Live at Cockpit on Wednesday, 16th April 2008
It about time the best band in Leeds came back to claim the unofficial crown from the local indie kids. Having been out of the spotlight for a bit, the four cities gigs are intended; I'm sure to re-assert themselves back on the scene. This being the second date in Leeds in as many months with an already sold out Leeds Met show in waiting and an equally sold out Brudenell Social gig still a fond memory. The last time I saw them live they were supporting Kasabian at the Sheffield Arena. They were pretty blinding that night so today I'm expecting great things.
For some unknown reason I got to the venue ridiculously early and had to suffer the injustice of the beer. After what seems about 10 pints (more like one) I switched to the Guinness, not the best idea, but I digress. Fellow Leeds band The Officers appeared on stage at about 8. My first reaction was to the lack of a bass player, I couldn't work out who's the butt of all the jokes in a band without one. Armed with a 70's front man and a Kasabian/Cooper temple/Primal scream array of songs I warm to them. The PA is LOUD and Matt the lead singer acknowledges this. All the electronic noises twinkle, spark and add a really good dimension to the music. They're making all the right moves on and off stage, giving away free CDs (already run out by the time I manage to find the bloke giving them out). Some of the stuff is very Chemical Brothers mind and Matt seems to fake an American accent whilst singing but overall I liked it.
After they'd finished it gave my ears about 20 mins to recover before The Music made a very understated entrance. The band looked completely different and I suppose more grown up; Rob Harvey now resembles an extra in "The Football Factory". A simple "good evening" and straight in to Take The Long Road And Walk It. It's a quality opener and the crowd are straight on it. The band are brilliant, solid and well rehearsed, it really shows they've put the legwork in. Next is a new song called The Spike, the mention of the title gets a cheer from everybody that's been watching the clips on YouTube. It's a good song with a great little jangley guitar bit before Rob comes tearing in on his SG. Then, as Harvey puts it, "a blast from the past" comes Jag Tune.
Harvey's on form, his presence on stage is menacing and every time he waves his arms at the crowd it like he's offering them outside for a fight. When he's not attempted to insight a riot, his vocals are strong and his dancing is as Madchester as ever. On bass Stu is an absolute monster, his playing is sublime, rock-solid and when coupled with Phil it creates what has to be one of the best rhythm sections going. Adam Nutters guitar unmercifully blisters throughout with riffs Jimmy Page would be proud of. At times it sounds like there are 15 guitars playing.
The set continues with a mixture of old and new, the two blend together perfectly. New song, No Weapon Sharper Than A Will, is anthemic with a killer chorus. The next single (the first to be released since Breakin in January 2005) is Strength In Numbers and looks set to be blasting from stereos after its June release. It gives Harvey another chance to show off his dancing. Drugs is an instant classic, all the new songs are really strong and it's a great indication that the Strength In Numbers album will be amazing. The band bring the set to a close with Bleed From Within, with each member taking to the drums at the end. Fantastic. I'm a bit surprised by the lack of encore, the crowd obviously want one but it's not meant to be.
The Music have shown tonight what it takes to be a great live act. Although they don't have the same commercial appeal or sales as some of the other Leeds bands, they certainly are the best live; bands like Kaiser Chiefs don't come close. I hope that this time next year, once the album is released and a full UK tour is underway, people will mention them in the same billing as Muse and Kasabian in terms of live acts. If they hadn't had the inner turmoil with Rob's depression or hadn't been away for so long they'd definitely be headlining some of the bigger UK festivals this summer. The band's absence has made them stronger and I imagine writing and recording the new material has been a very cathartic experience. Maybe being away has been the best thing that has happened to them, as it's given them the hunger back and they're becoming unstoppable.
The 4 piece hail from Leeds, and their sound has brooded into an epic fusion of industrial beats, swooning chiming guitar, and a glacial menace.