Gig review: Spoon at Brudenell Social Club, Leeds

'Leeds, I like the vibe you've got going on here,' Spoon frontman Britt Daniel tells a sold-out main room at the Brudenell Social Club. 'This drinking place you've got outside, it's real cool.'

Spoon. Picture: Zackery Michael
Spoon. Picture: Zackery Michael

Either the Texas-born rocker is on unfamiliar territory with beer gardens or he’s playing the crowd in true, time-honed frontman fashion; regardless of which, it’s a welcome return for the critically-acclaimed Austin quartet, as they deliver a taut set of niggling indie jams equal parts sinewy, sexy and thrilling.

It’s been close to a decade since Spoon last cropped up in Leeds; the fact they played at the now long-defunct Cockpit nestled in the city’s Dark Arches is telling of the fact that it’s been a while since they ventured into this neck of the woods. Absence somewhat makes the heart grow fonder though; this show – a one-off date alongside an appearance at London’s All Points East– comes with the air of muted Sunday night contentment, the goodwill from a rare English Test victory at neighbouring Headingley drifting across the LS6 postcode.

Such serenity isn’t left alone for long; across some dozen-and-a-half songs, Spoon showcase a chameleonic poise and power that, for the most part, is utterly intoxicating.

Always rife with musical invention, their knack for folding disparate genre elements into nominal indie-rock is in full-flow throughout; Do I Have to Talk You Into It may be all Lennon-indebted psych-pop swagger on the surface but uncoiled live, its semi-lucid dream-pop intrusions are magnetic. I Turn My Camera On’s sparse funk groove is not only striking but oddly alluring, as is the barrelling garage-pop of Trouble Comes Running.

Even a brooding foray into post-rock instrumentalism, Via Kannela, is a heady surge; paired with woozy ballad I Ain’t the One, it conjures up, for a moment, silent pin-drop magnificence.

Daniel remains the centrepiece throughout, his Costello-scratched voice loading on raw pathos song after song. On the shimmering synth-gem Inside Out, he drops to his knees in faux-prayer pose, like a man possessed commanding the heavens; for The Underdog, he rasps the verses acapella before the rest of the band fall back in for its bouncy chorus.

As they close out with the metronomic stomp of Rent Like Me, he grins, arms aloft, before swiftly vanishing into the darkness. It’s an abrupt curtain call; yet the tantalising taste of sensual exhilaration is one that will last long into the night.