WU LYF: Queens Social Club, Sheffield

A second ever gig at the Queens Social for my good lady and I, after a fine evenings entertainment last time from The Crookes a few months ago. Tonight the venue is just as impressive, not in terms of décor as it’s basically a Working Men’s Club concert room but more in terms of the wonderful acoustics and the layout. A fine bar provided by those people at The Wick At Both Ends, who via sister bar The Harley are co-promoting tonight with the mighty SJM.

Wu Lyf are an intriguing outfit, a quartet from Manchester led by the raw vocals of Ellery Roberts, who refuse press interviews and indeed only starting playing outside their native city recently. They initially surfaced playing short sets in a darkened church hall to invited audiences then progressing to their Managers Café before some embarrassingly over the top hype from the NME brought them to the attention of a larger audience.

The usual social networking sites carry no music and just a statement about the World Unite Lucifer Youth Foundation, presumably a wind up but creating enough of a buzz for their first ‘proper’ gigs to be heaving with inquisitive throngs.

Tonight the turnout though is very disappointing, though Sheffield finest Arctic Monkey have returned home to play at Don Valley tonight and no doubt diverted a few who would have come.

They are touring to promote their debut album, Go Tell Fire To The Mountain out on 15th June. Its been self funded and released via their own label enabling Wu Lyf to keep control of musical direction and own the rights to it, despite lots of reported label interest.

I was half expecting, as is often the case, that the hype is not justified but having heard their recorded material I couldn’t wait to sample their set tonight. Songs like Such A Sad Puppy Day, Concrete Gold and Heavy Pop means their live set promises much.

So can they live up to the hype that surrounds their recorded sound by producing similar quality live ?

Unfortunately, despite a reasonable start and taking into account several technical difficulties involving Ellery’s keyboard, there is no buzz, no infectious rhythms as per their recorded material. Plenty of their trademark chaotic organ but muted and at times inaudible vocals brings a very flat crowd response.

Their recorded songs have rhythms like the wonderful XX with a bit more umph, then distorted vocals delivered in a voice reminiscent of the unique Tom Waits, but their live set pales badly in comparison.

The unprompted encore and staged crowd invasion by the bands entourage just added to the feeling of manufactured popularity.

A critical review of a very poor performance but if and when Wu Lyf can reproduce the sounds of their recorded music in a live environment they may well become the band, NME is telling everyone who will listen, they already are.