Gig review: Afflecks Palace at Brudenell Social Club, Leeds
and live on Freeview channel 276
There is little in the way of subtlety in their acknowledgement of influences, as frontman J Fender walks out on stage in the Brudenell Social Club’s main room with a Manchester swagger, clad in denim with a bucket hat on his head. He even has a tambourine rested on his microphone stand which makes more than one appearance during the set. This may draw sneers from some but fortunately for the band, they are not a carbon copy of the Stone Roses and certainly not a tribute act.
They are instead adding a modern touch to the jangly sound of 1980s Manchester indie, unashamedly leaning on influences whilst carving their own path. Flawless vocal delivery and shimmering guitars bring the band’s discography to life beautifully. Beginning with ‘This City Is Burning Alive’, the opening track from their debut album, the set gets underway at a quick pace as the urgent lyrical delivery of the chorus is intersected with soft, faded melodies.
Afflecks Palace then take fans on a journey through their influences, as Johnny Marr-style guitar shines on ‘Dancing Is Not A Crime’ and ‘I’m So Glad You’re On Ecstasy’. Behind the youthful themes is a wistfulness and nostalgic longing, whether it be for summer on the dreamy ‘Pink Skies’, or for romance on ‘Forever Young’.
There is even a place in the set for a cover of The Smiths hit ‘Bigmouth Strikes Again’, which somehow fits perfectly among modern adaptations of retro styles. There is also an edge among the hazy numbers, as ‘Big Fish, Small Pond’ enables Fender to take aim at people he has encountered in the music industry. It is worth mentioning they followed their label-mates Pastel on stage, who have previously supported Liam Gallagher and kicked off the night with anthems reminiscent of shoegaze-tinged early Oasis.
It would be easy to write off Afflecks Palace as the latest in a long line of bands trying to revive Madchester. However, their ability to make the sounds of a bygone era sound fresh might just keep them around for the long haul and propel them towards larger venues.