Live Review: Fort Hope, Dead!, The Wilde – The Key Club, Leeds – 17/02/2015

If there’s one thing that’s been absolutely sodding brilliant about 2015 so far, it’s just how spoilt we’ve been with excellent young British rock bands with super bright futures hitting the road almost every week. Fort Hope’s nationwide jaunt this week was absolutely no exception; and AH hit The Key Club for the particularly promising Leeds date of the tour.

Opening the night were local boy’s The Wilde who, over the course of the last year or so, have become as good as any up and coming live band as Yorkshire has to offer. And the boys were on top form here. ‘Bad Bones’, taken from the band’s killer debut EP ‘Young Libertine’ wasted no time in getting the respectably full room moving, the grooving guitar lines and infectious swagger and bounce of both it and ‘Youth In Bloom’ proving inescapable for all present. An early live airing of an unnamed new song showed that the five piece’s already formidable knack of writing catchy, consciousness bothering hooks only continues to get stronger, before frontman Tommy Fleming combined getting every pair of hands clapping with a superb vocal performance on set closer ‘Young Libertine’. (4/5)

Southampton’s Dead! then did a great job of keeping the energy levels up while adding their own brand of theatrics and pomp to the evening. While not as infectious or instantly accessible as the openers, Dead!’s dark MCR inspired take on angsty brit-rock with an emo edge made for a plenty entertaining watch. And with big sweeping numbers like ‘Alaska’ in their arsenal the band have the songs to add weight to the posturing and presence of their live show. (3.5/5)

To say that the predominantly female crowd were excited for Fort Hope’s would be putting it mildly, as the deafening screams that met singer Jon Gaskin’s arrival were even more ear-splitting then a really screechy cat that had been stepped on by a fat lass in heels. Seriously it was painful. But it quickly became clear that the four piece were more than deserving of such a welcome. From the get go Fort Hope were nothing short of brilliant, showing that live they can get awfully close to their near flawless efforts on record. Gaskin is an exceptional vocal talent, effortlessly showing off a range that very few frontmen in today’s rock scene can match. He immediately had his audience firmly in his sway, keeping them there with a powerful and effecting performance that both squeezed every ounce of feeling and majesty out of the songs, and pushed his bandmates to keep up with his showman ship and performance levels.

The songs from Fort Hope’s recently released self-titled EP provided many of the set’s stand out moments with the beautifully paced ebb and flow of ‘Crosses (And So We Dig)’, the emphatic flag waver ‘Sick’ and fist-pumping, bruising anthem ‘Plans’ all sounding great live. While older tracks ‘The Rapture’, ‘We Are The Gods’ and last song ‘Control’ were all equally well received.

Based on performances like this one, and songs this stirring, there is no way that Fort Hope won’t be the next band to follow the likes of Mallory Knox and Twin Atlantic into the upper echelons of British Rock and playing much, much bigger rooms. Fort Hope in this form are one of the must see UK rock acts of 2015. (4/5)

4/5

Words and photos by Dane Wright (@MrDaneWright)

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