Review and Photography by John Bentley

A week ago I hadn’t heard of Wand. Then they were in session on Marc Riley’s Radio 6 programme. I was impressed and then, checking them out, I found they were appearing at the Brudenell a matter of days later as part of a short UK tour. So then it was frantic efforts to get along to Leeds.

Wand at Brudenell Social Club Leeds, 28/01/18

The gig is in The Community Room. The Brudenell has recently made some impressive improvements, creating this second large concert room within the venue. With the lights on it still looks a bit new and austere and smells of freshly cut wood. However, it’s a well planned concert hall, with good visibility for punters and excellent acoustics and it really does its job of staging gigs well.

East Sister at Brudenell Social Club Leeds, 28/01/18

The support band tonight is East Sister. They tell us they are from Switzerland, not a country renowned for producing many bands. East Sister is a trio (guitar, drums and keyboards) and they describe their music as cinematic pop. Their sound is experimental and they’ve probably been listening to Stereolab and Broadcast albums somewhere along the way. Female harmony vocals are an important part of the sound, which moves between the minimal and the symphonic. The set receives an enthusiastic response.

Wand at Brudenell Social Club Leeds, 28/01/18

And so to Wand. Band leader is Los Angeles-based singer and guitarist Cory Hanson, a guy who has worked with Mikal Cronin and Ty Segal (in 2016 he was a member of Segals ‘Muggers’ band). In common with Segal, Hanson has mined the rich seam of heavy psych garage rock, drawing on various influences including T Rex and The Beatles ‘White Album’.

Wand at Brudenell Social Club Leeds, 28/01/18

Wand’s style has evolved over a four album career, which started with 2014’s ‘Ganglion Reef’. 2015’s ‘Golem’ and ‘1000 Days’ albums took the band further in a heavy psychedelic direction, then in 2017 they released ‘Plum’. ‘Plum’ has received some great reviews – many reviewers saw the album as a culmination of Wand’s travels from slightly derivative garage noise merchants towards creating a coherent, individual and more crafted style. The earlier albums had real drive, but seemed to reference Ty Segall and Tame Impala in large chunks, whereas Plum is more varied, song-orientated and less dependent on extended psych guitar work-outs. The new album is apparently more of a collaborative band effort, with Wand now a five-piece including second guitarist Robert Cody and keyboard player and singer Sofia Arreguin.

Wand at Brudenell Social Club Leeds, 28/01/18

The Brudenell gig is sold out so the good word about Wand is spreading. As well as having a string of strong albums behind them, they are a dynamic live act. I go into this gig at short notice, with limited knowledge of the band’s back catalogue, but what is immediately impressive is the band’s stagecraft, drive, musicianship and the great hooks and guitar-bending in their playing. The twin guitars sound great. Hanson certainly has stage presence, is the natural centre of the band and he does a fair bit of banter with the audience.

Wand at Brudenell Social Club Leeds, 28/01/18

The set dips into their back-catalogue. Old favourite freak-outs like ‘Fire on the Mountain’ sound pretty good and there is a good selection of new songs from ‘Plum’, which is mellower and more diverse than previous albums: contributing to this new direction are Arrequin’s backing vocals and keyboards. However, it’s good to see that the more recent mellower songs added to the setlist do not seem to have resulted in a watering-down of the hardcore guitar wig-outs.

Wand at Brudenell Social Club Leeds, 28/01/18

The band finally delivers a two song encore which rather pleasingly includes an inventive cover of Neil Young’s ‘Cinnamon Girl’. This has certainly been my favourite gig in quite a while. Wand’s status is definitely on the up, with most of the gigs on the tour sold-out, so hopefully next time they’ll do a more extensive UK tour.

Wand at Brudenell Social Club Leeds, 28/01/18

2 Responses to “Wand + East Sister at Brudenell Social Club, Leeds, UK – 28th January 2018”

  1. Paul Kelly Says:

    Fantastic gig! Great review. I struggled with ‘Plum’ having been a major fan of the first three albums, but it grew on me. The songs were given an added urgency in a live environment – and I particularly enjoyed ‘Blue Cloud’ and ‘The Trap’. I’m already looking forward to the next album!

    This was my first gig at the Brudenell – WHAT A VENUE! I shall definitely return….

  2. Gig Junkies » Blog Archive » Album Review: Perfume by Wand Says:

    […] Junkies reviewed Wand’s inspiring gig in Leeds back in January, when they were touring their latest album ‘Plum’. The band, led by Ty Segal […]

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