Das Pain - Wharf Chambers, Leeds - Gigs - Reviews - Soundblab

Das Pain - Wharf Chambers, Leeds

by Andy Brown Rating:10 Release Date:2012-02-20

It seems only sensible to expect a little wind and rain come December. Yet even by Leeds’ standards last Wednesday threw up some exceptionally bad weather; the rain lashed down hard, the wind made my umbrella utterly redundant and the buses were crammed with soaking wet passengers trying to get home for the night.

It wasn’t the kind of evening that made you want to leave the house, yet Das Pain playing their last gig of the year was not to be missed. 

Once I’d made the desperate dash from the bus station to Wharf Chambers there was enough time to grab a celebratory pint before the nights first support act, bluesman Dave Hick.

Hick treated us to his throaty, fire-in-the-belly renditions of Delta blues and gospel songs with the relaxed yet commanding stage presence of someone who knows exactly what they’re doing. We heard songs by the likes of Charlie Patton and Robert Johnson as well as Bob Dylan’s ‘Cocaine Blues’. Hick played some fairly beautiful looking guitars but finished the set playing a Jimi Hendrix song on a guitar made of two broom handles attached to a flying V body. It still sounded brilliant.

Next up there was a set from the superbly named, Hilary and the Hate Crimes. The band featured members of Cowtown and Two Minute Noodles yet were an entirely different prospect. Hate Crimes adopted the swagger and sneer of Gallon Drunk and the seductively dark tones present in anything Rowland S Howard put his name to. The songs were slender, strutting leviathans that rattled and shook like all the dirtiest rock ‘n’ roll should. There was a danceable, sultry groove to each song and even a touch of festive sleaze as they sang, “its Christmas time and I’m away in a stranger”.

Everything seemed to come together rather well for the nights headliners, Das Pain. The howling winds and torrential rains seemed entirely appropriate for the bands self-styled songs of, ‘magic, myth and murder’. The four-piece performed a set brisling with dark, kinetic energy; broken bottles, empty hearts and even murder running through the songs dramatic narratives.

‘Haunted Heart’, sounded absolutely thunderous; built around a pounding piano motif and some of McArdle’s most intense storytelling. The songs narratives never seemed to be too straightforward, presenting a world populated by bars, wet streets and dangerous minds.  Different characters appeared, different stories being told.

One song saw the McArdle take words from a 1923 pamphlet called ‘Murder Ballads of Old Leeds’, a semi-spoken performance put to some beautifully dream-like instrumentation. The performance was hypnotic while the subject matter pointed to infinitely more interesting areas than your average lyricist. 

Musically, the murder ballad proved to be a rare moment of calm. McArdle swopped guitar pick for knife during final song, ‘Cubist Blues’, dragging the blade along his guitar strings and bringing the whole set came to a gloriously noisy conclusion. 

Who knew a night of blues, hate and pain could be so enjoyable? 

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