We found ourselves in Leeds’ Key Club to see Napoleon who we have championed since their early days. They’ve recently released their debut album via Basick Records and are drawing their first UK headline tour to a close.
Opening proceedings tonight were Leeds locals Brunel, a band born out of metalcore outfit The Ocean Between Us. Whilst openly admitting he’s a bit nervous in what is only their second gig together (the first being the night before), vocalist Judd Wrighton psyched up the crowd with his stage energy and vocals that speak of a young man already too experienced in life’s trials and tribulations on tracks like ‘Vann ‘24’’. It seems many here are pleased to see these musicians back on the local gig circuit. With some slick guitar work from Bryn Barker, Brunel got the night off to a good start (3/5).
Tech metallers Zealous brought the gig to the floor as Grant Beeden Clayton and Luke Broadbent struck a solid pairing on guitars, providing a musical guide and at times light relief to Jamie Dewhirst’s guttural vocal screams. Getting in amongst the crowd he brought the show to them as Zealous tore through tracks off their debut self-titled EP (4/5).
Main support and Napoleon’s label mates Create to Inspire brought a more melodic twist to proceedings, whilst initially not as gung-ho in their live performance as predecessors Zealous, Create to Inspire proved themselves more than worthy of their spot in tonight’s line up, as they picked up their show, driven in particular by bassist Dan Fuller and drummer Luke Taylor. They encouraged those driven further back during Zealous to encroach upon the stage, where vocalist Sean Midson was better able to engage with the audience, as they played tracks off their latest release ‘Home Is Where My Heart Dies’, including ‘Counting Days’ and ‘History’ (3/5).
Hobbling on ahead of the start of their set Napoleon’s vocalist Wes Thompson apologised to the crowd that having broken his foot the day before, he wouldn’t be quite his usual energetic self. Opening their set with the brilliant ‘Dystopia’ as they also open their debut album ‘Newborn Mind’, Napoleon things got off to a good start and Wes seemed defiant of his injury as he moved up and down stage in his medical boot.
Napoleon’s skilful musicianship comes across as well on stage as it does on their album, especially on tracks like ‘Stargazer’ (which also shows us the breadth of Wes’s vocal) and ‘Brought Here to Suffer’. Bassist Jacob Brelsford has very much come into his own since we last saw them enjoying much more being on the stage and ‘Afterlife’ was a great example of this.
The Leeds crowd really lost themselves in Napoleon’s set, with swinging piggy backs and breakdancing moves gracing the Key Club’s floor, much to the amusement of vocalist Wes who encouraged the madness, but all too quickly the night was brought to a close. Napoleon never seem to be off the road and all four of them appear to thrive in this environment, it’s great to see a relatively new band coming through the ranks and pulling a decent crowd on a Sunday night. A good night was had by all. (3.5/5)
Words and photos by Heather Fitsell.