Live at Joseph's Well on Tuesday, 2nd March 2004
Tonight's showcase at Josephs Well was in aid of Link Community Development to raise money for the Leeds University Hitch hike to Morocco. All proceeds go towards helping schools and education for children in Africa (www.hitchit.co.uk)
There wasn't a simple open chord in sight as Airstrip One landed at Joseph's Well to start tonight's event with a challenging set. Throwing any structure usually associated with songs out of the window they created more like sound-scapes rather than songs. Each tune took on a journey of its own as the band frequently switched between tempos and rhythms. The sound achieved was massive considering this is only a three piece. The guitarist picked and riffed his way through in complex, emphatic style supported by steady consistent bass rhythms and tight drumming. Every now and again their 'songs' were interspersed with punky vocals from the guitarist. I don't think the band will mind me saying though that vocals aren't a central point in their music. I wondered myself whether they actually needed them at all as this is definitely all about the music. It was difficult to know when one song had finished and another started, and if it wasn't for them actually stopping between songs I don't think anyone would have known. That's not necessarily a bad thing though. It kept you waiting to see where each song would go next. Most songs actually sounded like they were a medley of intros and musical breaks taken from other songs as they mixed many distinctive melodies into one tune. A lack of vocals and structure is missed after a while, but it is refreshing to hear something so different being done and it made me think I really must experiment more on that guitar!
Next up were The Boolean. They swaggered on stage certainly looking the part, and the music didn't fail them. They started a little disjointed as there were problems with the drum kit, but once this was sorted, a couple of songs in, they soon got into their stride and didn't let it phase them. Based heavily around some of the catchiest guitar riffs I've heard in a long time they treated us to a set of fresh indie tunes oozing with cool. They were all clearly enjoying it too, the lead singer often going walkabout round the small stage, banging along on his tambourine with particular zeal. Maybe that explains the suspect bandage thing around his hand?! This band has some very strong songs, with some great guitar work and rhythms. The fast paced vocals made it difficult to understand what was being sung at times though, as well as limiting any sing-a-long aspects. The guitar riffs making more of an impression than the vocal melodies. A little bit loose at times as well but again, they didn't seem to mind so why should we?! Sometimes funky, sometimes bluesy, always good fun rock 'n roll. I was impressed with this lot.
If The Boolean were the coolest band of the night then Sixty 6 were the best looking. Another 3 piece who triggered a few knowing glances of approval between the girls in the crowd. Winning the ladies over is always a good place to start, but their music spoke for itself too. Once again there was a nice big sound from a three piece who played some heartfelt emotive rock, not a far cry from the likes of Feeder. The singer/guitarist's voice was gravelly and a bit grungy, but of top quality which was paramount to the bands overall sound, adding an edge to their slightly mellow rock music. To me they sounded a bit American, but good Americans at that, and it was obvious that they went down a treat with the crowd (which did consist of men as well!). Melodic rock is Sixty6's thing, and they do it well, although mixing things up a bit may further their appeal as they did tend to stick to the same formula.
And so to the nights headliners... The Hair. This band must be one of the hardest working bands in West Yorkshire. Everywhere you look they are playing one gig or another. It showed too, being technically sound, extremely tight and by performing an inventive hybrid of funk and rock that has been well thought out and practiced. The introduction of a keyboard was a much welcome one for the night, having had 3 bands already of all out guitar music. I don't think it was loud enough for their opening few songs though, but it got louder, and with it they got better. The Hair are definitely in their element when they stick to their funkier tunes. That's where they stand out. Their more mainstream rock attempts aren't particularly bad, just the funkier ones are better. The aforementioned keyboard compliments some slick bass lines, and some accomplished guitar playing over the top make for a refreshing sound, yet it lacked a bit of edge. They entertained well, interacting alot with the crowd. Numerous plugs for their cd aside, the singer/guitarist was chatty on the mic, sharing the fun he was having with everyone else. He hasn't half got a good voice too. The Hair were a good way to end a successful night.
Well done to Ellie and Katie for putting on a night of quality music. For charity or not, lets have some more of the same in the future.