The Leisure Society are one of the UK’s most lovable bands. I mean look at them – aren’t they adorable? Each of the six members that took to the stage (including a violinist and flautist but unfortunately missing the woodwind section so prominent on new album Alone Aboard The Ark) appeared to be making bids to be everybody’s best friend, full of bonhomie and smilies and ‘happy-to-be-here-you-guys-are-just-the-best’ charm. The two frontmen especially, Nick Hemming and Christian Hardy (who appeared to be wearing the exact same outfit of smart-casual grey shirt and black trousers) engaged in the most delightfully British banter that more than endeared them to the Brudenell crowd on what was to be a fine spring evening.
The songs themselves were the real delight though, and full of topics just as British as their awkwardly modest chat. Hemming beamed in telling the crowd of his ‘unhealthy’ 18 hours a day Olympic watching habit before launching into new single ‘Fight For Everyone,’ a glorious catchy summery pop tune all smiles and melody and no pretence, and one that is undoubtedly going to be in my head for weeks to come. Their pleasure in announcing the first meeting of two of their Twitter followers at the gig sandwiched that number and the much darker, broody, bucolic ‘The Sober Scent Of Paper’ – a song apparently inspired by the suicide of that archetypal tortured poet, Sylvia Plath – beautifully showing a sensitive side the band appeared all too keen to gloss over elsewhere in the set.
As impressive as their newer cuts sounded, it was still the highlights from their first two albums that really stood out. The fairly stripped-back sound of ‘Last Of The Melting Snow’ and the brief but raucous ‘Love’s Enormous Wings’ drew great attention to Hemming’s fantastic talent for song-craft and kept the crowd hanging on every word. Based on their crowd back-and-forths (sample line: “when we come back – sorry – If we come back for an encore”) it’s a wonder if they’ll ever get used to such fandom, no matter how many fabulous sing-a-long choruses they write or Ivor Novello’s they end up winning. It’s a shame the sound quality wasn’t the best at times, as The Leisure Society are the sort of band that depend on intricacies of instrumentation and harmony an overly harsh, trebly (and at times feedback-y) sound can wipe out. It’s quite apparent though on the basis of this set that this bunch of unassuming young men and women are building up quite an oeuvre for themselves and seem well set to be something of a force to be reckoned with in the near future.