Gig review: Apollo Junction at Leeds University Stylus

As singer Jamie Williamson points out to those who might be seeing his Leeds quintet for the first time, Apollo Junction are “not a new band”.

By Duncan Seaman
Sunday, 24th April 2022, 6:19 pm
Updated Thursday, 28th April 2022, 2:50 pm
Apollo Junction
Apollo Junction

Rather, they have been ploughing their own dance-rock furrow for a decade, with two independently released albums under their belt. Yet this vibrant and warmly received set in front of a nearly sold-out Stylus suggests all those years of hard endeavour are really beginning to pay off.

Playing to a partisan home crowd undoubtedly helps, but Williamson in particular seems to have learned much about stagecraft from supporting Kaiser Chiefs at Elland Road and The Piece Hall in Halifax and touring last year with the Pigeon Detectives.

Four numbers in, he’s already climbing down from the stage and striding around the auditorium with microphone in hand, belting out Two Car Family; three songs later, he and guitarist Matt Wilson are back in the throng, performing a semi-acoustic version of Rooftops.

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But what matters most is the material – and here Apollo Junction deliver potential hit after potential hit. Coming out of the traps at speed with the glam-rock stomp of Light Up The Sky, they cleverly segue a segment of Born Slippy into one of their best numbers, Born For Now.

Porcelain and Unknowns, from their 2021 album All In, inhabit a life of their own live, and Williamson encourages each band member in turn to sing a chorus from artists who have influenced them during an extended rendition of In Your Arms. Perhaps inevitably they include David Bowie, Queen and Foo Fighters.

The churning Sometimes brings to mind U2; other reference points along the way include New Order, The Killers and Duran Duran.

Exuberant audience singalongs to Are You Happy? and When We Grow Up, however, demonstrate the band are now making the kind of connection that’s all their own.

Pausing before the encore, Williamson invites a couple from audience to join them onstage, explaining that they had contacted the band to tell them that Apollo Junction’s Forever is one of their favourite songs. After Sam pops the question to Andy, the band happily oblige with said number.

As streamers burst from the rafters during their closing song Begin, the band are entitled to sense that even bigger things await.