25th February | Old England
Photos: Rowan Allen
On a Sunday night, where there is a show practically taking place in any venue you turn to, it’s nice to veer towards something a little more up-and-coming and unquestionably bustling with energy. Nestled into the quaintly traditional Old England pub, Leeds’ Party hardly have made the lengthy journey south, for the first time, to show what’s got those in the know at home quietly whispering with excitement about the current music climate north of the Midlands. Tonight they go some way to displaying just why.
Rainmaker’s sound is simple but enjoyable in equal measure. When they harmonise they sound bolstered and best, obviously packing more of a punch but also displaying a sense of empathetic uneasiness that simmers within their music. While they drift in and out of burdened heaviness, they evidently possess some off-kilter rhythms that add texture to their driven sound. At points, they drift into tender notions and it pays off, weaving in emotionally with their more downtrodden mood, before rallying off a wired, sharp melody. They are rough around the edges, with a lot of maturity still to show, but they aren’t afraid to be bold with their writing, which is promising.
Tropic, meanwhile, seem to be flourishing with each show they play. Tonight in particular bristles with raw ingenuity, and is seriously the best way they could generate excitement about their first headline show at The Louisiana in a month or so. ‘Prophecy (Weak At The Knees)’ squirms with Jack Ogbourne’s humming guitar, while the unbroken synchronicity between Meg Jenkins and Henry Terrett is the underrated melodic backbone of the group, braided with Ogbourne’s spacious hooks. What would really take them to another level is to loosen up a little in their performance. Whereas Ogbourne evidently is quite animated as he lunges from one side to the next, Jenkins and Terrett are more restricted, obviously fixated within their playing.
Party Hardly have to contend with a slightly muted Sunday night crowd on this occasion, but it doesn’t curb them in not only embracing their noisy and comprehensive live aesthetic, but also showing how well-oiled a band they are in these still-early ventures. Surrounded by an array of pedals, all of which they impressively use at some point, the four-piece bounce through a set that collectively engages with their slowly-developing sound.
Sharing the duties of vocalist between songwriter Tom Barr, Matt Pownall and Stanley Braddock, the band ease into their cheeky, more pop-inflected compositions with a sly wink between each other and a noticeable desire to really let loose. ‘Mindchanger’ metamorphoses into a bulky, heated blast, as the harmonies lilt between a tender solace and Modern Life Is Rubbish turns of sardonic wit.
The set ends with their most promising output, a relentless splurge of wordplay and malaise-breaking disquiet. Barr drops the guitar and commands the mic with a mixture of simple lucidity and heavy repartee. Party Hardly prove they are unafraid to embrace their early notions as much as their blossoming, angsty new ideas.