Supported by Honeyglaze
Words by Dan Scoggins
Photos by Mark Stimpson
I have been quietly having daily romances with each of the Wet Leg songs from their recently released album. The sound of summer 21 who took themselves and us all by surprise with the divine earworm “Chaise Longue ” have really impressed with a set of songs
that sound weirdly accustomed but also unlike anything else. The anticipation is high tonight at the Arts Centre, a small capacity venue booked before their ascent. A friend whispers “you will not be seeing these guys in such a small place again.” This is to be savoured.
Before we wet our legs though, Honeyglaze is in support. The band consists of Anouska Sokolow (Guitar, Voice), Tim Curtis (Bass/ Odd little inter-song vignettes) and an incendiary
Yuri Shibuichi on drums. The pace is slow, and I wonder if the craven WL fans are going to cope with it, but they are thoughtful and appreciative of this lovely music.
Lots of good things coming up here but mainly an intelligence and steely musicianship that make each little tale worth close attention. The feeling we are being told a story is compounded by Tim’s little haiku-like comments between the songs- it takes a while to figure he is not just giving us the usual ‘hello/thanks/goodbye/this song is called..” patter.
They are abstract comments, linking the music. I love this idea and it endears me to the band.
The mood is serious. Anoushka’s voice is thick but silken. The songs sound personal. They remind me of The Magic Numbers- a massively underrated band. The songs build and surprise.
The highlight is Yuri’s drumming. Clearly a well trained, possibly Jazz oriented percussionist he plays the kit in mesmerising fashion. This supports an excellent, floral bass and Anoushka’s winding rhythm guitar- there is not a lot of complication in the music. The drummer fills this space with dizzying technicality- often teasing the songs into something very different from where they started.
This band is worth seeing and I will be keeping tabs on them. Don’t expect them to rock your socks off.
Onto the main event and as the theme from the shire from Lord Of The Rings plays, the band take stage. Wet Leg are primarily Rhian Teasdale and Hester Chambers- these two writer performers front a band of three hairy blokes- Josh (Keys), Henry (Drums) and Ellis
(Bass). All very competent musicians who bring the live band alive.
The show, as the album opens with ‘Being in Love’- Rhian’s ode to adversity. It sounds great, looser and slightly punked up- a theme that permeates the renditions all evening. One of the things I truly love about this band is that they do not take themselves too seriously.
Pretentious artistes look in vain. The girls are real and having a laugh. Literally as someone holds up a sign in the audience and Hester and Rhian crack up. This spouts a laughing fit that
threatens to derail the song, but it is a pleasure to watch and sets the mood. Let’s have some fun.
Hester then gives us her only solo singing performance of the night- the beautiful
“Convincing”. Unfortunately, her voice is a little too low in the mix this early in the gig. But it’s fab. The preposterous amount of decent singles this band has already released means that we get lots of treats and we start with a jagged up tempo “Wet Dream” and the first
chance for the audience to sing/chant along with the band’s brilliant slogan-ish sing-talk lyrics. They make the audience feel like another member, like we are all having a big old jam. The girls spin like dervishes with their guitars, and again, and again. Looking each other in the eye. You know they just want one or both to fall over from dizziness. The fun is so
Too Late Now, the albums closer, sits nicely here in the middle of the set. It’s one of my favourites with a grand ending we all sing along. Everything is going wrong- but everything is going fine. The song speeds drunkenly to a crash ending. It’s hard to compare them to anyone in particular – PJ Harvey, Blur, Belly, basically any decent indie music from the past 40 years. They sound so familiar yet so original.
Squelchy arse quake bass erupts in “Oh No” -a short ditty about the pleasures of scrolling on your amygdala. It sounds fucking great live- a loud two minute belch of a song. It sounds metal as the keys and guitar licks trade off. UR mum is a scream-along as the audience
erupts in the song’s finale “practising their longest and loudest scream” as directed by the band.
Towards the end we get a trio of new songs, all great. The most impressive is Rhian’s vocals on “It’s a Shame” where she utilises the full spectrum of her voice in a new way. She yodels and croons the chorus and the technique sounds wonderful. I think as she grows in
confidence with her voice and the noises she makes we will see a truly great vocal artist emerge here. I am excited to hear what she can do. She drops the guitar and goes full lead vocalists metal for “Abducted by a UFO” and opens with that scream we all joined in with before.
Then the home straight- the sublime “Anjelica” just sounds like one of the best indie songs ever written. The band (esp. Josh who shares co-writing credits here) bought on the audience to join in the chorus “Good Times, All The Time.” Yeah.
Then we finish with Chaise Long and it is sung loudly by the audience for the entirety of the play time. The girls don’t seem to mind the participation. Here we are at the Wet Leg party and we are all allowed to join in with their mad jams. It’s rare for me to listen to the band’s
album on the way home from the gig that I have just seen. In fact I can’t remember doing this ever. But today I did. Sparking more tiny romances with each of their lovely song visions. I can’t wait to hear more.