Maia, Tom Skelly, The Bamboo Sandals at Wharf Chambers, Leeds – Live Review.

I don’t know whether it was the long walk or the massive hangover I’d been sporting all day, but I arrived at Wharf Chambers void of optimism. Ready for the night, I just wanted to get in, get out and go home.

Unfortunately, the hollow pop fractures and all-too-routine song smithery by openers The Bamboo Sandals did little to improve my mood. Although the brushy percussion, strong pop hooks and deep vocal ability of singer Harry Waterhouse, songs like ‘Your Pretty Face’ and ‘Silver’ only lightly tickled the sparse crowds fancy.

In stark contrast, the soulfully lugubrious presence of singer-song writer Tom Skelly did more to gather the audiences attention. The volatile, Nick Drake-style vocal range and dark essence of Skelly brought a hauntingly elegant and quiet feel to the room. Skelly’s almost hidden on-stage being made his raw, natural talent all that more apparent. Needless to say, his dejected manner and fervent voice injected a level of excitement and awe into the night.

Thus came the nights headline act, Maia. Boasting classically routed folk drizzled with psychedelic musings and vibes, the Huddersfield band wowed the audience in one of the most entertaining sets I’ve had the pleasure of seeing in Leeds. Speaking before the gig, Keyboardist Joe Haig told me that the bands creativity comes out fairly “homogeneously” when writing songs. Evidently, this very chemistry came off in a stellar performance, with a set that included the likes of ‘Towards The Onion’ and ‘Milky Boy’.

Maia’s harmonious sound, comical awareness and distinctive melodies completely epitomised the concept of a ‘hidden gem’, as the audience responded positively to a sublime and thoroughly entertaining performance. With an EP release on the horizon for record store day, keep a close eye on one of the North Wests most exciting bands. As one happy gig-goer said, Maia’s set was “Better than Glastonbury!”.

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