Determined not to make Sound City too much of a military procedure, day 3 in Liverpool for us was always intended to be a bit of a stroll in the park. So, no real gad abouts, just a plan to catch Leeds talent L’Objectif, and then just maybe to hang around to watch Lathums perform a well-deserved victory lap to celebrate their current number 1 album. So, it was Liverpool Grand Hall or bust.
The progress of those fine young hipsters L’Objectif have not disappointed, given as they were one of my West Yorkshire Ones to Watch for 2021. I was a full seven months ahead of the Guardian (puh, call themselves finger on the pulse journalists?).
The band provided my first experience of seated live music back, at the Wardrobe in Leeds, and I was keen to catch up with them again now things felt more regular. L’Objectif had an early doors mid-afternoon slot in their biggest venue to date, and the band handled those challenges with aplomb; a very solid and energetic set which filled the venue, and with tracks like the swirling Drive in Mind showed that this kind of space didn’t intimidate them in the slightest.
There’s something of the night about L’Objectif; their music is less immediate banger, and it has a deep soul. Drive In Mind is about the concept of the thoughts in someone’s mind appearing on a cinema screen, and how disturbing that would be. Musically, there’s something dark and funky about the band. I get a feel for the sounds of a deeper, earlier Orange Juice, and some of the early 1980’s Scottish Postcard records artists (like the legends Josef K perhaps). Very cool, very dark, very interesting as there’s a lot to digest and unpick in the music.
I was stood directly in front of guitarist Dan Richardson, a man whose frame I can only really describe as strong with more solid forearms than I will ever muster. Perhaps then it’s why it can be easy to forget that this band are still in their mid-late teens, and that there is so much more music yet to come.
To show the confidence and progress of this band, witness the choice of songs; it’s not just a run through of the recent well received EP Have It Your Way, and no one would have thought any different or worse if they had done. Instead, there’s an unreleased track Same Thing to open, then Heaven Eleven mid-way through.
It felt that whoever was to follow L’Objectif would have a tall order. As it turned out, Luka State who have a very different vibe also hugely impressed.
It’s been a couple of years since I last saw Conrad and the Luka State guys at the quiet tail end of a Sunday gig during a Tramlines fringe weekend. Conrad bless him had a good chat and gave me a CD, despite my being an equal mix of hung over from the weekend and as drunk as a skunk from the day, and him being sober having to drive home. I was not at my eloquent best, it is fair to assume.
Since then, Cheshire based Luka State have gained in stature and class with a very well received album of bangers, Fall In Fall Out. There’s a lot to enjoy with these immediately likable tunes, and the class of the band shone through here live. This is a tight band who mean business and perform to their best.
If there is an equality and justice in the music word, Luka State would be considered to be as promising a band as someone like Inhaler. I have absolutely nothing against Inhaler, but it feels that Luka State work it incredibly hard; they have been on the circuit since 2013 and are as solid a band as you might want. Both bands have a feel for a banger although Luka State have a rockier edge.
Anyway, moving back to this performance Luka State were very Lika State, with one of those sets that grabbed more and more people’s attention as they progressed through the songs. I can’t imagine there was anyone in the room who hadn’t noted Luka State by the time their slot was at an end. It was a performance to make friends.
When it comes to Lathums, I was hugely and pleasantly surprised by how much I like their debut album. Both positive and life affirming, I also wasn’t put off by the production. Many of the most feted and promoted bands seem to have any sense of individuality thrashed out of them through an unhealthy big label “let’s add the kitchen sink” production ethos. Many of the artists I’ve seen grow and develop over recent years, seem to end up with a claggy thick veneer of production “varnish” between their actual music, and the end sound on record. Anyways, Lathums have very much avoided that sorry state, and it’s a lovely album.
Of course, too, with a big new artist the record label often seeks to milk their cash cow as much as they can. I can understand the pressure in these hard to earn a dollar times, and Lathums have had something of an insane touring schedule of late. So, perhaps it was not surprising that Alex’s vocal was not quite as crystal clear and pitch perfect as it has been when I’ve caught the band in the past. This is the band’s victory lap, so I’ll forgive them that, and it was great to feel the love in the room.
As the Lathums worked through their familiar tunes, I was actually surprised to find myself tearing up a touch. It kind of felt a bit like my youngest born was leaving for Uni. Completely proud that they are finding their way beyond our home turf of indie, meeting new friends and cutting their own path, but also a little sad that they will never again be “just ours”. Last time I saw the band, I managed to be handed a set list and a have a chat with Scott. I suspect I’d still be in Liverpool in a long queue nowadays. So this gig was something of a cutting of the strings. Fly free, fly strong, fly lucky, little Lathums.
Of course, a gig is all about atmosphere, and Lathums had done much of the hard work even before they stepped on stage. By reputation and recorded sound, everyone knew what Lathums are about. There was a good mix of feel good bangers, and sentimental thought provokers, and the crowd were well up for it. As long as their record label doesn’t kill the golden goose (and I noted some hitherto claimed “limited editions” on sale in the foyer), Lathums will have a strong and healthy future. Let’s hope so, and let’s also hope this is a new ladder for a few of our other strong talent in indie to get wider recognition.