Ian Street, Gigs Correspondent

DEADLETTER Support: Velkro And Sun King

A new band, or in this case, three new bands. There is always a frisson when I’m seeing a band I’ve never seen before and don’t know much about. I think all of us who love going to gigs know that feeling. Will this be my next favourite band? A band I will see many times? A band that might go on to be huge? Or one that will simply fade away? I’ve experienced all of these things but never quite struck gold like one of my best mates who went to see a new band in a club in the Merrion Centre in Leeds many years ago. On the way there, he met an Irish lad looking for the venue. Later, that same lad was on stage fronting U2, and my mate has followed them ever since. 

Another mate told me that DEADLETTER was the best live band he saw last year, so I was keen to get over to York and check them out. The Crescent is a fabulous, welcoming venue and perfect for a band on the way up, and for DEADLETTER, it was effectively a homecoming as their roots are in East Yorkshire. As a result, there was an expectantly sold-out crowd at the community-run venue.

First up, Velkro confidently put down layers of sound in a modern gothic style, with the lead singer summoning the spirit of Siouxsie Sioux. Sun King followed them, evoking a West Coast vibe while speeding down Highway One towards Big Sur. They conjure music for wide, open spaces. Expect to see them at a festival near you this summer.

The tempo shifted when DEADLETTER hit the stage, with tight post-punk creating a glorious tension in the music. The tracks popped with angular guitar, blasts of sax, and Gang of Fouresque basslines, keeping the rhythm fluid. There’s no doubt the band fits into the Sprechgesang style that has become part of the post-punk scene in recent years, but this is a band with intelligence and maturity that’s impressive only a handful of songs into their career.

Singer Zac Lawrence was utterly captivating, with a poise and swagger that should not be possible before an album has even been released, giving testament to time spent honing his craft on the live circuit. The whole band was incredibly tight, driving the songs with real gusto.

Zac soon stripped to the waist a la Iggy Pop, and there’s a real intensity to his performance, backed by a great turn of phrase, “I’ve got shoes but no soul,” and the band was lyrically strong throughout. A particular highlight was Fit for Work, which had the whole crowd accompanying the band railing against DWP assessments.

The band closed with the appropriately titled Zeitgeist. “There’s something in the air,” they sang, and indeed there was as Zac launched himself into the arms of his adoring fans to finish an exhilarating set.