Live at Joseph's Well on Wednesday, 2nd May 2001
York, eh? Lovely place, full of historical importance and quaint old streets full of olde shoppes. As for music though, it's probably not the first place you'd look for talent. I mean, Shed Seven, apart from maybe 'Going For Gold' (almost certainly a fluke), are probably the most high-profile group ever to spring from the city. And that's not saying much. Thank heavens then for the Lo Beams, a band so good that if they don't make it big, the general public should be locked in a room with the Sheds' ever-so-awful 'She Left Me On Friday' blared consistently at them 'til they crumble.
Joseph's Well was the venue for the Lo Beams' first visit to Leeds for a while, and being on the same night Leeds FC were fighting it out on the footie field, a lot of people in the bar, even friends of the bands (and probably the bands themselves) seemed in two minds as where to focus their attention. Luckily your gallant reviewer had his mind on one thing only - the pursuit of good tunes...
...something that unfortunately didn't materialise with openers The North Star. A chap called Neil Burton was supposedly meant to open, but either he didn't turn up or was so engrossed in the footie that he forgot about his set.
The North Star are a five-piece group who play inoffensive acoustic rock. Only three of them were present at this gig however, and that may have had an effect on the resulting sound. Maybe an additional guitar wouldn't have gone astray. As it was, the melodies would work well as background music, but there was nothing really to grab the first time listener. Fortunately it didn't seem to faze the crowd, 99% of whom seemed to be friends of the band. The vocalist, while having a pleasant enough voice, tended to slip into Eddie Vedder-isms, which is perhaps not the nicest compliment ever. The rhythm section was tight though, and the bass player was exceptionally good, displaying the kind of fluidity that lifted the otherwise very average songs above the norm.
The North Star then - a lot of potential, but could do with some better tunes.
Then came the Lo Beams. I guess the problem with not having a wide fan base means you've got to drag your mates around gigs with you until more people pick up on the vibe. Thus a lot of York-ites were in the house.
Let me say one thing now, so that in a couple of years when the Lo Beams are huge, you can say you read it here first (and that it was ME who said it) - David Keegan is one of the truly greatest vocalists this country has ever produced. Add to that his exceptional songwriting abilities and you've got a true gem. Surround him with the rest of the band, and you've got one of the most professional bands still on the small local circuit. The songs all have memorable hooks, the lyricism is intelligent, the harmonies with guitarist/keyboard player Chris Johnson are spot-on, and the drummer and bass player are also truly fantastic.
Trying to find a band to compare the Lo Beams to is tricky. Elements of Crowded House crept through, a little bit of Radiohead, a little Unbelievable Truth, a little Neil Young, a little Mark Mulcahy... but they very definitely have their own sound. Highlights of the set included 'Snakey' (as featured on their self-titled CD) and their closing cover of 'Like A Rolling Stone'.
When they next come to Leeds, make sure you go see them. Truly fantastic, memorable stuff.