Minus The Bear: The Cockpit, Leeds

Despite bearing a name that could only have been conjured up during an after-hours appointment with ‘Mary Jane’, Halifax four-piece ‘Wot Gorilla?’ deliver a precise set of ‘mathy’ rock that does its best to channel the spirit of Yourcodenameis:milo and early Foals, with largely successful results.

Despite dabbling in Minus the Bear’s full discography over the years, there’s only been one album that has firmly established itself in my own, admittedly small, pantheon of noodly math-rock classics – ‘Highly Refined Pirates’. However, much to my disappointment, and I can only guess to others as well due to the muted response all evening, they only played two songs from that defining album.

Recent single ‘Steel and Blood’ kicks things off before ‘The Fix’ ushers in the first display of Dave Knudson’s scintillating guitar tapping, which had me transfixed in a similar fashion to when I first set eyes upon Denise Richards in ‘Wild Things’ as a 13-year-old.

‘Spritz!!! Spritz!!!’ and ‘Absinthe Party at the Fly Honey Warehouse’ from their aforementioned debut receive the loudest cheers of the night, while the biggest sing-along is reserved for their final song, ‘Drilling’, which gives the set a more triumphant ending than perhaps it deserved.

For a band whose name derives from an in-joke about a blow job and boasts a cannon of songs named after quotes from Starship Troopers, they was a distinct lack of personality on display. Granted, delivering technically accomplished math-rock doesn’t necessarily lend itself to arsing about on stage, but it shouldn’t be to the detriment of a smidgen of charisma.

There’s plenty to admire in Minus the Bear’s technically proficient and dazzlingly tuneful music, but here’s hoping next time they don’t come Minus the Personality.

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