Pulled Apart by Xmas @ Brudenell Social Club, Leeds, 17 Dec
Pulled Apart by Horses seem to have been shifting towards taking themselves a little more seriously of late, so it seems fitting that they should end arguably the biggest year of their band’s life so far with a blowout Christmas party
PABH's fourth LP The Haze improbably cracked the top twenty back in March, and blended the more mature sound of its predecessor Blood with the freewheeling approach of their debut record to produce their most potent album to date. It's a genuine rock statement – not bad for a group as well-known for their daft sense of humour as their music in their early days.
Leeds’ much-loved Brudenell – which the band once described in an interview as "kind of a rock and roll Phoenix Nights" – is their spiritual home and, with its new Community Room having opened in September, the perfect venue for an end-of-year bash across two stages. Fellow Leodensians Weirds, fresh from a tour of some of the UK’s more provincial towns with tonight’s headliners, serve up a storming set of psych-rock in an early highlight in the new room.
Over on the main stage, meanwhile, Honeyblood are gearing up for their own year-end show in Glasgow the following Friday, at the end of a whirlwind year for themselves – not least because drummer Cat Myers has recently been on loan to Mogwai, with whom she played a massive arena gig just the night before. She shows no sign of being any the worse for wear, though, and she and singer Stina Tweeddale rattle through a fizzing punk set that leans heavily on last year’s Babes Never Die.
Back in the Community Room, the evening’s most exciting prospect is served up by the return of Blood Red Shoes. The Brighton two-piece have been uncharacteristically quiet the past couple of years, taking an extended break from the road and teasing out new music – singles Eye to Eye and Bangsar have hinted at a darker and more electronic sound to come. Neither make the cut for what is effectively a comeback show tonight, with the duo firing through many of the old hits as they settle back into the saddle – although repeated audience requests for It’s Getting Boring by the Sea go unheeded. The towering, sludgy closer Colours Fade is the standout, and a reminder of how much the pair have to offer when they venture into more experimental territory – here’s hoping that’s where they’re headed on next year’s long-gestating fifth record.
In closing proceedings, Pulled Apart by Horses are well in the mood for letting their collective hair down, and even some of the steadier cuts from The Haze become incendiary, imbued with a rough and ready charm – The Big What If and Hotel Motivation especially. The crowd respond in kind, with a sizeable mosh pit remaining open for most of the set and a veritable deluge of crowd-surfers. Inevitably, the classic likes of High Five, Swan Dive, Nose Dive and I Punched a Lion in the Throat receive the most rapturous reception, but the fact that those tracks can feel part of the same spirit, in the same set, as some of their more grown-up recent material is testament to the band’s burgeoning reputation as one of the UK’s most thrilling rock and roll prospects. They put on one hell of a party, too.