Tubelord @ The Bowery - 14th October
Tubelord have been knocking about for a good four or so years now, pursuing their pyrotechnic art-rock with an admirable disregard for commerciality.
Their latest album, Romance, was available on very fetching pink and blue tapes at Friday’s show, whilst in the past they’ve released limited runs of vinyl 7”s, each with unique hand-drawn artwork. On Friday they paid a visit to the Bowery, having previously played in Sheffield at the Harley last September.
Leeds-based band Alt-J were the support act. Despite the pretentious name (on an Apple keyboard, it produces a triangle), they managed to hold the audience’s attention with mournful, folky vocals over a backdrop of sparse instrumentation and stop-start rhythmic dynamics. In particular, new single ‘Tessellate’ stood out as a wonderfully lop-sided, atmospheric display of their vocalist’s talents.
As ever, Tubelord were in possession of a magnificent stage presence, with singer and guitar Joe Prendergast yelping his obtuse lyrics with reckless abandon, all the while pounding his guitar like a man possessed. His distinctive, high-pitched vocals gelled surprisingly well with James Elliot-Field’s saccharine synths, a relatively recent addition to the Tubelord line-up.
Tubelord’s set was a welcome mix of songs old and new – ‘Over in Brooklyn’, the opener on new album Romance, had a warm reception from the audience, who lapped up its mix of spidery vintage Tubelord guitar lines and jaunty keyboards. The lead single, ‘My First Castle’, fell slightly flat, however. Probably Tubelord’s poppiest moment to date, it seemed a little twee in comparison to the rest of their oeuvre, with a noticeable absence of the angular time-signatures that make Tubelord such an interesting listen.
Disappointingly, the Bowery didn’t make for an ideal venue – although the sound was crisp, the lack of a raised stage, combined with a prominent pillar in front of the bar, impeded a clear view of the band for many people. That said, this didn’t ruin the show by any stretch of the imagination. Tubelord concluded their set with a couple of old favourites – ‘Feed Me a Box of Words’ and ‘Night of the Living Pencils’ – and this went down a treat, with the crowd hollering the raucous vocal hooks along with Prendergast. Tubelord’s star has been rising steadily for the past couple of years – here’s hoping that next time they’re in Sheffield they’ll be packing out a larger venue.
Words by Ben Taylor