large Chimney-like centre-piece. The middle floor, though, is where the magic happens. Bigger than the Cockpit but smaller than the Academy, the gig venue remains intimate yet has the potential to pack in a reasonably large crowd. Tonight we have the pleasure of hearing live music from Maxixe, Best Friends, Wytches and Superfood and all bring the noise in their own right. Left of the mainstream and future suc- cess written all over them, Belgrave is set to rise as a staunch competitor to Nation of Shopkeepers, if this eclectic and intriguing bunch of bands is anything to go by.
Upcoming gigs include:
13/10 – British Sea Power
14/10 – San Cisco
19/10 – These New Puritans
For full gig listings and ticket information, visit www.belgravemusichall.com