Dutch Uncles: The Leadmill, Sheffield

[wide]The Leadmill Dutch Uncles Banner | Dutch Uncles: The Leadmill, Sheffield[/wide]With the release of Dutch Uncles’ third album, Out of Touch in the Wild, they look set to propel themselves onto a much bigger stage. The Manchester band maybe playing The Leadmill’s Steel Stage, but on tonight’s performance it seems unlikely that they will be performing in such intimate venues for much longer.

Opening up for them tonight is Francis Lung, probably best known for being the bassist in the mysterious and enigmatic Wu Lyf. Right from the off it’s apparent that Tom McClung’s solo project bears little resemblance to his former group. As a performer he is quite refreshingly shambolic at times, backing coming courtesy of his phone. He bookends the set without any embellishments, singing a heartfelt refrain which makes the hairs on the back of your neck stand up. His voice belongs in a different era; on one song he drawls like an aging chain-smoking crooner, another more lively number is reminiscent of ‘60s Bowie.

At times his music is tender and fragile, but when he goes for it, the versatility of his voice and vocal range is highly impressive (and boy does he go for it!). Francis Lung is clearly an exciting talent as ‘So Solemn’ and ‘Age Limits’ attest, but this evening’s performance is a bit hit and miss. I’d be very interested to see what he can do with a full backing band after he’s honed his live act.

There is a buzz of anticipation as Dutch Uncles come out, a huge keyboard crammed sideways on the stage. They open with ‘Pondage’ and the set is mainly comprised of newer material. Their energy and enthusiasm is infectious and takes hold of an excitable Friday night crowd. One of the highlights is when they duel it out on the MalletKat during ‘Fester’; you wont see many bands having this much fun.

They mix it up by throwing in ‘Cadenza’, ‘Dressage’ and ‘X-O’ from their last album, but it’s the newer songs which seem to have the real spark; eschewing the prominence of the guitar sound in favour of the keyboard. This creates a much more kinetic and invigorating ethos, seemingly impelling you to dance. The first beats of ‘Flexxin’ really up the ante as a party atmosphere takes hold the room. They finish on ‘Brio’and receive a well deserved ovation, before coming back out and playing a three-song encore; beginning with Face On and ending with a well judged cover of Grace Jones’ ‘Slave to the Rhythm’.

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