Sunday 9 April 2023

Inspiral Carpets / The Solution - Leeds O2 Academy - 8th April 2023

Inspiral Carpets continued their tour in support of The Complete Singles with a sold-out show at Leeds O2 Academy on Saturday night. An expectant crowd revelled in a set that rolled back the years and reminded them of more youthful times. Support came from the very excellent The Solution.

You'd be forgiven for thinking The Solution were old hands at this game given their impressive and assured half-hour opening set. Starting with a six-minute instrumental, the four-piece immediately set out their stall to impress. Front man Shan has the presence of a front man experienced in stages of this size even so early in the band's career that they don't have enough songs of their own yet to fill out their half hour set and put into two covers - Bauhaus's Dancing and New Order’s Procession, choices that are a brave statement of intent in their own right.

With Will on drums, Molly on keys and Oscar on bass, with friend John joining them on sax for Dancing, there's an immeasurable confidence about them that belies their formative time as a band. Stylistically they jump around, often in the same song but with the musical ability and assuredness to pull it off. Pain is a darker number, whilst their first single Complicated, out at the beginning of May, feels like a collision course of ideas that fit into place as they land. They're definitely a band to keep a very close eye on and the Leeds crowd love them.

That crowd are warmed up for the main act by Dave Sweetmore and a selection of classic indie tracks, mostly from the Madchester era where Inspiral Carpets made their first breakthrough. The band arrive on stage, fashionably late, to the strains of World Of Twist's The Storm and launch into Joe. For the next eighty minutes the Leeds crowd lose themselves in an endless onslaught of singles mingled in with a few should have been singles (Sackville, Directing Traffic). 

From the garage grunge sound of early singles Keep The Circle Around, Butterfly and Find Out Why through the indie pop of This Is How It Feels and Move and the band's run of hit singles - Dragging Me Down, Generations, Two Worlds Collide, Saturn 5, I Want You and Uniform - from their last two studio albums before their split to Let Me Down, the sole track from their 2014 self-titled return, the thrill of the familiar never fades. Clint jokes that they're playing them faster as they're getting older, but he has a point as attested to by the mosh pit that develops at the start and doesn't stop till the final bars of Saturn 5 with Stephen down on the barrier.

The new line-up for this tour has now gelled perfectly. Whilst Craig will always be irreplaceable, Kev Clark has stepped into his friend's shoes admirably, as acknowledged by Craig's son Levon who spends Commercial Reign, a song with a video commemorating his Dad playing on the screen behind the band, directing the drums from a friend's shoulders before saluting Kev and his Dad at the end. Jake Fletcher, an accomplished session musician, and great solo artist in his own right, has slotted right in too, although he's off on other duties after this show. The interaction between him and Graham / Kev shows that they've found a connection again with the music that they thought they might never do again once Craig left us. Clint's signature keyboard sound permeates everything and Stephen's vocals have never sounded stronger.

Tonight's a reminder again of just how many great singles Inspiral Carpets have made as a band over thirty five years and different line-ups. Clint hints at more to come towards the end, saying they'll come back with a completely different set and will crack on given the reaction they've had before the audience bounce around and sing along to Saturn 5 to finish off the evening on a high.  

Inspiral Carpets played Joe, Generations, Weakness, Butterfly, She Comes In The Fall, This Is How It Feels, Two Worlds Collide, Let You Down, Caravan, Find Out Why, Move, Sackville, Directing Traffic, Keep The Circle Around, I Want You, Uniform, Dragging Me Down, Commercial Rain, 96 Tears and Saturn 5.

Inspiral Carpets official website is here. They are also on Twitter and Facebook.  

They play Glasgow SWG3 (April 13), Sheffield Leadmill (14), London Shepherds Bush Empire (15), Coventry HMV Empire (21), Frome Cheese And Grain (22), Holmfirth Picturedrome (May 25), Hull Welly (26), Warrington Neighbourhood Festival (27), Buckley Tivoli (June 15), Cardiff Tramshed (16), Church End Sign Of The Times Festival (17), Dunfermline PJ Molloys (July 20), Edinburgh Liquid Rooms (21), Sunderland Kubix Festival (22), Perth Rosemount Hotel (28/29), Brisbane The Triffid (August 3), Sydney Manning Bar (4), Melbourne Croxton Ballroom (5), Wellington San Fran (8), Auckland Tuning Fork (9), Derby Hairy Dog (24), Norwich Epic Studios (25) and Portsmouth Victorious Festival (26). 

The Complete Singles is out on double vinyl and triple CD.


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