Madina Lake and The Red Jump Suit Apparatus: The Cockpit, Leeds

It’s my first time visiting the Cockpit in… well not that long really but it seems like forever; every time I visit the venue it’s a different experience. Tonight is one of confusion as the room is setting up for a night of rock acts, but the DJ is doing his best to confuse us into thinking it’s hip hop night. Never mind though, as Action Blast have taken to the stage.

Instantly switching the tone with a scream down the mic the Chicago metallers give it their all. At first the crowd seems apathetic towards the band, but a good combination of heavy rock and well managed crowd participation outreach manages to win over the front rows.  Cue another round of Snoop Dogg and friends and the room once again settles, it’s almost like the venue doesn’t want to encourage the crowd to get hyped between sets, something the Cockpit usually gets spot on.

It isn’t too long until better known support The Red Jump Suit Apparatus take to the stage. Clearly the band have been anticipated, leading their audience through a no nonsense wall of hits that everyone in the room seems to know. Breaking out the acoustic guitar for a couple of tracks late in the set, Ronnie Winter has the crowd singing along with “Cat and Mouse” to beautiful effect.

As expected, Madina Lake take to the stage with a roar of expectation and burst straight into “The Auspice”. Following on from last year’s album release “World War 3” the trilogy tour set list incorporates the majority of the band’s first release and selected tracks from their two follow up releases, telling the story that flows throughout. Clearly the audience is made up of people who aren’t expecting a list of hits, but there are a couple of better known songs omitted from the gig, most notably fan favourite “Let’s Get Out Of Here”.

Heavy guitars and bass tunes come across well. Right from the start energy is the priority for the band with vocalist Nathan Leone making several trips into the crowd and inviting anyone willing to come join him up on the stage. The action takes its toll on vocals every now and again, but once stopping to catch his breath Leone took back control to deliver great choruses and lead the crowd in sing-along participation.

Tonight is a great example of why small venues work for bands with strong following. Seeing Madina Lake at Sonisphere 2010 allowed me to see their talent and technical ability, as well as their courage to carry on as a band after the well documented misfortunes; but the experience tonight here in the Cockpit is different. Although not note for note perfect, it was an experience of a band that love what they do, genuinely appreciate their following and give it everything they’ve got to deliver the best show possible for their fans. Hopefully it won’t be long before they’re back to do it all over again.