Live at Cockpit on Monday, 2nd October 2006
Ali Whitton and the Broke Record Players are a band you can't help but like. Although I am told they've been gigging around Leeds forever, tonight is the first time I have come across them. The first thing you notice as they take to the stage is their sheer volume; I counted seven of them in total and it was no mean feat for them all to fit onstage.
It is clear straight away that Whitton is a highly accomplished songwriter with a gift for sad, introspective and beautifully written songs. The presence of a viola player adds a melancholic air which suits the lyrics perfectly, whilst the female backing vocals tenderly compliment Whitton's heartfelt songs.
It's been more than two years since the IV Thieves were last in Leeds and it seems a lot has happened to them in that time. Touring with the likes of Oasis, Jet, Razorlight and Weller has widened their musical horizons (if not, curiously, their UK fan base).
When they were last in town the band were known simply as 'Nic Armstrong' and their brand of infectious, bluesy rock n roll was a throwback to the early 60's. Tonight, however, it is clear the boys have a new sound to go with their new name. A switch to a democratic song-writing style sees the other three band members contribute and Nic, Shane Lawlor and Glynn Wedgewood all now share lead vocal duties. The result is a fresh, more modern sound which, although different, still retains the great melodies and energy that made the band so appealing in the first place.
The Thieves take to the stage with a swagger, lead guitarist Wedgewood cranking up the volume to produce a wall of glorious, distorted sound before they kick into their first high-octane tune of the night. The opener is a loud, rocky, number which sets the tone for the rest of the night.
Upcoming single 'Day is a Downer' is an early high point which sees dark, downbeat lyrics contrast with a big, catchy chorus, whilst 'Higher' features the three singers harmonise to great effect.
As good as the new stuff is, the highlight of the show is easily 'Broken Mouth Blues' - the evening's only reminder of the first album. Introduced as 'a tribute to an old band called Nic Armstrong,' its incessant country/bluesy stomp provokes much foot-tapping and even a bit of dancing in the slightly sparse crowd.
Living and touring regularly in America has definitely helped tighten the band and their stage presence has grown over the past couple of years. As their set ends with potential future single 'You Can't Love What You Don't Understand,' one suspects that this is a band on the verge of bigger and better things.