Das Pain - Leeds, Fox & Newt - Gigs - Reviews - Soundblab

Das Pain - Leeds, Fox & Newt

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

How much fun can you have for £3?

Last night, the audience at the Fox & Newt were presented with four acts, drastically different from one another but all thrilling in their own right. There were surreal Coronation Street references, violin-led swathes of noise and acoustic laments before headliners, Das Pain, took to the stage with their blend of murder, mystery, and whiskey-soaked melancholia.

The first act saw Derbyshire singer-songwriter Alex Rennie take to the stage. Rennie got things started with gentle, acoustic paeans to love, friendship and blue lagoons (no, not the film). Rennie’s lyrics were observational and to the point while his simplified, folk-influenced style occasionally brought the likes of I Am Kloot to mind. The set lulled the crowd into a false sense of security, as things were about to get a whole lot stranger. 

The Po!p are more than just a band. Born from drummer Rachael Rix-Moore’s plan to be in 13 different bands in 2015, last night’s performance was merely the beginning. A new band will be formed at regular intervals throughout the year, after a few practices they’ll perform before dramatically splitting up on stage.

The acts will all represent a band from Rix-Moore’s prolific musical past; The Po!p play tribute to teenage band, The Jack Duckworth Experience. As ideas go, you can’t get much more ambitious and simultaneously insane then that.

What’s even more wonderful is that The Po!p were absolutely brilliant. The band took to the stage wearing masks of Coronation Street's Audrey Roberts. The scene resembled an alternate version of identity crisis classic, Being John Malkovich (or Being Audrey Roberts, as it would be here). The four-piece proceeded to launch into a ukulele and glockenspiel-led set of covers and originals.

The Po!p effortlessly nailed all the ramshackle, easy charm of the finest indie-pop and they only formed for this one performance. We got the Vaseline’s ‘Molly’s Lips’ (lyrics changed to “kiss, kiss Audrey’s lips”), Trapdoor Minotaur’s ‘Alan’s Panic’, and a fairly inspired take on Jermaine Stewart’s cheesy classic, ‘We Don’t Have to take Our Clothes Off’.  As if to prove the song right, everyone in attendance had a really good time.

The atmosphere took another significant left-turn with the arrival of ambient drone two-piece, Helicopter Quartet. Some live experiences can be utterly mesmerising, transformative affairs that hold your attention and affect you in ways you can’t quite pinpoint. Not knowing anything about them, Helicopter Quartet caught me completely by surprise.

Michael Capstick played a mixture of fuzzy noise and subtle, slow-core-indebted guitar parts while electric violinist Chrissie Caufield brewed-up a hypnotic storm of drones and otherworldly sounds. Pieces like ‘Where Have All the Aliens Gone?’ were strange, flowing and utterly, utterly beautiful. In part I’m reminded of the likes of Leeds’ legends The Vibracathedral Orchestra. It was a unique and stunning performance.

Das Pain has been gaining new fans with each live appearance, their atmospheric, brooding blues played with a singular intensity that marks them out as a band to watch on the ever-vibrant Leeds scene. The band was on fine, fiery form last night as they opened with the sleazy workingman’s blues of ‘Salaryman's Lament’. Singer Ian McArdle and keyboardist Robb Barham advised the man in question to simply “suck it up” over the songs call-and-response section.  

Stately on record, previous single ‘Joyride’ bared its teeth live, alive with the drama of a situation rapidly spiralling out of control (“I drove her to the edge/ on a joyride turned mean”). The band harnessed the manic drama of The Bad Seeds in their pomp, songs lurched into life and shook you until your bones rattled. The energy stemmed from the accomplished songwriting that managed to display the attention to detail of the likes of American Music Club and all the outward cool of Nick Cage in Wild at Heart.

McArdle’s reverb-soaked guitar sounded particularly dream-like on their Murder Ballads of Old Leeds song while the strutting ‘Cubist Blues’ was a personal highlight. The song stalked and prowled before building to its now traditional knife-wielding crescendo (McArdle playing his guitar with a knife during the song).

For all this intensity, McArdle is relaxed and chatty between songs, at one point pondering aloud about the oddity of a pub called The Fox & Newt. It’s a passionate and impressive set that brings an astoundingly good night to a suitable conclusion.

How much fun can you have for £3? Quite a lot it seems 

Follow my covergae of Tiny Pop Presents gigs, next one here: http://soundblab.com/reviews/gigs/7090-tiny-pop-presents-the-moz-pops-the-cardigan-arms-leeds-february-27-2015

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