Posted by Francois El-Alfy.
Reviewed on 1st January 2004.
Live at Royal Park Cellars on Thursday, 6th December 2001
A great concept for a night - no doubt. Let's drag some foreigners kicking and certainly screaming across those windy rain plagued hills separating the land and cram them into Leeds' "most intimate venue" to try and conquer a largely partisan audience, forced to miss the footie and demanding satisfaction.
Ok, enough melodrama. The openers were from Leeds anyway, in the form of young upstarts Kenosha. Here is a band I'd heard plenty about, yet had never heard described musically. They have, in the past, affronted the promoter of this night and website, at least one regular reviewer and a host of other bands and promoters across the city. When I saw them I just wanted to ruffle their hair and give them a toffee. Bless. Cheeky young scamps.
The 3-piece opened to a room bristling with 11 people (including staff) and remained largely silent in between songs for most of the set. Hardly the arrogant, conceited approach I had been led to expect - but to be honest that didn't matter. Being here to review music alone, I have to say they were very good. Indeed, they were a lesson to all those ageing wannabes out there still plugging away at the latest 'hot sound', and they achieved this without saying a word or jumping around like, errm, kids. All they did was play well thought out Pixies-esque college rock with an assuredness and musicality that belied their tender age. They didn't introduce most of the songs, but by the time the prog-pop epic that ended the set swelled into shape, the band were beginning to enjoy themselves - and the room was filling up. Not an original sound, maybe, but well worth a look if you happen to be passing.
Next up were Red Vinyl Fur. This was odd. A group of ordinary looking 20-somethings milling around like an office party that got lost; it wasn't until they took the stage that these four buxom lasses from Lancashire looked like a band. Up front was a sprightly, curly haired bassist with a bell-clear voice, flanked by brooding guitarists and backed up by a drummer pounding her low snare like it was an estranged lover come back for his CDs. If a million monkeys left in a room with typewriters can write Hamlet, here's a million office parties left in a room full of guitars playing...what exactly? They veered from Morcheeba-like downtrodden audio drama with a wry smile to energising rhythm-driven pop that spilled it's attitude, and fun, onto the dance floor in brief spates. Right up until the hulking, brooding final song with it's wonderful harmonic and delay driven lead guitar loop, you never knew quite what to expect next. Best of all, they are the first Manchester band I've seen for a while that you can't pin to a genre - they do their own thing, and they do it because they want to. No politics, no harping to past scenes, just four girls doing their thing (and there are never enough girls in rock, are there?).
I don't know if Brazil changed their set around as a result of the support, but they opened with the skulking 'Sister Volume', which is a far cry from the explosive sound you come to expect from this four-piece. With a Rhys Iffans look-alike on drums and "Stew" Reid haunting left of stage behind shades and a forced pout, they certainly looked like they were making an effort to be "a band", fronted by a "Fender Doncaster" wielding chap who looks all cuddly until he opens his sizeable lungs to the world. Clearly not a smoker. In fact, they seem to have benefited greatly from the ravages of touring; it's the first time they have come across to me as a genuine contender. The sound took a while to get sorted - only drums and vocals were audible for much of the set, but this really didn't matter with the conviction they gave the performance. If there is a criticism it's that they seem to only have two songs - a slow one and a fast one. The structure, melody and dynamics all seem taken from a pre-cut Brazil template - probably kept locked in a box somewhere in South Yorkshire - but at least the templates are good ones, with "Fuck the controls" taking the slower paced song theme to a more adventurous level, and "Broadband Terry" and some song about driving blowing away the cobwebs on Fierce Panda, Junction 47 and Peoplesound favourite "School Daze". There's plenty of innovation, but even with the punchy and very well sung vocals, driving bass, frenetic Danny Goffey drumming and expert Bernard Butler inspired lead guitar work, it somehow fails to ignite. The spark's definately there, but don't call 999 just yet. If anything, go and see them, buy their CD and then, just in case they get the success they deserve when held against the current crop of pretenders, at least you can say you were there.