The Church, situated on the outskirts of Leeds City Centre, is a quite stunning venue especially at this time of year when, coupled with an incredible lighting rig, the stage is drenched in sparse and rapidly fading light through the stained glass windows which fill up the back of the venue. Put all of those elements together and there couldn’t have been a more perfect setting for the haunting sounds of tonight’s headliner Zeal & Ardor.
Opening the night, and playing to a healthy crowd it has to be said, is Blackpool cinematic rock band Blanket who churn out a sound that sits somewhere between the dense heaviness of Mastodon and the indie, shoegazing rock of Radiohead. Coupled together with a smattering of vocals, the end result is simply stunning and quickly hypnotises a room that is rapidly filling in time for the headliners. The Blackpool band don’t say too much but, in all honesty, like headliners, they can literally just let their jaw dropping music do the talking.
Check out Blanket's brilliant cover of Radiohead's "No Surprises":
It’s hard to describe headliners Zeal & Ardor because, quite honestly, you have no idea what to expect from the band. One thing you are guaranteed is that the show will be one you won’t forget. Add to that the surroundings and, quite frankly, the whole experience is incredible. The perfect setting for the band’s dramatic, haunting sound, tracks like “In Ashes” and “Fire In Motion” fill a every corner of the packed out Church. Mashing together rock, blues and just brutal heaviness, just as you think you’ve got a handle on what the band are about, they chuck out a curveball just to make sure you know you’re in the presence of truly unique band.
Watching the band in this particular setting adds a magical element to the night and, due to the fact that there is very little room for movement from the band during their time on stage, one quick scan around the venue shows a couple of hundred fans simply lost in the music which is exactly how a show like this should be. Quite simply, this is about a band whose breathtaking music does the talking for them and, when performed to the levels with which Manuel Gagneux and his band perform to, tracks like Devil Is Fine completely dispel any opinion by the mainstream press that rock is dead.
Check out the riveting video for the “Devil is Fine” single here.