Live: Sherwood – 26/11/08 [Leeds Cockpit]

The gig was at Leeds Cockpit, one of the best venues that Leeds has to offer, and the first band on were Summerlin — I think. Now, here’s where it gets tricky. The other band supporting that night were London-based Paige. I’ll admit I’m writing this review a little while after the gig, so I pulled up both band’s MySpaces in order to glance over the photos and just confirm what order they were in. However, I ran into some problems here, namely because I found it incredibly difficult to tell the two bands apart.

Stylishly long, dyed hair – check. Bright, colourful t-shirts – check. Tattoos of various hearts/stars/cartoons – check.

After a few more minutes of staring intently at both sets of photos, I finally managed to decide who had been who. So, the first band, Summerlin, took the stage and the lead singer bounded into centre place in front of us. My immediate reaction was to turn to my friend and hiss in her ear, “Is that guy trying to be Trace Cyrus?” Not a good first impression, and things only went downhill from there as I noticed the bright, sleeveless All Time Low shirt he was displaying proudly. I did not, I’ll admit, have high hopes for this band. Sadly, this was confirmed as they launched into their first song. The dancing seemed contrived and forced, the songs were generic and every one sounded exactly like the one before. They were clearly trying, and trying hard, but it seemed like they were only trying to be like every other power-pop Farewell-style band out there.

Next, was Paige. Exactly the same scenario. The band, as I’ve mentioned, looked similar and even appeared to have the same stage antics. The keyboardists had both thrown themselves around, seemingly more into their movements than the music, and the bands began to merge together in my mind, making it hard to distinguish between them. Not one of either Summerlin’s or Paige’s songs stuck in my mind, and the verdict on both was the same: utterly forgettable.

Luckily, Sherwood were up next and they were as on form as always. Sherwood are a band, I always say, that you don’t have to know any of their songs in order to be able to enjoy them live and this was certainly true. The energy in the room increased sharply the minute they took to the stage, and every single member of the audience appeared to be singing along or jumping up and down — involved in some way. Sherwood are nothing if not fun, and genuine, and this is always broadcasted tenfold at their live shows. They’re definitely one of those bands who I think should be a lot bigger than they are, and this includes their lack of mainstream success. They have links with MySpace, signed to MySpace Records, and every song sounds original, fresh and exciting.

Originality was something that had been severely lacking in the show so far, and the two earlier lacklustre performances only served to drive home exactly how much of a change Sherwood are. We were treated to a few songs from their new album; one was an acoustic one which had the powerful effect of silencing completely every single member of the audience, with only the sound of the guitar and Nate’s voice filling the small venue. After a Sherwood show, instead of feeling drained or tired, the overall feeling is one of happiness and excitement, and it is near on impossible to leave without the overall feeling of having had an amazing time.

The band are also genuinely nice guys, at least two of them sticking around after every performance happy to meet and talk to the fans. In today’s scene, where it seems to be more about the success than the people, it’s a refreshing change and something that I do think counts for a lot.

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