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¡Forward, Russia! celebrates 100 years of the Brudenell Social Club

The Brudenell Social Club, aptly described by tonight's host as "One of the greatest venues this country has ever seen", is a landmark of West Yorkshire live music.


¡Forward, Russia! @ the Brudenell Social Club, Leeds. 30/11/2013

Over the years the venue has played host to countless artists whether they be home brewed local heroes, continent dwellers or from across the pond. The name alone is synonymous with Leeds' eclectic music scene and tonight the powers that be have put together a very special treat to celebrate the venues centennial. Bringing back from the ashes for a very special one time only reunion hometown legends ¡Forward, Russia! Most will remember ¡F,R! for their dynamic fusion of early 00's Indie and no holds barred Punk as well as their sudden and premature departure from the spotlight. Judging by tonight's sold out show they have been sorely missed, made evident by the hordes of t-shirts emblazoned with the signature ¡! logo. Of course, before I can even begin to discuss the headliner's set, homage should, no. MUST, be paid to tonights support act, Bradford cult heroes, This Et Al. Who, in a similar vein to tonight's headliner's are making a one off appearance after calling it quits in June of 2008. As the band storms through a set built upon a mix of beautifully articulated riffs and delicate jazz infused bass riffs shifting effortlessly into a landslide of almost post-rockesque noise brought to us by Guitarist Ben Holden and Bassist Gavin Bailey, the two held together with impeccable technicality from drummer Steve Wilson and Guitarist/Vocalist Neil 'WU' Widdop's schizophrenic vocals jumping from gentle falsetto whispers to aggressive devilish shrieks. It's obvious that the audience tonight are just as ecstatic for their return as they are for ¡F,R!'s. By the time they depart the stage not a single foot has been left unmoved, hearts are pounding and the atmosphere filling the room is that of unadulterated anticipation. Following a short interval it's finally time, the moment this crowd has been waiting for since August 2008, the day that ¡F,R! announced their separation. One by one the band takes the stage, the anticipation in the room is entirely intoxicating and in one fell swoop the room erupts as opening track 'Fifteen Pt. 1' tears its way through 400 peoples eager ears, hearts and minds. Taking their loyal followers on a 15 track journey through nostalgic territory ¡F,R! seem as relevant today as in 2008, and undoubtedly they want to prove it. The signature furious punk driven riffs and unrelenting drums heralded by brother and sister duo, Guitarist Samuel 'Whiskas' and Drummer Katie Nicholls combined with Bassist Rob Canning's unabashed dynamic bass riffs are as poignant as ever. In true form, front man Tom Woodhead feverishly throws himself around the small stage with his trademark erratic flamboyance, as he leads the audience through a back catalogue of indomitable crowd favourites including debut single 'Nine' and 2007's 'Don't Be A Doctor' with his raw, penetrating vocals piercing his audiences ear drums and resonating across the room. Closing their set with 'Spanish Triangles' the final track on their final release 'Life Processes' ¡Forward, Russia! close an incredible evening with an emotional dexterity that only a band of this caliber can. The lyrics to their swan song echo through the venue trembling from the lips of seemingly every fan in the room and the atmosphere is truly spectacular. Before departing the stage for the final time, the band make their final thanks, and by each of their faces are truly humbled by what has happened in this, by all means relatively small in the grand scheme of things venue, their return may have been short, but it certainly will not be long forgotten. It's nights like this that remind me why venues like The Brudenell are such an intrinsic part of live music as a culture, regardless of what scene you happen to put yourself in. The intimacy offered, the friendly faces week after week, show after show and the feeling of camaraderie cannot be matched. For this I say, long live the independent venues that keep our scenes alive, and long live The Brudenell. Reviewed by: Mike Connolly (on behalf of Andi James Chamberlain) Photo: Tom Martn (via Google) Links: