Shearwater - Brudenell Social Club, Leeds

Ahh, the Brudenell Social Club, probably the finest venue in Leeds with its raised viewing area, great staff and cheap beer prices. What more could one want? Yes! That’s right a great gig. The fare on offer tonight is enough to pull in a sizable crowd which is impressive on a cold Monday night. It was just a shame the doors were about 40 minutes late in opening. That is soon forgotten as the first act, Lone Wolf, amble on to the stage.

Recently signed to the Bella Union label, Lone Wolf regale us with passionate and powerful songs from their upcomingg debut album, The Devil and I. The quality of the band is summed up in debut single ‘Keep You Eyes on The Road’, which drives along and crescendos to a majestic climax. If they were not in any bands to watch out for in 2010 lists then they damn well should have been.

Next up is David Thomas Broughton who has one of the most striking and powerful voices I’ve heard in a long time. He combines that with looping guitars and effects to provide a striking start to his set. Sadly, after about ten minutes, his singing takes a back seat as he starts to favour creating a host of weird noises from his instruments, clothes and even rape alarms. Whilst this seems to enthral a large part of the crowd it left me absolutely cold, perhaps because I wanted to hear far more of his wonderful voice.

Finally, we have headliners Shearwater who kick off proceedings with a majestic run through of ‘Meridian’, which also opens their excellent new album, The Golden Archipelago. This leads us gently in to their world of paeans and battle crys to the wonder and tragedy of our ever eroding environment. We sit or stand transfixed as Jonathan Meiburg’s soaring voice leads us through a set that combines the gentle beauty of songs like ‘An Insular Line’ with the driving power of ‘Corridors’ and ‘Seventy-Four Seventy-Five’ which give added intensity to the issues raised.

Despite a number of sound problems to overcome, the band never fail to live up to the expectations held for them. The regular instrument swapping is a joy to behold especially during one of the many highlights ‘Hidden Lakes’, which sees drummer, Thor Harris, and bassist, Kimberly Burke, combining to great effect on that classic rock and roll instrument, the glockenspiel. Prog-rock leaning ‘Uniforms’ closes the set with the same grace and beauty with which it began. Crowd request, ‘Hail Mary’, closes the night and leaves us with the happy glow that a great gig can provide.

As the audience drift out into the night one can only hope that the inspiration for Shearwater’s songs will stay with them, the cold air serving as a sharp reminder of Mother Nature and our relationship with her.

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