Jeffrey Lewis & the Peter Stampfel Folk Band - Brudenell Social Club, Leeds - Gigs - Reviews - Soundblab

Jeffrey Lewis & the Peter Stampfel Folk Band - Brudenell Social Club, Leeds

by Andy Brown Rating: Release Date:

The Brudenell Social Club was packed out for Jeffrey Lewis; he's played Leeds quite a lot over the years and gained a reputation for being a pretty unique and entertaining live act. Before Jeff and the legendary Peter Stampfel took to the stage however there were a couple of support acts to warm us up.

First on were rising local heroes The Wind-Up Birds. They opened proceedings with a blistering rendition of 'Good Shop Shuts'; it's an undeniably confident start. 'In a Yorkshire Call Centre I Knelt Down And Wept' sounded positively manic as lead singer Paul Ackroyd sang like a man on the verge of a nervous breakdown. Paul and the Birds gave us a few more songs "about mental illness", then they were finished. Impressive stuff from a band that seems to get better and better every time I see them.

Next band K-X-P were something of a surprise as they gave the expectant indie-folk audience a set of experimental electronica, Suicide/Faust-esque anarchy and brooding disco sounds. '18 Hours (of Love)' sounded almost anthemic as their enthusiastic lead singer yelled like a punky Dave Gahan and punched the air over the sub-industrial, robotic beats. It was difficult not to smile as the lights flashed and the band created a wall of disco madness and electronic noise; turning the Brudenell into some kinda after-hours dance-club. Faintly ridiculous. Definitely fun.

Jeffrey Lewis is a great live performer for many reasons. Firstly, his songs are unique, funny and sweetly melancholy and he has a lot of them to choose from. He often incorporates his cartoons into his shows. He always surprises and he has the talent for reminding you that you're witnessing a live event not the note perfect reproduction of a CD.

Jeff was joined on stage by former Holy Modal Rounder Peter Stampfel, a band whose often psychedelic, quirky take on folk music served as an inspiration to a young Jeff on the look out for new sounds. A mandolin player (Franic of The Wave Pictures) and a drummer completed the line-up. Stampfel was a fantastic presence; a funny, awkward Robert Crumb lookalike still clearly enamoured with music.

They play tracks from Stampfel's charmingly titled Ass in the Air album as well as a wonderful version of Rounders tune 'What Am I Doing Here?'. There was even a tune about Stampfel's collection of bottle caps, with video accompaniment of course. Jeff plays old live favourite 'Alphabet' and there's an infectiously, exciting rendition of 'Whistle Past The Graveyard'. The band sounded great too; fiddle, mandolin, guitar and banjo weaving there way through these joyfully peculiar songs.

There was a song about the French Revolution and a song about the Soviet Union, both with projected comic book interpretations. They played songs from an album they recorded together and despite it all being new stuff they were received like old flames at a school reunion. Stampfel played 'Goldfinger' (yep, that Goldfinger) solo on his banjo and the band even did 'Systematic Death' by Crass.

It's hard to fault Jeffrey Lewis and the Peter Stampfel Folk Band. It was fun, exciting and even educational. Before they did an encore Jeff said that The Cribs (the group are friends) never do encores because they say they're "not wankers" before surmising that he must be a bit of a wanker himself and giving us a few more tunes. The man knows how to give the punters value for money.

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