¡Forward, Russia!: Jacob’s Well, Leeds, Monday, May 1
Leeds label supremos and pals host the secret disco-punk party of the year
There’s something special going on tonight. But shh! Don’t tell anyone. It’s a secret that only 250 other people know about. ¡Forward, Russia! are throwing a party with some chums and only the few lucky folks rammed shoulder-to-shoulder inside this tiny pub venue have blagged an invite.
And who better to get everyone in the party mood than fellow Leodiensians The Pigeon Detectives, whose Ramones-esque rock’n’roll sets hearts thumping from the off? “There’re girls touching my legs,” muses Pigeon frontman Matt Bowman. “It’s got me excited.” Steady on, the night’s young. Still, it’s easy to see how ‘I’m Not Sorry’ and ‘I’m Always Right’, with their cocksure guitars and fast-paced rhythms, can send people into a frenzied fervour.
Pulling in a more modest crowd doesn’t deter San Francisco’s Every Move A Picture from pronging out bass-heavy dance-rock with a seductive swagger. But singer Brent Messenger might note that caressing the mic stand like you want to bed it isn’t so alluring when you’re taking mammoth swigs of student staple Oranjeboom.
Duels’ arrival onstage sets bodies surfing above heads to unknown destinations. With subtle nods towards early Britpop, ‘Half Light’ is an obvious crowd pleaser. But it’s latest single ‘Animal’ that really epitomises the ravaged spirit. “Me animal, you animal!” sings Jon F in a wavering baritone to get girls het up like a pack of rabid dogs.
It’s the arrival of Leeds’ finest that really gets the party started, though. After, rather worryingly, walking onstage to Van Halen’s ‘Jump’, the familiar spasmodic synths of ‘Thirteen’ kick in with enough authority to confirm that ¡Forward, Russia! won’t be exchanging their punctuation-embossed regalia for leather trousers just yet.
Indulging in some ¡Forward, Russia! bingo (“You yell the number and we’ll play it!”), Tom looks every inch the deranged preacher, convulsing his body while delivering a sermon of high-pitched choir-boy vocals and angsty screeching. During a fist-in-the-air inducing rendition of ‘Twelve’, Tom’s lifted to great heights by the hands of many. Rob Canning, meanwhile, displays some hardcore headbanging, and Samuel ‘Whiskas’ Nicholls stands regimental, but, as always, cool as fuck.
“We’ve been fucking shit,” Rob yells in light of a few technical difficulties, “but you’ve been amazing.”
“Speak for yourself,” chirps Tom. “I’ve been pretty hot.” He’s not wrong. Imagine 1,000 bullets plummeting into your body and the shock wouldn’t be a fraction of the awesome spectacle here.
As secret parties go, tonight is electrifying. Next time make sure you get an invite.