LIVE: The Gospel Youth @ The Key Club, Leeds

By Mark Johnson

Although The Gospel Youth have only just released their debut album, the band have amassed a large collection of songs in their relatively short existence. In 2016 they released one single per month for their subscribers on Bandcamp, and with earlier EPs ‘Kids’ and ‘Empires’ under their belts there’s no shortage of strong material for a headlining set.

Those familiar with the band’s new record can attest to the superb quality of ‘Always Lose’. The band have managed to cram ten single-quality songs into one album, and if you’ve followed the band from the start you’ll know that this level of quality is nothing new, but simply a continuation of what we’ve come to expect. Being able to churn out successful songs consistently is great for studio recordings, but it’s even more of an advantage live, because no matter what songs The Gospel Youth put into their set, the audience is guaranteed a carousel of huge-hitting tracks.

With waves of alt-rock anthems flowing effortlessly off the stage, the band’s set flashes by in seemingly no time at all. From the first note, the band gel together as one perfectly tight unit, and waste no time throwing themselves into their performance, injecting energy into each song. The entire set seems completely effortless, and with such a relaxed vibe on stage, it allows the band to soak up the atmosphere and enjoy themselves, which pours into the audience as well.

Vocalist Samuel Little shines throughout ‘Always Lose’, and his performance is even more compelling live. Every note hits perfect pitch, tone and clarity, but it’s not just his technical ability that’s so impressive, but the way he manages to convey raw emotion with every word. With ‘The Hospital Blues You Gave Me’ tackling the subject of loss, and ‘Wildfire’ based on a close friend’s temptation to take their own life, it’s impossible to ignore the emotion pouring from Little’s voice. Reliving such painful experiences makes Little vulnerable on stage, but by exposing such deeply personal topics it brings the audience closer to the band, and creates a community of people that can share the burden of the experience.

Before launching into ‘Wildfire’, Little explains to the crowd that nobody is alone, and encourages everyone to use each other to navigate difficult times. It’s powerful to hear a frontman with integrity and compassion give a positive message, and it emphasises the importance that the music community plays in bonding together and helping each other through the darkest of emotions.

With a live show that goes above and beyond the stunning quality of their recorded music, The Gospel Youth are one of the UK’s finest rising acts, and if you’re yet to experience the band on stage we’d encourage you to put that right at your next available opportunity.