Japandroids - The Cockpit, Leeds - Gigs - Reviews - Soundblab

Japandroids - The Cockpit, Leeds

by Pete Sykes Rating: Release Date:

Great duos in pop music? The White Stripes, that's one. Simon & Garfunkel? Pet Shop Boys? Er, Chas & Dave? There's something refreshing about watching a band with only two members. Perhaps it's the chemistry that you can get between two people that a greater number can rarely replicate. Or perhaps it's the freedom that comes from keeping things simple and not adding several extra guitarists, keyboardists, brass players, percussionists. Shortly after White Blood Cellscame out, a surfeit of new two-pieces appeared, with blues-rockers The Black Keys and lo-fi noise-popsters No Age being notable examples. To that list, we can now add Canadian duo Japandroids, except they're better than both those bands. The key to their brilliant debut album, Post-Nothing, was its simplicity - the songs were never over-thought or over-complicated - allied with simple passion. Now the twosome - Brian King and Dave Prowse (not the Darth Vader one) - are touring that LP, and find themselves playing in Leeds for the second time, except this time as headliners rather than openers.

First, though, the underbill. Loose Talk Costs Livesare a youthful quartet from London who have somehow made their way up north. Their MySpace lists their influences as XTC, Orange Juice and The Smiths, amongst others. Curiously, it doesn't mention the one band that they sound exactly like - Vampire Weekend. They couldn't sound more like Vampire Weekend if they sang only Vampire Weekend songs - which would have been better, because at least they have some decent tunes. I don't mean to be cruel - and, to be fair, they are clearly musically talented and much of what they play sounds nice - but they might want to listen to a few more of their influences before they write any more songs. The only way it could have been more disheartening would have been if one of the band, after another Vampire Weekend-esque number, had shouted "That song was about slags!" to the bemused audience. Oh, wait, that did happen.

Next up are Yonderboy, another local band who've had a fair bit of attention, supporting Frightened Rabbit and The Twilight Sad in recent months. Their polished indie-rock is similarly epic in feel to those two bands, and lead singer Zand (?!) has an excellent, powerful voice, a little reminiscent of Wild Beasts' Hayden Thorpe. They are determined to make their music sound strange and different, and so use some unusual chords and odd time signatures, but unfortunately they have neglected to make it interesting, or to have any memorable tunes. So despite the best efforts of Zand, who attempts to warm up the audience by talking weird in between songs, they ultimately underwhelm, and there are a lot of folded arms by the end of the set.

So all hopes are now pinned on Japandroids, and happily they do not disappoint. True to their Canadian upbringing, they are extravagantly polite when taking the stage: "Hello everybody, I'm Brian, this is Dave, we're Japandroids from Vancouver Canada…" But the music is not polite - it's raw, passionate and exhilarating. Put simply, it rocks. Singer/guitarist Brian is a big, hairy bundle of energy, rushing around the stage pulling classic rock poses, screaming his tales of hope and abandon into the mic. His habit of spitting on the floor (not into the crowd - these boys are too nice for that) during songs only underlines the unrestrained, primal qualities of the music. Singer/drummer Dave is a calmer presence, emerging as the more diplomatic of the pair - after Brian rants between songs about a shitty crowd ("fucking cunts just threw the guitar back on to the stage") at a gig in London, he apologises for Brian "dropping the c-bomb." Blistering versions of 'Rockers East Vancouver', 'Heart Sweats' and 'Wet Hair' are played, before the boys close with the thrilling, life-affirming 'Young Hearts Spark Fire' ("I don't wanna worry about dying/I just wanna worry bout those sunshine girls"), Brian having apologised for spending so much time tuning his guitar (a result of the aforementioned London crowd incident) and lamenting the "curfew and all that bullshit" that means they have to stop. The winning combination of charm and an hour of exuberant, electrifying rock music ensures that the crowd are not too disappointed at this, and go into the night thoroughly satisfied.

Pete Sykes

Comments (0)

There are no comments posted here yet
Related Articles