Bowling For Soup – O2 Academy Leeds 14/10/13
You know it’s going to be an epic gig when a band has their own themed intro music (‘Here comes bowling for soup’, not imaginative lyrically but damn catchy) their own onstage bar and their own Mexican bartender (His name was Marco). From the outset it’s clear that with pop-punk quartet ‘Bowling For Soup’ it’s all about the stage act, the dick jokes, the drinking, the audience interaction and constant forays with support act ‘Patent Pending’. Okay, so maybe it’s not about the music but it creates an atmosphere which few other bands can match.
The onstage banter, only punctuated by the constant chants of ‘Yorkshire’, is made all the more impressive by the fact that Bowling For Soup have an aptitude to perform their songs live in a tight and well ordered form. From new opener ‘Critically Disdained’ to old favourites ‘Almost’ and ‘High School Never Ends, the crowd is at the will of lead singer and guitarist Jaret Reddick as they bounce, mosh and scream through the evening. Although the night is sadly punctuated by awkward moments of unheard new material, acoustic song ‘Turbulence’ particularly stands out. Despite reducing the pace of the 30 song set to a slog, the Texas boys pull out their secret weapons with a ‘Phineas and Ferb’ cover and with a little rendition of ‘Stacy’s Mum’, things get back on track.
With the musical prowess, the brilliant onstage act, the alcohol swilling and the high end musical ability, it’s hard for this evening to be unsuccessful for Bowling For Soup. In fact, for a band with a song like ‘1985’ in their arsenal to round off the evening, it is nigh on impossible for things to go wrong. It may be their farewell tour but, and I quote, “This maybe farewell but it’s not goodbye…”
Scroobius Pip – Brudenell Social Club 15/10/2013
I arrived at the Brudenell Social Club excited, but perhaps a little peeved about missing the England match. That stopped when the music started. ‘Stunner’, the first single from the new album Repent Replenish Repeat opened the set. Scroobius Pip stepped to the front of the stage sipping his trademark Rosé, stroking his beautifully groomed beard until we were completely fixated by him. All of a sudden out pops Dans Le Sac with a heavily muscular bass line that punctuates the electronic sound throughout their music. Before long the Brudenell was dancing.The darker tracks like ‘You Will See Me’ and ‘Magicians Assistant’ which made up the bulk of the mid-part of the set were powerful and then conversely between songs their utterly charming, cheeky “banter” caused a rupture of giggling. It was evident that their staredom hadn’t damaged their friendships; they were out there to have as much fun as possible, which really made the audience feel at home. They finished off their encore with ‘Letter From God To Man’; a wonderfully written poem rapped over a Radiohead sample. Pip’s lyrics flow so beautifully, saturated in metaphor, references and an absurd amount of rhyme.
Once the gig ended, they headed to the merchandise stall where their fans could meet them and get CDs signed, which was a genuinely lovely and caring gesture. Pip is rather well known and it was a surprise to see him continue to play smaller venues. This soon however became abundantly clear as the passion he has for his lyrics cannot translate into a larger arena, and because the Brudenell is so intimate, those masterful poems are delivered in a way difficult to describe but beautiful to listen. Scroobius Pip will be playing at the LUU in January and it is certainly not an event to miss.
Johnny Flynn & The Sussex Wit – Wardrobe 15/10/13
Having first encountered Johnny Flynn on stage at Shakespeare’s Globe in 2012, I was excited to see him perform again, this time with his folk band ‘The Sussex Wit’. ‘The Wardrobe’ proved the perfect venue for Flynn and was packed by 8pm in time for his eccentric but loveable support act ‘Cosmo Sheldrake’.
Flynn seemed at home on stage, though tentatively spoke to the crowd before diving into ‘Ghost of O’Donahue, an unpredictable yet well received opening tune. The band played a well balanced set with tracks from all three albums, showing off their diverse range of songs, from ‘Murmation’, a lullaby, to the upbeat ‘Cold Bread’. Flynn’s carefully woven lyrics spill out of him like poetry; he dances dangerously close to cliché at times but avoids the contrived sound which similar acts fail to do. Flynn’s music isn’t groundbreaking, but it’s beautifully raw.
His live renditions highlight the scope of his musical talents that could otherwise be neglected from his recordings. Flynn’s frantic rendition of ‘Howl’ lived up to its title and sent a flurry of cameras into the air when he switched back and forth from his guitar to his trumpet. Flynn and his band improvised in sync; toying with the tempo and rhythm of their signature songs. The highlight for me came in the encore when the band performed the electric new track Fol-de-Rol; a mash of medieval folk ballad and South American jig which was transformed on stage from an average album track to the most innovative and vibrant song of the night.