¡Forward Russia! (Voltage Union, Shut Your Eyes And You'll Burst into Flames)
The Cardigan Arms on 25th July 2006
Reviewed by Dave on 28th July 2006
Why are Forward Russia playing in a pub that holds probably around a hundred people? Well, its all part of their Leeds Residency series of gigs where the band play small venues as opposed to the bigger ones usually used in tours, its to give something back, to do a gig where everyone in the room can actually see the band and it's a great idea.
Tonight Russia have taken over the upstairs of The Cardigan Arms and brought along local bands Voltage Union and Shut Your Eyes and You'll Burst into Flames both of whom appear on the Drive To The Radio compilation 'What We All Want'.
The sold out venue is packed out and the heat of the day seems to have gathered into this one tiny room, after only minutes I'm uncomfortably warm and sweaty.
Voltage Union's opening song Clap Your Hands reminds me of The Kooks only more lively and exciting. The band rips through a set that constantly has me tapping my feet, the melodies and vocals are very reminiscent of The Kooks, however where The Kooks seem to be bland Voltage Union put an obviously huge amount of energy into their songs and that comes across during their live performance as everyone watching seems very impressed.
Shut Your Eyes and You'll Burst into Flame
The best way I can think of to describe Shut Your Eyes is "chaos" pure and utter chaos. Live their songs sound completely chaotic and their antics on stage are equally as chaotic. The crowd was relatively sedate for Voltage Union but as Shut Your Eyes start playing the whole room "kicks off", there is a girl who seems to be skanking stood next to me and there is a small mosh pit.
Shut Your Eyes' set is fast and furious and full of a latent energy that explodes when they play Amputee Smile the song that appeared on What We All Want. The lead guitarist jumps into the crowd for a whole song jumping around with the fans and later on during the set the lead singer does the same for a little bit.
The set is loud and chaotic and very enjoyable, if not exactly the kind of music that I personally like to listen to, but still after they had finished I thought to myself "Wow, that was quite good".
¡Forward Russia! play an amazing set that opens with the first 2 minutes of Eleven, a song which the band return to later in the set to perform the quieter middle eight that builds to the dizzying climax of the song.
Despite being on tour for most of the year the band show no signs that they are tiring, just the opposite in fact, playing to this small crowd in their home town seems to give them limitless energy. As Tom Woodhead, the band's front man throws himself around the small stage area like a man possessed, wrapping the microphone cord around himself and shouting his way through what has rapidly become one of the best sets I've seen all year.
From the get go the crowd are totally absorbed with Russia and despite the heat there is a frenetic mosh pit which becomes more intense with each passing minute. There are even two girls crowd surfing, which I have to say well done for, it takes some guts to crowd surf in a room with around a hundred people in it.
Unsurprisingly the majority of the songs played appear on the band's debut album Give Me A Wall, each one performed to perfection. When the band announced that the next song was to be Seventeen I thought "Hell, yes", Seventeen is my favourite Russia song and hearing it live for the first time was like seeing Simon & Garfunkel live, awesome.
¡Forward Russia!'s set was a joy to behold and something that I intend to try and see again.