The Rakes, White Rose Movement, Duels

Rachel Cranshaw 28/01/2006

Before I even set foot in the door for tonight's gig, my face has already assumed its usual look of discontent at the Pyramids. The reason being simply that I despise the venue. Large, cold and grey, it resembles some kind of industrial warehouse and is totally unwelcoming. But I am extremely pleased to say that tonight's bands more than make up for the poor venue, and in fact make me wonder if perhaps it had previously been the bands' lack of ability not the actual venue that had been cause for my distaste.

Except for the first band that is, whose are so middle-of-the-road and uninspiring that I fail to remember their name, except that surprise surprise, it starts with 'The'. They precede Duels, who despite usually putting on an interesting and dance-worthy show, seem to have completely revamped their sound and not in a good way. Whether they're simply struggling with the extreme acoustics and huge crowd or if they have actually attempted a restyle, their individual hybrid of dance, melody and synth appears completely lost and unfortunately so, as they did seem to be one of Leeds' finest. The real excitement therefore begins with White Rose Movement, who juggle the crowd, venue, acoustics and atmosphere splendidly for a relatively new and small-scale band. Tearing through an energetic set, their fresh, raw sound ricochets off the cold hard walls with more force than a bouncer administering a blow to a Friday night trouble-maker.

Finishing with undoubtedly their best song 'Alsation' White Rose Movement make way for the headliners. London's skinniest certainly do not disappoint: from the second Alan appears jibbering out of nowhere and the band launch into Violent everyone can see we are in for a real treat tonight. If White Rose Movement do well on the crowd, venue, acoustics and atmosphere fronts, The Rakes win a gold medal and knock them unconscious with it. They have evidently progressed a lot in the past few months, most measurably since their last appearance in Portsmouth, on the NME tour at the Wedgewood Rooms. As a band they are more together and tight than ever, with fantastic inter-band and band-audience chemistry.

They pound through nearly all the tracks from the fantastic 'Capture/Release', from the Darwin-esque chants of 'We Are All Animals' to the grin-and-bear-it description of modern life on…well, nearly every other song! Also featuring in the set is new single 'All Too Human' which provides a change from their usual sound: only time will tell whether this is welcome or not, but it seems to go down well for the minute. An obvious highlight is recent hit '22 Grand Job', its lyrical celebration of menial British culture combined with a smart riff and handclaps make it undeniably so.

For the encore we are treated to 'Something Clicked and I Fell off the Edge' followed by the history-cum-dancing explosion of 'Strasbourg'. As the last line approaches, practically every human being in the venue takes a breath and prepares to holler the line that makes The Rakes so quietly and cleverly brilliant, so much so that yes, you think to yourself of the person impaled in your side, I can smell the vodka on your breath…