Following Long Division warm-up gigs in Wakefield, Sheffield and Doncaster the Brudenell opened its doors to three bands who will be part of the festival line up.
First up were Milk Crimes, Leeds own purveyors of the perfect two minute pop anthem. This was the first time I have seen them live and they set the tone for what turned out to be an exceptional gig. They are brash and tuneful; fine songwriters who know that when a song has said all it has to say, it is time to shut up and move on to the next one. There is a danger of pigeon-holing bands by describing which well-known acts they sound like, but here we go anyway. Milk Crimes are a joyous bastard child of the Buzzcocks and the Lemonheads, punching like a pissed-off bantam weight with a fine ear for a tune.
Next on the bill were The Spills, probably my favourite live act on the Wakefield scene. If you have not heard them before check out the glorious “Collecting Dust” album released in September last year. To repeat my earlier mistake of pigeon-holing (there is a bit of Pixies and a bit of Pavement in there) mostly the Spills sound like themselves. They are urgent, tight and have their own language of secret chord progressions and scales that are beautiful and dizzying by turns, as well as rhythms that are as easy to trip over as they are to dance to. Vocals are shared between guitarists Rob and Sam who also manage an alt rock twin guitars sound that would make Thin Lizzy turn off their amps an walk away in shame (note to reader: they sound fuck all like Thin Lizzy). I have seen them more than a dozen times but tonight they were sublime.
Last on the bill were Johnny Foreigner. For fellow JF virgins they are:
Alexei Berrow – Guitar & Vocals, Kelly Southern – Bass & Vocals the gloriously named Junior Elvis Washington Laidley – Drums and Lewes Herriot – Guitar.
They are brash; confident; likeable and have built an audience that simply adores them. They rattled thorough a tremendous set of muscular indie tunes littered with fine riffs, spirit-lifting twin guitars and ace boy/girl vocals.
Alex Berrow has stage presence to burn and the whole show had the feeling of a homecoming gig.
The audience participation included a request for the audience members to shout out the names of their favourite bands who have split up. The room joined in this game with great taste and gusto apart from the odd, badly place offering, of “JETHRO TULL!”.
During the encore Berrow left the stage and walked among the audience sharing a bottle of vodka that I assume was his rider for the gig.
The three bands in combination made for a fine night of live music that only whets the appetite for the Long Division Festival later in June.
By complete coincidence the Long Division headliners Field Music were playing the main stage on the same night and from the look on the faces of the crowd as they left their gig they should not be missed.
Check out the Long Division site for line up and dates.