9th July, 2005

Leaves at Nottingham’s Social

Last year I wrote a glowing review of top Icelandic band Leaves live performance in Reykjavik.

Last night, the band finally came to Nottingham and played an intimate gig to a handful of people at The Social.

Back in Iceland, we witnessed them play nothing but new material, ignoring their first album entirely. It was a smart move, and one that won the crowd over swiftly. When faced with that much beauty, you can’t help but buckle.

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For the Nottingham gig, the five of them were squeezed onto the tiny stage amidst a chaotic pile of instruments, wires and lights. For the first few songs, it was a bit like some mad hippy love-in, with most of the audience content to sit on their fat arses, cross-legged. This seemed a bit shit, and was hardly the warm welcome the band deserved. So, all us Agenzians and assorted partners made a point of standing right in front of them all, ensuring a few folks had to stand to see the stage.

You never know how a band feel about playing to so few punters, but everyone there was hooked. Leaves make soaring, beautiful music these days. Their debut album sounded a bit like Elbow, The Verve, Radiohead and Coldplay rolled into a ball - which was great, and the tunes were strong - but nowadays Leaves are going through a bit of an Amnesiac period. Musically, they’ve matured and are seeking out more layered, textured noise where songs will speed up, slow down, reach epic crescendos and fade away, only to climax once more in a maelstrom of keyboards, crunchy guitars and gorgeous vocals.

I got what I wanted towards the end - they played Shakma (available on iTunes Music Store) - eight minutes of brooding majestic beauty that gets bigger and bigger as it develops, resulting in a frantic instrument-bashing wall of sound.

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Abruptly, they left the stage, but an Agenzian wail of “More!” was enough to get them back on to play Breathe, which they seemd delighted to do for us, and looked touched that we cared enough to here more.

After their performance, a few of us went over and had a chat with the band - all nice chaps. I embarrassed myself by trying to speak Icelandic and waffled on about the street I used to live on in Iceland. I’d probably had too many JD and Cokes, but they seemed happy to discuss their music with us, so I was happy to oblige.

Most of you have probably never even heard of Leaves. Fair enough, they haven’t had much exposure over here. Today they’re playing the T In The Park Festival up in Scotland, where I’m sure they’ll draw a bigger crowd, though perhaps not such a sympathetic one. Anyway, do yourself a favour and go download Shakma, then grab the new album Angela test when it surfaces on 15th August.

If you want to hear them live, check out this 4-track XFM session. Lovely…

Photos by Emma.

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