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Live At Leeds

Various venues, Leeds, May 6

Live At Leeds

Leeds: home of Everything Brilliant since 2006. Hence the sixth incarnation of Live At Leeds – crammed with talent, way drunk. It went like this:

The on-way-too-early band
Surefire chart-chargers Citizens! are expounding their sharp’n’sparkly suave pop thang at the first gurgle of the beer pumps, a little stilted due to the early hour but still scintillating and edgy: no smart southern chap valuing his Gucci model cheekbones should be singing “I’m in love with your sister/I took her home” to a room of Yorkshire stag dos.

The not-as-confrontational-as-they-think-they-are band
Tom Cohen may be wearing a dress. A dress! Or maybe it’s a traditional Bollywood smock coat. It’s tough to know if you’re being provoked when there are no lights. Similarly, no amount of hair-flailing and hippy psych maelstroms will ever shock, captivate or entrance us without a glimmer of originality thrown in. Sorry, SCUM.

The band who bafflingly are’t as massive as they should be
Put a wetsuit on, Julian Casablancas, and one day you might be as cool as Minneapolis’ Howler, purveyors of new-wave beach bum brilliance akin to Brian Wilson dropping into some gnarly tubes (thanks Hackneyedsurferglossary.com) with Elvis Costello and Iggy Pop.

The band who are not at all like you expected
Friends: icy Brooklyn sextronic funk-punk types prone to Gallic cigarettes and sneering dismissively at George Clooney from Parisian catwalks, right? U-ERRR! ‘I’m His Girl’ lied to us: only the glacial bassist could carry off a Gaultier grimace, the rest look and sound like a cruise ship funk band fronted by a cod-rap Cyndi Lauper. Who knew?

The headliners with something still to prove
After an ill-received, formulaic second album, Cov’s chanting crusaders The Enemy return on the eve of their third, intending to not so much take no prisoners as Rapier missile the O2 Academy into a billowing fireball and shoot any survivors point-blank in the face with bullets made of riff. They’re a sensation: an hour of relentless buzzsaw riot rock.

The actor’s side-protect
“Everybody say ‘rubber dinghy rapids’!” For the first 10 minutes, you’re thinking Riz Ahmed’s entire act as Riz MC consists of standing in the audience talking about his lead role in Four Lions. Then he leaps onstage and reveals himself an artful, accomplished and insightful observational speed-rapper covering topics such as London’s “modern Mecca of the modern cultish cool”, the ghettoisation of society and the Truth Behind Terrorism. Fuck Mini Babybels!

Mark Beaumont

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