I’ve been so lucky with my autumn gig choices (although perhaps instead of luck it’s more that I choose my gig time carefully). The blend of Huddersfield’s Boxteles, local rising stars Full Colour (yeah I’m a fan boy with a 3rd time experience in the space of a couple of months), and the mighty Larkins from Manchester (although lead singer Josh studied in Huddersfield for 4 years) again led to another legendary night.
I never understand folks who rock up just for the main act, so it was great to see the floor full for The Boxteles. The audience were amply rewarded for their early turn up. My brief notes of the gig (which usually holds a nugget of truth) states: A mix between clean cut American new wave and the Stereophonics. I had heard a comparison to Catfish and it is certainly true The Boxteles gave a pretty flawless fresh and clean indie performance which was well received.
I noted the band were particularly strong on the vocal harmony which perhaps led me to the thought of those US college new wave bands. All together boys now in harmony: “Whoooo ooooo ooooooh”.
The Boxteles offered some good-humoured self-depreciation with lines such as “we are on first as we are not as successful as the others in the line up”. Even the name has a humour to it; the old box tellies that we used to sit in front of is the inspiration.
As a onetime lecturer/ trainer you are told never to apologise in advance and let your audience form its own view on your presentation. The Boxtelies didn’t need the self-deprecating humour (as cute as it was) as they stood their ground, and I’d happily see these guys as a headline act. Likewise, the little sink back into safe territory to cover a couple of verses of Champagne Supernova” wasn’t really needed as the audience was enjoying the band’s own tunes and they created their own heat (both physically and in warming up the punters). At least with the cover I did get a vibe for how Kelly Jones might sound in Oasis and to be fair to the lads it was a good cover.
Towards the end of the set, the nicely banging and earnest new single Ready For Action got an airing and the track is going to win this band new fans. It was great to hear my former review editor Adam give the track a spin on Jorvic FM last Sunday. Live the track married into The Larkins sound a little as they played it with a jaunty jingling guitar. On record, the track feels about as radio ready as anything I’ve heard this year; such an achievement for a third Spotify track from this band.
I did think Tom’s vocals felt a little breathless towards the end although they came back on point for the final tracks. I think the heat in the Parish barn took us all a little by surprise (I was togged up for post nuclear winter).
Next up were Full Colour back at the Parish just a week or so after their absolutely mental slot as support to Vistas. My beloved is a little shyer than I in thrusting to the front and I was happy to get a bit more of a balanced view of the sound this time around by standing centre back. I’ve heard Miles Apart a heap of times but it was only here that a thought of Marc Bolan (T.Rex) came to me with classic songs from the era of Jeepster and Get It On. That Full Colour drum, bass and heavy guitar produce a real guttural, dirty and raunchy strong and pure 50’s rock and roll riff. No wonder I admire this band.
This time around I thought the performance was a little more understated than last week, but we still enjoyed an incredibly strong performance. I’m not sure if there was more echo in the vocal this week; must confess I preferred the cleaner arrangement slightly.
I think this was the final performance of Full Colour as an unsigned band. Exciting things await for these guys with their shiny new record deal and 2020 is going to be huge for them.
Unusually for The Parish, Larkins made a bit of an entrance emerging from the side door and with the lads “too cool for school” social media image and Josh’s pout you might think them a little stand-offish. However, after the gig those Larkins lads were chatting with anyone who wanted to and displayed once again what lovely relaxed chilled guys they are. I rambled to Dom a bit about how I had interviewed them for H2N a couple of years back, and he happily spoke about how these recent gigs really felt different in terms of buzz and vibe.
I will deny until my death bed that I let out a bit of a girlish squeal as Josh came out to the floor towards the end of the set with everyone’s eyes upon him. I watched the expression of the rest of the band enjoying the audience’s rapt attention as Josh moved amongst us, and realising they had created something really special with that moment.
Connection is key in live music; Larkins are masters, and we were all singing along and just totally absorbed and engaged. There’s not much chat from the audience at a Larkins gig.
Larkins’ performance was a class run through of the band’s main tunes. Everything was as tight and pert as Henry’s pecs which were on display from the off. At the start of the gig I thought Larkins had moved away from my preference; perhaps a bit too light, fiddly and a little girly for me. Midway through those thoughts had been banished.
I loved the infectious delivery where Josh and the band were using body language to implore us to listen and follow.
Towards the end of the set the song which is the name of the tour, Are We Having Any Fun Yet? was given a play. Its a song about the slog of life; tired, routine, second jobs and pills. No one told us it was going to be like this and it’s a serious reflective song from the band. Much of the current set list can be found on Larkins rather excellent live album.
Another reflective track is River Bed which is the oldest song performed by the band and actually written by Josh in halls as a student in Huddersfield. Pieces is a real tune.
The overall set itself was a pleasing mix of dancey and reflective; latest single Not Enough Love had a rather 1975 feel to it with its slightly soul dance feel, but having seen both bands live, I’d say Larkins has a slightly harder edge. I was also pleased to go down memory lane with Sugar Sweet as this was one of my first reviews (since my return to music reviewing, that is).
I left the evening concluding Larkins are a band who can command and control so much space. Larkins completely owned the Parish and were as attractive and magnetic as a black hole in space. I’d love to see Larkins in the open, sun and wind in our hair, thousands around as I truly bet they could blast their way through that arena barrier.
Larkins still have a few dates left of their tour. Have a check on their social media but in Yorkshire and the North East, try and catch them at Sheffield Leadmill on the 22nd, York Fulford Arms on the 29th and Sunderland Independent on the 30th.