With Support from Pusher and Institutes.
The Soundhouse Leicester 25th November 2013.
Leicester Soundhouse, tucked away on Southampton Street is one of those venues God put on earth just for Monday night music. Exit Calm are the evening’s main catch, touring the UK and Europe with their acclaimed second album “The Future Isn’t What It Used To Be”. If sound is what matters then you really need to do yourself a big favour and be amongst these guys and tonight I’m treating myself and the blonde one. Exemplifying the musical quality currently coming out of Yorkshire are main support, Pusher.
Warming up the Soundhouse stage first off are Worcester band, Institutes who I humbly profess to know nothing about. Though they make a valiant attempt to inject energy and melody into a short frenetic set that was occasionally plagued by some unintentional reverb on the bass player’s stack, she soldiers on and the frontman loses both jacket and specs for the finishing numbers. A worthy effort indeed.
As they say, it begins with Pusher and opening the set with their current single ‘Shoot Life’, the tone is set high. Forget shoe-gazing and then, this is now, the mesmeric melodies of our time that resonate memories of classic distorted guitars and Hawkwind’s ‘Silver Machine’. The blonde one says Lou Reed and the Velvets, but the music is as distinctive and as sharp as one would want. Heavy bass threads and drum beat are crafted together behind a wistful wind of pounding leading guitars and a haunting vocal. ‘Grace’ and ‘Ghost’ follow before we’re extolled to breathe out, breathe in with the opening lyrics of ‘Cold is Just The Dark’ and a dark roller coaster ride of a musical masterpiece. Close your eyes and you can sense Bela Lugosi at your neck; classic tune.
Finishing off with ‘Corridors’, the fuzz and feedback culminates into a rousing repertoire of lasting impression. Tick ‘like’, big time. Tick ‘see again soon’ – Pusher, another five-man Yorkshire gem raising the tempo for the main act.
Exit Calm – no fanfare and none needed, just dim the house lights, volume up on the Marshall’s, lock and launch. You can read plaudits aplenty all over the intraweb about these boys but there’s nothing like the sound that echoes hauntingly from their opening number ‘You’ve Got It All Wrong’. A fine contradictory title to what I’m hearing and that guitar, that sound is better than the best drugs, as good as the best sex, and on a Monday night in Leicester what more could you want? ‘You need to change your mind’ implores lead singer Nicky Smith in amongst the climbing chords of Rob Marshall’s superlative strings . Tchaikovsky couldn’t have crafted it better.
Follow that, and they do with ‘The Rapture’, the latest release laden with acidic lyrical venom, with words dancing through the booming darkness of the brilliance of Pemberton and Lindley’s bass-drum backbeat, a mellifluous and magnificent tour de force of sweet melody and barely legal violence emanating from Marhsall’s guitar. The pace and power is unrelenting and the music unapologetic and unswerving in its intent. Long time favourite ‘Fiction’ rang out followed by new track ‘Albion’ and the classic ‘Hearts and Minds’ putting the marker down through the middle of the set.
‘Promise’ starts with Smith’s insidious truth that he’s the voice between our ears and in our mind… ‘seek and you will find’. From the beginning gentle opening, undulating rhythms to the approaching cataclysmic crescendo of sweet noise, it’s as much a musical certainty as a Neil Redfearn penalty. Winner!
Final numbers of “Holy War” and “Recovery” are a fitting close. More anthemic mixing of crashing cymbals, brutal bass-lines and six string majesty lead by Smith’s sweet acerbic intonations, reflections on all the best things musically. Hear them now, treat yourself.
Words and Photography by Bucko (Bucko Photography)