Tellison have found themselves in the unexpected position of breakout contenders. Forever low-key indie darlings, tonight The Lexington is sold out, packed to the seams and unbelievably hot. Last Resort DJs are on the decks, playing a killer selection of late 90s/early 00s pop-punk and emo and expectations are high for a landmark night.
First up, Lincoln’s blue-collar tinged alt-rockers Bad Ideas are on hand to whip the crowd into a fervour. Dressed all in black and armed with a bass that sounds like a succession of mini-earthquakes, they’re met with warm, appreciative applause. Armed with a couple of killer songs and a hugely likeable stage presence, they leave a strong impression, even though the sound is slightly off with Sam Cook’s vocals a little too low in the mix. However, they’ll get their chance in the spotlight with some new material on the horizon. (4/5)
It should be hometown heroes’ Tellison’s night, yet nobody told Wakefiled oiks The Spills. Spiky and off-kilter, the quartet recall everything from Modern Baseball and Martha to The Cribs and Pavement. A huge amount of fun, they throw themselves around stage, and armed with a dual vocal attack they have enormous depth and variety to their sound. Tracks such as ‘Pepper’s Ghost’ translate perfectly to the stage, and with a killer new album under their belts the news might be out on an act described as Yorkshire’s “best kept secret”. (4.5/5)
Tellison have their own killer new album out in ‘Hope Fading Nightly’. More mature and considered than their frenetic earlier sound, it is nevertheless blessed with heart and character. Tellison’s lead vocalist Stephen Davidson looks genuinely humbled at the reception they receive as they amble on stage – “This is the first show we’ve ever sold out in advance,” he’ll remark later. Kicking off with the gorgeous ‘Letter to the Team’, everyone’s onside from the off. Indeed, from two rows from the front, it’s clear, as everyone sings the words back, just how much people have taken the new material to heart.
It’s a good job too, as tonight’s set draws heavily from it. ‘Boy’ and ‘Helix & Furman’ follow quick smart, the latter including a mass sing-along to the lines, “Drink red wine; Say that you’re fine”. ‘Say Silence’ gets greeted like a long-lost friend, leading to mile-wide grins and yet another enormous sing-along, as does ‘Freud Links the Teeth and Heart’.
‘Orion’ and ‘Rookie of the Year’ drop the pace a touch; no bad thing considering the heat and humidity of The Lexington. Indeed, sweat flows off Davidson. “It’s hot up here,” he’ll quip, and you can well believe him. Not that it stops them from ripping through ‘Hanover Start Clapping’, the opening cut from 2007’s ‘Contact! Contact!’, turning up the temperature in the furnace-like conditions even more.
‘Wrecker’ and ‘Edith’ both sound great; the former a stomping mid-paced slab of Brit-rock built for stages much bigger than this, the latter a twisted alt-pop anthem that Tellison could write while sleepwalking.
They wrap up with a joyous take on ‘Collarbone’, a brooding rendition of ‘Tsundoku’ and a euphoric ‘Get On’, before an “embarrassing” encore of ‘Henry Went to Paris’ sends the team home hoarse but happy.
It’s been a long time coming – and whisper it quietly for fear of hexing it – but could this finally be Tellison’s time to shine? (4.5/5)
Words by Rob Mair (@BobNightMair