Live Review: Stanleys, Flechettes, Little Planets – Lending Room, Leeds, 10/11/2022

You know that saying…you wait ages for a London bus to come and then they all arrive together? Well, that’s a bit like the music scene in Wigan at the moment. There was something of a mini-invasion from across the Pennines at the Lending Room with not one, not two, but two and one sixth of a band from across the border gracing the stage.

A sixth? Well one of the singers from Little Planets was originally from Wigan, even though the band are Leeds based. They are classed as an alternative pop band and that seems to be a fair moniker really. Two lead singers harmonising around a heavy jazz-funk bass with both rhythm and lead guitars giving the tune and the edge. All this sits around a pretty powerful percussive edge from a drummer working exceptionally hard behind the skins. The members have all recently graduated in the city and have been able to celebrate by signing a deal with Modern Sky. With plenty of gigs lined up it’s looking like a good year and a bright future for them. All in all an enjoyable start to the evening.

Next on stage, albeit belatedly due to traffic, were Flechettes. I’ve seen them before and enjoyed them then. Tonight didn’t disappoint either. A well-rehearsed set with a tight sound and no messing about either; they were straight into it and keen to make up for lost time. Another band straight off the Wigan conveyor belt or gravy train (sic), this four-piece share the song writing responsibilities between them to produce a fresh sound with a rock edge. Jack, Will, Johnny and Nicky manage to produce songs with lyrics that are relatable whilst being both catchy and having that all important indie vibe. The tight guitar work underpins the sound and keeps it diverse around crashing drums, reverberating cymbals and a pulsating bass. The tempo swirls around between and within sounds, grabbing the audience and drawing them in. 

Opening with the pulsating Make Your Mistakes’ they set the tone for their set, moving through Man of the Hour, Along for the Ride and Just My Luck before sharing their latest release Carry Your Matches with us. This is a song with quite poignant lyrics that belie the youthfulness of the lads themselves. It has a sense of roundness and assuredness which demonstrates the recent growth of the band and elevates them to higher ground. They complete the set with Breathe, before ending with Caffeine a song with huge sound and depth and the final one from their Ink and Gold EP.

Stanleys took to the stage to the strains of Mike Flowers Pops (remember them?). I’d been waiting for this for some while after missing out on their summer concert in Manchester when it was rearranged at the last minute so my hopes were high. An air of confidence, a swagger and a stoic determination to put on a show gave promise. The band certainly lived up to my expectations as they waltzed their way through a set list of new and old as well as a ‘surprise’!

Look Back was the choice of opener; a reflective song whilst conveying a sense of optimism by gazing into the future. Tom Concannon’s vocals were spot on as always, never missing a note, and this continued through the whole set. Favourites such as A Better Life and What’s Been and Gone were punctuated with new offerings like Why Would I? and Time Waits for Noone before the latest single You (Just Looked Right Through Me). This is a band who can really write a melody…and a harmony for that matter. Rob Hilton combined his work with the sticks effortlessly with his backing vocals, creating a sound that soared around the room reaching every beam and porcelain tile of the old library. Whilst the two vocalists certainly caught the eye, and ear, the bedrock of the band shouldn’t be forgotten in Harry Ivory on bass and Jake Dorsman on guitar. Both these accomplished musicians had the prowess to change instruments throughout the set to match the style of the song. A beautiful Hofner bass guitar certainly caught the eye here. There are many guitar duos to compare to here, and none would be too far off the mark such is their integral skill set: Rourke and Marr, Pattinson and Sergeant and even a pairing from their hometown cousins who shall not be named here! 

As for the surprise, the clue is above. Before the band rounded off their setlist we were treated to a rendition of There is a Light that Never Goes Out. This certainly got the crowd singing and was delivered with a sense of precision as well as one of reverence. The evening was rounded off with their own standard Measured in Gold a proper uplifting indie pop song which hits the spot at every level.

It amazes me just how much sound and tune can be generated by two guitars, a set of drums and a couple of voices, but then again perhaps it shouldn’t. This band have something special. It’s getting noticed. It’s nothing to do with the water in Wigan, or even the pies, but more about talent and graft. Stanleys make music that they like and it’s hard not to like it too. Life is sometimes about the break you get and about being in the right place at the right time. I think that’s just around the corner.

Duncan Grant.

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