There's a sense of something in the air that's been and gone that was quite triumphant as I make my way into Leeds Brudenell games room tonight. Was it Sheffield's Bang Bang Romeo and their 60's-tinged Indie-Rock with a powerfully-vocal lady at the helm? Or Leeds' very own young surf scamps Porl Whos running amok with their youthful exuberance and birthday boy drummer in celebration mode? Upon a bit of earwigging it seems to have been the latter, though my late arrival can't confirm just exactly what went on so google away upon these two artists for some info.
John J Presley has quite the voice, a distinctive voice that could easily be at home thousands of miles away from the actual birthplace of the man who stands before us in the tiny offshoot room of The Brudenell tonight. It quivers and quakes, low and guttural, telling stories that invite you in for a whisky or two and if you dare to wish you were elsewhere in the world right now would happily let you believe you were State-side in the deep South. Sadly, rather than being temporarily transported to Alabama or Louisiana, the few ignorant gob shites in here remind us we're rooted firmly in Hyde Park for the duration of this particular encounter.
Comfortably knowing his way up and down a fret board, Midlander John J Presley effortlessly oozes cool and is not once knocked off his stride this evening. Backed by the solid drumming skills of Tom Glendining and Danielle Perry on Harmonium and keys, the band kick out some serious fuzzy blues with JJP's voice at the centre of the output. His two guitars take it in turn to light up the games room with some heavy distortion one moment, and gentle picks the next. 'All That's Inbetween' is a fine example of this combination. 'Honey Bee' crackles nicely and skips along with the wonderful sound of the harmonium riding along underneath. 'Come Calling' drives with similar gusto, and Miss Perry's gentle vocals accompanying JJP's. Some gentle 'thank you's' occasionally leave his otherwise hushed lips between songs.
My only wish regarding John J Presley is if he would just let that voice go completely wild once in a while. It's undoubtedly owned by one man and one man alone. Beautifully crafted to fit the fine music he and the band create. It seems unlikely anything would piss the guy off enough to just let those vocal chords screech out and let rip an almighty roar. Be nice though.
Words - Pete Jackson
John J Presley official