The Idol Dead have picked the perfect way to celebrate their decade of pounding stages while knocking out the best tunes. Commandeering the upstairs room in Santiago's in Leeds for a Friday and Saturday night the band will be performing a selection of songs from their catalogue to their fan base, The Idol Army, who have travelled from all over for these two nights.
The Friday night is the more sedate of the two affairs because tonight is acoustic night. Songs have been chosen and arranged across two sets to suit a more 'chilled' ambiance, not that that could even exist for a band so full of energy. Even seated on stools across the stage, the band look like they're about to pop, especially Polly, the band's frontman, and KC, guitarist and live wire, who remind me of kids on Christmas Eve, full of excitement. At the back is Nish on a brand new drum kit, who holds the timing together perfectly with Dan, bassist and "Jason Newstead" of the band (an in band joke for being the relatively new member of the band, even with a decently long tenure in the band). Half hidden behind the pa stack on the tiny stage is Tim, the band's other guitarist and original founding member with Polly. The guy is effortlessly cool in an Izzy Stradlin kind of way, never seeking the spotlight and makes playing the guitar look effortless. The bastard never seems to age either.
The two sets cover pretty much everything you would want to hear from them in this manner. Playing acoustic gives the band chance to show a lot more than you would expect, especially with the addition of keyboards on a good portion of the set, handled wonderfully by Lizzy Joyce of Leeds band Muriel & Blasquez. KC introduces her as an old work colleague and it's clear that friendships are never forgotten with these guys.
Highlights of the Friday? There's so many to choose from. There's a perfect 'Samsara' from last year's "Tension and Release" album, a song written and sung by Nish that's become a mantra for me. The version of 'Christopher Hitchens Is My Spirit Animal' sees the song stripped back, rejecting it's recorded ferocity but still finding a way to tap into it's core and shining a different light on the song (seriously guys, I can't wait to hear this version). KC gives up his seat to sit in the audience as Tank, singer in Chasing Dragons, duets on a stunning version of 'I'm Drowning' a song so good it makes the Manics' 'Little Baby Nothing' seem half arsed and amateurish. And as for the version of Polly and Liz on piano for 'Travelling Man'? Goosebumps man. The night ends with 'I.D.O.L.', Polly communing with the audience as KC climbs up on his stool and PA, still playing guitar whilst grinning from ear to ear. Thankfully the whole thing has been captured for a future DVD release.
Saturday night is a little bit more of a rowdy after. There’s no Liz on keyboards tonight but we do instead have two support acts in the shape of Laurence Crow and the Imaginary Band and Dave Kerr. Laurence Crow comes across as a chilled, fun loving guy with a strong political conscious. His songs come across as but this is more akin to the modern Folk styles of people like Frank Turner and Beans on Toast. His bandmate impresses everyone by being the tallest person in the room with the most impressive Afro I’ve seen in a long time. Dave Kerr plays a simpler, but equally enjoyable, sound, taking a Blues infused Rock sound as a basis for his songs. Great guitar and vocals drive the songs that remind me of The Gaslight Anthem and also goes down well with the crowd.
The Idol Dead seem a little more relaxed tonight after getting the previous nights accoustic show and recording out of the way. Tonight is two full on electric sets with songs chosen by fans who were coming along tonight. This means that not only do we have some regular favourites but also some rarer, less played songs.
As a band TiD have so much going for them. Great catchy songs that bounce around your brain like Tigger on a trampoline with words that stay with you. There’s humour as they joke and fool around with each other and the audience. There’s also a bond between audience and band; respect and love that is reciprocated both ways. It feeds each other so much. I know that every band says this but here it’s tangible. It’s something that can’t be bought but is earned, earned by the band being exactly who they are. They are us and we are them, we are family, we are The Idol Dead.
The band tear into each song like every moment they play could be their last. Both Polly and KC cover every part of the stage while Dan, Tim and Nish hold the songs together. There’s not a spare moment as each second means they’re closer to curfew and the end of the night (a few songs have to be regrettably dropped from the second set to make sure they finish on time). There’s even a few medleys too to try and fit in as much as possible. There’s sing-a-longs that could easily fill a stadium gig with ease, the enthusiastic audience at times threatening to drown out the pa. I’m surprised half of Leeds aren’t wondering where the party is going on.
Songs like ‘Clear Lines’ ‘Six Feet Under’ and ‘Travelling Man’ bounce around a first set that concludes with Polly and KC on either PA stack splitting the audience in half to sing along to the call and response section of ‘I.D.O.L’. A brief ten minute break sees the band back, kicking into the anthem ‘Blue Skies’ as if it’s message of positivity is powering them along like rocket fuel. Before too long they're having to quickly decide what songs to omit before 'Christopher Hitchens....' is back in his usual guise. They close with the rapturous riot that is 'Bones Of You', with both Polly and KC crowdsurfing, the latter while still playing guitar.
And then it's over. Their Punk Soul Rock 'n' Roll live show is life affirming, filling your heart with joy and positivity while the catchiest of tunes ring about in your head. This is a band that belongs to us all, playing every show like they're have to get all of their energy out through every song they play. Right now, The Idol Dead are the greatest live band that most people will never have heard of. They deserve so much more even though they're so happy with all that they have.
The Idol Dead - https://www.facebook.com/theidoldead/
Dave Kerr - https://www.facebook.com/davekerrmusic/
Laurence Crow And The Imaginary Band - https://www.facebook.com/andtheimaginaryband/
Review - Scott Hamilton