The Family Rain – Brudenell Social Club (4/5)
If you watched Made In Chelsea on Monday (yes, I do), then you have already listened to The Family Rain. It featured the band’s cover of ‘Enjoy The Silence.’ Aside from being a completely insufferable show in the main, MIC’s soundtrack does showcase some of the best up-and-coming indie bands around. It is obvious why The Family Rain, the three Walter brothers from Bath, have made the cut.
Comparisons with The Black Keys and Jack White will be inescapable since they play greasy alt-rock riffs with a blues sensibility, as if it were a modernised form of hirsute 1960s riff-machines like Groundhogs or Deep Purple. The guitars are deliciously fuzzy, yet retaining a Libertines-esque melodicism. William Walter’s vocals are sensational, easily shifting between gruff and clean to chime with the band’s varying degrees of heaviness. They boldly switch between anthemic country croons and boisterous hard blues tracks such as ‘Carnival’ that seem destined to fill indie dancefloors and help the band slot into the contemporary indie canon in 2014.
Despite all this, there is a sense that The Family Rain are insolently anticipating their own success. Their copious collection of guitars, slick hair and band logo backdrop are indicative of the mainstream audience to which this band are appealing. They are affecting a rootsy lifestyle – but in reality they are just three posh lads from Bath. Or should I say ‘Baaarth’? Although they write cracking blues tunes, it doesn’t feel authentic. A lukewarm, token response from the Brudenell crowd confirms this.
Palma Violets (w/ Childhood + Baby Strange) – Leeds Met Union (4/5)
The atmosphere inside the Leeds Met Union is one of youthful exuberance tonight, as right from the start, openers Baby Strange get the crowd moving with their snarling garage rock. A punked-up cover Peter, Bjorn & John’s indie dancefloor banger ‘Young Folks’ is enough to send the crowd into moshing pandemonium early on, as Palmas bassist Chilli Jesson shows his approval from the back.
Up next are Childhood, who make up for a slightly less energetic show by giving the crowd a tantalizing taste of their upcoming debut album. And on tonight’s evidence, it will be every bit as good as the gorgeous ‘Blue Velvet’, which is tonight greeted like an old favourite. They close their set with another single, ‘Solemn Skies’ featuring an extended outro recalling The Stone Roses at their most psychedelic.
You’d expect most audiences to be pretty fatigued by now, but no one seems to feel like taking a break as Palma Violets troop onstage. The band tear through cuts from their album, each and every track met with a fervent response. It has to be said that anyone who was skeptical about the band’s music should definitely make a point of seeing them live. Palma Violets built their reputation with their ferocious early shows, and tonight they show what they’re really made of. ‘Best of Friends’ and ‘Tom the Drum’ are definite highlights, the band physically throwing themselves into their performance. Jesson, in particular, is a force of nature onstage, dominating the space and howling into his mic like a wolf at every opportunity.
‘14’ makes for an anthemic closer, before the band invite members of Childhood and Baby Strange back for a cover of The Hot Nasties’ ‘Invasion of the Tribbles’. As chaos ensues both onstage and in the crowd, it’s hard to believe that anyone else will be having this much fun in Leeds tonight.
Look over to your right and a short, bearded man with a trucker hat is using a lighter as a guitar slide for a mandolin. His playing is complex and intense. His lighter is ablaze. Welcome to Hayseed Dixie.
Hailing from the Appalachian mountains of Tennessee, Barley Scotch and his bandmates reinterpret classic rock and metal with the acoustic sounds of the Deep South. With their inimitable skill, natural showmanship and sense of fun, they go a long way towards reinvigorating the lost swagger of two dying genres. Their current tour is divided into two sets: one where they play their first album of AC/DC covers and a second of audience requests.
In many ways, the Antipodean masters of the single-entendre are a perfect basis for Hayseed Dixie’s act. It’s loud, simple and comes with the necessary gaps to do amazing things with the banjo and mandolin. It also goes down well with the audience, those who know the tunes singing along and shouting requests with gusto. Impressively, people with no interest in AC/DC still enjoy themselves, laughing and gawping at the unsubtle nuances of ‘Big Balls’ and ‘Whole Lotta Rosie’.
The second set lacks the cohesion of the first but lets us see the self-styled hillbillies encapsulate everything from the revolutionary anger of Black Sabbath to the pain of Pink Floyd. Old men in stadiums might be genuine but tonight, as this room starts to move, it’s here that the emotional impact of these classics lives on.
If you appreciate a bon viveur with a southern twang, or just want to return to the atmosphere of a ramshackle whiskey joint, Hayseed Dixie will give you a great night. ‘Serious’ musicians take note: there’s much to be said for wearing your talent with irreverence and denim dungarees. If loving the banjo is wrong, I don’t wanna be right.