Gig review: Trans at Brudenell Social Club, Leeds

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A musician of a certain age and a certain degree of success is often a prisoner of their own back catalogue and the expectations of fans. It’s refreshing then to see Bernard Butler - whose guitar heroics once powered Britpop godfathers Suede to fame and who subsequently made his name as a prolific producer and songwriter - entirely ignore the past to deal in music that’s so new it’s mostly being made up on the spot.

Admittedly, this means he and his new band Trans are playing to a small but captivated crowd in what’s usually the games room of the Brudenell, rather than, say, an arena full of nostalgic 30 and 40-somethings, but that’s exactly how this deliberately low-key, free-form project want it.

Butler, fellow guitarist/vocalist Jackie McKeown and an outstanding rhythm section who telepathically follow their every move, (along with an unsung hero behind the mixing desk), create driving three-chord rock’n’roll songs built on hypnotic rhythms, then meander off into improvised instrumental epics, kept just the right side of self-indulgence by their melodic sense and clear enthusiasm for playing spontaneously and eyeball-to-eyeball with their audience.

Rather ironically for a band led by a guitar hero of the 1990s and a chap who used to be in a band actually called The 1990s, that decade is just about the only bit of rock history Trans don’t bring to mind. There’s the independent spirit and jangling guitars of 80s indie. From the 70s, echoes of the sparring solos of Television’s Tom Verlaine and Richard Lloyd and the mesmerising rhythms of Can and Neu! And when they go into all-out reverb-drenched psychedelia it’s possibly the nearest the snooker room at the Brudenell has ever got to a 60s Pink Floyd “happening” at the UFO Club.

Gig date: March 15

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