Gig review: Pulled Apart By Horses at Brudenell Social Club, Leeds

Ahead of their inaugural festive bash Pulled Apart by Xmas at the Brudenell Social Club, Pulled Apart by Horses guitarist James Brown spoke of his desire to see this end-of-year, end-of-tour hometown mini-festival take on a life of its own beyond a one-off spectacle.

Pulled Apart By Horses
Pulled Apart By Horses

Given the stellar bill assembled across two stages in the heart of West Yorkshire’s favourite indie venue, they may struggle to top this sweaty, seasonal soiree if they choose to repeat next year though; across the best part of a wintery Sunday evening in North Leeds, half-a-dozen bands light up the rock-and-roll Christmas tree, delivering an early present for those who asked Santa for a perforated eardrum.

With half of the lineup hailing from LS postcodes, Pulled Apart by Xmas has the DIY feel of a local pub gig in stretches, albeit one that boats a clutch of eclectic line in psych-freak workouts and swampy walls of noise courtesy of Baba Naga and Weirds respectively.

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The bigger names billed hail from opposite ends of the country – Glasgow’s Honeyblood and Brighton’s Blood Red Shoes – but both deliver an impressive racket for only two people each; the former spool out languid grunge on Choker and marry girl-group vocals to sludgy riffage for Sister Wolf, whilst the latter produce a rousing slab of post-punk nihilism, with the barbed Cold and spiky Lost Kids both high-points.

For PABH themselves though, this show is the culmination of their biggest year to date, with their first Top 20 album in the charts and a string of acclaimed dates alongside.

They lean heavily on new record The Haze, their most streamlined collection yet; from the Sabbath-goes pop opening barrage of the title track through the stoner glam-stomp of Hotel Motivation, these songs carry the hallmarks of a band getting bigger by the day.

Amongst the arena-aimed licks of The Big What If, they don’t lose sight of their origins either; Meat Balloon’s twisty post-hardcore and High Five, Swan Dive, Nose Dive’s jagged math-punk is just as thrilling in its primality as that of Neighbourhood Witch’s stadium-sized bludgeoning snarl.

By the time they close out with a bolshy encore of I Punched a Lion in the Throat, pint cups have been thrown around the room with alacrity and a man dressed as Santa is tumbling around the mosh pit. ‘Tis the season to jolly, indeed.