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Apollo Junction and Red Light Revival review

Seasoned talent and promising newcomers at The Wardrobe.

Apollo Junction and Red Light Revival at The Wardrobe. Credit: Samuel Payne.
Apollo Junction and Red Light Revival at The Wardrobe. Credit: Samuel Payne.

This week the Wardrobe was home to hotly-tipped regional rockers Apollo Junction. Supported by vibrant new trio Anamcara and established five-piece Red Light Revival, the evening’s lineup promised to deliver a satisfying cocktail of rock genres.

Upcoming local band Anamcara – that’s Gaelic for ‘soul friend’ – make a quick impact with a set of frenzied, no-nonsense numbers. Their frontman is instantly likeable with a Dylan-like drawl, providing charismatic vocals within a compact three-piece who kick out a heck of a lot of noise.

Anamcara are a staggeringly young band – I’d be surprised if their collective age comes close to 50 – and their playful, unjaded cheerfulness is at the heart of their music. Rock ‘n’ Roll city is perhaps the band’s standout number, which is something of a love letter to British new-wave punk.

The styles and influences are gloriously all over the place, providing a setlist which is diverse and engagingly experimental. Buoyantly fearless and charged with a friendly onstage attitude, Anamcara are a sharp and spry young band definitely worth keeping an eye on.

Apollo Junction at The Wardrobe. Credit: Samuel Payne.

Apollo Junction at The Wardrobe. Credit: Samuel Payne.

The middle child of the evening happens to be the most established band on show. Red Light Revival are five older boys who’ve been seducing audiences for over a decade now, and their rapid Seventies-inspired rock numbers showcase a wealth of musical experience.

Red Light Revival are a band whose classic rock inclinations show no age, whilst their honed, well-rehearsed performance seems effortlessly taut. In a nimble, 30 minute slot which is tighter than a nut, the band race through their fist-pumping numbers with little time for careless chatter; the set is a barrage of distilled, highly-percussive rock blowouts with occasional leanings into prog and sideroads into blues. 

Red Light Revival are also a very loud group. Thunderous drums from Charlie Heppenstall give the band a commanding personality which is both cheeky and dauntless, wrapped up with dulcet keyboards and sharp guitars, offering plenty of bite.

The setlist has the playful variety of an early Queen album and Matt Dibb is the sort of frontman who’s clearly all about the music; providing a bravura, unrestrained vocal. There are some Californian rock influences in the final production, giving a welcome transatlantic hybridity, however, the lilting bass and howling lead guitar proudly telegraphs the band’s love of British Seventies’ rock. A definite, rock-solid highlight.

Red Light Revival at The Wardrobe. Credit: Samuel Payne.

Headliners Apollo Junction established themselves in Leeds a few years ago with catchy, cocksure rock-dance numbers underpinned by a broad synth soundscape. 2017 was the year the local five-piece gained national attention and 2018 now looks to be potentially explosive.

Throughout a dynamic and bouncing 50 minute performance, a set of radio-friendly songs succeeds in lifting the crowd off their feet, orchestrated in part by some truly flamboyant showmanship from frontman Jamie Williamson.

The balletic anthem, This Could Be The Day, is a particular crowd pleaser and the band are rapturously aware of their upcoming status in Leeds – evidenced no less by dozens of t-shirt-clad fans in the pit.

The lightly trippy Paris is arguably the band’s standout song; an uplifting single which will likely be picked up for a Renault or Citroen advert, selling romantic dreams to teens seeking their first set of wheels.

Apollo Junction at The Wardrobe. Credit: Samuel Payne.

The sound is an agreeable blend of The Stone Roses and Coldplay, with stylistic influences from The Killers, Libertines, Shed 7 and Kasabian. Popping basslines are superbly defined, relentlessly driven forward with rapid, crashing drums. Lead guitar is prestigiously playful and gets people dancing, whilst a colourful fat synth and piano underscore gifts the ensemble some expansive production value.

Apollo Junction’s lineup is an interesting mix of individuals and personalities, which all surface in their numbers. It’s a safe bet that the group will go on to enjoy some hit singles soon, if this gig is anything to go on. Be sure to see them live and enjoy their thrusting, crunching numbers before they become big.

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