Ever watched a band for the first time and had your suspicions confirmed? Tonight is one of those nights as I watch the Blakes, a three piece from Seattle who play a sort of alt rock that sits between indie, grunge and 60's rock. While it may not sound like the most exciting combination in the world these guys really do craft some good songs. Supporting the Brian Jonestown Massacre was never going to be an easy task. The Blakes are much more in your face. They want to grab their audience by the scruff of the neck and say, "Watch us ! We’re worth the time" and I am inclined to agree.

Tonight they come on early well before any big numbers have made their way into the Cockpit, but the more they play the bigger the crowd gets. As those coming in head for the bar for a drink, most return to the main stage to watch these guys and that is where the majority of them stay until the set is finished. For a support band that is something of a success and half the battle.

Tonight they kick off with ‘Two Times’ a song that has a plodding solid beat to it and which sees singer Garnet Keim use his voice in a rough gravelly way that puts Liam Gallagher to shame. Garnet's voice is quite versatile and he sounds just as good singing quicker, smoother songs. On 'Vampire' he sings almost in a mumbling whispering way. This gives the Blakes' songs a lot of variety. ‘Pistol Grip’ is very rhythm driven and has a lot of drive and energy and yet the other side of the coin is ‘Lint Walk’ which is a light melody which pushes the keyboards to the fore and at times sounds like the Cure at their most mellow.

Throughout the set they play many songs off their current album of the same name. As the set progresses they get more comfortable with each passing song, but yet somehow they increase the intensity of the songs. The whole thing gathers pace. It's not just the live versions of their songs, but the fact that they have picked the set list carefully and played to their strengths. If only more bands took the time to listen to themselves and realize their failings.

There are times when they steer too close to a 60's sound for my liking, almost sounding like Rolling Stone copyists especially on ‘Modern Man’ This really isn’t necessary, but it’s cool and hip at the moment to sound like one of the greats and it does highlight their versatility and adds another string to their bow.

As a supporting band they only get 35 minutes to play, which isn’t long enough for me. Their songs are well crafted, with much to recommend them. It will be interesting to see where these guys go from here. I for one would like to see them headline their own tour.


The photographs that accompany this article were taken by Russell Ferguson.















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Commenting On: Cockpit, Leeds, 11/7/2008 - Blakes








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