I Like Trains, Falconetti, Worried About Satan, Laboratory Noise BD1 Live at St George's Hall, Bradford
There is something unsettling about the end of an evening of what is ill described as mood music night at BD1 Live at Bradford St George's Hall and when I Like Trains finish the set of swirling pulsing extracts from some dark movie you would watch with the curtains drawn there is appreciation rather than an explosion. Atmosphere and foreboding is the order of the day and all assembled are sunk into it.
Laboratory Noise open the second BD1 Live night and fill the stage with compass points of guitars and a bouncing Bass in the middle. The most melodic of the four bands on tonight they make the most of the venue with a rich sound that fills the room. At one point between songs they stop and take in the surroundings - the grand hall and all - and play on comfortably and seemingly at home.
As a band LabNoise improve with familiarity. The layer of early impenetrability pushed through they offer a warmth experience.
Colder and more spiky are Worried About Satan who in soundtrack terms are something that John Carpenter would use at the height of suspense and stretched over twenty minutes hurt the brain. Two guys, one computer and some guitars they are well received by some but mystifying to others. Mogwai are an easy comparison which would put Worried About Satan into the category of post-rock and perhaps I'm dragging my knuckles but I'm still in rock.
Much is expected of Theme to German Spy Thrillers Falconetti who build a rhythm impressively but are on too briefly as they build the swirl around the room commanding an audience that sport more than the usual amount of facial hair, nodding rather than moving, appreciation rather than enjoyment. Everything is very grown up or at least post-teenage angst.
Falconetti's set goes high but ends up short and another ten minutes would not have gone amiss. They are replaced on stage rapidly by I Like Trains who add the Leeds slick to the night pitching just past Tindersticks and onto rougher ground. They are dour but it is a dour that fits the mood with Dave Martin's notes to audience hint at a maturity of the band appreciated by aficionados. They do what they do well and finish the night pushing all assembled out in the darkened streets of Bradford with a heighten sense of paranoia. I Like Trains are the sound of a strange lurking around the corner. They are an atmosphere more than an album, a dark mood but not a bad one.
Harmacy, Falconetti at The Delius, Bradford
The view from the bar side of “Bradford’s Leading Indie Pub” The Delius is never perfect but tonight - after two failed attempts - I was finally going to see the city’s foremost scenesters Harmacy and if this meant peering around speakers it would be worth it.
"Last gig we ended in a fight", lead guitar and singer of Harmacy Haydn Wilcox says referring the set ending brawl of the Woolen Wig Out festival of three weeks ago, "No one start anything now." Before that at Fagin’s in Halifax the locals had nixed the night complaining about the sound. Tonight it seemed unlikely that anyone would stop me seeing Bradford's proclaimed kings of slack and roll.
First though for visuals actually seeing Halifax four-piece Falconetti is not important. Appropriately they take to the stage as light from outside fades and the create a mood all East Berlin spy novels, all soundtracks to fifties thrillers. Close your eyes and see long shadows in contrasting deep blacks and bleached out whites. Should any Hollywood producer have spent the night in this part of Bradford the search would be over. Falconetti are the smallest epic band you will ever see. Neil Heywood’s trumpet twists around creating atmosphere and Matt Fortune’s drums set a pace for carrying around microfilm whilst being followed.
Evocative? I should say so. Falconetti seem to be a taste worth acquiring.
Without vocals Falconetti do not suffer, as Harmacy do, from the perennial Delius problem of vocal projections. Dom the soundman manfully struggles to balance the vocals of Harmacy’s Haydn and Chris but they are under the haze of guitar fuzz.
Seeing Harmacy it becomes clear that there is something about Haydn’s Black Francis referencing guitar which blends surf joyousness with Chris Wall’s throbbing bass lines and for a while – and through the inspired Girl From Chile and the well received On The Waves – they fill every inch of the slack and roll label they are so often given. Something less slack more attack drifts into newer songs and Chris’s bass is more Gang of Four than 4AD.
On occasion something else shines out of the Bradford trio’s song writing. A sense of social justice not there in the bands they simply sound like and seems to seep through to all their songs. Black Francis never sang about the things Ken Loach makes films about.
So on seeing Harmacy it would seem that that is the attraction of the band so often cited as leading this Bradford scene. For sure they have grown up with jangling American guitars of The Pixies or the powerful bass lines of Peter Hook but it is reflected through a prism of growing up in this City in these times into a sound that is ultimately very Northern town post Thatcher, very give me a chance to have aspiration, very look after yourself cause no one else look after you, very Bradford.
And that is very much worth seeing.