Live at Joseph's Well on Saturday, 3rd February 2001
Another heaving Saturday night down the Well saw some top local talent taking to the stage to show off their musical merits. Tonight featured a five (count 'em) band bill, the first three of which I missed unfortunately, but all were, according to a mate who caught them, "pretty good". Nick Kent, eat yer heart out.
I last saw Beeston's own HATCH back in November and wasn't overly impressed: they were okay but had a lot of work to do. And they've clearly been hard at work because the first thing that struck me was how much they've improved. It was like hearing a different band altogether: a band that had developed more of its own sound, who had worked hard on their songs to set them apart from the usual indie/metal mish-mash and also worked on how well they play the songs. Last time they were looser than a pregnant nun's morals, but tonight they were spot on - drummer Carl has improved tremendously. The songs were metal-pop, like they can't decide if their main influence is Oasis or Metallica, which isn't a bad thing because it makes them more diverse. A snapped bass string couldn't stop them as they roared through a set of catchy rock-out blasts and hook-laden choruses, especially the song which went "I'm so sick and tired..." which is a single if there ever was one. A luminary on the Leeds music scene told me last time that Hatch are one of the most underrated bands in Leeds - well on tonight's showing they're definitely one of the most improved. If you can be this much better in three months, show us what you can do in six months, a year - but sort your image out while you're at it.
The newly re-titled ORKA are headlining the night and grab the fairly substantial audience immediately. Passionate, gutsy vocals matched with rocking (glittery) guitars and big melodies give them a rock-indie sound not that dissimilar to Mansun, or the Manics, or even U2 at times. The songs themselves are grabbing but they lack a couple of singles which could make them a definite force to be reckoned with, a Wide Open Space or Design For Life which will propel them to where they ultimately want to end up. Vocally, Coyle Girelli (you couldn't have made it up) sounds like a cross between Jeff Buckley, Matt Bellamy of Muse and Paul Draper of Mansun, but without being a pastiche of any of them, and has a good wide range. They're all good on stage and have an air of ice cool, but have no real rapport with the audience between songs - maybe this is the point, I don't know. Standout tracks were "Porn Star", a disco-tinged rocker with a catchy chorus and good vocals, and "Flybuzz", which I originally thought was called Flappers. (Sadly this was not to be, although I would have loved to have seen a paean to one of East Yorkshire's 'best' nightclubs, in sunny Goole.) This song was the best of the night with skyscraping vocals and a fantastic intro. A twisting turning song that showed they'd really thought about what they were doing - I'd go to see them again to see this one song. The rest was all good but nothing that really screamed out to say "Buy me!" but if they continue in the Flybuzz vein, I think they'll be brilliant in a while. The drummer needs to tighten up occasionally but otherwise, instrumentally Orka are spot on. They just need a couple of singles and more of their own sound to cut it - but I think from an all-round point of view, Orka are one of Leeds' likeliest to get somewhere. Go and see them to find out why.