Whenever I plan to go to a gig in Leeds my mind lazily meanders towards the widely respected Brudenell Social Club, and with good reason too. But now, Leeds has the Belgrave Music Hall & Canteen.
A lot of credit has to go to the new venue, which to be frank wouldn’t look out of place in East London or Kreuzberg, it’s only been open a matter of weeks but has still managed to smother the city with brilliant bands such as Traams, Wet Nuns’ last Leeds gig and most recently, PINS.
The billing for PINS blew my mind, up first was a band I’ve been looking forward to checking out for a while, Leeds based Post War Glamour Girls. Unfortunately, due to the combination of me cutting it fine grabbing a pint of the, what proved quite lethal, Lotus IPA and the security of guest list into the gig being tighter than Heathrow, I missed their opening tracks.
What I did see though fully enthralled me, the relationship between James Smith and Alice Scott is perfectly balanced, Smith himself has a stage persona reminiscent of one man in particular.
Now, it’s very easy, and particularly lazy journalism to compare a new band to either Tom Waits or Nick Cave, most bands making similar sounding music have naturally gravitated to the aforementioned, James Smith though is something else. Not only his voice, his lyrics but the way he demands the attention of the stage with impeccable authority makes comparisons to Nick Cave not just predictable, but essential. What separates comparing James Smith to Nick Cave from the other idle links is that it’s meant as the deepest compliment. This band will go far.
The band set with the unenvied task of following PWGG was September Girls, the Dublin all female five-piece offered more in support of the headliners PINS who, in turn, grabbed a front row view.
Having recently signed to Fortuna Pop!, the label that will release their latest single Heart Beats, SG have joined likeminded peers Joanna Gruesome et all in creating a brand of low-fi, reverb saturated, melodic but at points down right punky Rock & Roll. In a whirlwind of transcendental keys and layered harmonies September Girls certainly helped give the Belgrave crowd an October night to remember, simultaneously building upon their excellent Haus of PINS cassette release in, you guessed it, September whilst affirming their irresistible Irish charm, aesthetically and musically.
Still, at this point, the deep sonorous wails of James Smith and his Post War Glamour Girls were occupying a majority of my attention, dancing around the frontal lobe like a benevolent mental illness; their tunes were proving hard to shake. That was until a certain ferocious all female band stuck a version of firebrand post-punk on the crowd so powerful, nearly all before dissolved into a mere memory.
There’s something innately fascinating, sexy, musically intriguing and socially liberating about punk rock women, you only have to cast your mind back to the Slits recording of Heard It through the Grape Vine or The Raincoats number No One’s Little Girl and, more recently, The Savages to know what I mean or, alternatively, you could get to know PINS.
The Far Out team had heard of PINS before, knocking about the Manchester scene and circuit for a couple of years, and it’s safe to say we were impressed by their early material, but it wasn’t until the Belgrave gig that their excellence could truly be gauged in our eyes.
The reckoning of any band is whether their live performance matches the quality of their recordings, well, PINS were extremely live and mustered a fine performance to boot. Right the way through the band this was evident; from Anna Donigan’s simplistic (remember Einstein’s quote) yet brash bashing of the bass, Lara William’s channelling of Keith Moon on the drums (that at times saw the female kit thumper thrash out a beat whilst cavorting on her stool), mesmerising lead singer Faith Holgate’s vivaciously sharp high velocity vocal and lead guitarist Lois McDonald’s skilfully sparse, transiently venomous riffing that, by all accounts, was fucking unbelievable!
It must be said though that PINS aren’t just a one trick punk pony applying a D.I.Y ethos to their musicianship, their set is compromised with an eclectic mix of styles and prevailing influences ranging from the low-fi scuzz of Jesus and the Mary Chain, the rhythmic assaults of punk royalty The Ramones and the ghostly chords of mad- cap rockabilly connoisseurs The Cramps; If you listen closely, to the debut album in particular, be sure to find sprinkles of The Stooges, Flying Lizards, Velvet Underground and, contrastingly, Beach House.
A storming night was rounded off with the fitting tune “Girls Like Us” and after confessing that her sanity hangs in the balance, “I think I’ve gone mad but it was fun”, Holgate ensures that the high decibel beaten Belgrave crowd won’t forget her troupe any time soon, with a repetitive salvo of the song’s title seeing off the set. Rest assured though, PINS had clipped themselves onto the psyche of all in attendance long before their final track.
Lee Thomas-Mason & Joshua Hevicon