Constellations Festival, Leeds, November 10
Ariel Pink, in The Brudenell, with his toys all over the floor. It sounds like we’re playing Cluedo but instead, sadly, this is just the not-so-grand finale to the third Constellations all-dayer, as Mr Pink and his Haunted Graffiti fail to overcome the technical problems that blight their short but bitter headline set. They slope offstage having played for little more than half an hour, after an excruciatingly drawn-out jam on an anaesthetised ‘Menopause Man’ and Pink repeatedly bidding us “Goodbye” over a haze of echo. On account of their hasty, mardy retreat we don’t get to hear ‘Round And Round’, a pleasure nobody should be denied.
Still, further down the bill there are plenty of thrills to be had: much earlier in the day, Scottish three-piece PAWS underline why their rep as a garage-pop-punk-rock powerhouse is currently burgeoning, and with a European tour opening for Japandroids under their belts there’s no flab on their tunes today. Razor-sharp newie ‘The Bubble Boy’ hints at greater things to come, and sounds like the Ramones after a bottle of Buckfast.
Haim sisters Alana, Danielle and Este could probably teach them a thing or two about coping with that level of expectation, and prove they’re equally well placed to deliver a How To Deal With Hecklers 101. Yorkshire folk are known for being fairly direct, but bassist Este wastes no time in putting one over-enthusiastic punter in his place: “Hey, you! Do you want a microphone? No? Well, I think you should have one because you’re going to get a sore throat if you keep screaming at us!” Los Angeles 1, Leeds 0. New single ‘Don’t Save Me’, given a muscular live airing for just the third time, is the equal of anything off their ‘Forever’ EP – although the title track does get the night’s biggest cheer so far. Incidentally, ever noticed its similarity to the once equally buzztastic Black Kids track ‘I’m Not Gonna Teach Your Boyfriend How To Dance With You’? Wonder what they’re doing now…
With his lank hair and gangly demeanour, Adam Bainbridge, aka Kindness, doesn’t look like your average disco demigod but tonight, backed by a four-piece live band, that’s exactly what he becomes. An injection of tight, taut party-funk is exactly what a flagging Saturday night needs, and the unbridled joy of their impromptu encore, with its manic drumkit-dismantling finale, is the complete antithesis of what we see afterwards from Ariel Pink and co. It’s also proof positive that when Constellations shines, it remains one of the north’s premier live spectacles.