Date: Monday 27th January 2020
Venue: Hyde Park Book Club. Leeds
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What’s the best way to start the year? A brand new album and release shows across the UK? Well that’s exactly what Scottish Rockers Vukovi have done with the release of their latest album ‘Fall Better’. With in-store performances, signings and headline shows throughout the release week, we were lucky enough to get tickets to their sold out show at Hyde Park Book Club in Leeds. An intimate independent venue just outside the centre of Leeds. On arrival it looked just like a café but after a trip down a small set of stairs in the back corner to the basement we were treated to the venue itself. It was very clear that tonight was going to be a very intimate show.
Before Vukovi could take to the stage it was the job of Bristol rockers Sœur to open the show and warm the crowd up for the party that was about to follow. The bands unique style was clear from the start and the mix of grungy tones and changing time signatures made for an interesting sound to come from stage. The dual vocals of Anya Puler and Tina Maynard sounded fantastic and worked really well to add character to the tracks with them switching lead vocals around regularly and creating some incredible power when they combined. The guitar tones were perfect and really shone through in the more delicate verses before dropping into the crunching riffs. This real bite to the guitar work was best shown on ‘Better’ which had the crowd banging their heads along to the beat. ‘Slow Days’ was another highlight with the repetitive chanting of ‘What Separates Us’ really building the track before it hit the heavy breakdown. Props need to be given to drummer James Collins who completes the trio as the energy he added to the performance was unreal, really adding to the math rock sections of their tracks and playing some incredible fills. If there’s anything that I’ll be taking away from this show it would be final track ‘Fight’ the track was a real journey from start to finish with the start and end sounding wildly different. The building track coming to a head saw the crowd have one last dance along to the band and from their reaction Sœur had certainly gained some new fans this evening, myself included. A band I’ll be checking out again after this set, with a similar sound to bands like Press to MECO it really made for an interesting sound and that can only be seen as a good thing.
After a brief switch around it was time for headliners Vukovi to hit the stage. Despite vocalist Janine Shilstone self-proclaiming that when her agent booked the Leeds show she didn’t think there was anyone in Leeds that knew of the band, tonight’s sold out crowd tell a different story of a band that are finding the spotlight. Launching straight into their newer tracks after a brief intro of ‘17359’ with ‘Violent Minds’ blasting through the speakers. From the very start it was clear to see that Vukovi were on top form this evening with Janine’s huge vocals filling the room. With the crowd dancing along from the first track it was great to see the energy building in the room. This energy came to its first head of the night with last year’s single ‘C.L.A.U.D.I.A’ bringing the first of tonight’s many crowd surfers to the front of the stage. Whilst it may have been a Monday evening it certainly felt like a Saturday night gig and with guitarist Hamish Reilly bouncing around the stage it certainly added to that feeling. Keeping up with the energy after a few older tracks the band then dropped ‘Aura’. Mixing in heavy riffs with an almost dance-like beat in the background it made sure that everyone in the room was moving along with the track. Taking all the energy and keeping it through the slower songs is usually a big ask but as Janine took to the crowd to perform ‘Colour Me In’ you could really feel and see the emotion that filled the room and with the crowd singing back the words it really made for a moving track.
With the band all back on the stage it was now time for the home run and despite all the energy shown previously the band were hungry for more. Powered up by a beer from the crowd Vukovi let us know that there wouldn’t be an encore and that there would only be five tracks left before they were done. With that said and done the huge sounds of ‘Boy George’ filled the room and had the crowd dancing like never before with the crowd surfers returning in force. Newly released track ‘All That Candy’ provided another opportunity for the band to show off her incredible voice. For anyone not familiar with the band, judging on the reaction to the track it would have been one of their bigger tracks rather than only released a couple of days prior to the show. As the band landed on their final few tracks they had certainly saved the best for last with both ‘Animal’ and ‘Run/Hide’ taking the crowd to the boiling point. After mentioning that it “wouldn’t be safe to have a wall of death” the crowd read nicely between the lines and the chaos of a pit in a tiny venue followed. Just when it looked like everyone was out of breath, Vukovi launched into their last track of the night the phenomenal ‘La Di Da’. If you can find me anyone that doesn’t dance along to this track then I’d be very surprised as the entire room was bouncing and shouting the words back. With huge beaming smiles coming from the stage it was clear that this had been the exact kind of show that Vukovi had wanted to start off this album cycle and with an album the calibre of ‘Fall Better’ it really in no surprise it has been received so well. Can’t wait to see these guys headlining much bigger rooms later on this year.
Whilst we’re on the subjects of venues, I can’t leave this review without talking about tonight’s – Hyde Park Book Club. Having attended over 130 gigs in Leeds it’s very rare that I come across one that I haven’t visited before but tonight was one of those night. The fact that it also happened to be Independent Venue Week as well really shows off the hidden gems that are not as well known to most of the public. As venues go the sound downstairs in the room itself was spot on and really sounded great for both of tonight’s bands and their different styles which is even more impressive to note as basement venues tend to struggle with this and have slightly sludgy sounds. With the café and bar upstairs and a ton of events on at the place I’d certainly recommend people pop in if they’re in the area and I’ll certainly be back for gigs in the future.