The Long Blondes - Leeds University Live Review

The Long Blondes and Wild Beasts
Leeds University
Wednesday April 9, 2008
Live Review

The Long Blondes

Sheffield quintet The Long Blondes’ debut record, ‘Someone To Drive You Home’, won much critical acclaim upon release in 2006 and though they didn’t quite make a mainstream breakthrough, support slots with the likes of Kaiser Chiefs gained them a steady fan base. After this UK tour, they head into Europe and then across the Atlantic for shows in America.

Local band Wild Beasts begins the evening’s proceedings and they turn out to be very aptly named. Refusing to conform to the sound of contemporary popular music, their sound is leftfield indie, with jingly guitars very much the order of the day. With vocal duties split between three members, they range from Barry White-like tones to operatics that make Muse’s Matt Bellamy look like an introvert. Seemingly an acquired taste by the mixed audience reaction, the quartet does at least get people dancing to ‘Brave Bulging’.

Arriving on stage around 22:45, Kate Jackson apologises for the delay for their appearance before a start to the set that only picks up with performance of ‘Once And Never Again’ from their first record. Perhaps touring an album which has been released for only half a week isn’t the greatest idea, as audience reaction to new tracks such as ‘Guilt’ and ‘I’m Going To Hell’ are more pleasant than enthusiastic. Even recent single ‘Century’, which is played at faster tempo than the studio counterpart and is a disco inferno, doesn’t provoke a huge reaction, though it is through no fault of the band. They play tightly and in Jackson have an alluring frontwoman who is mesmerising with her dancing and gracious with her acceptance of applause.

The cheers that greet older friends such as ‘Separated By Motorways’ is very telling, as is the enthusiasm of the crowd to bounce and sing along. Predictably it is their moment of pop perfection, ‘Giddy Stratospheres’, which closes the set and sees energy levels on stage and in the audience hit a peak. None of the new material is as instantaneous as the former single and it is perhaps because of this (and the delayed start) that the lack of an encore isn’t the biggest loss. Whether or not their second album ‘Couples’ lifts the band to the next level of popularity is yet to be seen, but as a live prospect they’re certainly a solid unit who can turn out a quality performance.

Alex Lai

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