Live at Joseph's Well on Monday, 9th April 2001
Another cracking line-up courtesy of the Blue Star boys, this time with a bit of a rockier edge leading to possibly the fullest showcase since Leeds Music Scene maestro Dave Sugden and Joseph's Well manager Karl Baird began the monthly nights back in December 2000.
Kicking off the evening were FLOOZY, and it was astounding to see so many people packing the gig room for the first band, on a Monday of all nights. Floozy are basically an indie-pop band, but with some off-kilter touches that bring to mind early Blur and New Order, with a hint of the more ethereal Stone Roses stuff at the same time. They open with a pastiche of Enola Gay by OMD, which leads them into a set of nice if somewhat unmemorable tunes. In Phil they have a good singer who needs to open up a bit more at times. He stays restrained for the whole set, rather than really firing off his vocal chords at the audience like he means it. Phil has a good voice with lots of potential: he just needs to mean it as much as the rhythm guitarist does up on stage, with scissor kicks and pogoing ahoy. In fact Floozy's main problem was their lack of stage presence other than him: otherwise they were a generally solid band, with some good songs. Just nothing to really separate them from the mould. Still, the three guys down the front who didn't stop pogoing all gig enjoyed themselves.
5FT4 are at times a confusing band to watch. Singer Marcus Widdowson is clearly a metal head at heart but daren't admit it, while the others are more indie based. This doesn't usually work, but with 5ft4, it does, because they have the rockier aspects matched with timeless pop. The first half of the set was a tad disappointing, to be honest: not as good as previous performances. The opening song was the best of the earlier stuff, with a kind of Kids In America feel to the verses, but also seemed to rip off the Lightning Seeds at one point. They were consistently marred by out of tune guitars, but this didn't seem to matter once they got the formulaic pop rock out of the way and opened up into their own territory. The latter half of the set was fantastic, especially the song about involuntary erections, which featured song clever backing vocals, and Everything You Read, for which Matt and Adam from fellow local rockers Japanaro handed out song sheets to the audience. A proper sing along anthem if there ever was one. Then they finished off with Popstar, a bona fide single, which marries explosive guitar with more hooks than a New Order bassist look-alike contest.
5ft4 are the rock Bluetones - with a deftness of touch many bands can't attain, and a great line in catchy pop - but played on pointy guitars. And they have their own dance, which their avid fans were proving down the front. Neil Hanson on guitars was born for the stage, primarily because he is about 3 feet tall and the stage makes him appear taller, but also cos he is a genuine STAR - and there's not many of them left around this area. Mike on drums keeps it simple but doesn't put a foot wrong and opens out into some top fills when the song needs it. Emma the bass player is all hair and sultriness in the corner, filling out the sound with some cleverly simple yet effective lines, and Marcus's voice is distinctive and tuneful. 5ft4 are never going to be the biggest band in the world, simply because they are too nice and too obviously happy and having a good time. And that's the beauty of them. If you wanna have fun (and let's face it, who doesn't), go to see 5ft4.
So. Thus far in the evening, we've been treated to one good band and one really good band. But with no disrespect to either, LORIMER put 'em both in the shade. The audience were left with the feeling of 'How are this band not signed?' The bizarre thing about this band is that no one seems to know much about them. This looks set to change, though. With a Peel session under their belts, reviews in Kerrang and a live set that pretty much blows the socks off most Leeds bands and many national bands, Lorimer are on the road to something better. One thing that can separate a good band from a great band is how tight they are. Now Lorimer are tight, in fact one of the tightest bands I've ever seen, but some bands can be too tight and too rigid. Lorimer have the middle ground, which is exactly where any self-respecting rock band should be aiming for. Not too tight, but definitely not sloppy.
The harmonising guitar player looked about 12 but sung like he'd sung harmonies all his life. He was like an extension of the singer, who incidentally was fantastic: a great voice coupled with a brilliant on-stage swagger that screamed out 'listen!' Guitarist Jock knocked seven shades of shit out of his Bigsby-equipped Les Paul, making it growl and scream unlike just about anyone I've seen in Joseph's Well, and drummer Chris is tighter than a gnat's chuff. This is all well and good, but what about the tunes? Immediately the audience was captivated by the hooky, catchy two-minute pop classics, but it became a little samey after a few. Then Lorimer blew the cobwebs away with what they described as 'a cheesy pop song'... but it was a single if there ever was one. Jock coaxed yet more bizarre noises from his guitar, threw some top rock star shapes and the now full room cheered his and his compardres in rock's every move. The song Sectioned again was pure pop, but with tattoos. This is the beauty of Lorimer: they write the sort of tunes yer mum could whistle but rock them up so it'll annoy the neighbours and you'll still be cool. They don't sound like anyone else: there's hints of the Pixies in there, but without the annoying lo-fi 'don't want to be famous' edge: every member is a STAR. There's bit of MC5 in there for good measure, with a couple of shots of the Beatles in there too.
Basically, Lorimer don't let up for the whole set, and when they finished, it kinda feels like you've been smacked. But happy. Then we're treated to an encore, the first they've ever done, because as the singer says, "you deserve it". Another two brilliant songs and the show's over, but at the same time, it's not because you ain't gonna be getting rid of some of those choruses for a while yet. Catch Lorimer before they're headlining Glastonbury 2002.