Just when you thought that you’d seen your favourite band in pretty much every weird scenario, along comes Live at Leeds.
British Sea Power are a band that is both eccentric and essential in equal measures in my opinion, but if you’re looking for an impartial review of their performance at Holy Trinity Church in Leeds, then I’m afraid you’re reading the wrong blog.
I’ve seen the band play in rustic barns at the highest pub in England, in The British Film Institute, open-air theatres in Regents Park, clubs, refectories, art-house theatres, bars and even a public library in Morecambe.
But this has to take the biscuit. A church, with pews (screwed down, for the readers of Hotel New Hampshire), a bar and only one toilet for a few hundred people.
But you know what?
It was one of the best gigs I’ve seen the band perform – ever. The venue seemed to bring out the best in the band and the crowd. It seemed like the bizarre nature of being crammed into pews forced a kind of concentration and appreciation not usually seen at gigs. The 18th Century church in the heart of Leeds’ city centre was a perfect location to appreciate the quintessentially British charms of the Brighton-based British Sea Power (although lead guitarist Noble is a Leeds lad, so he must have felt the Northern love).
It wasn’t the usual band venue and it was all the better for it.
The performance was beautifully measured and controlled and as the band played, they seemed to appreciate the surroundings (playing the Union Chapel in London the week before may have given them a taste of what was to come). The acoustics were lovely, actually, and who knew in the seventeen hundreds it would work for a rock band?
But I was struck then by the open-minded thinking that allowed the band to play to hundreds of beer drinking gig goers in a church – and there was a bar at the back of the church, much to the surprise and pleasure of the audience. These thoughts were closely followed by the nature of a building in the centre of Leeds that has been use for worship for over 300 years which now hosts rock concerts along with the holy communion services. Impressive.
My personal view would be that God would be very, very happy to see His Church used for this type of event, rather than see it empty – I really like the fact that someone within this church has the foresight to open the church in this way. I’m sure that the big man would approve. Hats off I say and the minister must be chuffed to see every pew filled — when does that happen in these secular days? But that’s another discussion surely.
Anyway, I’m sure not many people were thinking these thoughts whilst enjoying Waving Flags or No Lucifer, but does that really matter? The point is the city has gained a very interesting venue for music and kept it going for a wide range of bands from chilled out acoustic outfits to lively rock combos like British Sea Power. On top of this, this historic church is still part of the fabric of a vibrant city culture and not empty or at worst, derelict.
I now have a list of bands I’d love to see in Holy Trinity – who would you like to see play there…?