With the mediaâ€™s attention finally, deservedly turned upon the city, Leeds bands donâ€™t have much time to look back. But it doesnâ€™t hurt to consider where youâ€™ve come from now and again, and tonight is a celebration of the local scene's music past and present, with eyes nonetheless fixed firmly on the future.
One man whoâ€™s definitely not looking back is Noah Brown. â€œThis is not Baby Food,â€ he insists, referring to the demise of his former group, â€œthis is Yes Boss â€¦ Y-E-S-B-O-S-S!â€ The music, too, emphatically reflects Brownâ€™s break with his past. Where Baby Food were a halfway house, an uneasy balance of influences, Yes Boss seems at once more personal and more universal. Over beats which hold their own with the best the London grime scene has to offer, Noah spits rhymes which are by turns funny and aggressive. There are certainly shades of The Streets, but Yes Boss is much more raw, a dark antidote to Mike Skinnerâ€™s often irritating 'cheeky chappy' persona.
Another comeback is next, in the form of Neil Hansonâ€™s new band, The Playmates. Neilâ€™s former band, Les Flames! cast a long shadow over Leeds music, despite never really being any good. The Playmates are similar â€“ shouty, beery pub punk drenched in snotty arrogance â€“ but theyâ€™re much better than could ever have been expected. Good choruses and riffs combine with Neilâ€™s exceptional star quality to create a thoroughly enjoyable whole.
Singer drummers are always a bit weird to watch, and Stuffy Gilchrist of Stuffy/The Fuses is no exception. His current day job with a certain former Blur guitarist keeps him busy, but it's fairly clear that The Fuses are his first love. Skill and dedication are a given, then. Sadly, an ear for a catchy pop hook is not. The Fusesâ€™ insubstantial indie pop fails to command the attention, and Gigwise passes the time marvelling at how awkward drumming and singing at the same time looks.
Another former member of Les Flames! is present in the line-up of the next group. Guitar genius Whiskas has little time for nostalgia, however: heâ€™s too busy playing every venue in the known universe with the soon-to-be-colossal Â¡Forward, Russia! Tonight they are ragged and noisy, but also rather glorious. Breath-taking sprints through singles â€˜Thirteenâ€™ and â€˜Nineâ€™ are topped with a monstrously loud rendition of â€˜Elevenâ€™ wherein siblings Whiskas and drummer Katie attempt to play at totally different speeds, and somehow create their most anthemic tune to date.
Senior in every respect except public acclaim are The Scaramanga Six. Ten years and a thousand personnel changes down the line, Julia, Steve and Paul are still doggedly pursuing their idiosyncratic vision. Bolstered by â€˜Gentlemanâ€™ James Kenosha and Chris â€˜Robochristâ€™ Catalyst on drums (imagine having Animal from The Muppets in your band â€¦ twice), this has to be the best line-up yet. Largely comprising a collection of epic new songs, the set is snarling, powerful stuff. What would be unforgivably indulgent sludge in the hands of others becomes grand drama when treated to Paul Morriconeâ€™s velvet croon, or the bandâ€™s taut arrangements. The healthy pulse at the heart of the Leeds scene, The Scaramanga Six keep hurtling forward, irrespective of successes or setbacks.