Live at Royal Park Cellars on Thursday, 16th October 2003
For any regulars on the Leeds music scene, the Cellars has always and will always hold a very special fondness in our hearts. It's been a while since I last visited, and it feels good. For a Thursday night it's reasonably busy, and as ever very sweaty.
This is Meme's first gig, as the band they are now. Any locals to the Cellars may have seen them a few months ago - avec only Keys, Acoustic guitar and the vocal talent of lead axe-man Andy Barton. But tonight they are going electric, and with the melting pot brimming with the addition of a new bassist and drummer they are louder, much louder.
Pinning Meme's style and Barton's influence down is tricky. Blues-esque guitar & keys sit neatly amidst a sea of soothing, urgent vocals and smooth beats. They begin with "Can't Find the Words", a song penned by Barton relating to the death of his best friends dad, a beautiful opening.
The 30-minute set they are gifted gives them the space to air the band, whilst being short enough to leave us wanting more. "When's it's good it's good" being my pick of an extremely good bunch of tunes that Meme hold in their armoury.
In all, a slightly rough round the edges but far from shabby debut that they will be mightily proud of. Meme are most definitely off the starting blocks. Other bands need watch their backs.
Art / alt indie bands have never been my thing (Grandaddy immediately spring to mind!) so my hopes were not high when Belfast based four-piece Drat took to the stage. But there is something better about this lot, something more raw and dirty. They are fronted by "Muttlee" (hence "Drat" I presume) aka Brian Acton who formed the band with friend and bass player extraordinaire Bruce Reid whilst still touring with previous band Watercress.
Their sound is unique. Soft endearing vocals sung over ugly beats and screaming guitar. The inclusion of a double bass, telephone mic and music concrete (dictaphone held to guitar pickup) adds to the enchanting presence Drat seem to have perfected. Indeed one of their tunes ends with Acton's Strat playing a brilliant Kenny G style saxophone solo.
Standout tracks include the melodic and vocal heavy "Brittle Pale Blue Star" and "By The Birds", which was introduced by Acton as "A Song about text-messaging". Both tracks can be found on the bands newly released "Brittle Pale Blue" EP, which Acton relentlessly and humorously plugged from start to finish of their 40-minute set.
An exuberant flowing set of seamless wonderfully penned rock tunes, enhanced only by the band's obvious need to push their musical boundaries as far as they will stretch. The amazing cover of "Video Killed the Radio Star" only highlighted what had been a very enjoyable experience. Superb.