Review – Conjurer

Date: Sunday 27th October 2019

Venue: The Key Club, Leeds

Supports: DAO, Armed For Apocalypse, Earth Moves

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Starting things off at one hundred percent this evening were local supports DAO.  Despite it being early in the night the band brought huge sound and you could feel the energy coming off the stage. As the set went on the vocalist slowly got further and further into the crowd leaving the stage to the rest of the band to really show off their skills and allowing them to move around creating even more energy. Despite working his way to the sound desk at one point the vocals kept coming thick and fast to keep up with the band and really worked well to create an intimate feel from the outset. New track ‘Everything’ brought heavy riffs while ‘Delusional Man’ really layered the crushing vocals over intricate guitar lines and the pounding drums sounding incredible. And after a set that seemed much shorter than it should have been, closer ‘New Normal’ ended it with a bang. It’s definitely one that will be going straight on my playlist as it was neck-snappingly brutal and that’s putting it mildly. Whilst the crowd weren’t as involved as they could have been it definitely didn’t take anything away from the performance that DAO delivered. As opening sets go at The Key Club this may have been one of the best I’ve seen in a long time up there with the likes of Cutting Teeth and God Complex!

DAO

Next up tonight were American metalers Armed for Apocalypse, Starting off with slower tracks the band ease the crowd into the chaos that was to come later in the set.  Despite being slower tracks to start than DOA beforehand they were certainly crushing and the entire crowd were banging their head by then end of their opening salvo. Despite the mix sometimes cutting the vocals down a little it didn’t affect the sound too much as the rest of the band were spot on. ‘Open Wound’ incited chaos in the crowd with tonight’s first pit opening up and the fast heavy track building brilliantly. Huge sound from all three members, drummer on point throughout the set not putting a foot wrong which was incredible to see. The bands newer tracks were a sight to behold and shows that these guys are still bringing out incredible tracks 10 years on from the release of their album ‘Defeat’. As the band left the stage it was clear that the crowd were left on a huge high with everyone pumping their fists and banging their heads. From the outset it may have been a tall order to follow DAO but Armed For Apocalypse took it in their stride and put on a pretty stellar set to keep tonight’s energy up.

Armed For Apocalypse

The last of tonight’s brilliant supports were Earth Moves and it was no surprise that they put on an incredible set. Mixing in the heavy sounds from tonight’s previous bands with the more emotional slow breaks and spoken word sections similar to bands like Casey. ‘Breathing Solemnity into the Deep Night’ sounded amazing as it rang out across the room with the crowd looking on in awe. The band’s new album ‘Human Intricacy’ due out in November and from the sounds of their single ‘Catatonic’ it’s going to be a stunner. A brief appearance from Conjurer’s Dan to provide additional vocals sounded brilliant and got a great reaction out of the crowd with everyone going wild. Closer ‘Pia Maita’ really showed the band at its best, coming in two parts with the heavy track blasting everyone’s face off before ending with an emotional slow section which left everyone in awe. As the song closed to an end, the microphone was cat aside and the band moved to just shouting the lyrics across the crowd to really hit the emotion of the track home. With the single guitar track and cymbals winding down definitely left an impression on the stunned crowd. Even though this was the first time I’d seen or even heard of Earth Moves, their ability and performance certainly left a mark on me and they’re definitely one of my regular listens already.

Earth Moves

To describe tonight’s headliners as a force of nature would be underselling them and having seen them playing at Download (review here) this was definitely an unmissable show. As Conjurer burst onto the stage with ‘Thankless’ it was clear that this was going to be a non-stop night of extreme metal to really show why they had the crowing title as one of the most exciting bands in metal. Riffs were flying out across the room over a crowd that refused to stand still and the dual vocals from both Dan and Brady worked brilliantly. With a light show that left the band in the shadows for the majority of their set it really built on their performance as a whole and built an intimate show. Despite the evening being one of very few that didn’t sell out on the whole tour it must have been very close to capacity with the surge of the crowd during the massive ‘Choke’ engulfing the entire venue and a pit that didn’t stop for the entire duration of the track. As their set drew to an end it was clear that the band had saved their top two tracks for the end. With both ‘Retch’ and ‘Hadal’ finishing off tonight’s set it was clear that the band were going out all guns blazing. The energy coming from the crowd was unreal and even wilder as it was matched by the band and as the band finished their setlist it gave everyone a short break to catch their breaths before the band took to a short encore.

Usually playing a cover to end the night would be a little weird but when that cover is ‘Blood and Thunder’ by Mastadon and it’s executed to perfection there aren’t any issues. It was a great way to end the night and really showed the influences that this band had. As they left the stage for one final time the crowd were left with ringing ears and sore necks from the onslaught that they had just witnessed. Conjurer yet again proved that they are at the top of their game and at this point they are the band that everyone needs to hear about. Hopefully this run of sold out shows will propel them up into the greatness that they so deserve. If you take nothing else away from this review go listen to Conjurer immediately and bask in their greatness as it’s not very often a band this impressive come around.

Conjurer

Review – Roam / With Confidence

Date: Saturday 28th September 2019

Venue: The Key Club, Leeds

Supports: The Dead Love, Woes

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As The Key Club celebrated 5 years of being open it was time to head back for the second sold out show in as many days. I know it’s not fair to compare gigs to each other however after the incredible performance from Zebrahead this one has a lot to live up to. As the rain poured down across Leeds, tonight The Key Club had some of the finest Pop punk from the UK and Australia on show for what promised to be a fantastic evening of music.

Taking to the stage first surprisingly early this evening were Australian band The Dead Love. Bringing their own brand of summery Australian pop punk really made a huge contrast with weather outside. Luckily for the surprisingly large crowd the band put on a great performance to start the night off well. A special mention needs to be made to the sound engineer as the mix on stage was incredible. The bass tone coming through on ‘Sugarcoat’ sounded amazing. Being the only band on the bill tonight that I wasn’t familiar with it was great to see them play live as my introduction to them. With their distinctive sound, it was a breath of fresh air to hear some pop punk that strayed from the usual. The energy in the crowd during ‘Wake up’ was incredible to see and really set the precedent of what was to come for the rest of the evening. Another highlight for me was new track ‘Skeleton Key’ from their new album ‘The Extinction of Unicorns’ which will definitely be a record that I’ll be giving a spin after tonight’s performance.

Next up tonight were Woes. It may have still only been 7pm but that wasn’t stopping Leeds from bouncing. The band seem to be constantly touring at the moment after just finishing a tour with Trash Boat as supports but it was clearly working out for the band as the singalong the band got for new track ‘Fake Friends’ was deafening. By the time the band were three track in with ‘Suburbs’ you’d be hard pressed to find a single person in The Key Club that wasn’t moving. As the set went on, it was clear that the energy was here to stay with ‘Fancy’ being dedicated to Leeds and crowds ability to be involved. Finishing off their set they stepped back in time for final song ‘Don’t Change’. From the crowd’s reaction they definitely left an impression on them and for the few that didn’t know them it was certainly a quick learning curve. The mixed vocals from both singer DJ and bassist Sean worked really well and allowed the energy to fly off the stage. A solid set to get the crowd completely warmed up for the two co-headliners tonight.

Taking things back to the southern hemisphere and keeping everything running at 110% energy were the first of tonight’s two headliners – With Confidence. Starting out with ‘Moving Boxes’ meant carnage and crowd surfers from the very start with the Leeds crowd being completely warmed up from the two support sets earlier on. As the band worked through their set there seemed to be a theme of tracks that hadn’t been played in a while coming out. This was made clear we the crowd were treated to full band version of ‘Pâquerette’ before band launching into ‘Keys’ which really showed off the great vocals from guitarist Inigo. There was a brief respite from all the crowd surfers while the band played slower track ‘Tails’ however this was short lived with the band finishing up with arguably one of the best pop punk songs in ‘Voldemort’. As the band left the stage it was clear just how much they had impacted on their fans with everyone grinning and talking about their set. Safe to say that this was one of the wildest sets I’ve seen in The Key Club and definitely a performance to write home about.

As ROAM took to the stage to close out tonight’s show things seemed to be going fantastic for them! However just one song in an audience member had to be taken out of crowd as they had passed out due to the heat and lack of space. Stopping to allow the crowd to move the passed out person away meant a call from the band to ask for no crowd surfers to avoid people at the front being crushed underneath. A bold call for the band to make and one which showed they genuinely care about the crowd and their safety. Unfortunately when things picked back up again with the band smashing through ‘Flatline’ it was short lived as a technical issue with Alex’s guitar which put another halt to the performance. With a second issue sorted and the technical issue dealt with the band then had the challenge of bringing the waning energy levels back up to a fever pitch. This was easily achieved as the band pulled out the fantastic combination of ‘Dead Weight’ and ‘Hopeless Case’ which had the whole crowd bouncing and the energy sky rocketing back up (but safely this time). As the set progressed the band mixed in tracks front their newer album to a great reception with the crowd singing all the works back to ‘Hand Grenade’ despite it only being released recently. And after an incredible play through of ‘Head Rush’ to finish off their regular set, all that was left was to play the encore of Playing Fiction which had the entire crowd jumping off their feet to finish the night off on a real high. This probably wasn’t the set that ROAM were wanting to have in Leeds to finish off the UK portion of their tour but the band certainly rose to the occasion and dealt with everything thrown at them to deliver a brilliant set. The new album may have introduced some new sounds to ROAMs arsenal but their live show is still as captivating and full of energy as ever.

Review – Live At Leeds Festival 2019

As the first bank holiday of May rolled round it could only mean one thing… The start of festival season!! And as will every year the first one up is Live At Leeds. Showcasing a nice mix of new and upcoming bands from a variety of genres it is definitely one to keep an eye on if you enjoy hearing new acts.

VANT – Dork Stage, The Wardrobe

Kicking off proceedings for day were VANT. Things started off nice and slow to warm the crowd up with a couple of new acoustic tracks before breaking out the electric guitar. Vant mixed older tracks with his newer solo tracks which really worked well to show the mix of his tunes across both incarnations of the band. ‘Peace and Love’ sounded huge and a great reaction from the crowd to newer single ‘Thank Lucifer’. Finishing with a nice combo of ‘Karma Seeker’ and ‘Do You Know Me?’ really gave the crowd a nice chance to return the energy with the first mosh pits of the day. Fantastic set to a packed out crowd to start the festival off nicely and prepare me for the rest of the day.

VANT

Horror My Friend – Gigwise Stage, Leeds Becketts SU 2

Continuing the theme of indie/punk were Australian band Horror My Friend. Despite a few technical issues with their guitars, they managed to show the quality of music a band can make with a guitar, bass and drums. By the time they got into their stride the crowd were banging their heads and as the set went on the crowd grew massively to fill the stage. Finishing with ‘DIYS’ led to a nice heavy end showing their punk side off well. A great new discovery and certainly one I’ll be looking into in the future.

Horror My Friend

Saint Agnes – Upset Stage, The Key Club

Taking things up a notch next at The Key Club were Saint Agnes. Combining powerful vocals, heavy drum beats and jarring guitars shouldn’t have worked but the band smashed it and sounded fantastic! Having discovered them through the festival playlist I was sure how the turnout would be given they were heavier than most bands playing today however from the packed out venue it was clear that this band were high on a lot of peoples agendas, Saint Agnes worked through their hits perfectly with ‘Diablo Take Me Home’ causing the whole crowd to jump and bang their heads before finishing with ‘Welcome To Silvertown’ to really go out in style by diving into the crowd for one final party. Certainly one to check out if you dig the rockier side of things!

Saint Agnes

Lucas Watt – The Social

After the intensity from Saint Agnes it was a huge change to catch Lucas Watt. Armed with his acoustic guitar and a couple of band mates he showed just how impressive a singer/songwriter he really is. Hits like ‘Tightrope’ and ‘Why Do I Call’ showing how powerful his vocals are. The Social was packed out and the whole crowd were bobbing along to his songs. Treating us to some tracks from his new EP also went down a storm and from the looks of the crowd his headline show in Leeds later this year will be very impresive to say the least.

Lucas Watt

Inhaler – The Chapel

Following on from a short much break it was straught back into the music with Inhaler. Pulling sounds from both alt-rock and indie seemed to be keeping the large crowd happy and whilst it didn’t do much for me personally, it seemed to go down well with the rest of the crowd. Taking heavy inspiration from bands like Joy Division and U2 it was clear in their sound musically that they had tried to incorporate them using heavy synths and light guitars. Whilst not a band that I will be following I’m sure that plenty in the crowd will be keeping a close eye on them in the near future.

Inhaler

Hot Milk – Upset Stage, The Key Club

Marked as one of my top bands to see there was certainly an air of anticipation whilst waiting for Hot Milk to take to the stage. Crashing on to the stage they proceeded to blow all expectation out the water in a 30 minute set that seemed to fly by. Whilst Live at Leeds doesn’t usually put on much pop punk it was a breath of fresh air and seemed to be very popular with the crowd. Mixing up the two vocal styles worked really well and certainly set them apart from other pop punk bands coming out that the moment. The crowd were loving it with jumping and bouncing throughout the set with a few small pits opening at the band’s request. I can’t wait to hear more from them as the two unreleased tracks they played sounded brilliant. Definitely a band that I’ll be checking out at Slam Dunk/Download if I get the chance.

Hot Milk

She Drew The Gun – NME Stage, Riley Smith Hall
After their incredible performance at The Wardrobe back in 2017, She Drew The Gun were high on my list of bands to see. Since then the following of the band has grown and it was great to see them playing to a much larger audience. A great set from the political rockers. Their songs really showing off the powerful messages behind their tracks alongside the talent of the band. New track ‘Something For The Pain’ drew singalongs from the crowd and dancing throughout. Unfortunately things took a turn for the worse halfway through when the set was cut short due to illness. Hopefully they’ll be coming back soon as they seem to be going from strength to strength with the release of the new album ‘Revolution Of Mind’.

She Drew The Gun

Fatherson – Dance To the Radio Stage, The Church

After missing their set at 2000trees and their sold out show at Hyde Park Book Club it was about time that I caught these guys live and it was definitely worth the wait. Everything worked perfectly for them and the crowd were clearly on board for the party that Fatherson were bringing. Tracks like ‘Making Waves’ and ‘I Like Not Knowing’ showed them at the top of the game and the brilliant acoustics of Church meant that it sounded just as brilliant. Fantastic vocals soared across the venue and the guitars crashed around it. It was great to see the crowd jump on board with the band banging their heads and dancing around through their slightly longer set. Definitely one of my top bands of the day and certainly one to listen to if you’ve never caught them before!!

Fatherson

The Dunts – The Chapel

Next up it was a short trip from The Church to The Chapel for the penultimate act of the day. Just as the festival was starting to quieten down for the day The Dunts were bringing a huge amount of energy to the chapel. Bringing out their fast paced indie punk tracks meant that the entire crowd had no choice but to move around with a nice pit opening at the front of the crowd. Everything sounded brilliant from the stage and the catchy delivery really worked to build the energy on the stage. The band worked their crowd interaction well getting huge singalongs. Huge tracks in ‘The Birds and Beez’ and ‘Ride The Wave’ showcased their raw talent and showed why everyone had turned up. As a new band for me from the festival they are definitely up there as one of my favourite discoveries from Live At Leeds in a long time.

The Dunts

Jamie Lenman – Upset Stage, The Key Club

There hasnt been a Live At Leeds when my final Act isn’t in the Key Club and this one was no different. When the option is to see Jamie Lenman or not there is only one suitable response. Despite the fact that there was only one guitar and one drum kit on stage we were treated to 40 mins of pure face melting rock to finish the day off nicely! Mixing in a few covers, from his soon to be released album, with hit tracks such as ‘All Of England Is A City’ and ‘Devolver’ really worked amazing to get the crowd moving and banging their heads. Finishing up the class act with the huge sounding ‘Mississippi’ left the crowd screaming M-I-SSI-SSI-PPI as he closed the stage for the day. Originally billed as a special guest, his set certainly lived up to the ‘special’ in its title. A great way to finish the day!

Jamie Lenman

Review – Dream State

Date: 14th April 2019

Venue: The Key Club, Leeds

Supports: As Sirens Fall, Parting Gift

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Starting the night off were local band As Sirens Fall. Throughout the set they managed to cover just about every part of the alt-rock genre with their list of songs ranging from indie rock all the way to post hardcore. Unfortunately for the band the first few songs were a little muddy with everything sounding at the same level in mix. Luckily this didn’t last the entire set and as they worked through their set the talent and potential showed though. This was especially clear during their heavier tracks with the high vocals providing a nice contrast to the heavier music coming from the rest of the band. There was certainly no lack of energy from As Sirens Fall either as they spent the whole set running around, working the crowd well. A decent set from them as the opening band in preparation for the remaining bands to hit the stage this evening.

Having seen Parting Gift previously I knew the spectacle was about to follow. Going for an atmospheric post hardcore style similar to Dream State they came out to building synths and guitars. The mix of heavy and slow songs worked spot on with Parting Gift finding the perfect balance across their set. The crushing heavy parts were enough to get the crowd banging their heads before the incredible vocals came through to really show the range that the band have. Everything worked in the band’s favour with the crowd getting nice and involved throughout matching the bands energy. Finishing off the set with their top track ‘Asleep’ really showed just how incredible they are. A smashing support slot to build the crowd for Dream State and hopefully a sign of good things to come in the future for Parting Gift.

Parting Gift

The final band on stage for tonight were Dream State. After seeing these guys a few times over the last few years I knew that they were going to put on one hell of a show and given that the show was pretty much sold out it sounded like everyone was finally starting to realise just how good they are.

Coming out swinging right from the start with ‘New Waves’ it was clear to see that tonight was going to be a memorable one for both the band and the audience alike. Within the first couple of songs the crowd were jumping around and screaming the words at the top of their lungs. With the band clearly shocked at the amount of people that had turned up to see them they smashed through new song ‘Hand In Hand’ with perfection. Setting herself apart from most vocalists CJ showed just how much the songs meant to her, emphasising this with the emotion and rawness in her vocals really adding an extra layer to the performance. Alongside the set of songs from both EPs there were also a few surprises thrown in with a brilliant cover of ‘Crawling’ by Linkin Park which went down a treat with the crowd as well as a taste of one of the songs to come off their new album which certainly gave everyone a lot to look forward to when it releases. Packing that many great songs into a set meant that it flew by. This wasn’t helped by the fact it was a slightly shorter headline set than usual, however as they say – good things come in small packages!

With their debut album on the way shortly it definitely feels like this run of shows will really push Dream State onwards and upwards. I wouldn’t be surprised to see them playing much larger venues very soon and they certainly deserve it!

Dream State