Dickie Felton

I write about music and football

Brudenell Social Club, Leeds, Saturday 22 June.

Anticipating a quiet night the ticket man on the door at Brudenell Social Club has come armed with a novel.
It's a far cry from a sold-out Royal Albert Hall during Martin Rossiter's previous life as frontman of 90s indie darlings Gene.
The 43-year-old has had a break from music of seven years. The days of NME cover appearances and single-of-the-week slots long gone.
But come kick-off time Leeds side streets swell. The tome is forced to one side as 300 fans arrive at this tiny venue to see the latest chapter in this singer's story.
And it's an epic read.
Appearing in black shirt and jeans, he still looks like he did in 1994, quiff slightly leaner but the same dashing demeanour. The voice remains as perfect as it did back in the day.
He opens with the delicate Three Points on a Compass. There are no guitars tonight. Just a delicate and delicious piano playing from Robin to accompany the voice. The audience stand in silence and awe for this song of heartache, only breaking from their trance to sing along: "The only thing that I got from you was this name".
Rossiter's new album is a work of emotion and beauty. And as he plays almost all of "The Defenestration of St Martin" the crowd are reverential. I can't recall the last time I attended a gig and people actually stood and just listened.

There's no hum of chit-chat, the audience are here to hear. The powerful, moving set only disturbed by the sound of clinking glasses and hearts racing.
Of course the quiet worship can't last forever. Before long, the Leeds crowd and Rossiter are exchanging quips between songs. There's an ongoing gag about the singer staying at a nearby budget hotel - as is half the crowd. Rossiter talks about his new single. "Where can we buy it?" Asks a fan. Eyes skyward our singer sighs: "oh..probably in a charity shop."
Never as a night swung through such emotions. Incredibly sensitive songs followed by cheeky comedy.
We are treated to several Gene songs to remind us of his halcyon heyday. London Can't You Wait? and Speak To Me Someone have the audience in rapture. The latter being one of the greatest songs in the history of British indie. Think REM's Everybody Hurts but better or The Smiths I Know It's Over.

Who needs the Royal Albert Hall when you have the characterful and quirky Brudenell? 

Olympian, another contender for song of the decade, is delivered slowly until the finale when the souls in this social club let cry: "I wanted to be there with you, for I can only be normal with you."
Why the BBC didn't use this song in its Olympic Games coverage last summer is a mystery. This rousing song of triumph, would have provided the perfect soundtrack to Ennis and Farah.
But it's the solo work that really takes gold tonight. Every single song up there or better than Rossiter's previous work with Gene. You get the feeling it wouldn't really have mattered had he played nothing from his extensive Gene back-catalogue. The new songs are really that great.
Drop Anchor the first single off his solo debut is fabulous as is almost everything else aired. My Heart's Designed For Pumping Blood and Sing It Loud are other contenders for song of the night.
Just like a good life-affirming book, Rossiter is unputdownable.

Martin Rossiter's album is available now


Rossiter tweet

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