Foxy Shazam - The Cockpit, Leeds

After an unmemorable opening act, Eureka Machines took the stage and made their mark before even a note was struck. Slickly-presented in black with spectacular creepers and 50s mics, they promised much and delivered with a performance as tight as a duck’s backside. Plenty of energy and driving rhythms, well-rehearsed stage moves that could have been trite if they weren’t carried off so cleanly – definitely a band that would please most crowds.

The turnout tonight was low, although diverse – the young and beautiful mixed with old cynics who probably go to gigs most nights of the week – but rarely will any of them have seen a show quite like that put on by headliners Foxy Shazam.

Those few who’d already heard Foxy’s first major label album, or even just read a review, may have had an inkling that their set might be dramatic but most present were stunned into near-silence. The Cincinnati funsters style themselves to their own individual and wildly varying tastes – from lead singer Eric Sean Nally’s sixties soul get-up, through hair bigger than most 80s LA bands could ever imagine, to the keyboard player’s beard that would knock Dusty Gibbons into a cocked hat – but it all seemed to fit with a live show that was pure musical circus.

Kicking off with ‘The Only Way To My Heart is With An Axe’, the scene was quickly set with Eric posing and posturing in a style that would have left Mick Jagger breathless to a tune that was dark rock-pop genius. Whilst playing with apparent abandon, the band were nonetheless perfect to a note and more than justified their place on stage. Finishing the opener with the keyboard player standing on top of his instrument and stomping with his feet might have been more climactic than most outfits could ever hope to achieve, but more was to come.

‘Count Me Out’ and ‘Oh Lord’ kept up the tempo, but the audience was generally gobsmacked into little more than polite applause. Many artists would have been fazed by now and gone through the motions, but not Eric and his mates. A quick intro to ‘The Rocketeer’, claimed to have been written on the back of a pick-up truck with Nick Cave whilst doing 90mph, and the maestro began to show off tricks with the microphone stand and more rolls than an overstocked bakery – repeated in next song ‘Bombs Away’ when he managed to headbutt the mike off its moorings but still carrying on like a true professional whilst surreptitiously retrieving it from the floor.

‘Unstoppable’ had a chorus that stuck in the brain and saw the band pumping out more energy than a dozen four-year-olds in a ball pool. This one will surely make a big mark should they release it as a single. For a brief respite from the mayhem, Mr Nally took some time out to chat to the audience about a recent magazine review in which he’d been described as having a girl’s voice. Clearly upset, he still showed the grace and decorum not to name the magazine in question and, with the ensemble now fully recovered, they hopped back onboard the crazy train and bopped around like Labradors on Red Bull to ‘Bye Bye Symphony’ and ‘Killin’ It.’

Closing the evening was a marvellous, full-band acapella version of ‘Evil Thoughts’ with Eric finishing the night by declaring “Sometimes I wish I could get a little mirror on my stage so I could look at myself when I sing” before smashing the microphone on the floor. Showmanship par excellence.

It’s to be hoped that Foxy Shazam return to these shores early next year to play another small-venue tour as, when festival season kicks in and the PR machine gets hold of them, they are quite simply going to become stratospherically famous. Get to see them in an intimate setting if you can. They will blow you away.

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