Brudenell Social Club, Leeds, UK19th July 2017
By AJ Phink
The Bouncing Souls are now in their 30th year, quite an achievement for any punk band, but when you consider that their last album, 2016’s Simplicity, is one of the best of their long career then you’re looking at a band that even after three decades are still pressing forward rather than trading on their former glories. When you add The Bouncing Souls, along with a sterling collection of support acts, to the fact that the Brudenell Social Club has a reputation as a live venue that has spread far beyond the confines of the county of Yorkshire, what better reason do I need to travel over the Pennine Hills into Yorkshire to the informal and friendly grass roots venue that sits on the outskirts of Leeds.
Sadly The Great Collapse have had to pull out of the tour for personal reasons and Wales’ Hot Mass have taken their place, given how impressive their Nervous Tensions album was it seems every cloud does have a silver lining. Hot Mass kick start the evening in fine style with some intense punk rock that borders on melodic hardcore, every single track hits the spot and is delivered in a blur of frantic chords that carries a manic intensity. Their debut album was an impressive statement but it’s clear that Hot Mass have a come a long way since Nervous Tensions was released, and they have been the perfect opening act for tonight, and it must be said that there are shows I’ve attended this year where the headline act hasn’t been this good.
Amongst the material from Nervous Tensions a few new songs are thrown into the mix and these don’t just fit perfectly into the set, they also bring another dimension to their set indicating their next release will be something to look forward to. Given the current heatwave in the UK and their intense set then Hot Mass are appropriately named as they deliver a set to the steadily growing crowd in the Brudenell Social Club. They build to an incendiary finale, and I get the impression that this late addition to the line up will have made more than a few friends tonight, and with new releases on the cards, and a new drummer in place, it would seem that Hot Mass are set to build on the momentum gained from their impressive debut album.
Great Cynics initially deliver a slightly more discordant and laid back set of indie punk, but the intensity soon builds up making them a welcome addition to tonight’s line up and building the expectation for The Bouncing Souls. Their set is peppered with informal banter and veers wildly between mellower material and some full blooded punk rock, and they build on the sense that this tour is something very special. Their informal and personal style matches the buoyant atmosphere in the Brudenell Social Club, and like Hot Mass they get a warm reception from the crowd present for tonight’s sold out show. Great Cynics close with a cover of Cornershop‘s hit single, Brimful of Asha, that instead of the indie vibe of the original is unexpectedly transformed into an extended Velvet Underground jam session.
It’s been a long time since I last caught The Bouncing Souls live, at the turn of the millennium I saw them supporting Green Day on the Warning tour, now finally I get to catch them delivering a headline set, and it must be said in much better surroundings than the soulless arenas that Green Day tours inevitably involve. As good as Hot Mass and Great Cynics were there’s one reason why tonight is completely sold out, the long awaited return of The Bouncing Souls to the UK tour circuit and a packed Brudenell Social Club is testament to their enduring appeal and their loyal fan base. The lights drop and from the first number onwards the venue comes to life, with crowdsurfing and an energetic pit that flies in the face of the summer heat.
The Bouncing Souls have the audience in the palm of their hands with a set list that spans the decades, material from their incredible Simplicity album sits alongside a perfectly chosen selection from their back catalogue, despite being together for the last three decades they retain their passion and energy and on the crowd pleasing classic numbers it’s like the decades have melted away. The crowd reaction to the material from Simplicity tells you everything you need to know, there is no lull in the pit during tracks such as Driving All Night, but the reaction to old favourites such as East Coast Fuck You, dedicated to their sound engineer for his birthday, is something to behold, whilst Sing Along Forever gets exactly the reaction it deserves.
Even at the rear of the venue there are rousing singalongs occurring at the bar, and for many its been too long since New Jersey’s finest graced our shores. Ghosts On The Boardwalk offers a brief respite and its heartfelt chorus strikes a note with the overheated crowd before they launch into Lean On Sheena and the venue erupts once more. Both the Bouncing Souls and the audience keep the momentum up throughout in a symbiotic and sweaty relationship, and as we approach the end of the show I’m not sure who’s having the better time. True Believers heralds an unimpeded stage invasion before an encore is inevitably demanded, and duly given, and Gone brings the set to a triumphant finish.
Tonight has been a perfect summers evening featuring three incredible bands in a perfect venue, nights like this are few and far between. Now its the long journey back over the pennines for a much needed shower, sadly my drive home is delayed as at the end of the night I manage to lock my keys in the car, a move that significantly delays my journey, but even this moment of stupidity doesn’t diminish the night and we mingle with the crowd, promoters and the bands for some post show drinks well into the early hours in the still warm evening whilst we wait for the recovery to arrive, tonight has been a memorable night for so many reasons, and with one obvious exception I wouldn’t change a thing
The Bouncing Souls website can be found here
The Punk Site review of Simplicity can be read here
The Punk Site review of Nervous Tensions can be read here
The Brudenell Social Club‘s website is located here
Live photography is by Dean Unsworth, his Instagram account is located here
You can click on any of Dean’s photos to view a slide show of the images