Thursday evening saw Los Angeles legends The Americans grace the stage of the Lending Room venue in Leeds.
They were showcasing their latest album ‘I’ll Be Yours’, with support from the fantastic Karima Francis and Wilful Missing.
Opening the show was Bradford based Wilful Missing, usually a 5-piece, but on this occasion they played a stripped down set as a 3-piece. The absence of several members did nothing to detract from the overall quality and execution of the performance, and with memorable vocal hooks, delicate melodies and groovy basslines, the band sounded great from the get-go. The cover of ‘My Winding Wheel’ by Ryan Adams was an early highlight of the set, shortly followed by ‘Bright Moon Rising’ and ‘Don’t Be Scared’, each song having its own identity and the wonderful vocals of all 3 members shining through at various points to create a dramatic and poignant sound. The multi-instrumentation of the members was extremely impressive and further highlighted the band’s proficiency. The nod to musical influences from decades gone by mixed beautifully with the contemporary sounds. Finishing the set with ‘Powerful Pill’, they were met with wall to wall cheer and left the stage glowing and triumphant.
Next up was Karima Francis, a singer-songwriter from Blackpool, with a sound that sits somewhere on the indie/alternative spectrum. Despite having a more chilled-out, almost melancholic sound in comparison to Wilful Missing, her incredible voice instantly won over the crowd and created a wonderful contrast to the other bands. The vocal performance was both intense and haunting, with a slight fragility that was completely mesmerising to watch and I immediately found myself completely lost in the music. Songs ‘Crazy’ and ‘Friends’ highlighted her penchant for intelligent songwriting, strengthened by the introspective and emotive lyrical themes. There was a warm familiarity to the songs, perhaps down to her humanistic and charming performance style. The set was equal parts graceful and dynamic and in my opinion, a perfect warm-up for the headline act – I hope to see Karima live again soon.
Finally, it was time for headliners The Americans to take to the stage. The turnout was promising, given that it was only the band’s second time in Leeds, with the diverse crowd brimming with anticipation to hear their irresistible take on all things blues, country and rock’n’roll. With little chat, the band fired straight into their 80 minute long set with ‘Nevada’ from their new album ‘I’ll Be Yours’. The drums sounded mammoth, transitioning from soft beats to all-out experimental ferocity, creating an unbelievable wall of sound for the vocals of frontman Patric Ferris to soar over. Songs ‘Harbor Lane’ and ‘Hooky’ from the new record sounded fantastic, with each member offering their own personality and musical flair on stage, elevating the songs to the new heights in the live environment. The band showcased an excellent harmony on stage, with their politically charged, insightful lyrics driving their powerful music forward to great effect.
It was humbling to see so many people of different ages in the crowd, one aspect of concert-going that I always find endlessly uplifting. The Americans have forged a sound that speaks to many people on both an intellectual and musical level, keeping true to the sounds of their idols and bringing their authentic vision into an ever-changing world. Whilst the set was largely comprised of material from the 2017 album, an entirely new, as yet unheard song was also played and gave an exciting insight into the progression of the band. ‘Bronze Star’ was a late contender for song of the evening, a wonderful song which is my personal favourite from ‘I’ll Be Yours’ which was met with equal amounts of admiration from the rest of the audience. The performance closed with a five song encore including ‘Isabella’ and a cover of ‘Tell Me Why You Like Roosevelt’, a song originally recorded by gospel group the Evangelist Singers in the 1940s, providing a final insight into the band’s rich musical heritage.
‘I’ll Be Yours’ is available now from www.theamericansband.com
Two shows remain on the tour on the following dates:
10 July – The Garage, London
11 July – Kew The Music, London
Gary writes for Leeds Living on contemporary music, being an avid goer of gigs and a supporter of local talent.