The early 6pm start hasn't just played havoc with my timetable getting across from Scarborough with just minutes to spare before doors open its clearly affected Tigers Jaw's plans for the evening. "We were at Reds... Ben had a massive platter" explains Brianna whilst the duo endearingly fumble through a set list they concocted on their phones ahead of tonight's low key acoustic session at one of Leeds hippest venues - Headrow House.
Certainly none of those in attendance mind; For many involved in the Leeds scene it's safe to say that Tigers Jaw are a special band and indeed it certainly feels that this is reciprocated as Ben and Brianna discuss their affection for the city, their appreciation of the local cuisine and looking forward to coming back for the festival appearance at the end of the week. So much is the fervour of which those in Leeds love the band their curfew disappears putting any final nails in the coffin of any planning the couple have done, opting for an epic set closing combo of "Plane vs Tank vs Submarine" and "I Saw Water", joined in full by the hundred or so lucky punters to get access to tonight's "free" show. To choose Leeds as the venue for such a low-key show with the support of one of the finest records stores in the country, Crash Records is clearly a winner all round.
As this was part of the "Spin" tour understandably much of the set was taken from this new album, which despite being released overseas and digitally much earlier in the year is only now getting a physical UK releases; the reception greeting each song however would suggest this has not been a barrier to many enjoying the delights of this new album; the band’s first as a duo following the unusual circumstances surrounding Charmer. Opening with the epic "Follows" it's clear that even in an acoustic setting the pair are completely at ease with the intimacy of the setting and the relative newness of many of the songs. Other tracks off of "Spin" such as "Bullet" are tailor made for an acoustic setting and really demonstrated Ben and Brianna's abilities to generate haunting melodies, and the strength of their song-writing. As many of the songs were led by Ben's vocals it must be said he has an ability to project his voice majestically and inject so much emotion and personality that even perched on a stool he was able to hold the audience’s attention with ease.
Each of the songs played could have been a highlight; however "Guardian" was truly stunning. For anyone who witnessed The Hotelier play "Sun" on their most recent tour would appreciate the brilliance of dragging out the bridge to build anticipation for the closing act of the song; for me "Guardian" has the potential to do this, and will inevitably be a fan favourite for years to come, with a superb chorus it was great to see how this was deconstructed for such a gig.
I should also state my love for “Charmer” as one of my favourite albums from recent years and both "Distress Signals" and "Teen Rocket" were special, with some of the more complex arrangements from the albums replaced with subtle underlying vocals from Brianna, who before the bands rousing conclusion to the evening delivered a passionate and stirring rendition of "June", one of the obvious stand-outs on "Spin". Instantly this reminds me off fellow Scranton-ite "Petal", and it's obvious the links with Kiley Lotz has had an influenced this particular song, and certainly live this perception was heightened. If they had finished there we would have all gone home happy as it was we were blessed with another couple of the big anthems from their self-titled, having been treated to "Chemicals" earlier in the night.
Finally recognition should be directed to the fine folks of Crash Records; for those not from the area, you can't underestimate how vital Crash are to the Leeds scene and from putting on such shows they are helping generate even more of a buzz around particular artists and supporting the local scene by offering things we can't get anywhere else; or would have to travel to other major cities to experience. Crash smashed this one with a great turn out, a slightly different experience to a traditional gig and a stunning performance from a couple of the humblest and nicest people in punk!
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This gig review was written by Richard Mair.