The start of a prolific tour across the UK and Europe, their arrival at O2 Academy won’t have quite the frosty reception that the weather might predict; instead, things quickly heat up as the Kentucky rockers unleash a completely frenzied storm upon the venue, enough to rival even Storm Dennis’ wrath just outside those walls. With support from American punk-rockers SWMRS, who absolutely shine on songs like ‘Miley’, the sold-out crowd was electrified from the get-go.
Matt Schultz is an absolute vision of brazen confidence and Mick Jagger esque swagger as he storms onto stage to the sounds of ‘Broken Boy’ from their latest album, Social Cues, an album regarded by NME as seeing the band “truly find themselves”. It’s an album that in its recorded state is good, but there’s a sense that there is something lacking. Performed live, however, it is completely transformed – perhaps due to the distinct shining quality that frontman Schultz possesses.
A perfectly curated setlist, the band guide the crowd through old and new – yet, the audience know every word regardless of how recently the song was released. Of course, tracks like ‘Cold Cold Cold’ and ‘Come a Little Closer’ go down a treat, unifying the crowd completely, but more recent releases like ‘Skin and Bones’ are equally as charming. Arguably, ‘Trouble’ is the most heart-warming moment of the night: arms are everywhere, around one another or in the air, and it’s nothing short of magical. The bands music completely lends itself to sing-alongs, which completely makes the night – ‘Cigarette Daydreams’ is always going to be a special song, but singing it with 2000 other people is something else.
The night draws to an end with an encore of two acoustic numbers by a lone Schultz – lulling the room to a peaceful contentment, he serenades his Leeds fans with ‘Goodbye’, and it’s perfectly bittersweet.
All photos by Jess McCarrick.