I last saw The Lathums at the Belgrave Music Hall in Leeds a little before Christmas. The moment wasn’t right for me as my knee was heavily strapped, I was grumpy at being pretty much immobile and beer was doing its very best to dull both the pain and the senses. Everyone told me it was a fantastic gig, but I had to see the Lathums again to convince myself.
Dear reader, after my second Lathums experience convinced is the word. Believe the hype.
One thing you can’t say against Lathums is that they are unapproachable. There clearly no pre gig nerves on show as the lads were displaying their prowess with an American Football and a grin and a chat for anyone who approached them when I arrived for the evening parade of acts at 6.30. By the start of the gig lead singer Alex Moore had swapped his jumper for someone’s shirt in a merch t-shirt deal. This is what fun and connection is made of.
This was a night of sheer quality, and started with a flourish as the funkish Londoners in Gold Beach swapped instruments and places for their final song and their stage banter “Do y’all like disco? Well this isn’t disco”.
Two of the other support acts also really stood out for me. York’s Serotones grabbed my attention and interest as a band to watch with their classy brand of banging but also soaring indie. I really have a feeling there are some serious nascent bangers which an audience will get behind as they become more familiar and confident. As a couple of band members have dads in Shed Seven I’m sure there’s no shortage of advice on offer.
Here, I wanted to see the vocalist Duke Witter get off the stage and do a little mingle with the audience, and I think being more direct would reinforce that magical and mysterious connection that some bands have with the folk on the floor. Their material truly is strong enough to front it up; Serotones are a band I want to see more of.
I do have to say that perhaps the guys were more used to a smaller stage where a five piece have to stand cheek by jowl and where they can get, but for me they felt a little semi detached with a guitarist and bassist standing out in what might have been a grass verge towards the M62. I’m sure all is well in the band but they looked a little uncomfortable at first while the vocals of Duke Witter and the flamboyant lead guitar forged ahead.
Happily the drummer really stood out as a class act, drew it all together for the team, and they soon settled down.
One does feel a little sorry for those bands who support Lathums; the anticipation for the Wigan Gods is so strong there’s a temptation for the supports to be seen as little more than the adverts before the main feature. So it tells how good and engaging solo acoustic Newcastle troubadour Andrew Cushin is. On a night where dark acoustic tales might have got drowned out in chants of “Wigan” and “Yorkshire”, Andrew Cushin got the audience to quieten up and listen.
I wondered if there was space in the world for another earnest singer songwriter, and concluded if they are as good and heartfelt as Cushin the answer must be yes. Here Cushin did a song about his 14 year old sister that made me consider ringing the council’s safeguarding unit; later was a tale about an alcoholic father and how the two kids were afterthoughts.
Cushin probably has to cope with Jake Bugg comparisons with his tales of growing up on the wrong side of the tracks. However much I like Bugg (a lot) Cushin had a much purer folk voice and I channelled Don McLean a little. If Cushin sounds like this live, then his studio tracks are going to be hard to top.
Our man is backed by a chap who helped bring Bugg and Capaldi to the attention of the world, so I hope great things happen for this guy. Note: Andrew Cushin’s badges don’t like being put in the washing machine.
Reading some of the reaction to The Lathums after the gig this weekend was almost universally wonderful and deservedly so. I did read one comment which remarked that Lathums followers had been “taken over by the wanna be football hooligan shagger scene”. Perhaps they were doing that hooligan shagging stuff elsewhere but at the front at the fringes of the mosh I saw only happy, bouncing people out for a good time and a willing hand up for anyone finding themselves sprawled on the floor. Likewise, I enjoyed my chat with young Mitchell who is spreading his indie wings, and speaking with Liz Mann of Purple Thread about her musical plans this year.
I guess I cant discount that I might be a wanna be football hooligan shagger but having never thrown a punch in 40 years, having been to one football match in my life, and being faithful to the same woman since the 90’s must make me a pretty p1ss poor one.
A very sobering outcome of being front row were the photos of the gig, which if you gaze beyond the band some show me with my gut hanging out and looking rather like a man who lives with his mam and who may or may not have a bit of dripped egg on his clothing. The diet has started although the wardrobe reboot might take a while.
Rumours that I nabbed a Lathums set list because I was too drunk to remember the song titles in the morning are nothing but scurrilous lies. I had driven up from Pizza Express in Woking. Ask anyone. Cough.
Second song in for the Lathums was Fight On, the track released at the start of the weekend. It says how pure the Lathums sound is that Fight On sounded like it had been played a zillion times and was immediately like a welcome mate walking on the horizon towards you.
Alex’s vocal is perfect as he masters the syllables of Villainous Victorian or soars through the notes on Artificial Screens (my personal favourite Lathums track for that amazing vocal and laid back and perfect bit of guitar work. Give me reverb and I go weak at the knees). This is the real deal.
This is not a concern for now but that pure unmistakable Lathums sound (I get some Housemartins and some Smiths in there) makes me wonder how the band will move it for album 2. I Know That Much made me forget these cares and took me back to a summer in another age where I discovered the understated majesty of the likes of the Stone Roses and a comforting happy vibe.
After the gig I had chance to shake the hand of and speak with lead guitarist Scott Concepcion who really has to be about the best and most striking guitarist in indie of this generation. If I had thought too deeply about it, there would have been a little quiver in my voice thinking about having a chat with this generation’s key axe man.
I asked Scott about whether he was daunted about the hype and expectation around Lathums. I know in his shoes I’d be crippled with self doubt. Scott sounded surprised at my question and asked for it again (I like to at least think it was surprise, rather than wonder what my slurred garble was about). His comment was beautifully positive; “to be honest I get a buzz from the comments and we thrive off it”. With an attitude and unconscious talent like The Lathums have, who is going to bet against them being the band of the decade.