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Melt Yourself Down at Headrow House

3 December 2015
Melt Yourself Down at Headrow House
Most who try to describe Melt Yourself Down throw together a few adjectives with any combination of the words jazz, funk, and afro-beat. But by their own definition Melt Yourself Down are what they call ‘People Music’. Their aim has never been to push or blur the boundaries of the many genres that they take influence from, though that has certainly been a by-product of their creative talent. And with a writing style that consists of restructuring recordings of improvised jam sessions, they don’t consider themselves a studio band as much as one that excels in a live setting. In their element on stage, and here tonight at Headrow House, they say their intention is to connect with people, to make you feel, and to engage your consciousness fully with the colourful barrage of saxophone led hooks and the clattering North-African rhythms that they throw your way.

Melt Yourself Down - ArticlePhotography provided by Simon Mooney

Standing by the stage during their rushed sound-check, their determination to fulfil this intent slowly becomes apparent to me. Saxophonist and founder of the group Pete Wareham is frantically communicating with the sound man: “Cut the mids! Cut the 600hz! Cut the mids!” Distracted as I watch him blast through a few quick scales, I’m suddenly aware of front-man Kushal Gaya, who’s waving his microphone stand at me and frantically signalling to me that there’s no way he’ll be needing it. You can tell these guys arrived tonight knowing exactly what they want to happen and exactly how they were going to achieve it.

No sooner have they finished sound-checking and they’re back onstage. Launching into ‘Fix My Life’, saxophonists Wareham and Francis demonstrate the tightness of their erratic two-part harmonies that are wired throughout the set. Interchanging with Gaya, who’s bursting levels of energy as a front-man peak in ‘Kingdom of Kush’, they each take it in turns to hype the crowd to the next level. Backed by pounding percussion and Goller’s furious bass lines, it’s hard to tell whether I’m in the middle of a mosh-pit or a rave, but whatever it is the atmosphere is absolutely electric.

With everyone in the room hooked, their own term ‘People Music’ couldn’t feel like a more appropriate term for Melt Yourself Down’s kind of performance. In their hour long set they temporarily create that buzzing immediacy you only really ever feel at festivals, dancing with who ever happens to be next to you, to a DJ you don’t care if you’ve heard of, with Monday morning far and beyond the back of your mind. And because their music’s so good – the melodies so infectious, the rhythms so driving, the improvisations so wild and the frontman so excited – you and everybody else are enjoying that moment with Melt Yourself Down until they’ve played the very last note.

Dan is a volunteer music writer for Leeds Living, reviewing gigs and festivals around the city. He also plays guitar in Leeds band Dancing Years