Posts Tagged ‘Pulverise’

This is my first time at Headrow House in ages. Literally years. May 2019, to be precise, when Big Joanie supported Charly Bliss. It’s remarkable to reflect on that, now that Big Joanie are playing truly huge venues as the support for IDLES. This, of course, is, in a nutshell, why we need grassroots venues, and why it’s worth arriving in decent time and checking out the support acts. Tonight is another case in point.

But first, on arrival, I realise how much you forget. Like I’d forgotten how the downstairs bar is so loud and busy, and thought there was a larger selection of beers. Upstairs in the gig space, it’s less loud or busy, but then, it’s early doors, and I need a refill before the music starts.

Helle are up first, and they simply blow everyone away. They’re intense, fierce. Authentic, angry old-school punk, the female-led act employ S&M imagery in both their songs and appearance. It’s in your face in the best possible way – forceful, confrontational, strong, with edge.

It’s an unusual experience hearing two bands cover the same song just a few days apart, and noting the difference: against Healthy Junkies’ solid but standard rendition, Helle’s cover of ‘These Boots are Made for Walking’ is a feedback-soaked stompfest and kicks all kinds of arse. The singer possesses real presence, strutting and swaying, and has big, gutsy vocals to match: she’s raging, alright, and channelling the spirit of the late 70s all the way.

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Helle

Railing against the government, railing against the patriarchy, etc., etc., may seem old and standard, but 45 years since punk broke, it’s still relevant – which is depressing. In context, Elton John’s ‘Benny and the Jets’ seems like an unpunk song to cover, but they kill it, hard, while closer ‘Pornography’ goes hardcore. It doesn’t get better than this.

Pulverise bring a different kind of intensity, the Leeds five-piece collective being unashamedly nu-metal/rap-metal/sports metal in their stylings. With a 5-string bass chug and two guitars laying down slabs of distortion, it’s a full-on kick with a keen sense of groove. It’s very much a Judgement Night Soundtrack kind of groove at that, and the RATM influence on the sound, if not the subjects, is also apparent. And then they whip out a metal cover of’ ‘Insane in the Brain’ that sounds like Pitch Shifter and then it segues into ‘We Ain’t Going Out Like That’: it certainly illustrates the band’s vintage, and it’s good fun in a retro, kinda sports metal way.

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Pulverise

Weekend Recovery change their lineup more often than Lauren changes the colour of her hair, and so it is that the band on stage tonight isn’t the same I saw at Long Division in Wakefield in September last year, and the lineup launching the EP isn’t the one that played on its recording. On the one hand, it’s rather a shame: on the other, onwards and upwards, and the current lineup may well be their tightest yet.

Ant & Dec’s ‘Let’s Get Ready to Rumble’ makes for a corny but fun intro tape, and it bleeds into the Countdown Countdown for the band to rush onstage against the clock… badum, badum, badaladum… boshh! And they’re straight in with ‘Radiator’, the opener from sophomore album False Company.

The bass sounds like twigs rattling in a bag, scratching away during this first song, but everything comes together soon after. The sound and lighting are top notch, even if the stage show is channelling The Sisters of Mercy circa 1985, with Lori in particular so swathed in smoke as to be barely visible for the majority of the show. They slay ‘In the Mourning’ early in the set, and it’s a varied one, showcasing tracks from the new ‘No Guts’ EP as would be expected for a launch event.

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Weekend Recovery

And oh yes, the EP is a solid 4 songs, as Lori pointed out to me from the stage, although only two of them feature in the set, which draws heavily on recent second album False Company. The first of these is ‘It’s Obvious’, a slow-burner with a mid-80s feel. Early single ‘Out of Control’ is played at breakneck speed, on account of Lori having a moment while programming the backing.

Across the set, they showcase tunes that could and would be immense given the right exposure. It’s followed by the rarely-aired heart-rending new tattoo before getting back to full-throttle energy with turn it up, the only song from their debut album: it’s very much a forward-facing set, with very few further reaches into the back catalogue.

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Weekend Recovery

Forster channels Suzi Quattro, and not just on account of her getup: she’s all the rock up there and has come into her own as a performer since tasking on the role of sole guitarist as well as singer. A kick-ass ‘Zealot’ prefaces set closer and ep lead ‘No Guts, All the Glory’ which is perhaps their strongest single to date, and rounding off a strong set to round off a night of great performances.

Christopher Nosnibor

There are early starts, and early starts: when doors open at 7:00 and you arrive just after half past to catch the last song and a half of the first band, you know you’re in really early start territory. Not that I felt I’d missed out immensely with York four-piece Heartsink: what I heard was very much standard contemporary ‘alt’ rock, nicking riffs from Biffy Clyro and hair from A Flock of Seagulls.

I’ll confess that I didn’t fall in love with Avenoir the first time I saw them, which happened to be supporting Our Divinity along with Weekend Recovery in the summer. The tired rock ‘n’ roll clichés I observed then are no less tired three months on: the singer’s wearing the same knackered denim jacket with Ramones back patch and his jeans are rags. He lunges around the stage – and if he plants his feet any further apart, there’s a danger he’ll split straight down the middle – wielding his bass like a weapon as he affects a hybrid persona that amalgamates Glenn Danzig and Lemmy. Objectively, they’re not terrible: they’re just not nearly as good as they seem to think they are.

Avenoir

Avenoir

I didn’t fall in love with Pulverise on this first meeting, either. They’re quite a sight: a quartet with a sort of image but not quite, they’re a hybridized sports rock monstrosity harking back to c.1999-2001 with added unicorn horn. They’ve got plenty of heft, grunt, and chug, but sound so, so dated. They chuck in a Cypress Hill cover medley effort, harking back to the rock/rap crossover fad of the early 90s that gave us the groundbreaking but agonisingly patchy Judgement Night soundtrack. Still, by the end of the set, they’ve got a bunch of people pogoing hard down the front, and if the primary purpose of a support act is to warm the audience up for the main event, then Pulverise meet their objective in style.

Pulverise

Pulverise

Weekend Recovery have received a conspicuous level of coverage on these pages of late, but that’s by virtue of the fact they’re a cracking band worthy of backing. They launched their first post-album material, in the form of the EP In the Mourning (the video for which we proudly premiered here at AA) in London on Friday, and tonight is their hometown celebration of what’s without doubt their strongest work to date. Lori is (appropriately, I suppose, given the lyrics to the EP’s lead song) pretty much faced when I arrive, promising after-show shots (again) and I wonder how she’ll even be standing in three hours, but she’s not only standing but delivers one of the strongest performances I’ve witnessed to date. Should I worry about this? About the encroaching impact of a rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle on the day to day, or whatever? Nah. As a performer myself, I get it. It’s not life-damaging. Performing is hard, especially if it doesn’t come naturally. Tonight, she comes on on boisterous, grunge-diva form, and it suits.

The fact that the front rows are packed tight while the last band are still dismantling their kit speaks for itself in terms of the ardour of Weekend Recovery’s fans. Bands playing venues three times this size don’t receive attention of this intensity. I’ve long maintained that it’s better to cultivate a small but passionate following than a larger indifferent one. The former will attend every show, purchase every release. The latter, they’ll big you up, like your Facebook page and stream your stuff on Spotify. But as it happens, the venue’s looking pretty busy, which says Weekend Recovery are making it, achieving a larger audience who are also passionate.

They open by raiding the back catalogue up-front with a blistering ‘Don’t Try and Stop Me’. A shot emerges from the audience before they even play the third song, ‘Oh Jenny’, and scribbling in darkness after four pints my handwriting descends into illegibility while Lori continues without missing a beat and the band pound and thrash solidly. I’m struck – once more – by just how good they’ve got in the last year. Having broken free of the shackles of their formative influences, Weekend Recovery hit their stride with the album and are seriously killing it now.

The difference between now and any time previous is that they’re confident enough about what they do to not care. By the mid-set landing of ‘On My Knees’, Lori’s lipstick’s smeared and they’re all sweaty messes, and it’s clear that this is a band playing hard to deliver maximum r’n’r (and that’s not rest ‘n’ relaxation). ‘Monster’ brings a dense, funk-tinged groove, and is a hook-laden standout, alongside ‘I Want to Get Off’, which really pounds and drives on this outing.

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Weekend Recovery

There’s a choreographed false ending with a rambunctious ‘Why Don’t You Love Me?’ which prefaces the ‘encore’ of ‘Bite Your Tongue’, and with a couple of minutes before the curfew, they shoehorn in an unexpected back-catalogue raiding ‘Focus’ by way of a genuine and truly impromptu encore.

The band seem genuinely astounded by the reception, but they deserve it. And as the lights come up over the sticky black floor, the EP is well and truly launched.