Live at The Vine on Thursday, 29th January 2004
After a week of assaulting the laser on my overworked CD player and my wife's ears through demo offerings from both these bands, I knew, before even walking through the Vine door this was going to be a fantastic showcase. I was not disappointed.
First up Behaviour, a York bred acoustic 3 piece comprising Mike Evans on lead vox and acoustic guitar, Gemma Hinchliffe on keys and backing vocals and Doug Peddle on guitars. Behaviour's sound is elegant and in places breathtaking, highly unique and unquantifiable. The music is perfectly sculpted together and played with feverish ador. In one sense a well-oiled machine yet still providing an element of freshness and surprise with each new tune.
Vocally superb, Evans' voice is smooth and harmonic. Supported competently by the delectable tones of Hinchliffe, whose voice reminisces this listener of The Cranberries' Delores O'Riordan. Perhaps the most distinct and engaging thing in Behaviour's style though is the wondrous and innovative use of Peddle's electric guitar. The delightful riffs and picks creating a subtle backbone to each song, in places more reminiscent of the sounds of a harpsichord or sitar than those associated with electric guitar.
The set is eloquent and highly arresting, airing enough material to leave an indelible mark on the appreciative vine crowd. Standout wise I have to mention the delightful "Greenhills". The makeup of which sent shivers down my spine with its astonishing piano and majestic vocals. "Greenhills" can be found on the bands demo single which also includes the tracks "Make my day" and "Recently".
Behaviour are, in closing, like nothing you have heard. Fresh, vibrant and imaginative. Given the current trend of ten-a-penny substandard rock bands doing the circuit, this sort of stimulating performance is most definitely welcome on the scene.
The Yards are a York based 5 piece fronted by ex-Seahorse Chris Helme, ably supported by keyboardist/vocalist John Hargreaves, skin-basher John Miller, axe-man Chris Farell and also ex-Seahorse bassist Stuart Fletcher. Tonight they are minus the string couplet who strike a noticeable mellowing quality on their studio material and hence the set is destined to be a whole lot more raucous.
Helme's voice is silkier and meeker than anticipated, a calm patch amidst a storm of jarring guitars, tenacious keys and bruising, filthy bass. As a unit they are brash and boisterous, even the studio mellow "Only myself to blame" gets a stormy overhaul, brutally raw lyrics perched neatly atop hectic no-nonsense guitar riffs and sultry grubby beats.
Demeanour wise they radiate a world-weariness which is appealing and magnetic, the glint in the eye ever present. Rock journeymen fully debauched of all former projects, comparisons to past outings are no longer welcome. "The Yards" is who these guys are now, and the passion and grit which emanates so instinctively only leaves the old further behind. Mr Squire chocking frenetically on Helme's dust as he crunches through the gears.
EP title track "The Devil is alive and well and in DC" whips the crowd up even more, a cheetah paced ride through the mind of Helme. Heady punk guitars lending their weight behind callous, spitty vocals. A timely and thoughtful oral assault on Mr Bush and his "administration". It's not often satirical politicism gets carried off this well in the rock world. "All you Texans stand in line, under blue electric skies," wails Helme. My sentiments exactly sir.
They finish with "Fireflies", a beautiful vocal heavy composition which best pinpoints the position at which The Yards currently stand. If "Only myself to blame" is Helme's final look back, then "Fireflies" is them spitting on the remnants of the past and marching resolutely onward. "Take me back where I come from, and lead me on to better times," cries Helme. I wouldn't sweat about it Chris, I think you're already on the way there.