Du Blonde - Brudenell Social Club, Leeds - Gigs - Reviews - Soundblab

Du Blonde - Brudenell Social Club, Leeds

by Andy Brown Rating: Release Date:
Du Blonde - Brudenell Social Club, Leeds
Du Blonde - Brudenell Social Club, Leeds

2012 saw the release of Yours Truly Cellophane Nose; a rather gorgeous collection of dreamy folk and musical ingenuity that introduced us to Newcastle Upon-Tyne singer-songwriter Beth Jeans Houghton.

Then the transformation took place. A Bowie-esque reimagining that saw Houghton re-emerge a few years later as Du Blonde. A new album introduced a bold new look and a bold new sound, a glam-rock aesthetic, and a thirst for raw, hip-swinging riff ‘n’ roll. This year sees the release of Du Blonde’s second album, Lung Bread for Daddy, so what better time to go and see her live.

First up we’re introduced to Leeds-based indie-rock four-piece Ormstons. One of those bands that simply belong on stage, you won’t find Ormstons staring at their shoes. Vocalist Jess Huxham exudes genuine star power as she belts out the insatiably catchy, punk-pop of ‘Can’t Take Your Call’.

The sound of rock music that hasn’t forgotten how to have fun, a pinch of pop and even a dash of disco added to the mix for good measure. From the emotive ‘Bridgewater Way’ to the lustful ‘Love’; the songs are fantastic, real earworms.

The bands pop-heart is fully revealed when they treat us to a brief but brilliant cover of ABBA’s ‘Mamma Mia’. With the glittery backdrop and Swedish pop, Ormstons have temporarily turned the Brudenell into a school disco. Except, at this one, you’re definitely going to enjoy yourself.

The three-piece take to the stage, Houghton aka Du Blonde dressed in a big fur coat. One song into the set and the heat is too much, “big mistake wearing this coat…bloody hell”.

The music videos might present us with an untouchable punk-meets-glam rock queen yet Houghton has a really relaxed stage presence. She creates a genuine connection with the crowd, the set littered with jokes and stories.

The whole band seems really at home on stage, Houghton wearing trackie bottoms and the drummer wearing his pyjamas. Houghton even shows us a toy monkey that she always takes out on tour with her. After all, you’ve got to have your home comforts.

The show kicks off with ‘Baby Talk’ and ‘Take Out Chicken’ from the new album. A suitably explosive double-header; rock riffs and Pixies chord progressions that gel perfectly with Houghton’s distinctive, versatile and commanding vocals. From the bass-heavy, dirty rock of ‘Peach Meat’ to the glorious and glittery ‘Angel’, these are some of the finest rock songs I’ve heard this year.

There’s plenty of chemistry and comradery on display too. The setlist, the bassist jokes, is so badly written that he can’t actually read it. Houghton reminds him that she actually text him the songs from the toilet earlier that day. You wouldn’t catch Bono sharing an anecdote like that.

Glittery rock ‘n’ roll minus the aviator shades and bad attitude. “I’m sniffing, not because I’ve taken cocaine” laughs Houghton “but because I’ve got allergies”. An audience member quickly offers up a tissue, we all look after each other here.

Houghton has been writing since she was a teen, the songs providing a soundtrack to her life ever since. The brilliant ‘Holiday Resort’ was written about being “unemployed and eating noodles” at 27 while the beautiful ‘Four in the Morning’ was written at 23. The latter gives us a rare moment of calm and has the whole crowd utterly, silently, captivated.

Whether it’s rock songs or reflective, late-night ballads it’s clear that Houghton is an honest and formidable songwriter. The gorgeous ‘After the Show’, a song about mental health and a plea for respect, receives an extended and well-deserved round of applause.

Humour, riffs, heart, sweat and soul; Du Blonde really are on fire right now. Unique and undeniably talented; Houghton is an artist, producer, songwriter, video director and all round approachable glam rock-star. A really fantastic show, here’s hoping Du Blonde head back to Leeds sometime soon.

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