One gig anecdote I like to bring out from time to time is how I discovered Pulled Apart by Horses quite by accident by rocking up to the launch of their debut album because I’d been blown away by Blacklisters, who were supporting, a few week before. It was a wild night, with These Monsters also on the bill, playing on front of the stage. All the bands were spectacularly pissed, and the crowd-surfing began the moment the headliners took to the stage. It was a hell of a launch, and in many respects, epitomised everything great about the Leeds scene and the Brudenell – recently awarded he ‘Grassroots Venue’ award at the Music Week awards.
Since then, Pulled Apart by Horses seemed to have outgrown their roots, and in some ways, to have sought commercial success over creative satisfaction. The fact their new album, ‘The Haze’ represents a return to their roots in musical terms (while also proving to be their highest charting album to date) seems to tie in with their decision to play the last night of their tour at the Brude.
As was the case back in 2010, they’ve got some strong support acts in tow, with Thee MVPs, fresh from a stint at SXSW winning over a substantial early-doors crowd in no time with their attacking, spiky, punk-leaning alt-rock. They’ve got bags of energy and some cracking tunes, and the bassist – stage front, in a black minidress, jaw forward and scowling menacingly from under her fringe – is an immense, intense presence. I’ve already jotted down comparisons to The Adverts and early Wire before they blast out a killer rendition of The Damned’s ‘Neat Neat Neat’, and the truth is, I could have left at the end of their set and been satisfied.
Tiger Cub are certainly a less accessible proposition, and their appeal is a whole lot less immediate than Thee MVPs. The drummer’s man-bun and unnatural snare sound paired with the gangly singer’s well-above-the-ankle drainpipes don’t do the any favours but sonically, they’re impressive. The trio forge a remarkably rich, not to mention dense, sinewy, sound. It’s an inventive hybrid, and while largely sitting within the neo-prog space left wide open since Oceansize’s departure, there are very strong grunge elements to the fore, with hints of QOTSA-style stoner riffery, post-rock and more in the mix. The expansive quite spells which erupt into guitar-driven soundscapes call to mind at times The God Machine, and if it all sounds like an odd blend, trust me, it’s good, and they’re a cohesive, tight live act as well.
The last time I saw people going quite as nuts at a gig at The Brudenell was probably the last time I saw Pulled Apart by Horses play there. The band are on fire and clearly in their element performing to an intimate home crowd. They’re a lot more pro than seven years ago, but it’s clear these are the same guys, and they’re genuinely happy to be home, and as a consequence, they give it everything they’ve got. The reception shows it’s not only noticed, but appreciated, as bodies begin to fly early – which is hardly surprising, given that they slam in ‘I Punched a Lion in the Throat’ as the third track, and of course, half the venue goes ballistic.
They don’t let up at any point: James Brown is particularly energetic, and with a set that neatly balanced old and new material, the reception was appropriately appreciative. Perhaps surprisingly, it was another cover that saw one of the strongest responses of the night, with their take on ‘Helter Skelter’ bringing forth a tidal wave of leaping bodies. The band are in the audience, the audience are on stage… In fairness, it was a good version, and a lot of people were really quite drunk by this point. Tom Hudson stops and spews copiously beside the drunk kit before he can finish the set. But finish it they do, in triumphant style, with a blistering rendition of ‘High Five, Swan Dive, Nose Dive.’ The stage is swamped, and it’s a huge rush of a finale which encapsulates everything that made Pulled Apart by Horses Leeds heroes in the first place.