Since the release of ‘Bloodrush’ back in March, it seems The Amazons have sort of been providing an indefinite soundtrack to various events that have occurred around me. It’s now at a point where I can’t switch on the shower or coffee machine or my straighteners without one of their new tunes mentally blaring. Excessive? Perhaps. Can I help it? Apparently not.
I’ve been a firm fan of The Amazons since 2017, but through their superbly marketed releases this year, you could now consider me fully fixated. So, getting tickets to the Leeds leg of their tour was a no-brainer.
In association with BBC Introducing, local dark-pop quartet Ava in the Dark opened the night at Leeds Beckett SU. Although their sound was very different to what the Berkshire quad would bring, ethereal tones, a tight rhythm section and a lone, leading guitar were well forged together to make their signature sound such an astonishing appetiser.
And then there it was: 8:45pm, time for “four boys from the south” to “come in peace” amid those famous “Yorkshire, Yorkshire, Yorkshire” chants. Frontman Matt Thomson engaged with the crowd at every opportunity and ignited the set, while they still had a serious and deft handle on the masterful transitions behind the overall production. That’s what stitches together a gig and raises the bar from a great show to a theatrically sensational performance. The latter is just what The Amazons gifted us.
They had cleverly cooked up a setlist that served up a mix of tracks from the new album, including ‘How Will I Know?’, ‘Say It Again’ and ‘Ready For Something’. Those are unashamed belters in their own right, but when snuggled in among various older songs, ‘One By One’ showed its colours as a piece that might have a slow start but it really builds into an anthemic, fiery finisher.
Judging by the crowd’s bellowing, older hits such as ’25’, ‘In My Mind’ and ‘Junk Food Forever’ proved the most popular. All the while, you couldn’t help but be transfixed by Chris Alderton’s ability as lead guitarist. He played as though that instrument was just an extension of him; so fluidly in sync with every string, riff, chord. Spellbinding.
And when the band slowed the tempo down to do a semi-acoustic rendition of ‘Nightdriving’, with their session fifth member on harmonica, Chris’ mandolin skills came to the fore. That was quite a sight — as was all the phone torches hoisted and brandished in the air during the softly poignant ‘Northern Star’.
The encore came around all too fast, in my opinion. But it somehow managed to pump the room full of even more sticky sweat and energy. Naturally, ‘Bloodrush’ needed its airtime, but a surprise came in the form of a cover of The Cult’s ‘She Sells Sanctuary’. I don’t think many would’ve put money on its inclusion, but it felt as though it absolutely had a place, after hearing them nail it.
When you’ve got more than 25 million streams on a song, you put it at the end of a show and let it send you off with an almighty thud. That’s where ‘Black Magic’ made its entrance, in a long, drawn-out format that had the bodies in the room as putty in their hands. A terrific technical display.
If you’re not sure why I keep harping on about The Amazons, it’s quite simple really: they have the je ne sais quoi not every outfit possesses. I want to be in their orbit when they play, and they exhibit everything that’s solid about the modern rock scene. They’re fresh, inspiring and fun with it. But even above their seamless knack for crafting powerful material, they understand the gravity of success and the hard work that goes into securing it. You can’t fault graft, after all.