The War On Drugs, 02 Academy Leeds, 26/2/2015

So three gigs across as many nights, each very different to the one that went before. Ironically the last gig along was actually the first set of tickets I bought. If I’d known Ryan Adams was going to return with a superb new album and play the night before I might not have bothered this show – and missed a treat as a result.

It’s a sign of how fragmented music has become these days that a band so acclaimed (their third album Lost In The Dream received ecstatic reviews and topped many end of year critics polls) and who can fill a fair sized venue like the Leeds O2 are relatively unknown.

For those who aren’t familiar with the band, The War On Drugs offer extended length tracks featuring glorious soundscapes and complex arrangements. At one level their music grabs you immediately but on another it is strangely hard to get into, with each listen revealing new mysteries. It’s fair to say that they are a band you have to take time to get into and time is a luxury that’s in short supply for many of us.

During the show what impressed me most of all was how closely the band were able to reproduce their studio sound on stage without sacrificing any of the live atmosphere. Frontman Adam Granduciel was the key figure but the performance was very much a band effort. The result allowed the audience to lose themselves in the beguiling sound. There was also a place for audience interaction; Granduciel appears to be one of rock’s good guys and a contrast to the pricklier artist (even allowing for the camera incident) I’d seen on the same stage just twenty four hours before.

One thing I’m finding increasingly with the blogging is that it’s hard to write about gigs without recourse to adjectives that are either obvious or bordering on the pretentious. I suppose the limitus test of any gig is whether it was worth the price of admission and how inclined you are to go again. For War On Drugs the answers are `yes` and `very much so`. In the meantime I hope I find time to give their unique music the hearing it deserves.


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