Live Music + Gig Reviews

Leaves + Metro Riots @ Buffalo Bar, London

19 May 2005



They may hail from Europe’s coolest capital, Reykjavik, but anyone expecting the quirkiness of the Sugarcubes or the eccentricity of Björk from Leaves may be sorely disappointed. The band have far more in common with Britain’s finest introverted indie exports Coldplay and Radiohead.

Buffalo’s intimate and cavernous space was fairly packed for Leaves’ headline show. The expectant crowd where treated to a gentle instrumental as the set’s opener, which despite being beautifully played, set the somewhat slow pace for the rest of the show. Three tracks in, Leaves looked like they might pick up pace and energy with new single The Spell, but it followed the same pattern as the rest of the material – music to drift calmly to sleep to rather than set the bar alight.

Leaves’ music is full of interesting sounds, creative chord combinations and thoughtful lyrics but all the electronic gadgetry in the world can not make up for that ‘oomph’ factor that Leaves are missing. Singer Arnar Gudjonsson’s vocals were also weak and he lacked an ability to fully engage with his audience.

But maybe it’s simply a matter of taste. Leaves aren’t necessarily about showmanship but about pushing their musical talents to the limits and creating beautiful sounds, something perhaps better suited to the recording studio. But sadly for all their efforts they have struggled to produce memorable material and unlike the Keanes, Coldplays and Radioheads of our time have yet to produce that radio friendly anthem to take them forward. It was short and sweet but this sleepy reviewer found herself drifting off to the samey material.

Still the trip to North London was not a complete disappointment because Leaves’ support, Metro Riots, are worthy of a mention here. This London-based band put in an electrifying live performance that could only highlight the dull introversion of the Icelandic headliners.

Complete with Ramones-style haircuts, this four-piece blended the best of ’60s, ’70s and early ’80s music with instantly catchy tunes full of Led Zeppelin style guitar riffs. Their charismatic frontman looked like he hadn’t slept for a week but delivered his songs with amazing vocal ability and a confident and natural showmanship. Musically this band were incredibly tight with excellent drumming and a bass player who played his instrument like he was shagging it senseless. Effortlessly sexy and extremely cool, this is a band who deserve mainstream success.

What Metro Riots may lack in musical sophistication, they make up for in style, verve and energy, which is why they blew the stage from beneath the feet of the more musically ambitious Leaves.

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Leaves + Metro Riots @ Buffalo Bar, London
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