Live at Joseph's Well on Monday, 11th December 2000
I knew I really couldn't miss this! I have seen both Albeit and Sugarvalve before but not Mariko. Saying that I feel as though I have. People keep telling me I should see them, so this was the perfect opportunity. Joseph's Well was the most packed I have ever seen it and all three bands had people nodding heads and tapping feet and I even saw one or two of the boys dancing! Honest, strange but true, I definitely saw people moving around in time to the music. The three bands were well suited musically, all of them being varying degrees of R-O-C-K! with some truly awesome guitar and bass work from all three. Each has their own style and presentation though and are easily distinguishable from each other.
First up were ALBEIT. I got to Joseph's Well in time to hear them sound check - complete class! The ladies toilet shares a wall with the room the bands are in, so I while was trying to sort out my unruly hair I could hear Kez's incredible voice echoing through the wall - very cool! They started the set with my favourite - "Have it your way", a song that makes the hairs stand up on the back of my neck, plus I am getting the hang of the words now (it's the third time I have heard it). They have a very definite stage presence; with Kez's constant eye contact with the crowd and the energy they all convey on stage - they make you feel part of the whole thing. They are always well dressed too, which I think adds to their overall image. Nikki added vocals to a few songs including "Oscar Prawn" - I love lyrics of this - "take me by surprise, out of the blue". They certainly surprised a few people that hadn't heard them before! And "Oooh, you don't understand, this was not in my plans". Also add a couple of mellow, lilting songs into the set, "Red Roses" being my favourite of these. The vocals really soar and Kez can maintain the notes with a power and consistency that some other singers just don't have. The hardest/harshest/rockiest song of the set was "Blood Bridge" - wall-shaking stuff. Excellent. I also finally have a CD (they didn't bring it to the last gig) and Kez pointed out which songs were on it, for those that wanted to buy it.
Next we had SUGARVALVE. Compared to the stunning visual image of Albeit and Mariko, these guys are the casual bunch. The guys rock out on stage, but not together. One comment at the end of their set from someone stood in front of me, was that they lacked the togetherness Albeit have. They are doing the rock thing and musically they are sound - but their visual image could do with working on. One of them jumping around and the others standing still, I would suggest they get someone to video them so they can get what I mean. Back with favourites such as "Gravity", "Broken" and "Don't be ashamed of what you know". I love some of the lyrics: "cannot stand the way I feel" and from another song "nothing's quite as it seems" - very true. They have a break in one of the songs that was long enough for people to start clapping. I was caught out the first time round, and did it again this time. I think the gap is too long guys, when you stopped again the audience weren't sure weather to clap or not. Then we had to wait a second while the drummer "has problems with his nuts!" It made us laugh, which was ok and they did a nice filler while he fiddled around. An all round tight set with some lovely clear vocals and completely bonkers lead guitar... Definitely a band to watch out for in the future.
MARIKO... talk about complete package! These guys are dressed to kill, complete with rock star shades and guitars slung as low as they would go. As they file on stage the front half of the crowd goes mental - screaming and stuff. Oh and why do heavy/tall people always stand in front of me and jump up and down on my feet? One of their songs is called "Elvis Loves Us". I wonder what he would say if he could see them? I think vocalist Paul got tips for his hip wiggles from The King. I heard several good comments about his stage persona, glittery top and what looked like a diamante belt slung round his hips. The whole thing was very entertaining - a fast set with "End of the Week" and a new one "Baby I'm Bored" kicking us off. They played "Perfect in Bed" - for all those girls and boys out there. Listening to the lyrics I can already think of someone I would love to dedicate THAT to! Can we have this on the next CD please? Speaking of which, their CD was up for sale and they did point out all three tracks were part of tonight's set. They rounded the night off with "Ugly boring" which amazingly also reminds me of someone I know...
Mariko have the attitude of a band already signed, in fact I can think of several signed bands that could probably take tips from them. Their delivery is excellent, stage presence: magnetic. Comments I overheard from others include: "What a blast!" -"Who did they say had the CDs? I WANT one!" - "I wish my sister was here 'cause she would kill to see these guys" - "Utterly brilliant!" and "These guys are a must see".
There's nothing else for me to say really. Except that comments I have heard about Leeds bands being lyrically dead or boring - people just aren't listening to the right bands - or just aren't listening... a big thank you to Dave Sugden and Karl Baird for an utterly brilliant night! Thanks to all the people who turned up on Monday to support the local scene and I hope you will all come the next one. And pass the message on.