Flogging Molly – Leeds Josephs Well

By paul

Josephs Well is a strange little venue. Based in the centre of Leeds, it is essentially a pub with a basement – with this smallish room, catering for around 200 punters max – acting as the gigging area. With a small stage, everything about the venue is intimate, if that indeed is the right choice of word. So it’s a surprise really that so many bands actually come through Leeds and make Joes Well a stop-off. In the last few months the likes of Midtown, Consumed and The Pietasters have played here, and of course the Punktastic Tour has also been involved in a little Well action. Tonight it will play home to those Irish-American Guinness swilling drunkards, Flogging Molly, and their unique brand of….Irish music.

But first up we have two sets of local bands, who couldn’t be any more different from each other if they tried. Opening a Sunday night’s entertianment are NO BIG DEAL, a band close to us here at Punktastic as he host their website. It’s my first proper listen to the band and all I can say at the minute is that they seem to be a band suffering an identity crisis. Not really fitting into any specific genre, tonight the NBD sound comes across muddy and confusing – infact at times bassist Sie looks at his fellow band members to ask what is going on. With a hardcore and loyal support, NBD are clearly doing something right, but tonight they don’t do themselves justice. Four good musicians, as a band something doesn’t quite knit right and it’s only a ramshackle cover of the Ronan Keating ‘classic’ ‘When You Say Nothing At All’ that really hits the spot. It’s a fantastic hammering of the original, punked up with snotty, leering vocals that really suit the band. But when it comes to their original material there’s nothing that stands out, aside from one track sung by bassist Sie. (Sorry guys, I don’t know the name!) One final annoying feature is that the band seem to forget that a crowd is watching them, hardly ever appearing to look past the front row where their friends stand, and in losing eye contact with everyone else it could be quite easy to lose interest. Still, enough to warrant their slot, No Big Deal need to work hard at establishing their own sound and polish up their live performance and they may be on to something. (5)

MR SHIRAZ are worlds apart from their fellow Yorkshire support act. Bringing a crazy brand of ska to the evening, the Leeds boys (and gal) serve up a skanking treat with a set that is more exciteable than a kid with ADD at a theme park. There’s not one second to draw breath and there’s always something going on. Having heard lots about the band from Milk2Sugars, but having never seen Mr Shiraz in action, I really didn’t know what to expect. But their set has left me gagging for more. It’s hard to describe what they are all about, other than to say it’s a show that you really should not dare to miss. Showmanship, entertainment and fun are just three words and there are some decent songs in there too, with some mad trumpet playing offering a brass boost. If there is a slight moan their set seemed a little long, but that was maybe because the venue had become so damn hot. Either way, Mr Shiraz are a band that you have to see – for the entertainment value if nothing else. (8)

When I saw FLOGGING MOLLY at Deconstruction way back in the summer I wasn’t overly impressed by their punked up Pogues style. But after an hour with them in Leeds I’m converted. Again it’s all about fun, but the hard hitting unique style they have doesn’t do them any harm at all. Featuring most of the songs from their latest ‘Drunken Lullabies’ opus, the ‘Molly rock harder tonight than many of the bands I’ve seen this year. ‘Foolish Man’ sets the tone for the evening with an accordion and various other types of Irish instrumentation found littering the stage, but it’s the odd can of Guinness found near the foot of each member that adds to the authenticity. For me it’s the set opener of ‘Drunken Lullabies’ which sums up everything that is good about the band this evening and the kids go off for them all night. There’s interaction and various bouts of crowd participation, and there are more than a handful of hardcore fans in the house tonight who sing along with every word like it’s their last night on the planet. And the band buzz and feed off of the energy the fans create. With each member the wrong side of 30 (and quite possibly 40 too) they bound about the stage as if they’ve had a night on the Red Bull and this all-action performance does them no harm whatsoever. (9)

A throroughly enjoyable evening’s punk rock, if only Joes Well could somehow find some kind of ventilation system we’d be cooking on gas. This was Flogging Molly‘s frst visit to Leeds and they were given a typical Yorkshire welcome. I doubt it will be their last. As for the other two bands, gigs out of Leeds are needed – and for Mr Shiraz in particular, should easily be forthcoming.