With a queue snaking out of the car park and a palpable excitement in the night air, the build up to tonight's show had an almost magical quality. The Brudenell consistently delivers us special moments; its gig history plotting a course mirroring our own musical adventures. Now with, deservedly, a national, if not international, reputation for bringing us the best new bands before anyone else, it was no surprise that this was the stage for Canadians Alvvays' debut Leeds performance.
Since the announcement of this date, they've racked up a couple of notable singles, rising festival slots and an increasingly heavy 6Music rotation, proving the booking team at the Brude ahead of the curve once again. With pre gig chatter focused decidedly on the quintet rather than the main event of Garden Staters Real Estate, hopes were high but apprehensive; the crowd seemed to be willing them to be as good as they hoped they could be.
Rather than waiting to be impressed, from the second they took the stage, the audience were on their side. For their part, they didn't disappoint. So many bands fail to translate the polish of a record into live performance or the thrill of a show into a decent album, but Alvvays manage both with ease. With a setlist heavily populated with tracks from their debut self-titled album, this is the soundtrack to our summer and delivers bursts of sun into the dark night. Adult Diversion is perfection, a floating, grabbing guitar and a vocal that is full of bittersweet pleading delivered with half a wink. Like a Velveteen Wendy James, Molly is infinitely watchable, but more than this, they work as a whole, the obvious affection showing in every nod and grin. It's infectious, and I don't see a single person without a smile on their face, one of those gigs where audience and band are in perfect synergy.
The fuzzy sonic haze that belches from the stage belies their skill as musicians; it simultaneously appears sloppy and effortless whilst, if you really listen, being expertly crafted; each member's part is drowned in sound but crystal clear. Keri's keyboards provide a lid over the top of the thick noise, throbbing and stifling when it threatens to become too melodic. Underneath Us, a delightful, scuzzy dirge of a song floated around, perfectly uncomfortable in a set of honey, the contrast with the sweet harmonies of Atop A Cake just gorgeous. It's the best live song I've seen in I don't know how long, the crowds joy as big as the grins on their faces. Moreover, they're the best live band I've seen in I don't know how long; twee without being saccharine, a clarity of composition without being contrived; they just get it right.
Finishing, predictably, with crowdpleaser Archie, Marry Me, they leave with the swagger and the reception of a much bigger band. I left with that fuzzy warmth the Brude always leaves a-lingering; we witnessed something special here tonight, a band on the verge of great things. Nathan and the team have a treasure of a venue in their hands and use it only for good. Leeds is the better for its existence and we are all the better for being lucky enough to get to visit.
Words - Angi Strafford
Alvvays web site