Words: Juliette Motamed
Swirling, mesmerizing jams, psychedelic bluesy riffs, a bassist with fingers faster than a flash of lightning, who else could it be but White Denim? Fresh off the back of album release number six – the jazzy “Corsicana Lemonade” – I stood waiting in a sold out crowd at the Fleece to see this hypnotic band in action. Before the support act had even begun, a duo next to me began a heated discussion, both of them enthusiastically affirming that White Denim as a band have one of the tightest instrumentals they had ever experienced live. I privately raised an eyebrow and decided to judge their brash claims after I had seen the band play.
The support were a band called “Syd Arthur” playing a short, technically complex set, laced at intervals with an electric ukulele solo. Although obviously skilled musicians, there was something slightly too twee about the band, and so I was left (slightly impatiently) waiting for White Denim to make their appearance. And appear they did. White Denim opened their set with a swagger and a bang, starting off with the summery, upbeat rhythms of “Anvil Everything” a perfect choice, immediately putting a hazy smile on the faces of the majority of the crowd. This was immediately chased by the building, funky tempo of “I Start To Run”, which was then followed by the heavier riffs of “Corsicana.” White Denim’s set was characteristic of their musical style, with experimental jams in almost every song, which although made for a fantastic musical texture, was perhaps slightly too dense at some points, leading me to become slightly distracted. My attention was however, recaptured with the more brawny tracks such as “Shake shake shake” and crowd pleaser “Pretty Green”.
The skill with which they handled their impressive back catalogue of six albums, made for a confident set, and brought me back to the insistent conversation of the duo I mentioned earlier. The tightness of the band as a musical unit really was striking, with almost every single song being delivered with the precise blow of music exactness that left me stunned. As a live band, White Denim really do go for the jugular. It goes without saying that White Denim are skilled performers, but there was something that left me wanting more after the gig, almost as though the excessive jamming in the middle of each song alienated the audience and prevented any kind of musical closure. Regardless, White Denim’s technical brilliance means that despite these drawbacks they are forgiven. It truly was a gig as captivating as their music.
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