Live Review: No Devotion, The Wilde, and Your Illuminations – The Key Club, Leeds – 01/10/2015

imageWe may know plenty about the history and previous musical endeavours of the various members of No Devotion, but as a whole outfit we’ve been restricted to brief enigmatic glimpses of what they may have to offer. That is until the last few weeks when, between the release of their debut album ’Permanence’ and their most meaningful run of headline shows to date, we’ve been able to really size up what they’re about for the first time. After getting a short impression of what rock’s newest supergroup can do live at Leeds Fest, Already Heard headed to Leeds’ The Key Club to see what their own headline show would have to offer.

Given that each of the members of the night’s headliners had sold out much bigger rooms with their old bands, it seemed safe to assume turnout for this show would make for a rather cosy and sweaty evening. Sadly this proved not to be the case. Openers Your Illuminations worked manfully to try and garner some interest from a sparsely filled room. Their Son Of Dork meets MCR with random electronic sprinklings sound is delivered with reasonable aplomb, and shows just enough to suggest an EP of these songs polished and tightened in the studio could be an interesting prospect. Live, however, they prove a little too sickly sweet to win over a more straight rock-orientated crowd. Frontman Robbie certainly carries himself with the beginnings of star quality, but the merits of posturing too much when you’re the first band playing to not many people is up for debate. Ditto for the illuminated bass when you’re not Tyson Ritter. (2.5/5)

Main support The Wilde are making their first live appearance in a good four months or so. The North Yorkshire five-piece have been in the process of plotting life after last year’s eye-catching debut EP ’Young Libertine’, not that there’s any signs of stage rust. As we’ve come to expect it was a composed and high energy showing, with frontman Tommy Fleming continuing to get an increasingly compelling focal point to this slick pop-rock machine each time we see him. A new song shows a previously unseen darker bite to The Wilde’s melodic flare. A set closing rendition of EP title track ’Young Libertine’ smashed clinically out of the park should entice most present out to the band’s headline show when they return to Leeds next month. (3.5/5)

It’s only been a few weeks since we saw No Devotion in the rather more crowded environs of Leeds Fest’s The Pit Tent. From the off, the band’s sound and visual aesthetic seems infinitely more at home in the intimate confines of a club show, which seems like an odd thing to say about an atmospheric quasi-supergroup rock band. But with a series of artsy black and white videos projected directly on themselves as they played and the layers of swirling synth enveloping every inch of the room, it certainly made for a unique and enveloping live experience. Im many respects it was as much a multi-format art project as it was a gig, one that was impressively complex and thought out to the finest detail.

From a performance point of view, No Devotion are basically watertight, an accomplishment in itself when you consider how many different layers and facets there are to their sound on record, but perhaps not surprising given the insane amount of collective talent and experience involved. Adding Geoff Rickly as a centrepiece to this lineup was an absolute masterstroke, his delivery and sheer presence eking emotion and occasion out of lyrics that, leaving the mouths of others, may hit home as a tad clinical and contrived. This is particularly apparent on the likes of ’Night Drive’ and ’10,000 Summers’, with the driving bass of the former really stirring the crowd up for the first time. It’s not until ’Stay’ when every aspect of this show clicks as one, the soaring chorus, pristine instrumentation and flickering visuals combining to make a really memorable moment worthy of No Devotion’s assembled pedigree.

Stunning though the presentation and delivery of these songs and this live experience may be, too many of the songs aren’t quite accessible enough for band and crowd to make a deep and consistent connection. As a result, it makes for a show that’s cool as hell to watch and experience, but very difficult to really feel part of or care about. That said, bands finding new ways to present their shows and express their creativity is never a bad thing, making a ’No Devotion’ show one that’s well worth going out of your way to witness. (3.5/5)

Words by Dane Wright (@MrDaneWright)

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