And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead - Brudenell Social Club, Leeds - Gigs - Reviews - Soundblab

And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead - Brudenell Social Club, Leeds

by Andy Brown Rating: Release Date:
And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead - Brudenell Social Club, Leeds
And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead - Brudenell Social Club, Leeds

As the band plough into their raw, increasingly manic, final track the audience are encouraged to join them on stage. Limbs are flying around in approval as a particularly keen fan provides some impromptu backing vocals. Audience and band have become one big, sweaty, punk-rock, mess. It’s an explosive end to an impressively explosive performance and I have to remind myself that it’s Monday night. Someone must have forgotten to tell And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead.

“This one’s about Brexit” Spoilers vocalist Craig Sharp tells us before playing the bludgeoning ‘No Pressure’ and confessing “but they sort of all are”. Rewind a couple of hours and it’s time for the London based four-piece to get the night started.

Punk songs delivered with energy and full-throttle enthusiasm, the combination of hooks and frenzied playing in ‘Try Try Try’ nodding towards The Cribs and The Thermals. You can hear shades of tonight’s headliners too, the use of harmonics and the Sonic Youth adoration. Just behind the stage, Conrad Keely watches on in approval.

Spoilers were still at school when the Trail of Dead released Madonna and Source Tags & Codes. Sharp telling us how their bassist listened to the band during (actually during) his English exams. Now, the Trail of Dead might not be much help when it comes to Shakespeare but you can’t underestimate the benefits of a decent education in alternative rock.

And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead are celebrating the 20th anniversary of their much loved second album Madonna. Yes, you read that right; the band’s second LP is a full twenty years old. I’ll let you have a little break to let that seep in before we carry on with the rest of the review. You recovered? Good. Now read on.

Before the band takes to the stage a chant starts up from the crowd, “Trail of Dead! Trail of Dead! Trail of Dead!” Excitement would be an understatement as the band receives something of a hero’s welcome from the Brudenell. The chants subside and that familiar, spine-tingling, intro to ‘Mistakes & Regrets’ begins. The song kicking in with all the drama and fury you remember, “And there is nothing left to say that has not been said”.

20 years hasn’t dimmed the albums power or the bands undeniably passionate delivery. The songs infused with punk rock’s energy and post-rock’s sense of scale. Post-hardcore? Art rock? Or is it just good old rock ‘n’ roll. ‘Totally Natural’ is absolutely fierce and played at twice its usual speed, guitarist Jamie Miller pulling out some Pete Townsend style windmills for the occasion.

“Tuning” muses Keely before launching into the eternally cool, Sonic Youth rush of ‘Mark David Chapman’ “is a relative thing, like time and space”. The energy levels are kept impressively high throughout, Keely and Jason Reece trading places at various points. Both playing drums and guitar and both putting in some superb, throat-shredding vocal turns.

A blistering ‘A Perfect Teenhood’ and a calm ‘Sigh Your Children’ bring the crowd together, arms aloft and thoroughly absorbed. The former feeling particularly apt considering when most of the audience will have first heard these songs. But it doesn’t end there. The band picking up where Madonna left off and playing us some choice cuts from follow-up LP Source Tags & Codes.

They might not trash their instruments anymore but there’s absolutely no holding back. At one point Reece is so excited he runs backstage mid-song, barely able to contain himself as he surrenders his will to the sweaty, crazy-eyed spirit of rock ‘n’ roll during ‘Homage’. That sense of excitement is, naturally, pretty contagious.

An unexpected ‘Will You Smile Again?’ from Worlds Apart comes as a surprise highlight and a chance for one last singalong before the band leaves the stage. The encore finally tipping things, gloriously, over the edge with the appropriately titled ‘Richter Scale Madness’ and the subsequent stage invasion. Bassist Autry Fulbright II wears a mock Coca-Cola t-shirt emblazoned with the words Enjoy Cult Classics. I think it’s fair to say that that’s exactly what we’ve done tonight.

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