The Silent Bells Tour - Leeds Left Bank - Gigs - Reviews - Soundblab

The Silent Bells Tour - Leeds Left Bank

by Steve Rhodes Rating: Release Date:

The Silent Bells Tour pitches three wildly varying artists from Leeds' superb Gizeh Records, on a mini UK tour of some unique venues. Tonight we are deposited in the Left Bank, a church buried on the edge of the student heartland of Leeds, a beautiful, faintly Gothic venue, though sadly lacking in heating on a freezing mid-week evening.

The setting and atmosphere, however, suit the haunting and wistful odes of opening act Sleepingdog, Dutch-born Belgian resident Chantal Acda. Borrowing Angela and label-boss Richard, of A-Sun Amissa and half of Glissando, they provide subtle backing in plucked and bowed strings, treated echo-delayed guitar and a whispered vocal, to Chantal's acoustic guitar and minor-chord piano. The delicate, autumnal songs are perfect for the surroundings, dominated by Chantal's beautiful, yearning vocal, that captivates the attentive, hushed audience. It's the closing song which stands out, with Chantal and band joined at the front of the stage by the members of FareWell Poetry, singing acapella to 'The Sun Sinks in the Sea'. A stunning ending to a heartfelt set.

Conquering Animal Sound are a different and fascinating contrast to the opener. The Scottish electronic two-piece up the tempo but again give utmost respect to the surroundings. Singer Anneke combines a lush harmony with a unique, stuttering yelp of a vocal, with hints of Bjork, Roisin Murphy and particularly Ari Up from The Slits, that blends well with the backing of washes of sound and subtle beats, provided by James. Fitting somewhere between a restrained Aphex Twin and fellow natives Boards of Canada, the band build their organic songs using numerous repeaters and double or triple-tracked vocals, to envelop and give the audience a warm fuzzy feel. The closing number with its militaristic beats and Siouxsie-esque vocal is the highlight and brings the close to an excellent, engaging set.

After two superb support performances the stage is left for Anglo-French ensemble FareWell Poetry. Setting their stall early with the excellent 'All the Full, Indomitable Light of Hope', FareWell Poetry provide a building celestial multi-guitar assault into a crescendoed ending, in the veins of For a Minor Reflection, Mogwai and especially Explosions in the Sky, which gets much of the seated crowd nodding in appreciation. After this point, the mood becomes darker and intense, and Jayne's spoken-word vocal takes more of a central role. Resembling Godspeed You! Black Emperor and Meanwhile Back in Communist Russia, the band carefully craft their songs in the classic post-rock quiet-loud construction.

Though some technical difficulties temporarily mar one of the songs, a big issue with the band is the accompanying film background. While the image of a snake devouring a rat is not exactly pleasant viewing to accompany the performance, the band turn to the screen far too often, seemingly to check their cue during the song. Also, they display the occasional failing that dogs artists such as The Mars Volta by dragging too many notes out, with songs that stick around without really going anywhere. This particularly seems apparent during their closer and flagship song 'As True as Troilus', a song that is superb on record but doesn't seem to translate well live here. Despite that it is a still a powerful, apocalyptic performance that stays long in the memory.

The Silent Bells Tour is a resounding, successful showcase of and up-and-coming artists from Leeds' innovative Gizeh Records. Despite the need for woolly hats and winter fleeces, it was an evening worth suffering frostbite for.

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