The Wild Beasts have seemingly always managed to stay below the radar. Not, one would imagine, purposefully but when a number of their peers have found a major hit that captured a wider audience’s imagination, Elbow, Artic Monkeys, Arcade Fire to name but a few, Wild Beasts particular brand of guitar-based rock music has been frustratingly low key. A position they find themselves in even given that their second album Two Dancers received a Mercury Music Prize nomination in 2010.
Now four albums into a career spanning from 2006, the friends from Kendal in Cumbria have a fifth in the offing, Boy King, and a tour planned throughout October to support its release.
And if the tracks from that forthcoming album over two nights at the Brudenell Social Club in Leeds are an indication of what’s to come, this could finally be the time that Wild Beasts shake off their shackles and soar. Both nights were sold out to a crowd that knew and sung along to tracks from the previous albums as well as expressing eager anticipation for the new as yet unreleased material.
Opening track Get My Bang is one such unreleased track from the forthcoming album and matches lead singer Hayden Thorpe’s falsetto vocals with guitarist Tom Fleming’s more baritone sound with a thumping percussion that serves to set the scene for a more forceful tone throughout a lot of the new record.
It demonstrates the level of the confidence that the band have in their current trajectory that the first two songs are from Boy King with Tough Guy served up next. A Simple Beautiful Truth from 2014’s Present Tense was followed by another new track Big Cat, on which the vocals were excellent but there was something lacking from the live version that is present on the record, a degree of depth and strength perhaps.
Wild Beasts had relocated to Leeds in 2005 and Thorpe’s love for the city was apparent when he suggested that their songs were for the ‘gritty parts’ of the city, not the well to do neighbourhoods, an assertion that was lost slightly when the next song was We Still Got The Taste Dancin’ On Our Tongues, with its almost yodelling introduction and Communards-esque bassline, about as far from gritty as it is possible to be.
Colossus had a hugely unrestrained lighting introduction before the entire crowd could sing along with probably the best known song Hooting and Howling, the set closing with Mecca and Alpha Female.
Coming back to the stage for the inevitable encore and what is likely to become the Wild Beast’s most well-known track, Celestial Creatures a song driven at pace by drummer Chris Talbot and Ben Little’s guitar and keyboards. The set finished with Wanderlust and All The Kings Men, the track which is essentially the fulcrum of Two Dancers and live is a different and much improved proposition through Fleming’s hugely impressive lead vocal display, demonstrating genuine passion for the track.
It doesn’t appear to matter that Wild Beasts are yet to take flight in mainstream terms, they have spent the past decade building up a strong back catalogue and manoeuvring themselves into their current position, poised and teetering on the edge of a major career and profile shift upwards.