The Californian duo’s set lacked the guile, intimacy and the vulnerability that was expected.
Maybe I’m getting old, but the current trend of wearing woolly hats in near-solar temperatures seems an ironic image of cool. Despite the sweaty conditions, this certainly seemed to be the done thing amongst the audience as Californian acoustic-pop duo Kevin Jordan and Anthony Del Grosso, better known as This Wild Life, strolled into the city of Leeds with their harmony-shaken sound.
The lovely Opie Deino kicked off proceedings with a modest set that boasted gentle vocals and lovestruck guitar melodies: a talent that was easy on the ear, and certainly gave room for contemplation. In stark contrast, the official support, coming from London based singer-songwriter Rob Lynch, brought nothing but an inflated ego, flat sound and fumbled musings to the evening. “Some important conversations going on tonight” he fumed, clearly upset at the crowd as some talked over his set. Lynch seemed understandably annoyed, but his response did nothing to cover himself in glory.
As the headline act finally climbed up on stage, the Leeds crowd swooned with excitement. Having originally been scheduled to play The Cockpit before its closure announcement, the Leeds Beckett students’ union was the lucky replacement chosen to host the American duo. Indeed, rather than a classically styled concert the people of Leeds were instead subjected to a dour and carefully calculated PR campaign.
Not so much a set of songs, but an hour of music inter-spliced with stories, followed by another hour of meet and greet. Whilst some people’s cup of tea, it doesn’t exactly sound off as a conventional gig. Even more incomprehensibly, a large section of the crowd decided to watch the entirety of the gig through their mobile phones as they filmed it. The price of an admission ticket all to see the live product scrambled and distorted on a tiny hand-held screen.
The time that This Wild Life spent on stage was a mixture of placid musical performance and awkward banter. Having two extremely lively, charismatic individuals on stage at times whistled as a breath of fresh air. Alas, that very charisma and style seemed lacking during the actual musical intervals. With a final hoorah of hits, including ‘History’, ‘Sleepwalking’ and ‘Puppy Love’, the surreal affair ceased without an encore. In the end, it came off rather awkwardly, despite the final tracks saving graces.
What could have been, and should have been, an evening filled with vulnerable sounding vocals, gasping guitars and heartfelt melodies came to nothing more than an evening of disappointments and queuing for selfies. One can’t help but bemoan a gig that offers very little grit, animation and intensity for the price you pay for entry. If this is the modern concert format, then popular performance culture has taken another dagger to the heart.
For Fortitude Magazine: http://www.fortitudemagazine.co.uk/music/rock-metal/live-review-wild-life-leeds-beckett-students-union-leeds-31014/21504/