Spoon @ Brudenell Social Club, Leeds, 3 Jun
The veteran Austin rockers play an intimate show in Leeds as the curtain begins to fall on the Hot Thoughts era
Spoon feel a little bit out of place at the Brudenell Social Club. That's a sense with a lot of touring bands when they rock up at this iconic venue, not least because it remains an operational working men’s club in addition to its consistently stellar live offering, which now spans two rooms. Pulled Apart by Horses had it about right when they described it as "rock and roll Phoenix Nights". This particular group of Austin indie rockers, sharp-dressed and emanating measured cool, seem divorced from the Brudenell in another sense though; they should really be playing larger shows than this.
This counts as an intimate gig by their standards, but in the UK at least, the rooms they play to don’t exactly dwarf this one. Earlier on this tour, they played the 600-capacity Gorilla in Manchester and 900-capacity Liverpool Arts Club. Eight years ago, Metacritic declared them the most critically successful band of the century so far, but that hasn’t quite translated into mainstream success as yet. It’s hard to know why, especially when, as tonight proves, they are such an assured, polished live outfit.
They’re still out in support of Hot Thoughts, their ninth LP – released last March to reviews that fell a touch short of the usual unanimous praise – and they rattle through highlights from it tonight. Opening with the funk-driven Do I Have to Talk You Into It then dropping the title track, with its irresistible riff, at the midway point and, during one of the set’s most thrilling moments, prefacing the moody I Ain’t the One with a swirling instrumental track, Via Kannela.
Elsewhere, the well-honed setlist is dominated by choice cuts from career standout records Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga and They Want My Soul. The spacey Inside Out from the latter is one of frontman Britt Daniel’s favourite Spoon songs, and the groovy rendition of it they deliver here is proof as to why. As they wind down this album cycle, there’s a sense that the band’s fans are ready for something new, but the group themselves – the irrepressible Daniel especially – look to be having the time of their lives. On this evidence, maybe it doesn’t matter if they never graduate to the big rooms.