Le Tournoi, Pulled Apart By Horses, Fourteen Corners, The Sugars, Dinosaur Pile Up, The Debuts, Laura Groves Live At Leeds, Leeds
I'm Michael Wood and I'm late - this is why - and am stuck on a bus next to a woman who thinks you make Hummus with Yoghurt. Leeds is a traffic jam to get into and while I'm here I've missed Heads We Dance and the first half of Le Tournoi at The upstairs bit at Cockpit as the all day get in anywhere with your wrist band event begins.
Le Tournoi have dropped the old organised shambles approach to performance and put together a tighter, more focused set. The new guy Kez provides a focus - something that Bradford music gaffer Mark Husak noted as he booked them to support Lightspeed Champion in a few weeks - and everything about the band rumbles along more efficiently. They lag a few bands in the Bradford scene a little having shot out of the traps initially but they are never anything less than facinating to watch and they end this set strongly in the early heat of the under-roof in Leeds' leading venue.
A walk about downstairs for a pint and cut in front of someone at the bar. faces are familiar and a rush of people head off to Pulled Apart By Horses in the main room and I've heard good things so I head to the front only to be pushed back by the volume of a band who seem to have mistaken loud for melody, vocal acumen or even making sounds that don't sound like car crashes.
I feel disappointed cause I hoped for better and old because I'm at a gig complaining that the music is too loud and I remember hearing Nirvana in a pub in this City and they didn't have to turn everything up to eleven cause they could rock and write a bridge. I still feel old but am justified in being unimpressed.
I'm always impressed with Fourteen Corners who have a new bassist - Hi new guy - and the set of superb tunes that are a cut above almost everything else that will be heard in the City today. Josh tells us he is sweating and Luke offers the audience "It's getting hot in here", arching an impressive eyebrow, "so take off all your clothes."
The idea of Fourteen Corners master stage craft amuses me for a minute and I hear how the songs mix together better now than they did when I first saw them. I talk to Josh later and he says that he thinks Luke is ace on guitar. I like it when bands get on together and that reminds me how the Pixies used to hate each other really and how I got into a discussion with the bloke who I cut in front of at the bar about how The Pixies were not as good as Throwing Muses/Belly because they were not as honest. Fourteen Corners are honest.
The taxi driver who takes us to Brudenell Social Club is not honest and rips us off for a pound but we are just in time to see The Sugars who are a kind of throwback to a time when looking a bit like Elvis was just being fashionable and when singing "Do-Wop" into a microphone - and The Sugars use beauitful looking microphones - did not have you dubbed and dismissed as a do-wop band.
They are a smarter band than they are often given credit for and they have some tunes worth hearing - hear them at the Love Apple soon - and if you like Metric but thought they needed White Stripe levels of energy then get down to see them.
In the end the only gripe with The Sugars is that while the tall blondeness and the grease hair quiff at the front are individually good they lack chemistry in a serious way and they need to get along better.
Getting along - or rather getting - was the order of the day piling back to The Cockpit to see Dinosaur Pile Up who made a fiver taxi ride and a route march past an old work place (Lower Basinghall Street dontchaknow) worthwhile.
Dinosaur Pile Up are Matt Bigland - one time of Mother Vulpine - and a guy playing fuzzy bass and a fuzzy guy playing drums and they are brilliant. They have added three new songs to the set since last time and each one bristles brilliantly with intelligence, with guitar hum and with melody thudded between slabs of noise.
Unlike Pulled Apart By Horses The Pile Up have the control and the belief to bring vocals - My Rock n' Roll brings smiles to the face, I Get My Direction From is pure Pavement - up the mix and let the guitars thump with tunes. They are the best band on today and they show it.
They are the peak and Le Tournoi's drummer James and Tim of the Chiara L's (bloke of a work mate of mine - Hi Lisa) are equally enthused and for a minute the strands of my life push together. In a little while I will be introducing Laura Groves to a man called Greasy.
Next though are The Debuts who are a massive disappointment taking sombre to a place it should not go - disinterested - and missing the diffidence of shoegazing leaving the impression that they would rather the audience were not in the room and on that point I agreed with them.
They attempt a threaded vocal through a layer or two of guitar but fail and come over as neither interesting or energetic and no one really seems to be having much fun although the applause after each song suggests that my views are not universal. I hear myself mumble "All the songs sound the same" and remember hearing someone once say that about my favourite album.
My favourite album of this year could well be the whatever comes out of Laura Groves - and I mean that in a much nicer way that it sounds - and the Shipley singer is spellbinding tonight keeping a roomful of weary gig goers enchanted streaming lyrics around and about and pulling you into her world or trails and optimism.
She plays - in my opinion - her best ever version of Can't Sleep and pulls her soul out for Imaginary Flights. She signs one fan's single afterwards as I queue - with Greasy - to congratulate her on a great performance.
The night was not going to get any better than that so at eight I depart for Bradford happy that my Live at Leeds let me see a fist full of great acts.
Taking Turns At Granadaland More
Written By Michael Wood Saturday, January 12th, 2008
Wild Beasts, Laura Groves, The Debuts, Spondi Pradlo Granadaland at The Love Apple, Bradford
No matter how huge Spondi Pradlo could get - and hearing them one suspects they will not be the next U2 - they will always be known as the band with one of the more ludicrous names to have been considered and passed as acceptable. I'm very sure it has a meaning that that meaning is probably as earnest as Joy Division or Enola Gay and that not knowing it makes me a Philistine of the highest order but even if it does it is still a name that virtually guarantees a struggle for popularity.
Which is a shame because The Pradlo, Spondi, The Spon Boys, Pradders, SP, Whatever, sound rather interesting. They are spirited and manage to fill the stage at the Love Apple with any number of curiously played instruments and the crowd with enough interested acquaintances that they are the best received first band at Granadaland since the insanely good The Swing Movement impressed last year.
This Friday is Granadaland's second birthday. Four baloons hang from the ceiling and real ale is two pounds a pint and these things are done in celebration of the event which stands as a testament to founder Mark Husak. Tonight his event is as full as one has ever seen the Love Apple and the crowd is young and peopled with pretty things who jabber loudly between Spondi Pradlo and the second band The Debuts who open living up to the NME style billing of "Girl fronted Joy Division" but soon spin into sounding rather too much like The Long Blondes to claim genuine originality - something about new year in music seems to have everyone clamouring for all things new and different while in contrast in eleven months time every other song heard will be Simply Having A Wonderful Christmas Time.
Tonight The Debuts are amusing without being enthralling and they struggle to control the increasingly restless assembled masses but that struggle pales compared the the slight frame of Laura Groves who barely visible on the low stage and is disrespectfully ignored by many who chatter loudly throughout the set and for sure one might thing that Groves needs to roughly take the attention of the audience or perhaps someone should give the Northern Working Men's Club motto of "No talking while the turn is on" but the delicate shading of the Shipley teenager's Joni Mitchell-esque vocal tremblings do not lend themselves to such coarseness and those who can't or won't hear miss out.
Groves is better suited to the stage of larger events - she was never better than her slot at St George's Hall on one of the BD1 nights - where her vocals fill rooms uncontested. Tonight everyone is the victim of Granadaland's success but still the lament of single I Am Leaving - "My home was silent/My town was hidden somewhere in the dark/A spark ignited my imagination." - is music to be in love to and hotly tipped many here will no doubt claim to have taken more notice. Groves goes onto a musical sideline in the next month and with eager ears Dalliance awaits.
Dalliance ears were more curious than eager about Kendalites Wild Beasts who headlined but that curiosity was rewarded by a surprising and entertaining mash up of fifties teen Dance Hall and the most modern guitar driven indie. Brave Bulging Buoyant Clairvoyants is high pitched and enjoyable and Through Dark Night's Elvis growls seem to sum up the band's ethos of showmanship without the compromise of parody. Perhaps not the finest songsmiths but the win over the previously inattentive and dancing breaks out. The Wild Beasts stagecraft shines through and while one suspects that they may spend many a year as a very good opening act for the likes of the Kaiser Chiefs tonight they deserve the credit for finishing of a night that troubled as Bradford's best music night veered to being more about hair than hearing.