Valiantly braving a torrential downpour (sounding awfully too familiar for us Yorkies!), an appreciative crowd gathered last night for the return of Nine Black Alps at The Duchess to coincide with the release of their fourth album, ‘Sirens’ this month.
It was certainly a more local affair this time around for the Manchester foursome having recently signed with Leeds-based record label Brew Records, and of course for lead singer/guitarist Sam Forrest, of which York is his home town. Regular readers of One&Other may remember Sam Forrest took part in our ‘29 Days of Local Music’ in February this year having released his latest solo collection. Furthermore much of their latest material was demoed in the West Yorkshire village of Linthwaite earlier this year.
Support act Castrovalva kicked off proceedings in an alarmingly experimental style. This Leeds trio aren’t ones to rest on their laurels, showering a bemused but increasingly receptive audience with drums, bass, beats and howling vocals from charismatic frontman Leemun Smith. With full light show, hardcore sounds and cheeky exchanges with the crowd and fellow band members alike, Castrovalva certainly earned their name on the gig posters.
Declaring it “Great to be back”, Sam and co dived straight into an hour-long set, choosing songs from their wide back catalogue, including their breakthrough debut album ‘Everything Is’ in 2005. Songs from the new album such as ‘Be My Girl’ and ‘My One and Only’ shoot the crowd right back to what made Nine Black Alps the ones to watch almost ten years ago. Infectious hooks and catchy lyrics aplenty, Nine Black Alps barely stopped for applause and continued to kick out the jams for a relentlessly loud performance.
Nine Black Alps have returned at an apt time in music. With bands such as Dinosaur Pile-Up (past regulars of the York music scene) reconditioning the lo-fi rock sound, Nine Black Alps have arrived once again to show they are still as consistently cool and enjoyable to listen to as ever. Sam Forrest still looks in every way the front man with his somewhat attractive but limp hair disguising his grungy vocals into an uncomfortably high microphone. New recruit, bass player Karl Astbury also seamlessly falls into place with the rest of the band. This is Nine Black Alps first set of dates in three years: may they continue on this form throughout a winter of many more, promoting what is sure to be yet another classic album.