Wild Beasts @ Canal Mills 11/12

When making the pilgrimage over the canal to that seemingly forever-dark corner of south Leeds, you kind of know what to expect from your night. It normally centres around depravity and hedonism. The taxi to Canal Mills is a blur of loose change and Uber codes. Upon arrival you are paralysed by this windy city’s baltic queuing conditions. Regardless, you’ll inevitably jostle into the smoking area to crash a rolly before heading inside for a mildly enjoyable evening spent losing friends, ingesting substances, finding friends again, and occasionally listening to some music.

For all that their name suggests, Wild Beasts served to deconstruct this venue, lay on hands, and reconstruct it as a setting of pure bliss. The place sparkled with Christmas cheer as a laid back crowd, populated by cute couples in the main, enjoyed Pilsner rather than pills, and the warming fragrance of mulled beverages.

The evening, officially titled ‘Wild Beasts present Soft Future’, saw the band headline an exquisitely curated lineup of the finest avant garde artists including East India Youth, Evian Christ, Nathan Fake, Fryars and Forest Swords. The night’s authors, however, gave the outstanding performace.

These lads from Kendal, since coincidentally playing their first gigs in Leeds (a fact joyfully acknowledged by main men Tom Fleming and Hayden Thorpe), have become one of the country’s most highly respected and accomplished bands. Their truly seraphic voices beatified this formerly infernal venue; their majestic and bewildering song structures exorcised its evil. In recent times, the sound quality at Canal Mills has been very shoddy. Sonically and visually, Wild Beasts’ performance, ending with a stirring rendition of ‘Lion’s Share’, was singularly colourful and crystalline.

Finally, this warehouse’s potential to stage the elegance of bands has been unleashed. Who needs an all night rave? Soft Future was pure ecstasy. And I’m hooked.

Oliver Walkden

photos: thelineofbestfit.com, Klaus Thymann

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