It feels like forever since I reviewed a gig, and in tog years (aha, see what I did there?), it probably is, so after logging off, bolting down too much pizza in too short a period of time, it’s over t’Pennines and off to the basement-y delights of Leeds’s Hyde Park Book Club to see a four-bander featuring a mixed bag, geographically speaking. Manchester’s Pyncher, Leigh’s DeafDeafDeaf and Leeds newcomers Coal Mob and Leeds veterans Scum.
I’ve seen all these acts previously with the exception of Coal Mob, whose bio describes them thus: “A five-piece post-punk outfit becoming a prominent act within the Leeds music scene. They cleverly combine post-punk principles with unique genre mixing and a heavier edge. Inspired by the likes of Shame and New Order. Intense guitar and bass riffs are backed by powerful drum work and synth melodies.
Frequenting such venues as Oporto and Lending Room, Coal Mob go from strength to strength, dedicated to building a loyal fan base and delivering an electrifying show every time. “ Regular readers of my random ramblings (and there’s your alliteration for today, folks) will know that the mere MENTION of the words “New” and “Order” in the same sentence is BOUND to get my Spidey senses tingling.
I’ve made sure to be here on time for the opening act. The recently revamped lineup now comprises Dom Armstrong (vocals), Jack Anderson (keyboards), Will McGuinness (bass), Rohan Manivannan (guitar) and Ellis Barker (drums).
Will tells me that Coal Mob’s name originally came about he spotted some “Coal not Dole” and anti-Thatcher stickers on a power box. Mutated this into the bizarre concept of a mafia that ran the coal industry and thus was Coal Mob born. Dom, Ellis and others formed the original lineup in 2021 after they moved to Uni, and after a few lineup changes (I didn’t ask – usually best not…), Jack and Rohan have joined as recently as January this year. Anyhow, let’s see what these boys have got.
The answer is, pleasingly, quite a lot, and they certainly don’t have the air of a lineup that’s only been together for six months. Frontman Dom, peeks out from under a thoroughly excellent haircut as he opens the set with the energetic. Ceiling ably supported on vocals by Jack (stage left), Rohan (next to my right) and bass man Will, over to our right whilst Ellis clatters away furiously at the rear.
The whoops and round of applause that meet them suggests they may well have a few fans in the crowd, which is never a bad thing. Dom thanks us for coming out and braving the delights of HPBC’s basement on such a fine sunny evening, and he’s quite right. The outside space is packed with folks drinking, playing cards, and even the occasional board game, so it’s nice to see that a good few have ventured downstairs to see what’s afoot.
The set continues with upcoming release “Bounce” whose bass riff (at least to my ancient ears) is reminiscent of The Specials’ “Too Much Too Young”… but if it was played by The Cure in 1979. I mean, how could you not like that? Jack’s 80’s-y keys underpin the whole thing, but there’s a contemporary feel to them too, perhaps, with a sprinkling of Squid and Yard Act thrown in.
“Blossom Hill” slows down the pace a little with dreamier keys and synth, taking the mournfulness of The Murder Capital and Closer era Joy Division. There is a LOT of box ticking going on here for me, but there’s a lot to like even if you’re not an 80’s relic like your Humble Reviewer. You sense that there is a more polished beast lurking somewhere. Tonight is a night for watching a new lineup find their feet in front of friends.
Next up, after a warning to, “Stay hydrated” from Dom, we launch into ”Cowgirl”, which makes my ears prick up as Will’s bass channels early New Order as do Jack’s keyboards. Coal Mob are a tight little outfit and it’s a shame as their set draws to a close with the intriguingly titled “The Great Dictator”. Dom’s plea to those at the back, “Bring yourselves forward for the last song of the night”.
It’s a haunting number which livens up with the addition of a liberal smattering of cowbell. You know what they say about cowbell, don’t you? I’m hoping that Coal Mob will be given the opportunity to cast their gigging net a bit further afield very soon, as they’re ones to watch for sure. Fossil-based fuel Mafia indeed…
Coal Mob played: Ceiling, Bounce, Blossom Hill, Cowgirl and The Great Dictator.
DeafDeafDeaf seem to become more accomplished with every performance. Since I saw them at Projekts Skatepark on a VERY cold March Friday night, and again over at Sidney and Matilda in Sheffield the following month. They have continued their steady progress to greatness, even acquiring a FB fan page (“The Auditory”) along the way. Preferring to label themselves “Post something”. These five Leigh-based chaps are trying to distance themselves from the dreaded all-encompassing mire of the “Post punk” label.
If you’ve seen them before, you’ll know that their sets, whilst noisy, are a lot more than just noise – there’s a lot of reflection in their intelligent lyrics. You can sense their eagerness to break through and show the wider world what they can do.
With only a few weeks to go before they return to The Nave in Leeds to do some more recording, and with big announcements on the way. (PLEASE sign up to The Auditory if you like to be the first to learn stuff!) Nathan Hill on vocals, Ellis Whittle on bass, Jack Findlay and Louis Grayson on guitar(s) and Connor Alder on drums never EVER do anything by halves. Tonight they’ve promised us some new material (though sadly not the 7-minute epic that they’re currently working on, as before the gig, Nathan announces that it’s not quite ready yet, much to my chagrin.
I’ve made comparisons with the Chameleons, Killing Joke, Murder Capital, Joy Division and even Paul Weller (trust me on this one) in previous reviews. Whilst it’s nice to have some musical points of reference to get over just what they’re about, DeadDeafDeaf are very much their own men. Tonight’s set opens with “Sweet Thing” and there’s a tightness and edginess evident that is pleasing to hear.
“Nothingness” pounds along at a furious rate, sharing some DNA with IDLES and splicing it with Fontaines, and never ever pausing to take a breath. “Auto Love” screeches to a halt to deliver the plea for merch sales before we hear the first of the night’s new offerings, in the form of “Impulse Routine”, showing more hints of the newer, polished side of the band. There certainly doesn’t seem to be any end in sight to the procession of well-crafted music coming from these guys. Nathan’s voice even mutates into a Morrissey-esque croon at some points in this one (don’t hit me, Nath). “Sick Dog” is the second new song tonight to be given a run out.
It’s always a good sign when you’re listening to the playback of a gig whilst writing a review. When you remember bits of a song that you’ve heard for the first time. Jack and Louis intuitively play their guitars around each other, whilst the pace of Connor’s drumming has by now compelled him to remove his top again (I know…). There’s even space stage right for bass man Ellis (who is usually squeezed in at the back somewhere) to stand proud and Strat his stuff. (yes, I KNOW it’s the bass, but I’m trying my best here)
Proceedings start to draw to a close with perennial crowd pleaser “One by One” which has the crowd In Shreds (anyone..?). By the end of it and there’s just time for, amazingly, a third new outing, this time in the form of “Totally in Love”. A slightly slower but no less dramatic number and if, at the end of this abbreviated set. That not what you are (at least with Leigh’s finest), then there’s really no hope for you.
DeafDeafDeaf are absolutely NOT letting the grass grow under their feet and, on top of the soon-to-be-recorded EP, there are exciting things going on in the background for them too . We bate our breath with interest, but to be the first to know, get yourselves an appointment at The Auditory and clean out your lugholes with all speed. There’s definitely something coming over the hill and it’s going to be a monster.
DeafDeafDeaf played: Sweet Thing, Nothingness, Auto Love, Impulse Routine, Sick Dog, One by One and Totally in Love
It seems like forever since I last saw Pyncher. I first caught up with them at The Deaf Institute back in October 2022 supporting The Clockworks then again in January sharing a bill with Yasmin Coe at Yes. A lot seems to be happening for them this year. Sam Blakeley (vocals) and Harvey O’Toole (guitar) bonded over a love of the Beatles and recruited the wonderfully-named Jack Rainbow (drums) and Brittany Dewhurst (bass) in October 2020, just in time to be hit with the Big Covid Stick and thus having to wait for nine months before they could perform their first gig.
Their influences are many and varied, spanning spaghetti western and surf rock, The White Stripes, The Modern Lovers, Lou Reed and The Cramps, which means they serve up a lot more than you’d expect, all the time trying THEIR best to escape from the restricting “Post punk” label too.
Finally being rewarded for their hard work on the North Western circuit with their first headliner at Manchester’s Castle Hotel back in September, they’ve delivered a succession of arch,. Atmospheric and downright intriguing singles including the wonderfully-titled Frogs and Tomatoes (which features on their “Chew” EP along with debut single “Dirty Feet”, the other tracks being “Chew” itself and the faster-paced crowd favourite “Slow Down”) and most recent release “Steely Dan”.
Legendary Lou Smith’s capture of their recent Brixton Windmill set can be found on YouTube if you have some time to spare, and like all his work, it’s well worth a view. Off the back of their recent Band on The Wall gig last week, let’s see what Pyncher have been up to since we last caught up.
The staccato drum patterns of “Space Rocket” open up tonight’s shenanigans. Harvey gets into so many tangles with and around his guitar stage left, you wonder how he actually manages to play it, but play it he does, and damn well. Sam delivers his largely spoken vocals through an alarming range of facial expressions. Stage right, Brittany is the very picture of composure, overlaying Harvey and Sam’s cavorting with an air of serenity. A perfect counterpoint whilst adding her own her vocals to pleasing effect.
“Shapeshifter” slows proceedings to a walking pace as somewhere, the ghost of Mark E. Smith paces up and down, repeatedly bumping into Jim Morrison in the middle of the desert in the downstairs toilets as he does so. (no, me neither, but it sounded good when I started it…)
Pyncher are one of those bands who are thankfully hard to pigeonhole and whilst you can pick out some influences in their music, what they deliver is a unique blend of witty, tongue in cheek and occasionally dark lyrics that you unwittingly find yourself nodding along to. Even if you haven’t heard them before.
“Hippo Boy” is a little Bolanesque in its delivery (checks – yep, that’s the first time I’ve used that one, but it seems just right). It trips along jaggedly like a haunted marionette with the whole thing channelled via Sam’s sardonic, yet somehow at the same time nonchalant shouting, which is in turn squeezed to the point of a Cramped whisper in the introduction to “Tired Eyes. Recent single “Steely Dan” is next, and the proceedings are closed off with debut single “Dirty Feet”. I swear I can even hear Bauhaus’s “Dark Entries” lurking in there somewhere if I pull the curtain back far enough.
Please give Pyncher an hour of your time and a tenner of your well-earned cash (and maybe another tenner if you’re snared by their merch stand – these are the cheapest tees I’ve see in a long time – good on ya) the next time they’re in your vicinity. They may well leave you scratching your head and wondering what it is you’ve just witnessed. To paraphrase The Jam, That’s (definitely) entertainment.
Pyncher played: Space Rocket, Pants, Shape Shifter, Get Along, Hippo Boy, Tired Eyes, Steely Dan and Dirty Feet
Long-time (well, since 2018, at least) regulars on the Leeds scene, SCUM’s Ezra Glennon (vocals + bass), Spike Elwell (guitar + vocals) and Ben Parker (drums + vocals) grabbed my attention yet with their Fathers’ Day post on FB – “Happy Fathers Days (But not to the punchy ones – you can fcuk off.)” – seriously, who would take issue with a sentiment like that?
With an upcoming gig alongside Lumer and Adult DVD at this very same venue on the 4th of July, and looking forward to their first gig in Sheffield at The Washington on the 19th of July. These are busy times for SCUM. Having been described as “Sounding like ‘the nagging repetitions of The Fall mixed with the fury of Black Flag, played at 100mph”, I suspect I’m not going to be in for an easy ride tonight.
It’s been a while since I saw SCUM for the first time, supporting DITZ at this very same venue. As they take to the stage, opening up their set with “Hunger”, and most recent single “Ordinary Life”. There’s initially little apart from the marked increase in volume and some feedback that gives any indication as to the mayhem that’s about to transpire.
The noble art of the spoken vocal is definitely the theme of the evening with Ezra taking charge of audience communications. Thanking us all for coming down and thanking the other artistes on tonight’s line-up. “The Whale” features a funky bass intro whilst drummer Ben, fitted out in a splendid Hi-Viz jacket. The owner of the most photogenic hair since The Battery Farm’s Dominic Corry thrashes furiously at the rear.
Despite their youthful appearance, SCUM have been hard at it for five years, building up a loyal fanbase in and around Leeds and tonight we have the privilege of hearing new material from them too in the form of, “Some Fucking French Film”
There’s a delicious energy that permeates a SCUM gig – the songs are short, tight and loud, and the camaraderie between the guys is evident, as is their sense of fun and obvious enjoyment of what they’re doing. The next song is “After Work” – Ezra thanks us for coming out after work and asks, “Who’s got work tomorrow?”, which is met with a collective groan.
We’re advised that if we like it, then we should keep our eyes open in the next couple of months (new release warning, everyone). In line with the usual plea from bands about the gap in front of the stage, he entreats us, “If you like that song, you must like this band, so why is that spot so empty? – Move along!”
We all shuffle forward the obligatory three of four paces, to the accompaniment of the jaunty “In Through the Out Door”. The halfway point of the proceedings sees the obligatory plea for merch sales and an enforced tuning break before the mayhem continues. “Exercise” is something that the crowd is by now getting plenty of as old fans and new faces judder into and bounce off each other.
Even Spike’s usually glum face breaks into a smile as he looks out on SCUM’s work to see a MOST happy crowd, while Ezra has been smiling pretty much all night. “Flawless” is… well, just that as Spike and Ezra circle around each other before meeting centre stage for some heads down fretwork.
You won’t find much about SCUM on t’Interweb – they prefer to let word of mouth bring in their punters. Ezra briefly gets his timescales mixed up as he announces that it’s five months since they got together, to be quickly be corrected by Spike, who points out that it’s years, not months, but Ezra quickly recovers with, “Time flies when you’re having fun” and chooses to dedicate “Exercise” to, “These two beautiful young men”.
Their sense of fun and genuine friendship is plain to see and Ezra’s interaction with the crowd is spontaneous as it is genuine. Spike announces set closer “Intravenous” as being, “Out” and that we can listen to it on, “Whatever streaming service we choose”, before losing his train of thought completely and collapsing into fits of giggles, not helped by Ezra or Ben, who delight in his discomfort (though in a nice way). The more information he tries to impart, the more they drown him out with good-natured drum rolls and bass flourishes before launching into a final few minutes of guitar-driven, raucous fun.
Like Ketamine Kow, SCUM are yet another band who you really need to see to get what they’re about as it’s in their live performances where they really shine. Go on – SuCcUMb to your baser desires and get out and enjoy yourselves – it’s what Spike would have wanted, if only he’d been able to tell you.