Live at Brudenell Social Club on Sunday, 15th November 2009
I get to the Brudenell just in time to catch Uprights' support set which is a treat. They, like the rest of tonight's acts, have ignored the dizzying heights of the stage in favour of a more intimate floor set up. Uprights are a rip-roaring three piece who seem to be enjoying themselves no end. Their eccentric post punk sound is thrashed out at some velocity. There's definitely a clear nod to the 80's US college radio club with chugging bass lead rhythms that feature heart stabbing abrasive guitar. They have the pounding, rolling nature of bands like Mission of Burma, but also the snappy spontaneity of mechanised outfits like Devo. One of their best numbers was a kind of break-neck country arrangement. Here is a band that seem to be blowing the cobwebs off any stagnated pools of the insipid and mundane within the Leeds music scene.
The man of the night takes up position. Joe Lally is humble and unassuming; thanking the crowd for coming out and introducing his two band members, who have travelled from Philadelphia and Sicily. If ever there were a more disparately placed band! It's hard to know what to expect from him, not being familiar with his solo output: even harder perhaps to forget the weight of his Fugazi attachment.
His set is a relatively hushed, minimal affair. The format for most numbers being Lally laying down some smooth bass grooves, razor sharp drumming added and some eccentric, atmospheric guitar tones. This isn't to be mistaken for the kind of knob-twiddling guitar prog indulgences. It is far more primal and dissonant. In fact there are parts of the set where jarring feedback and spacey tremolo sounds are employed to quite an unsettling effect. Lally's vocals are like a poetry recital. Calm and composed, he softly sings what are essentially very sincere protest songs. The audience stood in front of him are captivated and extremely well behaved. The final number takes the sparse aesthetic of the music to its logical conclusion, with Lally loosing his bass, drums taken down to the most plain functions and guitar barely played, instead coaxed into undulating noise through pedals.
So, without so much as morsel of nostalgic fodder for the crowd, Joe Lally manages an intriguing and imaginative set. It might a bit 'out there' for the habitual punk crowd, but there was really no chance Lally was about to rehash the Dischord days.