Reverend And The Makers
@ Leeds Cockpit
“Hello Leeds. We’re the best band you’re going to see in quite a while.” John McClure is a confident chap and the filled to capacity crowd is ready. Unusually, me and my mate have squeezed up front in the hope of some decent photos. (Some hope – way too bouncy at the front!). Instead of the overview of the experience, John drags us into the maw of the beast. The beast of THE GROOVE. Combining the insouciance of a Gallagher, the energy of a Happy Monday and the hair of a Pigeon Detective, he is utterly compelling and, allied to the tighter than feck band, the whole experience brings grins all round. Again, against habit, I am unable to take any sensible notes during the gig as I’d have to stop dancing.
“Are you having a good time? I’m from Sheffield and I want to see you get value for money.” John Directs the band once in a while, signalling an individual to step back or ramp it up. The band is cooking hard, stirring up an electro-funk storm of beats, atop which, John declaims his songs / stories / poems. A couple of times he pauses to recite a little poem, not unlike John Cooper Clarke, who graced one of their b-sides. He chucks in his world view too but “we’re a band, we don’t have political opinions”, he cheekily opines. Thankfully they DO have opinions and it is refreshing to hear something that moves the spirit as well as the feet. A lot of the songs are known through the internet and the last one is very familiar but that’s more that it sounds way too much like an Artic Monkeys voice and type of tale. You’ll all know already how John McClure and Alex Turner were in the same band before the Monkeys and has held back on record company offers till he has his own solid offer to make to the world.
“The woman I woke up with this morning said not to wear this, I’d be too hot. And I’m bloody boiling.” Says John, which precipitates a chant of “off, off, off”. “No, then it’d be like a Westlife or Pete Doherty gig, and we’re playing quality music tonight.” But it’s not all about John. The band’s energy is high. Think of the thrust and drive of Papa’s Got a Brand New Pigbag by Pigbag (g’wan, google it…). One song, called Machine, is about how you CAN step off the conveyor belt. It inspires and builds to a riffing chant of “Be bored, get stupid”. John does a root dance. In all, there are seven people on stage, the red sweat-shirt-topped singer spending most of his time bouncing. The woman on keyboards plays mostly a one finger drone-backing. There’s a bald fella twiddling three keyboards and pulling faces. The drummer is simply ace – he’s happy, excited, tight and high. The synth-drummer is all but inaudible. The guitar helps create a familiar sound the rockists in the audience can hang onto. The bass is a star – he ties into loops with the drums. The lockstep could easily be extended much longer and when he hits the low registers it’s not unlike Jah Wobble. At other times it’s the high register for Peter Hook-type New Order melodic bass tunes. There’s lots of dancing and some exuberant but puzzling pogoing. It’s very sweaty and the front is full of grinning, happy people.
Although this is in the electro-funk category, it is distinguished by the real feel for dance. Not some robot rhythm - it allows tightening up and stepping back to fit the mood and the groove of a live audience. “I’d like to play more of my sixty-seven songs but that’s all we’ve got time for.” And, with that, they’re off. It’s been an amazing sixty minutes and we don’t need an encore. Any more buzz might be fatal.