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The drive over to Sheffield across the moors can be a bleak and unfriendly experience during the winter months, but when you are going to see a band regarded as one of the U.K’s finest and most unpredictable live acts in an intimate venue like the Leadmill, this is just a minor inconvenience.  Leeds four piece Pulled Apart by Horses, have been making major waves in the U.K hardcore scene over the last twelve months and are championed in particular by Huw Stephens. They’ve also recorded a live session for Zane Lowe, put in an acclaimed appearance at Manchester’s In the City Festival and within the last couple of weeks, made the Radio 1 daytime B list with current single “Hey Buddy.”  They have also received rave reviews for their debut album and chaotic live shows. It was therefore time to go and check out exactly what they are all about before they hit the inevitable bigger venues.

Early arrivals through the freezing conditions were treated to opening act, Young Legionnaire. It was immediately obvious from opening track “Twin” these guys knew their way around both a song and their instruments, which is unsurprising when you realise the band are made up of guitarist / vocalist, Paul Mullen of The Automatic and ex of yourcodenameis:milo along with bassist Gordon Moakes from Bloc Party and drummer Dean Pearson. This was melodic hardcore at its best, with both intricate and powerful guitar work, driving rhythms and a strong vocal. Young Legionnaire are a band to watch for in the future and have recently released a double A side single, Colossus / Iron Dream which is definitely worth checking out.

Before the headline act, additional support was provided by Gay for Johnny Depp from Brooklyn who have a self confessed homoerotic fascination for the actor they take their name from.  With song titles such as “Sucksess” and “Sex in your mouth,” subtlety certainly isn’t in their vocabulary and although this was an energetic performance, the lack of any real changes in tempo and song structure rendered everything sounding very much the same.  There were high levels of crowd interaction with an appreciative minority and some entertaining scuffles took place between various members of the audience and vocalist, Marty Leopard, both on and off stage.  Musically, the only song that vaguely employed a tune of any description was the set closing Slade cover, cunningly retitled “Cum on feel the boyz.” Carry on hardcore anybody?

Pulled Apart by Horses had to cancel three gigs over the previous weekend during the Scotland leg of the tour due to guitarist / vocalist Tom Hudson suffering from a particularly nasty chest infection, but this certainly wasn’t evident tonight.  Straight from the opening track, “E=MC Hammer,” this was the band on absolute top form, sending the crowd into a frenzy of moshing.  Apart from “The Lighthouse” the set covered all the eponymous debut album, along with a new song, “Soft Handed Punk.”   This was even harder and faster than anything they’ve currently recorded, so heading in a more mainstream direction doesn’t appear to be an option just yet.  Current single, “Yeah Buddy” and the previous single release “High Five, Swan Dive, Nose dive” were two of the highlights of the set, with the crowd going absolutely mental to both.  These tracks in particular emphasise the bands musical pedigree in incorporating melody and tempo changes within their songs, which distinguishes them from many other similar outfits within the genre.   

This was an intense and exhilarating performance including amps being scaled on a regular basis and with both Hudson and guitarist James Brown partaking  in crowd surfing, it’s unsurprising that accidents and the occasional trip to the hospital are part and parcel of life on the road with Pulled Apart. Their reputation as one of Britain’s best live acts is without a doubt well deserved and although they’ve been on the road for virtually three years solid, it’s obvious that the band are still enjoying every minute.  Interaction between the band and a passionate crowd is high and at one stage it appeared as though Brown had high fived nearly everyone in the room. That’s not to say that Pulled Apart by Horses don’t take their art seriously however, as Tom Hudson’s irritation was evident after a false start to “I punched a lion in the throat.”  Minor glitches though, make everything seem more real and live music isn’t about replicating a CD / download sound on a stage. It’s about life, energy and ultimately passion and these lads have all three in bucket loads.

The set closes with the monster riffage of “Den Horn” and Hudson is into the crowd once more, this time with his white Gibson S.G held aloft, looking like a periscope in a sea of hardcore fans.  He eventually makes his way back to the stage to bring a climactic ending to one of the best, most entertaining gigs I’ve seen in a long time. If you like your music hard, heavy and magnificent, I’d urge you to catch this band as soon as possible.

Review by Andy Barnes
Photos by Jamie Dunning