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L.A.Witch + The Strawberries + Black Pudding. Headrow House, Leeds – REVIEW

L.A.Witch + The Strawberries + Black Pudding. Headrow House, Leeds – REVIEW

Just off The Headrow, one of the major city centre roads in Leeds, is Headrow House. A four storey building that houses an award winning restaurant, a large beer hall with drinks at decent prices, two roof terraces and a purpose built 150 capacity space for gigs. Tonight I’m here to see L.A.Witch but, as always, I make a point of arriving in time to see all bands on the bill. After 40 years of gig going I still don’t understand why anyone buys a ticket and doesn’t bother watching the support. They’re missing some amazing bands and tonight simply proves my point.

Black Pudding are from Leeds, have played a load of gigs in and around West Yorkshire as well as further afield, and over the last couple of years have released three hard hitting singles. Guitarist and singer Sam Curran can also be found delivering vocals /guitar with Imperial Wax – the band consisting of the four longest serving members of The Fall. Mix up some heavy grumbling garage blues, dark fuzzy post punk, throbbing bass lines, slicing guitar thrashes and some relentless drumming and you’ll get an idea of what Black Pudding are. Opening with ‘Beefs Buzzers’ it’s immediately obvious that Black Pudding are an imposing live force. It’s raw and powerful and before long the three band members are lost in their own world. Pent up energy that needs to be released as they slam through ‘Sci-Fi Sci’ with it’s infectious bass riff, deceptively melodic before it explodes into a wall of noise. Single ‘Wooden Butty’ should have a capacity crowd bouncing around – perfect jump around beat, screeching guitar and howling vocals. Little more is needed to let off steam. Unfortunately it’s not a capacity crowd. A quick glance around and I count 12 or 13 people witnessing a band give it everything they’ve got. Playing to small numbers must be hard. These are people who are here specifically to see you or people who are seriously into music and want to discover new bands. These are people likely to be the most difficult and critical audience you can have. Tonight Black Pudding nailed it.

Black Pudding – Facebook here.

Have a listen – Black Pudding on Bandcamp here.

Local psyche-rock four piece The Strawberries, described by The Coral as a “boss band”, deliver a polished set of fuzzy guitar, often chilled out pop rock songs. Plenty of jangly guitar laden grooves courtesy of Ethan Lee Sherwin over Joe Connolly’s distinctly funky bass riffs on ‘Oh No Not Again’ whilst laid back vibes and gentle rhythms underpin ‘She Rhymes To Get Away’.  Frontman Sam Neil twists and turns delivering vocals that lift the songs beyond the ordinary. He owns the small stage tonight and it’s not hard to imagine how much he must long for the bigger venues – The Strawberries have, after all, in the past played with The Kooks, The Coral, The Courteeners and The Pretty Things amongst others. Polished, funky, a little psychedelic, smooth yet infectious beats. The Strawberries deliver all the ingredients that should see them become bigger and bigger over the next few years.

The Strawberries – Facebook.

L.A Witch open with the slow, reverb-drenched, surf guitar murder ballad that is ‘Kill My Baby Tonight’, the lead track from their self-titled 2017 album. “I’m going to kill my baby tonight. If he don’t come home on time” sets the tone for Sade Sanchez (vocals, guitar), Irita Pai (bass) and Ellie English (drums) to take us through a set that features plenty of ominous, dark lyrics, dark bass rhythms, grungy, garage blues guitar sounds and a slow steady beat of drums well suited to gritty, dingy, smoke filled rooms where people dream or simply burn out. ‘You Love Nothing’ – “I see a darkness in your eyes, I feel a darkness in your life” and ‘Brian’ continue the sleazy, surf guitar tinged tone with deep, rumbling bass and drums that build into hard hitting beats. ‘Untitled’ ups the pace considerably with its blues tinged rock n roll vibe and lifts the now considerably bigger crowd out of a hypnotic trance to a point where feet tap and heads nod. ‘Drive Your Car’ dispels any thoughts that this is a gig solely of lo-fi, introverted, slow numbers as it explodes into raucous, slashing guitar, screeching vocals and pounding drums before ‘Baby In Blue Jeans’ brings everything back to a murky and dreamy world. L.A.Witch effortlessly lift you up before slamming you back down to earth with just as much ease. ‘Sleep’, a slice of perfect 60’s garage rock dripping with warped guitar sounds, is the only song from 2018’s five track EP ‘Octubre’, itself a revisit to some of the bands earliest material.

Sometimes dark, sometimes menacing, dangerous yet often hypnotic, mournful and dreamy L.A.Witch’s psychedelic, reverb-soaked, haunting sounds and restrained yet direct vocals seem to be achieved effortlessly. Dropping in a couple of new songs and closing their set with ‘Get Lost’ leaves the crowd wanting more but unfortunately that’s it for tonight.

L.A.Witch – Facebook here.

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