Live at Leeds Metropolitan University on Wednesday, 1st November 2006
The Hair, the hair, the hair. In all shapes and forms. Crammed into LMUs main room. Drinking, sweating and belching through the night. A heady mixture of the students and natives. Yorkshire, Yorkshire, Yorkshire. Lager, lager, lager. The apparent home coming of The Sunshine Underground, billed as Leeds' answer to Hard Fi, was upon us.
As a reviewer I don't ask for too much. I ask to be entertained by bands able to excite their crowd, able to write interesting, sometimes funny lyrics, bands that have a good image, and bands with good music, and bands that don't just re-hash everything that has preceded them. I like iLiKETRAiNS. I don't like My Chemical Romance.
The Hair used to be an eclectic mixture of funk and Indy, a fresh mish mash of guitar, keyboards and decks. They seem to have resorted to being a more 'orthodox' indie four piece - guitar/singer, bass, keyboards and drummer this evening. By the start of the second track the band had pulled in a decent crowd. They rampaged through a set of teenage angst, and stories of girls, 'I'm Sorry but I want Your Girlfriend', and lyrics 'There's something about your name, I just think of your sister', pausing only to lob sweets into the crowd, and take part in the traditional percussional assault to end their set.
Next up are The Blood Arm. Seldom are a band up-staged by their introduction, this is one such example. In a twirl of camp we were informed of 'Atrocities day' a day to remember the atrocities of the Cambodian Killing Fields, and the atomic detonations of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The Blood Arm are apparently the antithesis to this (fuck yeah!). Now excuse me for belittling their obvious 'musical genius', but would you mind not hijacking some of the bloodiest moments of the last, exceptionally bloody century to introduce your band? If you do though, add this set to those other American atrocities. It's OK for the first 30 seconds, then a very terrible thing happens - the wonderfully named Nathanial Fregoso begins to sing. Nat seems to labour under the mistaken impression that he is the love child of Jim Morrison and Brandon Flowers. He isn't. He can't really sing. He just resorted to hollering, grunting and moaning. A man of his proportions should not wear tight fitted shirts. He should not start jumping into crowd. In short he should stop trying quite so hard - it doesn't sound good, it doesn't look good, it doesn't work, it's not clever, it is not funny. The only saving grace is when the crowd launches into a hand clap and the refrain "I love all the girls, all the girls like me". Somehow, I'm not sure they do though...
The Sunshine Underground made an entrance, a band that has been smothered by the bosom of the nation of Yorkshire. Despite hailing from the South, the Sunnies took to the stage to a cacophonous chorus of "Yorkshire, Yorkshire, Yorkshire". The band launched in to a no holds barred version of album opener Wake up, then thrashed through a note perfect version of Put You in Your Place. The band have often been compared favourably to Hard Fi, however, this is to damn with faint praise especially against the limp performance of the Southern also rans in Millennium Square in May. What lead singer Craig Wellington lacked in on stage banter was made up for by the full blooded bludgeon through most of the material of their debut studio album, Raise the Alarm, replicated almost note for note to the Leeds faithful. The final two songs of the set, re-released single Commercial Breakdown, and perennial favourite The Way It is. On cue, the chants of "Yorkshire", "Leeds, Leeds, Leeds" and "Marching on together" returned in great volume.
The Sunshine Underground rang through the evening, pulled to the heart of their adopted Yorkshire. This was a Yorkshire crowd, proud of what they had helped make!