Gig review: Apollo Junction at Belgrave Music Hall, Leeds

Apollo Junction at Belgrave Music Hall, Leeds. Picture: Anthony Longstaff
Apollo Junction at Belgrave Music Hall, Leeds. Picture: Anthony Longstaff
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The Belgrave is not a venue I go to very often but with the recent hype surrounding Leeds band Apollo Junction I felt it was time to take the plunge.

It seems for Leeds at the moment in time it is impossible to escape Apollo Junction, with the launch of their album Mystery if they’re not getting likes and shares for being on BBC1’s Football Focus every Saturday they’re getting played continuously by Steve Lamacq on Radio 6. I also heard some excellent thing from a few people who saw them at Bingley Weekender Festival last month too. So, I bought a ticket and off I went. And I’ll tell you now it was well worth the £9 on the door!

Before I start, I want it on record I loved the venue, good beer (and later gin), good food downstairs, reasonable prices and the sound system was excellent so I will be returning soon.

The night was billed with four bands – JimDam, a duo from Huddersfield, The Laikers, a trio also from the Huddersfield area, and Backspace, a young band from Leeds.

The night started with JimDam (Jim and Adam) who seemed at first a little like a worrying Flight of the Concords double act coming out in matching T-shirts, but they then started singing some lovely covers of some 90s classics from James to Ace of Bace, it was clear that they had been brought in to get the crowd singing and joining in nice and early and for two guys with guitars they sure did it. To say they were both good singers and could clearly play their instruments it would be nice to see if they could try their own songs but if they were asked to sing covers and get the crowd going, they sure did that. JimDam even included a small tribute to Apollo Junction in their set singing their single Always Remember as part of a song.

The Laikers drummer, Apollo Junction were explaining, is good friend of the band. A slightly older band The Laikers provided a mixture of originals and covers. Tight and tuneful and not taking themselves too seriously they were a pleasure to watch really. Once again, the songs they played were to get people singing and it defiantly worked they included an excellent cover of Martha Reeves’ Heatwave which even had me tapping my feet. It was clear they were trying to claw back a bit of time for the night and they just smashed out song after song in a tight 30 min set. Much like the band they followed it would be nice to hear more original stuff as it was clear all three members were very talented, and their originals were nice pop songs. If they gig your way make sure you go catch them.

Backspace, it’s always nice to see younger bands being given a go. Backspace would be considered a good tight band if they were in their mid-twenties so the very fact, they are a little bit younger makes them a real exciting prospect for the future. With well-crafted pop songs chords in the background that sound a little like The Cure and guitars that remind me a little of John Squire.

The room was jam packed by the time Apollo Junction took to the stage, with every corner of the room filling up and the whole front of the stage crammed with Apollo Junction T-shirts, you could definitely tell that this was a homecoming gig.

The band entered the stage to chants of ‘Yorkshire’ and it was obvious that the crowd were as up for a fantastic night as the band. The band worked tirelessly to get the crowd moving and we responded. It really helps that the band’s setlist was jam packed with songs that sound like the love child of the 1980s New Romantic scene mixed with Britpop and thrown in a blender with New Order and U2.

Singles Begin and Always Remember got the whole room dancing. Surprising, in the middle of the set the band stripped everything back to acoustic guitars and led a sing along that I was later told by the bouncers could be heard on the street outside. Quite a dazzling moment, and one that you could tell meant a lot the band and the people watching.

Later in the set the singer jumped from the stage into the crowd, climbed on top of a table at the back of the venue as the whole venue danced as guitarist played guitar in the middle of the crowd – a stunning moment that caught everyone’s attention, and it was in this moment that I realised from looking at the band and the audience that the band needed this just as much as the crowd did. It felt like a band for the people were being born... Something that Leeds has needed for quite some time.

Since the show, I have bought the album (definitely recommended), I also now own a T-shirt and I will see you down the front at the next show.