The Drums - Leeds University Student Union - Gigs - Reviews - Soundblab

The Drums - Leeds University Student Union

by Rich Morris Rating: Release Date:

Violens could well follow fellow New Yorkers The Drums into indie big league status if they play their cards right and no doubt this has been pointed out to them. However, their music contains more twists, turns and surprises than the straightforward sugar-rush of tonight's headliners, so it might be harder for beered-up students to grasp what's great about this band. That probably proves to be the case tonight as Violens struggle manfully with poor sound for much of their set. On some songs, the guitar and keyboards all but disappear beneath sludgy bass. To be fair, the sound quality adds as well as subtracts, giving the band a raw, punky feel lacking in their slightly over-polished debut album, but Violens don't help themselves by deploying their best song, 'Acid Reign', at the start. Still, they manage to keep the crowd interested and reasonably enthusiastic.

No such problems for The Drums, who are greeted with something approaching religious fervour the moment they hit the stage. Every song gets an ecstatic response from the crowd, with even so-so album tracks howled along to like hit singles. Singer Jonathan Pierce is rapidly developing Morrissey levels of theatricality, gesticulating and twirling with abandon, and even seems to have a similarly ambiguous sexual appeal: his removal of his jacket towards the gig's end elicits shrieks from girls and boys alike.

There's no avoiding the fact that there's not much variety in The Drums' music, but the band are so much damn fun live that it hardly matters. Both Pierce and bassist Jacob Graham barely stop dancing through the whole set. Plus, on a musical level, they're just a fine live band. In fact, 'Best Friend', with which they open, is even better than the recorded version. It's also great to hear the audience sing back, "I thought my life would get easier/ Instead it's getting harder" on the chorus of 'Book of Stories'. Turning the lachrymose into the anthemic is what The Smiths specialised in and proves there's more to this band than just an ultra-cool pose. We can hope for a little more depth to shine through on album number two, but for now it's just great to enjoy a live act at the peak of its powers, enjoying all the love and energy an audience can throw at it on a cold winter night.

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