Artist: Those Damn Crows, The Cruel Knives
Venue: Leeds, Stylus
Date: 12 October 2023
It’s sometimes easy to get carried away when reviewing a gig or album of artists you like. However, in this case, the hyperbole is well deserved; this was one of the best concerts I’ve seen, and the Crows deserve all the praise they receive for this tour.
The Stylus, located in the centre of Leeds University land, was the location for this leg of the tour, and, being truthful, I did have an issue finding the thing! Good old Google Maps told me I was standing outside the venue, but there were no signs that I could see, and in all frankness, I didn’t want to enter random buildings with a bunch of students looking at this grey-haired old man, thinking “nah - not one of us!” Thankfully, I spied a familiar-looking Crows album cover on a hoodie disappear through a door, so I made my way after it, down some stairs and to a queue with fellow fans and a sign saying “The Stylus”.
For those like myself who don’t know about the venue, it doubles up as a bar for Leeds University and holds about 1,000 people comfortably. It has a large middle section down some steps and a raised area that horseshoes around it, with one side hosting a large bar and the other open for Merchandise stalls or other items. The stage is at the far end and is high, giving a superb view for all in the club. There are spaces for wheelchairs with access to all areas.
Having solved the dilemma of where in the venue do I go to first, the stage, the merch stand or the bar (as I have got older, certain body parts have got wider and certain bits shorter, including height!) The stage won, and I got a spot behind two ladies at the front and dug in for a night of what I hoped would be first-rate gigging by the acts.
An hour after the doors opened, the lights dimmed, and the crowd whooped and cheered as support act The Cruel Knives walked onto the stage to a good reception from the audience. It was well deserved as they delivered a strong set of Hard Rock songs, including ‘Overdose’ and ‘Shotgun To The Head’, that definitely got the masses present into the mood for the night ahead. It was also good to see frontman Tom Harris engage in some witty banter with the audience when asked if he had raided Crows singer Shane Greenhall’s wardrobe before coming on (to be fair, they did look similar, apart from the shoes!) One annoyance was that Harris’s vocals often got lost in the music, which was a shame as he had a good voice.
At around 9 p.m., the time came for the boys from Wales, and they didn’t disappoint. Taking to the stage, they let us know who they were, and we let them know we knew, and ‘Who Did It’ powered into life with the audience enthusiastically joining in. During the song, Greenhall ran past guitarist David Winchurch and bassist Lloyd Wood to vault into the section where their disabled fans were and proceeded to high-five them all and the carers, an act which the audience lapped up and showed their appreciation for his gesture.
Sometimes, you know from the off that you are in the right place at the right time to witness something special, and as ‘Man On Fire’ and ‘Send The Reaper’ came and went, the noise grew, and so did the participation from the audience. The second of nine songs from their new album started as ‘Takedown’ belted from the speakers, and the atmosphere from both sides of the stage went up another level. Where Harris suffered from his vocals being drowned out, Greenhall had no such issues, and each song was delivered with crystal quality, as was the music, especially the solos from both Winchurch and Ian “Shiner” Thomas, who may not have moved much, but certainly let their fingers do the talking! Even the bass and drum solo from Wood and Ronnie Huxford was impressive, and the Stylus showed their appreciation of two artists on top form.
Greenhall had no issues keeping the audience entertained between songs. As chants of “Leeds, Leeds, Leeds” and “Yorkshire” faded to be replaced by “Wales, Wales, Wales”, it was obviously a moment that meant a lot to him and the band and symbolised the close connection that they and “the Crow family” have. And yes, Yorkshire Tea is the best!
With the energy on stage increasing (how Wood doesn’t dislocate something with all the gymnastics he does whilst playing that bass is beyond me!), the volume did as well as we latched onto every “woah”, “yeah”, “oh” and chorus that we could before sending it back to the stage to compliment their performance, especially on crowd favourites ‘Rock N Roll Ain’t Dead’ which had an audience participation section led by Greenhall that Freddie Mercury would have been proud of, and ‘Sin On Skin’ which had the lads commenting that that was the loudest they had ever heard it sung back at them!
It’s sometimes easy to get carried away when reviewing a gig or album of artists you like. However, in this case, the hyperbole is well deserved; this was one of the best concerts I’ve seen, and the Crows deserve all the praise they receive for this tour. If you get the chance to see them, take it, you won’t be disappointed!
Review and Photos: Pete Arnett