Parquet Courts – Brudenell Social Club (4/5)
This is a gig for feedback junkies. Dirty guitar tones fluctuate towards pig squeals at almost every opportunity in this alternative punk showcase at the Brudenell.
Locals Menace Beach show great promise with their fusion of experimental noise with infectious melody. Eagulls follow. Their sound is nestled inbetween punk and post-punk. They are loud, gothic, and intriguing. Smart and slender vocalist George Mitchell is like an angry poet who has enlisted a motley crew of IT consultants to aid him in conveying his art. He barks a filthy sermon after scathing the sold out Brudenell for it’s ‘just like being in church.’ However, this is mainly because his congregation are open-mouthedly fixated like nodding dogs on this Lowry stickfigure. This Leeds 5-piece are ones to look out for.
But there is never any doubt that Brooklyn-based Americana punk band Parquet Courts will reign over proceedings. The set wildly oscillates between tight blasts of pure punk and roving instrumental lethargy, with songs played from ‘Light Up Gold’ and new EP ‘Tally All The Things That You Broke’. ‘She’s Rollin’ turns the room into a Dali painting, while the hectic, Beastie Boys vocal fury of ‘Master of My Craft’ incites sweaty commotion and is orgasmically linked with the frantic guitar hooks and teasing false endings of ‘Borrowed Time’. Without the nonsense of an encore, the set culminates raucously with an extended rendition of ‘Stoned and Starving’ in which Andrew Savage roars a sort of ranting reprise to ‘Light Up Gold’. The band clearly have something to say, albeit rather cryptically.
Every song is redolent of the definitive CBGBs vibe, but they are contemporary classics in their own right. Parquet Courts are currently peerless. They truly are the masters of their craft, spearheading a very exciting modernist punk renaissance.
Travis – O2 Academy (3/5)
It’s easy to forget just how absolutely huge Travis were during the tail-end of the 90’s – their music was nigh on inescapable, with second album ‘The Man Who’ selling over 2.1 million copies in the UK alone. Those uplifting tunes with the huge rousing choruses were essentially the soundtrack to my carefree childhood days; it being particularly apt that I grew up in perennially-rainy Manchester. But all that was a good 15 years ago.
With all this in mind, I rocked up to the O2 Arena with strangely high expectations. Greeted by a surprisingly small crowd made up of not-so-surprisingly middle-aged punters, Travis began with new song, ‘Mother’. It recaptures the feel-good, sing-along spirit which originally catapulted the band into international fame, and the few new songs played are generally well-received. But what quickly became apparent was the complete lack of atmosphere at the gig, with even the hits greeted with near-silence. The only notable cheer of the night came from a genuinely touching anecdote given by frontman Fran Healy to introduce ‘Re-Offender’ – a song, it transpires, about domestic violence. Following this was a spate of old tunes in quick succession, which really highlighted how many hits the band actually have – ‘Writing To Reach You’ followed by ‘Side’ then ‘Closer’ and ‘Sing’ – all songs which are instantly recognisable, and do just about enough to liven up a disappointingly underwhelming night.
This wasn’t how I had imagined it. In my head, the distinctly middle-aged crowd would be reliving all the highs and lows of the past, arms locked around shoulders, lager in the air, bittersweet tears of nostalgia streaming down faces. But it just wasn’t to be. It’s 2013 now – the era of soft-rock is long behind us. It’s time to move on. And this all dawned on me on that Monday night at the O2, as a woman angrily nudged me in the back while I was trying to pogo to closing anthem ‘Why Does It Always Rain On Me?’
The Pigeon Detectives – Leeds Met Student Union (3/5)
‘Yorkshire, Yorkshire, Yorkshire’ was the predominant chant on Saturday night as West Yorkshire band The Pigeon Detectives wrapped up their 14-date UK tour at Leeds Met Student Union. And, as to be expected in the great city of Leeds, they ended it with an almighty bang.
The 1100 strong crowd (which ranges from an excitable bunch of teenage girls to, most probably, their parents) are immediately encapsulated by the opener ‘I’m Not Gonna Take This.’ Things don’t well and truly come into play until song number 3, ‘I Found Out’, which sends everyone, parents and teenagers alike, into a frenzied mess. With four albums now in the bag, the band had a plenty of choice in putting together a set list and the gig goes on with crowd-pleaser after crowd-pleaser.
A lot can be said for frontman Matt Bowman and his incredible, albeit slightly ambitious, effort on stage. Drenching himself in bottles of water from start to finish. Climbing on a stack of amps. A scramble and dive into the crowd. Yes, he well and truly went for it. He even managed to cause a room of dancing maniacs to stop in horror and just… cringe as some overly enthusiastic microphone swinging resulted in guitarist Oliver Main to be pounded heavily in the arm. Although the band had to skip the whole ‘going offstage and back on again for the encore’ faff, Main managed to carry on playing for the rest of the set despite blatant agony.
Mishaps aside, The Pigeon Detectives may be past their musical peak but they still know how to put on a good show. Constantly keeping everyone on their feet with classic taunt “I think Manchester might have been louder than you lot!” although somewhat cheesy, they certainly are not old and boring just yet. A+ for effort boys. Yorkshire, Yorkshire, Yorkshire.