Friday, 23 September 2011

The War on Drugs, Brudenell Social Club, Leeds

Following the demise of the The Duchess - an iconic live music venue in the heart of Leeds - the city struggled to attract the kind of bands just setting out on their journey to world domination (or at least the Manchester MEN).  Now the site of a Hugo Boss clothing emporium, The Duchess played host to a number of bands who went on to fill stadiums and become legends in the pantheon of popular music. Blur, Nirvana, The Manics, Radiohead, Pulp, Coldplay and Oasis all graced the tiny stage of The Duchess before it closed its doors for the last time in 2000. Even though the University, The Cockpit and the T&C (now the O2 Academy) continued to attract the bigger names, the gig-going masses of Leeds and the city's surrounding areas had to travel further afield to catch the current NME darlings or a band being championed by Lamacq or Peel.  And so for several years, Leeds dropped off the map for those bands setting out on the road in a cramped transit van powered only by the belief that they were 'The next big thing', and the live music scene in Leeds became a little stale.

However, the emergence of The Brudenell Social Club - based in the heart of the city's student land - as a reputable venue has changed the face of live music in Leeds. The caliber of bands the Brudenell is regularly attracting now puts Leeds on a par with London and Manchester as a 'non-negotiable' on any proposed tour itinerary. This year alone, the venue has played host to Joan as Policewoman, Noah and the Whale, Deerhunter, Wild Beasts, Tune-Yards, Wooden Shjips and tonight's headliners The War on Drugs, a band whose current album The Slave Ambient may well find itself in the higher echelons of 'Best of 2011' lists come the end of the year.  The booking policy, however, does not only concentrate on the new and the hip. This year The Primitives and The Charlatans have rocked up and played to a full house, while 60's underground legends The Birds and The Pretty Things have shown that the old guard can still kick out a decent tune.

When the main room is full, the intimate surroundings of the Brudenell makes for a cracking atmosphere and one not too dissimilar to The Duchess during its pomp. Tonight was the Velvet Owl's third visit in 12 months (see gig reviews on the blog), and considering that as a collective we're only attending one gig a month, this is testament to the intuitive and innovative music policy at the Brudenell that has music lovers from in and out of the city regularly worshipping at its alter. 

Check out what's coming up at the Brudenell here

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