Live Music + Gig Reviews

Wolfmother + ¡Forward, Russia! + Fields + The Maccabees @ University, Leeds


Wolfmother (Photo: Nick Pickles)

Over recent years, the first two bands to play the NME tour are often lauded with the accolade of being the year’s hit bands.

As MTV2 steps out with its own four-band travelling show, it would be fair to say that they have gone for similar logic with their line up.

Opening far too soon after doors had opened The Maccabees were hardly greeted by the 2,000 plus that would go on to fill the venue.

Bringing their distinctive blend of edgy guitar, warm vocals and fractured melodies to Leeds, they are most definitely a band destined for bigger things. Songs like X-Ray are a masterclass in subtle song writing, with its piercing guitars, lesser bands would have got carried away, but it is delivered with warmth and poise, while forthcoming single First Love is angular pop at its best, softly spoken but hugely powerful. Not one to watch for the future, one to watch now – waiting is for chumps.

Fields sound bigger than anything borders constrain. Opening with Song for the Fields, anyone who wasn’t paying attention for the first minute certainly was for the second, as the band launched into full on soundscape mode, bursting with energy and propelling their unique blend of epic melody into the stratosphere.

They take one acoustic guitar, one electric guitar, one bass, drums and a keyboard and make music that shouldnt be possible even with ten of each. There’s singing too of course, but the hypnotising melodies that come together from frontman Nick Peill and keyboardist Thorunn Antonia shouldn’t be considered as anything like ordinary. Tracks like Heretic or Brittle Sticks demonstrate a craftsmanship of blending delicate melodies, folky guitars and wailing feedback without sounding anything other than perfect.

You might say the band that has to follow this has a job on, and in any other venue, I’d agree. But tonight, local heroes ¡Forward, Russia! return to a packed refectory to bang out the various numbers that make up debut album Give Me A Wall.

As frontman Tom Woodhead flails around the stage, part Houdini act, part flailing dancer, the immediacy of tunes like twelve or seven are greeted with ever-louder applause. The band doesn’t have to impress anyone. Tonight isn’t their greatest set, but perhaps the fact that ¡Forward, Russia! aren’t particularly new to anyone in the room which makes the whole occasion a little false, and a little less magical.

The same could be said for Wolfmother. They are cool, you can’t deny that. Any three-piece should be, and especially if their frontman is sporting a fuzzy afro in the manner Andrew Stockdale does. Opener Dimension seems familiar, as Wolfmother roll out a set of classic stomping rock and roll, all catchy riffs and bass lines that doesnt ask you to jump up and down – they tell you.

Half an hour in though, one guitar riff seemed to lead into another, then a quieter, distortion laden interlude, more riffs, sorry, where are we? It reminded me of other nights, in small clubs and it being very much fun getting sweaty – BRMC and their rock n’ roll, or the moog laden groove of Modey Lemon. Then I failed to notice the next song had started. Or put more accurately, the next guitar riff.

MTV2 wanted to bring us a selection of brand spanking new music. That’s what happened tonight, and if Led Zepellin had never happened, they would have been right. Still, three out of four isnt bad.

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More on Fields
Fields @ ICA, London
Fields – Everything Last Winter
Wolfmother + ¡Forward, Russia! + Fields + The Maccabees @ University, Leeds