February 24, 2012
Live: Pulled Apart By Horses @ Soul Cellar, Southampton. 22.02.12.
Booking agents take note: a city usually so starved of decent live music are that much more grateful upon receiving it. Such was the case at Southampton’s Soul Cellar, when, midway through a high octane version of new album track ‘Epic Myth’, a smile broke out across the face of Pulled Apart By Horses frontman Tom Hudson as he purveyed the carnage taking place in the pit in front of him.
A heaving crowd (a late-in-the-day change to a smaller venue obviously hadn’t been relayed to ticket sellers) continued to show their appreciation as the band tore through tracks from both their self-titled debut and its much-vaunted follow up Tough Love, never allowing adrenaline levels to drop from raucous opener ‘I Punched a Lion in the Throat’ through to ‘High Five, Swan Dive, Nose Dive’s closing refrain.
The band were faultless throughout, sometimes eerily so – a horizontal sojourn atop the crowd couldn’t even throw guitarist James Brown off his stride – all this despite claiming to be suffering from an early onset of tour fatigue.
“We made the mistake of getting wasted on the opening night in Glasgow”, explained Hudson during a rare breather, “and we’ve been hungover everyday since”.
“But, like, a good kind of hangover where you get to play gigs” Brown chips in, suggesting that the group’s one weakness may lie in the strength of its inter-song patter.
There was a distinct feeling in the air that this would be the last chance to catch these Leeds noiseniks in such an intimate setting, and the Soul Cellar crowd were not about to squander the chance to embrace this opportunity. Riff-heavy single ‘V.E.N.O.M’ is greeted with floor-buckling enthusiasm, sweat dripping from the ceiling adding a salty flavour to the beer, while early monster ‘Meat Balloon’ is given due reverence by the hardcore fans that were “were there when these guys started out, man”. But it’s the tracks from Tough Love that dominate the set, sounding more rounded, more developed than their boisterous predecessors, and earlier material is limited to a handful of fan favourites.
A brave encore of Nirvana’s ‘Tourettes’ – something that would have been a clichéd disappointment in the hands of a band more given to posturing – was delivered with pitch-perfect exertion, fitting seamlessly into the PABH sound in a way that divulged an obvious influence. By the end, it had all become too much for the band to resist, and they too broke free from the restraints of the stage to prowl the depths of the crowd, or stalk its perimeter from on high.
Hudson seemed genuinely blown away by the audience response, with the band even taking to Twitter after the show to proclaim that “Southampton pounded H.A.R.D!” No, Essentially Eclectic doesn’t know what the initials stand for either. Answers on a postcard.
Read this review in context over at THE STOOL PIGEON