SKATERS – The Wardrobe (3/5)
After chatting to Michael from SKATERS last month, I was excited to finally catch the guys live at ‘The Wardrobe’ this weekend. Playing to a packed out room of trendy indie fans, the group that are being tipped as 2013’s answer to The Strokes were faced with the hard task of opening for headliners Deap Vally, who are about as rock and roll as it comes. Rocking up on stage with perhaps slightly too much swagger, Michael, Noah and Joshua stormed through a set of catchy, indie pop numbers including their popular single ‘I Wanna Dance (But I Don’t Know How)’ and fan favourite ‘Armed’. A sizeable enough harem of screaming (in a reserved, edgy, indie manner of course) fan girls ensured that the exaggerated stage presence wasn’t wasted, with many in the crowd quite obviously just appreciating the set politely, whilst waiting for the main course. But an enthusiastic front crowd of moshers a-plenty helped to prove that there is an appetite in Leeds for ‘SKATERS’ energetic brand of radio-friendly scuzz. Heavy expectations and music press hype means that it’s hard to be completely satisfied with this kind of show though. As someone who desperately wishes she was born five years earlier, rather than frustratingly missing out on the indie hey-day that ushered in the millennium, it’s hard not to wish that it was Pete or Julian swaggering across the stage, especially given the intimate surroundings. Unfortunately, these three blokes from NYC are ten years too late, and whether it’s their own fault or that of the musos, they’re riding a wave that has already broken.
Gabrielle Aplin – O2 Academy (4/5)
Self taught singer/songwriter Gabrielle Aplin scored herself a number one single with her cover of Frankie Goes to Hollywood’s ‘The Power of Love’, which was consequently picked for John Lewis’ Christmas advertisement campaign last year. I guess a fair few in this diverse crowd were unaware of Aplin’s previous achievements, having bagged herself a loyal following through documenting her covers on “The Youtube”, as quoted from a middle aged man standing nearby. It seemed as though Aplin could attract a few more followers to her musical cause.
Acoustic guitars and elegant piano riffs are in abundance during the support acts; Natalie Holmes’ lyrics center on nostalgia and memories derived from childhood. Meadowlark’s performance doesn’t prove as effortless; the crowd’s vocal participation is forced, sadly belittling the actual merit in the group’s musical content.
The crowd reawakens as Gabrielle Aplin’s backing band enters the stage, closely followed by Gabrielle herself skipping gracefully into view. The set opens with the upbeat ‘Panic Cord’, establishing her style as thoughtful and heartfelt. Her much anticipated rendition of ‘The Power of Love’ is executed surprisingly early on; it lives up to what is expected, a stunningly beautiful four minutes. Crowd mesmerised, she continues to grace us with other favourites from her debut album English Rain, including ‘Keep on Walking’, ‘Human’ and ‘Please don’t Say You Love Me’. I suppose a member of the crowd yelling “marry me!” is something expected at one of her gigs, but a pleasantly amused Aplin, responding with “okay?!”, is less so. Gabrielle Aplin’s confidence is unquestionable; testing the crowd with a cover of ‘Wrecking Ball’, there are fortunately no hammers or general obscenities present; instead she proves that anything she touches turns to gold. Bringing things back to what is truly angelic, Aplin concludes her set with the highly popular ‘Home’, during which the crowd even sings their own chorus.
Bravo, Gabrielle Aplin.
Placebo – Leeds o2 Academy (3/5)
A multitude of lights illuminates the empty stage of the O2 Academy, whilst a recorded version of ‘Pure Morning’ plays out to the eagerly awaiting crowd. Excitement builds and on walk Placebo launching straight into 2012’s single ‘B3’. With the show in benefit of the Human Development Foundation – Kagyu Samye Ling Mercy Centre, Placebo are in no need to please tonight’s audience, whose mere attendance adds weight to the cause.
Throughout the night, Placebo play an array of songs across their 7 studio albums, Placebo’s new album Loud Like Love is heavily featured with 7 out of its 10 tracks played throughout the night. Mixed reactions are felt from the diverse crowd of fans young and old. The 2013 single ‘Too Many Friends’, which sees front man Brian Molko whine about the burdens of modern technology, goes down a treat, yet, atmosphere depletes with the upbeat yet uninspiring ‘Purify’. ‘Exit Wounds’ follows and unfortunately fails to engage with the audience, which seemed to lull the crowd to sleep. The classics, however, break up the show and the beautiful ‘Meds’ lights up the O2 with an exuberance that only a really solid band can achieve. Placebo save their best for last with their penultimate song ‘Post Blue’, which delivers a force that was momentarily absent for large parts of their performance.
The spotlight never left Molko; his strange, girlish, but weirdly entrancing voice seemed to touch each and every member of the 2,300 capacity audience. After absolutely killing the end of the show with the anthemic ‘Infra-red’ , the London band, completely disregarding all of their upheld angsty ‘cool’, address the audience, cast over their drumsticks and plectrums, and take one giant, well deserved, stage bow.
photos: Tmagazine, MouthofLondon, PreditorsTv