CLEAN CUT KID, CLAY
Headrow House, Leeds // Friday, October 21, 2016
Liverpudlian guitar-pop four-piece arrive back in Leeds after playing to a packed room at Oporto back in March. Tonight, they’ve sold out Headrow House (it was the first date of this current tour to sell out) for the first of two shows in as many months in the city.
Up first are Leeds indie kids CLAY, who have joined Clean Cut Kid on a few dates around the north. The band, armed with bags of swagger and plenty of awesome guitar-pop tunes, are an accomplished live act.
Having spent most of this year playing their own headlines shows around the country, they’ve honed their skills on the road since we last saw them in their home city.
What could come across as indie-rock arrogance is instead chanelled into a cheeky confidence, as singer Joe Harvey bares more than a slight resemblance to a young Billy Joe Armstrong, all scrunched-up riff-face and ebullience.
CLEAN CUT KID are a hyperactive hybrid of classic 80s pop rock sensibilities and vital, youthful promise. The nods to a heady time when hair was big and keyboards were played like guitars fall on echoes of Fleetwood Mac and Starship, while Arcade Fire and Vampire Weekend provide the fizzy vibes that are filling indie dancefloors around the country.
The sold-out crowd is riding Clean Cut Kid’s wave of guilt-free abandon, even the most quiescent of audience members move their hips as the four-piece work their magic with singles Vitamin C, Runaway, We Used To Be In Love and new tune Make Believe.
The bouyant boy-girl harmonies fill Headrow House with a warm, inviting air, masking the melancholy pouring from perma-grinned frontman Mike Halls and his wife Evelyn. Heartbreak and lost love has never sounded so joyous.
From the most delicate moments (Mike’s solo turn of tear-jerker Jean was quite beautiful) to bursts of hand-clap-inducing, pogo-ing madness, Clean Cut Kid pile on the charm and wit with ease. They clearly love being on stage, and the crowd clearly love them being there. ‘Boss,’ as they say. Often.