We Are Scientists – Live Review – Leeds Brudenell Social Club
By David Schuster, May 2018
It’s been a hot day and, typically for the UK, after three days of sunshine a thunderstorm is brewing. It’s packed inside the confines of Brudenell Social Club and I am, like the rest of the audience, sweating in the humid darkness. It’s 9:30, and We Are Scientists are late on stage. There are technical issues; the sound guy and the tour manager are looking pensive, re-checking the gear.
You’d be forgiven for thinking that this could be a recipe for trouble. But, looking around, I get no sense of that. The diverse crowd, spanning students right through to the late-middle aged, are standing in small groups chatting and laughing. Every now and again someone in the crowd randomly shouts “Yorkshire”, in case we’ve forgotten where we are. There’s a lot of anticipation, but nothing more sinister. Eventually the technical team are happy, and the band amble onto stage.
Once the initial cheers have died down there’s a good-natured cry of “You’re late!”. Keith Murray, vocalist and guitarist, grabs the mike, and I get a first taste of the audience interaction which sets We Are Scientists apart as great performers.
Murray addresses the audience: “Thank you”, he says “for choosing to spend the evening with me. And, for enduring an evening with them!”. He sweeps his hand to indicate Chris Cain on bass guitar and Keith Carne on drums, who make up the trio on stage. Immediately we are all in on the joke, and they are forgiven any tardiness.
They quickly rip through three opening numbers; ‘Your Light Has Changed’, ‘The Great Escape’ and ‘Buckle’. With a back catalogue of six albums and their latest; Megaplex just out, the group have a rich array of songs to pick from. We Are Scientists have a breadth of sounds across pop, indie and rock. Tonight’s set is comprised mainly of fast, rockier numbers. That suits me and the rest of the audience just fine, as we jump up and down on the spot.
They also play ‘Chic Lit’ and ‘Make It Easy’. Wisely, they mix these crowd-pleasers with a sprinkling of tracks from the new album, including their opening number, ‘Your Light Has Changed, ‘One In, One Out’ and ‘No Wait at Five Leaves’. These are all well received, the band are among friends.
“Cracker of a show”
In between bursts of frenetic activity, we are treated to more good-natured banter between the band members, and with the fans. Cain pauses the music to launch into an anecdote: “The last time we were in Leeds…”. A woman towards the front shouts, “I was here then!”. He mimics offence and says, “I’d planned a full and rich five-minute story, leading up to that!”.
“Why don’t you do it in a Yorkshire accent?”, suggests Murray. The mock Scot’s accent which Cain manages elicits laughter. “Well”, he says, “You’re not paying for impressions. Let’s have some more of those songs you’re paying for”, and off they go again.
The main set finishes with ‘Nobody Move’, from their 2005 breakthrough album Love and Squalor. After a brief pause, we are treated to three encores; ‘Dumb Luck’, which is a personal favourite of mine, ‘Nice Guys’ and ‘Textbook’.
The looped guitar riff which underpins this last track means that Murray can put down his guitar. He takes off his jacket, to show he means business. Clearly wanting to get even closer to the fans, he jumps down off the low stage and moves through the crowd. There’s a lot of theatre to this, as he doesn’t have a radio mike, and the long lead that trails behind him has to be manoeuvred over the heads of the spectators with a lot of amusement for everyone, except the sound crew.
Tonight’s cracker of a show nicely illustrates the old adage that the best things are worth waiting for: We Are Scientists have produced their special formula once again.