Palace rock up to the Stylus in Leeds and bring along local girl Billie Marten as support.

I often think back to watching an incredible version of Hall & Oates You Make My Dreams Come True on YouTube – its was such a delicate slow soft breathy style of performance but it was the fact that this was coming from a 12-yr old local schoolgirl in Ripon that was the major surprise. There she was, sat ‘Ont’Sofa’, dungarees, teeth braces and converse shoes – captivating thousands of people watching. Back then she was Billie Tweddle and the 10 years of watching this girl grow into the performer that she has become have been nothing less than majestic.

Tonight is a homecoming of sorts – whilst it is a support slot on the Palace tour there are quite a few in early to see Billie – me included, in fact if I’m honest, that’s why I’m here at all.

A quick “Hello Leeds” and we are into tracks from her latest album Flora Fauna – namely Garden of Eden and Creature of Mine. Immediately there is a sense of shift in noise level compared to her previous shows, and that can only really be attributed to her band whose rounded sound starts to drown out any talkers. This can only be a good thing it’s just a shame her voice seemed a little low in the mix.

There were noticeably few older songs in her brief set and no Blue Sea Red Sea, she even managed to debut a brand new track tonight. The future is definitely bright for her and I expect some decent slots at festivals in 2022.

On to Palace who I have seen once before in Leeds a few years ago, this is their biggest tour to date as their live reputation grows with every performance. They wrote a new album in lockdown – Shoals, and tonight this is a proper promotion tour of that album as they will play everything off it. Subdued lighting greeted them as they open with the title track. It all feels a little too polite, and whilst the mainly student based crowd here are genuinely lapping it up, I don’t quite feel the same and it just appears to me to be a competent band playing 2nd rate Radiohead or Coldplay songs but without either Thom Yorke’s introspective emotional wailing or Chris Martin’s bouncing energy. Far too much subdued synth based blandness for my liking and the vocals at times were undecipherable.

That view did change though by the time they hit Fade and Gravity which had some serious rock overtones and there was a bit of country twang to Holy Smoke which was quite enjoyable. Even Heaven Up there sounded like the anthem it was born to be. It was these tracks that I felt Palace had finally come into their own, but this was too little too late as I had already got lost somewhere in the middle section of the gig.

I’m in the minority here I’m sure, but the one thing I will take from it all is at least they are writing their own material, and capable of playing it live, and there is an undercurrent of students eager to sing back these lyrics to a live band once again.

Words and Photos by John Hayhurst 


Philip Goddard

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