Live at Joseph's Well on Tuesday, 8th February 2005
Fact: good image + good stage presence + good songs + lot's of A&R men = getting a good record deal.
...And all this is true about Duels, the first band on tonight, at an absolutely jam-packed Joseph's Well. I wasn't personally too sure what to expect of this band, as I had already seen them three or four times on the Leeds gig circuit, and each time they had changed my perception from being damn right ace, to being not very good and a flash in the pan, to being just plainly average. However what I was about to see totally smashed all these early perceptions and I truly ended up being converted. The opener was strong and tight, strangling the front row of kids round the neck, like a noose so hard, that they could hardly breathe. The Britpop revival was beginning here and now, with Duels sounding much better at the pop game than Leeds's very own Kaiser Chiefs, with elements of early Blur, and 80's indie pop shining through the very eyes of Duel's leader and lead singer John.
Jimmy's guitar playing either spiky Hot Hot Heat sort of rhythms, or atmospheric Interpol delay induced sections, and even at one point sounding like the best parts of Queen, (i.e. not the cock rocking bits), the lady on the keys was playing out of her skin bouncing around adding superb backing melodies and adding to the poptastic sound. Whilst Tim, and the bassist were providing the noose for the kids at the front with the engine department. About four or five songs in the set just sent shivers totally down my spine with 'The Young Believers', totally just stripped down to vocals, keys, and guitar. With its compelling 'La La La's' this was the set highlight for me so far, little did I know more and better was yet to come. 'Pressure On you' is one of the best pop songs I have hear in along long time, prompting me to immediately download it from their website the very next day, to listen to it again... and again... and. (you get the point). And then Oh MY God! I couldn't believe it they topped this song off with a song that has classic written all over it 'Animal!' This will be in the top ten in the near future: Fact! But I'm not going to say any more about 'Animal', because basically you'll be hearing it all the time when it's released and I don't like spoiling surprises, especially the good ones!
Certain reviewers may have commented on the crowd and how they weren't poggoging around like some of us, well the main reason behind that was like I said before, they we just mesmerized. Taking it all in, letting it wash all over them. So this is the only point where Duels lose any marks, and that is because basically we were all there for the taking, and one stage dive into the crowd would have release the things that lie behind the gates of hell, however it will only be a few gigs of this kind of experience before Duels know how to make the young girls cry, and how to make the boys mouths drop to hit the deck. Fact: Most likely to be the biggest band in Leeds. Ever! 9.5/10
Next to grace the stage were Dogs; now where as I had seen Duels before, and had pre-expectations, Dogs I hadn't. I had only just heard things on the grapevine. I won't say what those things were, but I was looking forward to see if these guys blew these presumptions away. Well put it this way, the kids at the front were loving it, singing almost every single word, whilst I was bored out of my head counting down the minutes, until what I was so excitedly anticipating was due to come on stage. Dogs just weren't my cup of tea really at all, and it's hard to be objective when you see a band lacking so much originality, ok, so they're supposed to be snotty south of the river London punks, but why was this just basically another 'We're from London, so tonight Matthew, we're The Clash, I mean the Pistols, no no, I mean The Strokes...' I just kind of feel sorry for them in a weird way because the bubble won't last. It's something that is very lose to my heart the way that the record labels just saturate the market with the same stuff and it progressively gets worse and worse, they (the Labels) give the public The Libertines (fair enough not everyone's cup of tea, but I like them), then Razorlight (an average man's Libertines), and then we get a whole string of others (including The Others), such as Thee Unstrung, The Paddingtons, or anyone else who may have supported Doherty or Borrell in the last 4 years of their existence, and the reason it's sad is because they get a little bit of fame, little knowing the dole queue is just round the corner because the album doesn't sell. Dogs have average stage presence, with the guitarist pulling out all the Spinal Tap esque moves, and the singer thinks he's Johnny Rotten having a scrap with Liam Gallagher, but it's all to know avail when you don't have a tune that batters people's doors down, again with the recent single gone, 'Selfish ways', I wasn't taken hold. So I'm sorry guys, you just weren't my cuppa. Then again what do I know (I didn't like The Strokes or The Libertines when they both came out, and now I love them), so maybe there is time to be converted, just very little. 6/10
After that I couldn't wait for The Duke Spirit. Now after seeing them at the Cockpit (the Rocket stage), I was surprised that they were playing Joseph's Well. I wasn't surprised to find the whole downstairs room full though. I mean most people I guessed must have seen this band opening for a larger band at some stage, because The Duke Spirit have just about supported every band in the world going up until now, spreading their glorious gospel of hard-drive-guitar-wall-of-noise-rock. (I hope the NME take notice of this new genre). We got two new stomper songs first, and finally the crowd seem to be enjoying themselves even though they don't know any of the words to the first two songs. Another reason the crowd maybe enjoying themselves a lot is because maybe they have just found a new icon to be up there with the greats, no not Karen O, or Brodey Dalle, even higher than those two. Liela Moss is more like a bon-fiddle PJ Harvey, overtly sexually and grinding her crotch against the mike stand as if she were to be a pole dancer instead, her index finger flying up ever now and then and shooting straight into her chest, it's almost like she's a female Iggy pop the way she struts and moves, smashing her tambourine so hard that the domestic violence squad may have to be called in. And this is the whole captivating thing about The Duke Spirit, yes the boys in the band maybe good at playing their instruments in a Sonic Youth/My Bloody Valentine wall of noise, and yes they maybe all good looking guys, with tight leather jackets and jeans, but one just thinks to their self; they're just a backing band really, and I truly believe when the time comes and The Duke Spirit split, Liela Moss will become as big as PJ herself. The crack through the whiplash of wild new single 'Lion R.I.P' which is the first time I've heard it, immediately falling in love with it, and end with the set closer 'Red Weather' with its Velvet Underground tones ending in the compulsory wall of feedback at the end from the squealing guitars. All in all majestic. The reason why this doesn't get a score out of ten is because it surpasses numbers, you just had to be there.