The Drones - The Wardrobe, Leeds - Gigs - Reviews - Soundblab

The Drones - The Wardrobe, Leeds

by Andy Brown Rating:10 Release Date:2013-07-15

I first heard The Drones when a friend played me the epic and devastating ‘Jezebel’. Released on their 2006 album, Gala Mill, the track tells you everything you need to know about the band; the dark, tension racked atmosphere, the explosive guitars, unhinged vocal stylings of singer Gareth Liddiard and, of course, the bands passionate, uncompromising approach to their art.

For some reason the band seemed to fall off my radar for a few years, yet a week or so ago another friend played me the bands politically charged new single, ‘Taman Shud’. Just in time for one of only two UK shows, I was hooked all over again.  

There are different ways of playing guitar, all with their individual merit and style. Gareth Liddiard seems to favour the ‘attack the frets like your hands are on fire’ approach. We’re only two songs into the bands set and Liddiard has torn most of the strings off one guitar and mule-kicked another to the floor. This isn’t out of anger or frustration though; just good old fashioned, cathartic rock ‘n’ roll. While the band’s latest LP, the fantastic I See Seaweed, is filled with a slow-burning, cinematic atmosphere, The Drones are stripped-back and raw live. Songs are often reworked, twisted into jagged new shapes by Liddiard’s frantic guitar work while the rest of the band provide a muscular, almost Stooges-esque backing.

It’s hard to make out many of Liddiard’s lyrics tonight but his vocal style is still very much in tact as he spits, howls and sneers through the songs. Tracks like ‘Baby Squared’ are pounding, raw garage rock with absolutely everything in-the-red while the previously mentioned ‘Taman Shud’ plays around with jagged, post-punk funk.  Liddiard seems intent on making as much noise as possible, frequently dropping to his knees to play around with the various distortion pedals and ‘noise boxes’ littered around the stage. In fact, if The Drones didn’t enjoy writing choruses so much they would make a pretty great noise band.

On the rare occasions that the band slows things down a little, we’re treated to the likes of the tense, brooding ‘River of Tears’. Originally written by fellow Australian Kev Carmody, the songs dramatic, murderous storytelling fits the band perfectly and it’s an impressively delivered, emotional highlight.

While being fairly big in their native Australia (well, they won the Australian Music Prize back in 2005) The Drones have remained surprisingly obscure over here. What’s clear though is just how much everyone here tonight loves them; their given a hero’s welcome and an extended round of applause and plenty of appreciative howls of approval as they leave the stage. They didn’t play ‘Jezebel’ but after a show like that, I’m willing to let it go. 

Comments (2)

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The Drones are fucking amazing live. Did they play I See Seaweed, the title track ? Explosive stuff. Probably my favourite live performance of the last 5 years.

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Not that one (great track though). Mainly off the Wait Long by the River album. Bloody fantastic set too!

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