Brudenell Social Club, Leeds
Matinee Show Sunday 8th May 2011
Where do you find a group of Wild Beasts on a pleasant Sunday afternoon in Leeds?
Within the homely surround of the Brudenell in the Studentsville Hyde Park Jungle - that’s where. Well familiar roaming territory for the band who spent a few years here before recently heading south, ditching Leeds for Shoreditch in the trendy area of east London . I missed out on tickets for the evening show, having sold out in less than 48 hours, so settled for the added matinee show.
I first encountered the Wild Beasts around the time of the debut album ‘Limbo Panto ’in 2009 at Escobar in Wakefield whilst seeing the Piskie Sits. I’ve closely followed their career with interest since through last years Mercury Prize nomination of the follow up ‘Two Dancers’, so relished the chance to see the band again in relatively intimate surroundings, such that surely won’t always be possible given their increasing critical acclaim.
Boy/Girl support act Summer Camp got the afternoon underway with their mixture of guitar, samples and electro sounds. Their slide show of 1970’s North American family album pictures slightly more diverting than the band themselves.
Wild Beasts opened up their first Brud set of the day with the brooding ’Plaything’ from what was to be a new album ‘Smother’ strewn set. Now I ‘m very much someone who loves the thrill of hurrying back from the record store to play that new release, or more normally these days relish rushing rustling open the packaging after it’s dropped on the doormat. I have succumbed though to the benefits of album streams and Spotify, that at least prevented most of the new album songs being totally alien to me in this instance. It’s clear that it’s a much more subtle and gentle album than it’s predecessors but the audience were in patient and attentive mood.
The crowd got going with the first of the more familiar favourites ‘We Still Got The Taste Dancing On Our Tongues’. Plenty of good warm banter flowed between numbers and newly added tour member Kate from Sky Larkin, playing mainly keys with a bit of added percussion, was introduced. The only downside to the afternoon was a slightly irritating fixtures and fittings reverberating sound from the back. It reminded me , especially given the décor, of a North Sea Ferries Ship crossing. Thankfully any swaying though addictive was voluntary on this occasion.
As it got hotter and hotter the set flowed with sublime new songs like the lead single ‘Albatross’, ’Lion’s Share’, ’Deeper’ and ’Bed of Nails’ to the firm favourites ‘Devils Crayon ‘ and ‘Hooting & Howling’, where ‘girls of Shipley, girls of Whitby’ was greeted with raucous cheers. The Kendal kids had their adopted home city in the palm of their hands. There are some that may not warm to the band, it may be the calypso countertenor falsetto of Hayden Thorpe, or maybe even the erotic laden lyrics that fail to turn them on. The new material certainly sees Thorpe tone down slightly in vocal terms, it’s a more controlled falsetto, slightly less pantomime maybe. It all makes for a totally tasty Cumberland Pie mixed perfectly with Tom Flemings baritone. I’m struggling to think of another contemporary act with two such interchangeable front men both in terms of voices and changing twixt instruments, be it keyboards, guitars and bass. Ornate Indie is a term that perhaps perfectly describes what they are all about.
The band are all fans of one of my all time favourite groups, Talk Talk. You can certainly clearly hear hints of Mark Hollis’s later masterpieces in the new tracks. I’m further intrigued given the fact Hollis wrote much of his work following inspiring trips to The Lake District where he soaked up the nature and wildlife of the Wild Beasts childhood homes. The band closed the show by welcoming producer Richard Formby on keyboards for ‘End Come Too Soon’, fittingly the albums closer, an equally sparse and cinematic ending. There was the slight temptation to hide in the toilets for the evening show but I was sure to be flushed out. Much more convenient to head home and out into the daylight instead, ‘Hooting & Howling’ along the way.