|Eureka Machines/Baby Chaos/The Chris Catalyst Group/Fierce Ideas - Leeds, Brudenell Social Club - 11 February 2017|
|Written by Ben Hughes|
|Wednesday, 22 February 2017 18:00|
Today is the born day of Eureka Machines main man Chris Catalyst, and to celebrate he has arranged a little shindig at the band's spiritual home, the Brudenell Social Club in Leeds - probably the best small venue in Yorkshire, if not the whole Über Kingdom of Rock ‘n’ Roll (well, I might dispute that – Ed).
It's funny how a Eureka Machines show at the Brudenell is more of an event than just a gig. Friends who know each other just through this band, be it online or just by meeting at gigs, come together. This may be the only thing they have in common and the only time they meet up but there is a certain camaraderie with this Eureka Machines community. Later tonight many fans and friends will present an overwhelmed and truly humbled Chris Catalyst with among other things, a rare carbon fibre guitar that he has been searching for online for years. I bet Bono never got one of those.
Due to a mix up with door times there is a queue in the rain to get in and I walk in to witness opening band Fierce Ideas already in full flow. Fierce Ideas is the brainchild of Tropical Contact frontman Ben Janet and happens to feature a few of his mates; Eureka's bassist Pete Human, Tropical Contact guitarist Ed, drummer Ash Pears (who also happens to run AshTV who have made videos for Eureka Machines, CJ Wildheart etc.) and guitarist Richy Pears.
If you were, like me, a bit disappointed at the news that Tropical Contact were to take an extended break, have no fear as Fierce Ideas are not that far removed. Mostly due to the songwriting and vocals of Ben Janet of course. Live and on first impressions Fierce Ideas absolutely kill it! Live, the charismatic singer is David Lee Roth meets Albert Steptoe, ever smiling, completely comfortable in his role and good at cracking a few one liners. His band are energetic and the songs...the songs are pure catchy sounding earworms that sound ace.
Ex Hey! Hello! singer Victoria Liedtke joins the band for recent single and final song 'Living Love' and does a cracking job. The first brand new band to get excited about in 2017, I await their debut EP/album/world tour of Yorkshire with bated breath.
If you didn't already know, Chris Catalyst has just released a rather splendid solo album entitled 'Life Is Often Brilliant' and this is one of only two shows so far where he is playing the songs live for the first time and unveiling the Chris Catalyst Group. He is joined by a bass player and a drummer and Chris announces from the stage that tonight, for one night only, they will be known as Imperial Leather.
The three piece rip through most of that album with ease tonight. Opener 'No Regrets' has a mesmerising riff to watch it sorts sounds like Royal Blood meets Blur. Yeah Chris' album has a definite Brit Pop feel and that is a good thing. The already packed Brudenell lap it up, many down the front singing every word to an album that has been available through PledgeMusic for just two weeks. The likes of 'Wake Me Up On Monday ' is ridiculously catchy. 'Sticks And Stones' is a glorious sounding song that could easily be an early Oasis B side - and we all know how good those were right? To be honest, I had only had the chance to give his album a couple of listens before tonight, but after tonight's performance it has not been out of my car stereo and is quickly becoming my new favourite album.
The band are tight, the sound decent too and they are even joined by a trumpet player for a few songs to add solos. A triumphant first gig, I hope this band is more than just a one off. Maybe they should do a full tour with the next band up.
Baby Chaos are a band I have wanted to see since they returned with the quite beautiful 'Skulls, Skulls, Skulls, Show Me The Glory' album. Such a good album and I feel the 20 years break has seen them shake off the 'baby Wildhearts' tag and come into their own with a mature album that veers from delicate and fragile to intense and heavy.
I have wondered how the new songs would transfer live and I am not disappointed. By the time the angular and jagged 'Blackbird' reaches it's marvellous crescendo of a chorus I am mesmerised. Frontman Chris Gordon is in fine voice and his band kick out the jams, especially bassist Bobby Dunn who seems to be yanking the life out of his bass like his life depends on it.
Mixing up the new and the old to great effect, the likes of 'Have Faith In Yourself' and 'Habibi' stand tall up against old favourites such as 'Love Your Self Abuse' and 'Breathe'. Highlights? 'You Can't Shut Us Up' is full on energy live, 'She's In Pain' is intense and raw and the epic 'Whispering Of Giants' sounds immense. Now I've seen the band and bought the T shirt (quite literally), I hope they return this way soon as Baby Chaos were every bit as epic live as I hoped they would be.
Eureka Machines haven't played live for 18 months but you would never guess it by tonight's performance. Like I said, there is something about the Brudenell that makes a Eureka Machines show that extra bit special. There is just such a great atmosphere, I get that same feeling of anticipation and excitement I used to get at big rock shows back in the day, yet here they are, just Chris Catalyst and his "silly little band" as he puts it. But Eureka Machines are far more than a silly little band to a lot of people.
Tonight's set plays out like a greatest hits set from the moments Wayne Insane's urgent beat to 'Champion The Underdog' gets everyone bouncing and singing. With four studio albums to pluck power pop gems from, it's a given that tonight was going to be a sing-a-long-a-fest. 'Being Good Is Ok, But Being Better's Better' follows, it sounds ace. 'Affluenza' is the first real goosebumps moment though, I adore that song, what a chorus!
They just keep on coming, the pure pop suss of 'Pop Star', the glorious heartfelt chorus of 'Wish You Were Her' onto the heavy goodness of 'Welcome To My Shangri La' and 'Neuro Bolero' that are welcomed like old friends now as fans punch the air and sing along to every word in an attempt to drown out the band.
Some bright sparks bought light bulb bowler hats to tonight's gig and many light up the packed room tonight, the band even taking the opportunity to wear them for a quick photo. As Chris announces from the stage we are living in strange times and to close the main set the epic 'We're Going To The Future' seems quite fitting and sort of offers hope in these troubled times.
The encore sees the sweet sentiment of 'The One Who Wouldn't Change You', those amazing harmonies that open 'Scream Eureka' and the closing 'Zero Hero' that sees the crowd bouncing as one for one final time before we all sing happy birthday to an embarrassed looking frontman.
Nine quid for four amazing bands tonight - and I truly feel I will be hard pressed to witness a better show this year. Time and time again I go to see great bands at venues this size or smaller: many are poorly attended shows with little atmosphere. Tonight just reaffirms that live music is truly alive and kicking and there is hope, but you must truly champion the underdog - and that Eureka Machines fans prove they are some of the best out there. A top night all round.
PHOTO CREDIT: All photos © Neil Vary.
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