Knuckle: Verve, Leeds

Knuckle returned to Yorkshire days after playing two well received gigs in London. Having only formed a couple of months ago they are already generating lots of excitement. The duo comprises of Steve Albino and the Lovesocks, Kava Kava and Your New Antique drummer Ben Wallbanks and vocalist and guitarist Johnny Firth from Crybabycry and his solo project Johnny The Firth. The music they create in their other outfits differs widely from each other so I went along not knowing quite what to expect.

From the first few bars of their set I was taken aback by their explosive, lively blues style. They were incredibly loud, in a good way, and even without the volume right up the big sound they create would engulf any room. Each track was laden with frantic, booming guitar riffs while the thumping drums were equally as frantic and seemed to play the same pattern as the riffs, not just merely adding a beat. Both members of the band showboated with fills within these gripping riffs.

During ‘Pretty Baby’ the drummer’s sticks were a blur due to the electrifying pace and intricacy of the track. Their aggressive blues style is complimented by Johnny’s vocals and lyrics. His vocal style made me think that if Karen O from Yeah Yeah Yeahs had been male this would have been the aural outcome. He combines moments of peaceful musings with explosive, seething emotion. He portrays the emotive nature of the heartbreak featured within their lyrics and the music perfectly enhances the scene they set.

A couple of months after forming most bands wouldn’t be ready to gig and they certainly wouldn’t have a well crafted ten song repertoire to perform. They may be in the early stages and only seven gigs in but they are almost psychically tight and sounding great. They have a real flair for song writing and each track is a lesson in structuring. The set was full of interesting and clever twists and turns combined with engrossing builds and breakdowns, especially during ‘Idiot Bastard’. There was a joyous feeling of surprise and appreciation every time they steered away from the obvious direction everyone half expected a song to go in.

Due to the intimate nature of the basement venue and the relaxed seating the crowd sat in appreciative silence only breaking the silence for the genuinely warm applause. Being in a basement bar with a relaxed crowd and feeling the air of excitement and anticipation in the room was a fairly unique experience. It made me feel that this must have been what it was like to have been in Greenwich Village during the 50’s and early 60’s when Bob Dylan, Jack Kerouac, Ginsberg and Dylan Thomas etcetera were performing. By this is mean a large proportion of the audience will have turned up not knowing what to expect but they will have gone away with a real buzz having witnessed something new and exciting.

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