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Bob Mould / The Young Knives – Brudenell Social Club Leeds (14th November 2014) and Oran Mor, Glasgow (15th)

It’s been a while since I’ve seen the same band on consecutive nights. But the proximity of Bob’s UK dates to my birthday meant that we arranged a short trip to Leeds to catch the date at the Brudenell Social before returning to Scotland the next day for the Glasgow show. In the end it was the closer to home show that turned out to be the better of the two gigs.

One of the attractions of the Leeds show was the chance to revisit the Brudenell which is undoubtedly one of my favourite places to see a band.

But it turned out to be one of the few edges that the Leeds show had. The only other significant one was that, as the setlists for the two shows were identical, Leeds had the element of surprise.

What was striking about the set was the preponderance of new material. For more than the last decade Bob’s shows have featured a fairly limited rota of the standards (although to be fair that’s changed a bit over the last couple of years).

But there was a greater than 50% turn around between last May’s Glasgow show and this weekend’s with many of the casualties being those standards. Anyone who skipped this show on the basis of expecting it to be similar to last year’s made a bit of a mistake because not since ‘Body of Song’ has a new album featured as heavily in Bob’s live show.

Live the strength of the songs on ‘Beauty and Ruin’ shone through such that they fitted in seamlessly between the established songs. And in Leeds in particular it was the new stuff that stood out. There were ferocious versions of ‘Little Glass Pill’ and ‘Kid With Crooked Face’ whilst slightly older tunes such as ‘Star Machine’ and ‘Keep Believing’ were also brilliant.

The juxtaposition of ‘The War’ and ‘Hardly Getting Over It’ midway through the set packed a real emotional punch whilst the awesome ‘In A Free Land’ ended the set on a triumphant high.

Great though Leeds was, Glasgow was just better in every other regard.

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The sound was better, much livelier and the same could be said for both the band and the audience.

Bob didn’t have much to say at either show but was as static as I’ve ever seen him at Leeds, barring the odd charge across the stage. But in Glasgow he was on the move throughout the set like the old days whilst Jason also really seemed to be having a whale of a time at the Oran Mor.

Audience wise the Leeds audience was up for it but I definitely got the impression that the energy levels dropped for the newer stuff later on. Not so, Glasgow. Not only was there a bigger, livelier mosh pit throughout but each tune, old and new, was greeted rapturously.

One of my abiding memories of Glasgow will be the intro to ‘Star Machine’. Bob was centre stage at the time and on hearing the audience reception to the opening notes, he just gave an appreciative nod of the head and a satisfied smile.

It’s almost impossible to pick out highlights from Glasgow because in general the performances were at a higher level. But the opening double punch of ‘Flip Your Wig’ and ‘Hate Paper Doll’ had an impact that they lacked in Leeds.

With an early start, the band had plenty of time for the 70-75 minutes set at the Oran Mor before the curfew and I did hope we might have got an extra couple of tunes, particularly with the great atmosphere. Not the case and in fact, great as it sounded, the encore of ‘Chartered Trips’ was slightly truncated compared to the extended Leeds version.

With interest in Bob boosted by the Sugar reissues and the two excellent recent LPs, booking such a small number of sold out UK shows undoubtedly created a gap between supply and demand. It would be great to see Bob return with the band in the New Year to play some bigger venues to capitalise on that interest.

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Finally a few words about support the Young Knives. Despite having seen them twice I haven’t made my mind up about them –although, perhaps tellingly, I wasn’t persuaded to buy the album. Half of their six song set was pretty good but the other half kind of passed me by.

Bob Mould setlist (Leeds and Glasgow):

1. Flip Your Wig 2. Hate Paper Doll 3. Hoover Dam 4. Star Machine 5. The Descent 6. I Don’t Know You Anymore 7. Little Glass Pill 8. Kid With Crooked Face 9. Nemeses Are Laughing 10. The War 11. Hardly Getting Over It 12. Helpless 13. Keep Believing 14. Fire In The City 15. If I Can’t Change Your Mind 16. Hey Mr Grey 17. Tomorrow Morning 18. Fix It 19. Something I Learned Today 20. In A Free Land.

Encore – 21. Chartered Trips.

 

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