Live at Joseph's Well on Sunday, 12th February 2006
Sometimes in life, there is light at the end of the tunnel, a little ray of sunshine on an otherwise cloudy day. So although I may have missed the bus to work, and spent a day nursing what turned out to be a hangover sent from the depths of Lucifer's dungeon itself, my god I'm glad my weary eyes stayed open long enough to witness something very, very special.
Obviously the rumblings surrounding tonight's main event had finally slipped out into the real world inducing the usually oblivious Well crowd into a frantic buzz, but if the lucky spectators were here for one reason only they had to quickly adjust their mindset. Voltage Union quickly burst into a set, that turned out to not only be the flavourless appetiser that accompanies many a good meal, but a cracking exhibition of bounce-along rock themselves. The sound of 2005 was washed all over the set, most reminiscent in the wailing guitar style of Bloc Party but that's in no way a slight, because if my memory serves me correctly last year wasn't too shabby at all. It's the frantic tempo that really sells them though, and it sold them well tonight. Marching through every song with the relentless vigour of Gang of Four, and spouting the anti-commercialist ideologies of The Jam from the rooftops they had the mass turnout stomping along to the same beat. And there's only one criticism to be made, that a terrific start to the evening of Mido's punchy bass and the distant echo of Dave's compelling voice just didn't go on for long enough. Maybe the lads were just never content to prolong their captivating sound, and so the set finishes with the buoyant 'Seaside' leaving us all thirsty for more.
Roll up, roll up for the main attraction then. If you haven't yet heard of Two Gallants which is pretty plausible (as the knowledgeable elite of my friends were totally oblivious) then you're going to start hearing about them.
What can you say about these guys? The pin-up San Francisco duo have already been enlightening critics and crowds far and wide to the crazy world of folk that floods out of them. And now was the lucky turn of little old Leeds to finally receive the awakening. Around five minutes of guitarist, singer, songwriter, harmonica and prophet Adam Stephens' angelic guitar picks and ramblings set up opener 'Steady Rollin', which simply bows the strong crowd into subtle adulation. But this is just the warm up, as were soon treated to an hour long masterpiece of blistering drum, and the uncategorisable heart wrenching croak of Stephens, as he depicts a bloody southern reality. After only a few tracks form the Gallants new album 'What the Toll Tells', have been belted from the stage, it's impossible to envisage anyone walking away from this gig without resolute respect for the genius these two have created. Yes, the songs are long and drawn out in a what for any other band would be a laborious fashion, but there isn't a second my eyes even dared to glance from the stage through any of the nine-minute wonders. The set draws to a close with show-stealer 'Las Cruces Jail', staining the by now shell-shocked crowd in whisky stained breakdowns, before unleashing the deafening hardcore which brings the room to tip-toes again. The screeching sound of White Stripes doing folk that the band produce won't cater for everyone's taste, but there's not denying the talents of these two young men. So as I stagger back out into the mundane routine of missed bus ride, and pouring rain of sunny Leeds I take with me the best gig of 2006, and one that looks hard to beat. Perfect.