The O2 Academy Leeds is a fantastic venue with loads of potential, and has been the host of many an unforgettable show. The night was opened by the keen and youthful Hippo Campus who impressed with their strong sound and keen presence onstage. Their sound is very Little Comets with a touch of Vampire Weekend, and their set moved from kitchen-sink indie to a little more indie rock for songs like Suicide Saturday. They were charming and clearly talented, despite having hardly any room on stage.
Next up was Elle King who brought some old school country rock’n’roll to the evening. At first her thick vocals don’t hit home but she eventually branches out and shows off her hugely powerful and unique voice. Her persona is funny, sexy and irresistibly confident as she humiliates hecklers and engages the audience. She even ends on a rather cheeky and very explicit cover of Khia’s ‘My Neck, My Back’, a song which she dedicates to the ladies in the audience.
Finally the expectant crowd is placated as Modest Mouse arrive on stage much later than expected to the ambient sounds of a growing storm. They dive straight into the best of their discography with renditions of ‘Tiny City Made Of Ashes’, ‘Dramamine’, ‘Bukowski’ and ‘Lampshades on Fire’. Lead singer Isaac Brock seems unabashed to experiment with an on stage distortion and, much to everyone’s surprise, a song spent singing into the guitar body.
The night provides musical brilliance by the bucket load in the form of Modest Mouse’s fantastic backlog of songs, but the performance itself is hugely disappointing. There is no backdrop or attempt at setting the stage up at all. A lot of dead time is spent between songs whilst musicians rush to change instruments. Brock’s occasional engagement with the crowd is incoherent and frustratingly brief. Hardcore fans do dance and sing at each song’s best bit, but other than that the audience is utterly unenthused. The evening would have been hugely improved by a shorter set list with room for some crowd conversation, some attempt at brightening the stage, and a suggestion of enthusiasm from the band. It’s such a shame that such a fantastic band would be so complacent in their performances.