Review by Lee Allen with Photography by Lee Allen + Lisa Brown

Listener - Lisa (9 of 21)

It’s cold in Nottingham and it’s starting to feel like Christmas. Inside the Bodega a handful of people are huddled around the tiny stage having their faces smashed to a pulp by Coldbones. The Kent based band deal in instrumental rock in the vein of Russian Circles or Bossk. Strobing lights and brutal bass lines give way to intricate melodies. Sadly we arrived midway through their set but I will certainly be making a beeline to see them again.

Coldbones - Lisa (2 of 2)

Next up are Berlin band Hope. If you could distil the City or Berlin into sound it would be Hope. Angular guitars, piercing vocals and synths washing over the top. Imagine early Moloko played through a fuzzbox while Bjork fights with Yoko Ono and you won’t be far wrong. The band seemingly genuinely surprised by the warm response from the crowd and play with intensity. It’s impossible not to watch front woman Christine as she folds herself down to her knees and contorts along with the music. Super interesting support.

Hope - Lee (9 of 29)

Hope - Lisa (7 of 7)

First of all I need to get this out I love Listener. I mean properly bloody love Listener. Some how I have always managed to miss them play live so tonight I was beyond excited and they didn’t disappoint. Tonight sees Kris off his drums and playing guitar and it’s a wonderful sight to behold. He launches himself around his corner of the stage like a fish out of water, a twisted version of a young Elvis Presley in socks that read “eat shit” on the side. Frontman Dan is equal parts charming and awkward and literally spills the content of his head and his heart in everything song. It’s uplifting and it’s beautiful while at the same time it makes me want to crawl under a duvet and cry till I hurt… This is everything I love and need in music. It’s raw and real. During the heavier moments he becomes a bass playing Henry Rollins and it’s fucking majestic.

Listener - Lee (13 of 27)

Listener - Lee (27 of 27)

During ‘It Will All Happen The Way It Should’ it comes together in a way I have rarely seen at a gig. Dan sets the words of the song free while Kris folds himself into a yoga pose on the floor and I realise this isn’t music anymore this is essential for them to release. During a yoga session you are encouraged to feel every breath, to feel every part of your body, to move with each inhale and exhale… this is what the people in the Bodega are doing, they are literally breathing with the band holding themselves and feeling the warmth of the song fill their hearts. It’s a truly special moment and something that I feel honoured to have been part of.

Listener - Lee (11 of 27)

Listener - Lisa (8 of 21)

Listener are brutal, fragile bombastic and yet so delicate you fear they wont make it through the gig. I cried and I smiled and when I left the gig into the cold night air, I felt like I had just had a really long talk with a friend.

One of the best things about watching Listener is seeing them smile – you know they live for that 70 minutes every night. In the immortal words of Craig Finn of the Hold Steady…

“THERE IS SOOOO MUCH JOY IN WHAT WE DO!”

Listener - Lee (14 of 27)

Listener - Lee (22 of 27)

See the complete photoset from tonight’s gig here.

Listener - Lee (5 of 27)

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