Sunday, 6 July 2014

Tuneyards - Leeds Cockpit

Tuneyards Leeds Cockpit at

Merril Garbus and her playful, brightly dressed and colourfuly painted crew  certainly appear to share quite the love affair with Leeds, as they wow us with their African/Haitian rhythms and wonky pop/folk-esque tribal delights. The lengthy applause and fanatical cheering that greets the end of each and every song by Tuneyards tonight is akin to that usually reserved for a band disappearing off stage for the final time. Although, the Cockpit periodically throw Merril off track with a bit of polite heckling. Her beaming smile breaking into fits of laughter at a few timely shouts from the crowd. Though a young lady's request of marriage is met with a firm '!'.  

Fresh from their Glastonbury performance beamed into households across the nation, Tuneyards bring more than a bit of festival appeal into a city that is gearing up for a global appearance courtesy of 'Le Tour..'. Garbus is the centre of attention and that distinctive voice of hers is on fine form, whilst she loops handclaps as the starting point to many of the songs from Tuneyards' catalogue. Let's not forget, she's also backed by a talented band of percussionists, along with vocal performances that are enhanced with improvised theatrics. Tucked away to the left is her partner both in music and general life - Nate Brenner. Very much low-key in his performance but glueing all the aspects of the band together through his simple basslines and keyboard parts.

As they skip through most recent album Nikki Nack, it takes on a new dimension live as the nuts and bolts of its making slot into place. Sink O and Real Thing particularly letting Garbus shine, marrying those unique vocals to a stunning performance. 'Hey Life' flows gloriously into Whokill's big hit 'Gangsta' which notches up the already accelerating temperature in the room by a few more degrees. Perhaps the most glorious moments of the night is reserved for 'Bizness' and the extended live version the band create tonight.

Tuneyards are already three albums into a nicely niched career and many live dates have passed over their eight or so years of existence. Yet I cant help but think Merril Garbus and Nate Brenner have merely scratched the surface of their combined creativity given this outside of the box thinking and incredible live performance as a band. 

Words - Pete Jackson
tuneyards leeds cockpit
tUnE-yArDs - photos by Robin Chamberlain