The Lodger, Laura Groves, Le Tournoi Granadaland at The Love Apple, Bradford
I'll ruin the surprise ending: This one ends happily.
If you ever read Dalliance before you will know how convinced I am to the Laura Groves cause, that I think Le Tournoi have something about them and how impressive The Lodger were supporting The Long Blondes earlier this year.
All three on one bill, on a sunny evening, after a day off, at The Love Apple, on a night named after a Wedding Present song. I'll ruin the surprise: This one ends happily.
Something seems to have happened with Le Tournoi who open the evening sans trumpet section but with more of a controlled presence than they have shown previously. The word polish is thankfully never to be applied to the joie de vivre that the Bradford four piece bring to the stage. Where previously Le Tournoi were an explosion of raw ideas now they are showing signs of focus.
Trees early in the set starts a tempo which is maintains as they bash through a collection of ninety seconds songs that are rapidly fitting together into a rather impressive package. Christmas Eve and I Was A Victim Of A Series Of Accidents, As Are We All regretfully fall from the set but perhaps as a result everything is tighter and everything works.
Vocals and guitar William Sanderson carrys on an easy charm joking with the front rows of an unusually full Love Apple looking every inch nerd cool in contrast to the prim prom dress of keyboards and vocals Emilie who offs heels to perform and sturdy Rob on Bass. Le Tournoi are jagged pieces put together into strange and interesting shapes.
These shapes press though into the lyrics - "And when the night begins/The moon will illuminate everything/The trees are closing in/Or So It seems" entertains with lyrical painting using darker palette colours. Some Murder Perhaps offers "Hopes dashed anew everyday/I'm reading the paper to find something new and refreshing/Some murder perhaps". Le Tournoi are short spiky songs about interesting things and dubbed Modern Folk meets Joy Division but my interest is sparked with comparisons escape me and when to finish the set off William embarks on six or seven cords of almost Hendrix-esque guitarmanship - or at least some kind of twang based heroics which was hitherto not hinted at - then I give up searching for something to complete my "Folk done by The Ramones" observations and join the hurrahs.
What can I say about Laura Groves which I have not before? A set that I never tire of, a voice that belays her size and so on and soon one is going towards words like Elfin which I steadfastly refuse to use.
Tonight was the first time Groves has stamped my hand on the way in and the first outing for new song Does Anyone Love Me Now which sits alongside the delights of Coast, Imaginary Flights and Can't Sleep which all blend through the darkening night air. She mentions that Bridges which appears on on anti-torture compilation Fifty Minutes and gives that a plug so I shall too.
Any plaudits that come her way she is worth.
Granadaland's twilight zone comes when the local heroes finish. The Lodger face the often apathetic and frequently far off rows of The Love Apple with a confidence. The Lodger have been playing venues like this for two or three too many years and have seen a couple of bands with a couple of less pints of talent go a bit further. Put this down to the fact that the stompalongs that populate the sets of Leeds lad rock peers like Kaiser Chiefs and The Cribs are replaced by an intelligent set of pop songs that fit perfectly with vocal and guitar Ben Siddall's roots as a bedsit musician.
Without wanting to shortcut the process Siddall is Morrissey and Marr. He is a guy who can write a bittersweet romantic lyric like "Our parents will stay together/And our last dance will last forever." and play then play the jangling Strangeway Here We Come guitar to go with it.
Unsatisfied is all urban paranoia and alternation with a fading melodic lilt, Kicking Sand is melancholic resignation to a furious pop beat. The drummer Katie seems to be - well - older and more of a bloke than last time. Joe The Bass has two go faster stripes on his guitar which may or may not be ironic but see him keep the pace fast with his plucking. It is very impressive to people of a certain disposition.
Those people would seem to be out in reasonable force and The Lodger maintain a healthy focus from the often drifting Love Apple audience. "I never thought I'd say this," Siddall comments, "But could you come forward a step or two."
And people do which is always a good sign and a guy in a Clash t-shirt goes crazy in all the right places and Siddall's guitar drives the self-effacing lyrics on. Stand out track comes at the conclusion of the set after the plug for long time gestated album Grown Ups in Many Thanks For Your Honest Opinion which paces through the most Smithsian chorus since 1987 and The Lodger leave a room impressed.
Me, I'm happy.