Live at Eiger Studios on Saturday, 4th August 2012
Eiger Studios offers some of the best rehearsal and recording studios to be found in Leeds. It has a reputation which rises above the many similar facilities in a city which is inundated by bands of all shapes and sizes. Would a festival showcasing the best of the artists that base themselves there be provide a fair representation of the Leeds music scene?
On the whole, the musicianship across Walls of Sound was stunning. The majority of acts were at a professional standard in their instrumental skill and stagecraft. Groups such as Baby Jupiter, Connect 2, Delirium Theory, Simon Pollard Band, and the Nigel Passey Band cruised through their sets with the kind of authority you expect to see when you attend the O2 Academy or bigger. All concerned had clearly spent a lot of time practicing at Eiger, making their sets tighter than a gnat's derriere. Another credit to facility was the fantastic sound in both the main room and the smaller space upstairs. It was as clear as a bell whilst being powerful and loud. If you were prepared to stand and watch the bands downstairs all day, your ears were going to take some pummelling.
That said, there were some elements slightly lacking in nearly all these acts. Most of them would have benefited from developing a stronger and more individual identity of their own. Nearly all the bands sounded in tribute to something else. Guns 'N' Roses, Foo Fighters, Daniel Powter, Michael Buble and a whole host of Brit Pop outfits all took to the stage in various forms. It would seem negative and unkind to criticise these groups for doing what they enjoy. However, most sets were packed full of originals. Surely the point of creating something is to do it your way, to move on from what has already happened. I asked one attendee who had cycled 16 miles from Ilkley whether he agreed. 'Yes', he said. Is there any point in writing your own material when it follows the same musical directions set out by someone who has already made it their own, artistically and commercially?
Two artists completely and comprehensively bucked this trend. Micky P Kerr, whose mix of poetry, comedy songs and cotton-soft ballads blew away all that had played before him. Charismatically engaging with the audience, his mild sprinkling of banter was all that needed in between each composition. He was simply himself, which was something many others did portray throughout the day. Micky has a concept album about dreams coming out soon, something which is certainly worth checking out.
The other artist that delivered on all levels was Mother/Destroyer. Fuzz driven metal with more energy than Sellafield Nuclear Power Station, they spent half an hour pounding around the upstairs room, bouncing off the walls and permanently damaging the hearing of those present. Each song was brutal, relentless, blood thirsty... (insert any more clichéd metal adjectives here). M/D played their own music their own way without obscuring the influences. Within 30 seconds of the opening number an excitement was generated that would draw more and more people in as the set went on. If you're going to see one band in Leeds soon, make it this one.
It was pretty clear that the majority of musicians at the festival were pretty close to or in middle age. There's nothing wrong with that, but the location of the Eiger Studios could certainly be a factor in this. It's is based on an industrial estate outside Leeds city centre. A long distance from the main student bases of Hyde Park and Headingley, getting there would require a car or taxi or horse. It obviously isn't the case that only students in Leeds make music, but it is undeniable that a significant number of them are in bands/solo acts and/or are producers. For the younger people of Leeds, access to Eiger is certainly limited and therefore only a certain proportion of Leeds' music makers can get there. On the upside, those who can make the journey are not left disappointed. Pianist and singer Dan Burnett told LMS that the studio has 'Great equipment, friendly staff, affordable prices.' Eiger Studios delivers what it promises, providing professional services which are not out of reach for the plucky beginner, average punter or seasoned pro.
Acoustic Rock band from Leeds.
The Simon Pollard Band is a 4 piece country/pop/rock band from Leeds.
DELIRIUM THEORY have worked hard to acquire a reputation on the Yorkshire music scene as a band who move between genres, producing some of the most technically diverse, and yet readily accessible hard rock to ever come out of this great county.
Dan Burnett has proven to be one of the UK's leading piano vocalist and was spoon-fed blues, soul and rock music from an early age.