Get off your horse and drink your beer...
We Were Frontiers, Brewdog, Leeds
Where were you when you heard the news that Nelson Mandela had died?
I was here, in this tiny, wedge-shaped gem of a pub near Leeds’ Corn Exchange, stood near the door - helpfully marked ‘Ich Bin Door’ for any passing demi-Deutsch - having a well-deserved drink after braving the stormy weather in an epic four hour journey from the North East, and listening to a cracker of an acoustic set from one of the most stonkingly original bands I’ve heard to date.
Having graced the BBC Introducing stage at Reading and Leeds after only four gigs, We Were Frontiers are masters of epic, panoramic, Western-tinged folk rock. With more than a nod towards the scores of Ennio Morricone (The Good, The Bad and The Ugly, A Fistful of Dollars), this Leeds quintet have a distinctive sound that’s all their own. There’s a hint of Kasabian’s Days Are Forgotten falsetto in Wildfire perhaps, and maybe a little Kings Of Leon here and there, but otherwise it’s all Stu, Jimmy, Rich, Matt and Aimee‘s unique blend of West Yorkshire Americana. Most importantly? A lack of Mumford. And that’s bloody refreshing.
Tonight’s set is a stripped back acoustic show, and is the band’s last gig of the year. After a great warm-up from the very talented Liam McClair, the stage is set and we’re ready to go. Having only heard the full, multi-instrumental versions of their songs, I find myself wondering if they’ll stand up to the acoustic treatment without losing any of their big-sound intensity. I needn’t have worried.
The bluesy stomp of Before You Dance Upon My Grave kicks off a toe-tapping, thigh-slapping (just me? Ok then. I’m not ashamed) boisterous rollicker of a gig, with catchy choruses aplenty and lyrics that are much darker than the upbeat melodies imply, covering inner turmoil, religion, death and other cheerful matters in possibly the most melodic way ever. The heroically pissed bloke next to me is dancing away and offering to buy drinks for any girl in a 20 foot radius. This slightly rowdy party mood pervades the whole place like a modern day Wild West saloon. I swear I heard a yee-ha…
A particular favourite of mine is Wildfire, taken from recent EP Giveth Taketh Away and a perfect showcase for what We Were Frontiers are all about, strong Western overtones, intense lyrics and powerful guitars. Grab two fingers of your finest sippin’ liquor and enjoy. I defy you not to join in with each ‘Wiiiiiiiiiild fiiiiiiiiiiire’
Ten songs go by so quickly, each receiving hollers and rapturous applause, and before I know it we’ve reached the final track, the aptly titled End Of The Show. We’ve been through raucous highs and mellow lows, explored the darker side of the human soul, sang and clapped our hearts out and heard one of Leeds’ most exciting unsigned bands stripped back to guitars, an accordion and the collective passion of four men that believe every note they play and sing. Leading into a rendition of Silent Night, the Christmas spirit descends - that or it’s the criminally strong craft beer - and a singalong ensues. It’s been a great night with a top crowd and a band who are as modest as they are talented, downplaying my praise and very kindly stopping for a chat before a few more beers are sunk.
This is a band who I’ve been waiting to see live ever since they appeared on my radar following my first review of another local band, Carnabells, and I am wholly impressed with their live performance - if this is what they’re like acoustic I can’t wait to experience the full bells-and-whistles setup that is their fully amped-up show. My friend Kate described it as ‘the best local gig I’ve been to in ages’ as we head through the Ich Bin Door and out into the night.
Told you it wasn’t shit, Matt!
Setlist; Before You Dance Upon My Grave, Wildfire, Handshakes, Glorious Days, Doctors, The Hunt, Devil’s Type, Demons, Night Terrors, End Of The Show…..Silent Night
With thanks to WWF, particularly Jimmy and Matt for listening to my inane chatter - hope this review does you justice!, and the helpful, friendly staff at Brewdog