Scouting For Girls – O2 Academy, Leeds – Review

Scouting For Girls - O2 Academy, Leeds - Review

By Graham Clark, November 2023

Scouting For Girls made their Leeds debut at the sadly missed Cockpit in 2007. Since then, the band have appeared at various venues in the city including supporting Olly Murs at the arena last spring and, believe it or not, have appeared in an episode of Emmerdale.

Their brand of indie pop has resonated with a wide audience as witnessed by the sold-out crowd at Leeds’ O2 Academy. Led by Roy Stride their touring lineup was bolstered by guitarist Nick Tsang on this entertaining and inclusive gig.

Apart from being a good pianist Stride is a great frontman. His boyish charisma and rapport with the audience was admirable, making it feel like it was your best mate up there on stage. If he was not proudly showing off a vinyl copy of the new album, he was up on the balcony amongst the fans with his selfie stick.

Scouting For Girls - O2 Academy, Leeds - Review

“Nuggets of pop excellence”

With a new album out, The Place We Used to Meet, the set was finally balanced between old and new: the newer tracks show a slight development in their songwriting albeit with that unmistakable Scouting For Girls style. The favourable response from the fans even took Stride by surprise, leading him to comment after only performing four songs –  “Leeds, you are the best audience on the tour so far”. Whilst it might sound like the usual thing to say at a gig his response seemed genuine and sincere.

The appeal of the band lies in their ordinariness, not that their songs per se are ordinary, instead being nuggets of pop excellence. The backdrop and album cover shows a picture of the house Stride grew up in – a semi suburbia Home Counties abode where he and the rest of the band used to write songs in his bedroom.

Songs such as ‘This Ain’t a love Song’ and ‘Elvis Ain’t Dead’ will still be played on radio in twenty years time such is their long-lasting appeal. The obligatory acoustic set, though short and sweet, showcased the songs the band first wrote when they were called Power Cut – the early signs of what was to come could be heard.

Scouting For Girls - O2 Academy, Leeds - Review

“Insanely catchy”

Splitting the audience into two parts for ‘Song I Can’t Forget’ might have seemed like a ploy used in pantomime but when the vocal hook of their new single is as good as this you could forgive them for being so theatrical.

Every band has a signature song – in Scouting For Girls’ case the track happens to be ‘She’s So Lovely’. An insanely catchy number that is so repetitive but gloriously so. As Stride and his fellow bandmates bassist Greg Churchouse and drummer Peter Ellard joined together for a celebratory hug at the end of the gig it had been a night where everyone who left the o2 Academy wore a smile on their face. Their image might be an ordinary one, but tonight the band had been extraordinary. A huge triumph.


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