Yorkshire newcomers hit London

The sweltering heat that transformed Gibson Guitar Studios into a veritable sauna ensured that fans’ faces were glistened with sweat before even one note was played by The Crookes’ support band Foreign Office.

Cutting angular forms upon a heavily shadowed stage, Foreign Office dived straight into a six-song storm of a set that saw lead singer Paul Cousins tapping out a continuous melodic thud on his bass whilst the rest of the bands’ choppy guitar, waves of synth and syncopated drums of the rest of the band provided a colourful, post-punk backdrop for his stuttered screams. Fresh off a Carl Barat support slot tour, FO (as they like to be called on their blogs) have clearly worked hard at being a finely tuned, tight act and they certainly didn’t disappoint the very vocal indie contingent of the crowd.

The Crookes spent some time preparing their instruments on stage, leading some of the crowd to wonder if they were roadies or the band themselves. This quibble was swept stridently away with the inaugural brace of songs that saw front man George Waite jutting his jaw to the beat of his own bass lines à la Family Guy’s Quagmire, staring out members of the audience as the band’s pair of guitarists traded licks, effortlessly interchanging between lead and rhythm while the drummer tapped and bashed his way through some impressive tempo changes. Waite’s blend of Mozzer-esque yodelling and baritone howls will surely satisfy punters looking for the next Wild Beasts, as his lyrics speak of Wildean adventures in the working class, the sublime passions of his characters punctuated by more simplistic yet evocative imagery, “Racing down a darkened street by night/The flicker of an old gas light/bells chime/reminds her that the wasteland needs its fill/For now my beating heart be still.”

The Crookes’ between-song patter displayed their native Yorkshire wit, the gentle joshing with the audience making sure that everybody knew that they weren’t taking themselves too seriously, despite their musical tales of heartbreak, woe and despair. The penultimate song ‘Backstreet Lovers’ ignited the crowd’s dancing desires as the whole venue seemed to sway and shuffle to the delicate interplay between the spiky edges of Alex Saunders and Daniel Hopewell’s dual guitar lines, drummer Russell Bates’ rhythmic bounce supporting Waite’s anthemic croon as he waved goodbye to a whole array of, “lovers and sons.” A fantastic display of upbeat melancholia performed by a band who clearly work as hard off the stage as they do on, if there’s any justice in the world of music then The Crookes will soon have a whole army of roadies who are more than happy to set up their equipment for them.

Words by David Harfield

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