Nearly twenty years on the gig circuit, The Pigeon Detectives have harnessed that collective chaos that goes into creating carnage.
The band hails from Leeds, West Yorkshire, and consists of Matt Bowman on vocals, Oliver Main and Ryan Wilson on guitar, Dave Best on bass, and Jimmy Naylor on drums.
Their 18-date stint across the country is their most extensive run of shows in years, and the aptly named Rock City was a fitting stop off tonight.
Ellur oozes confidence and character. She’s kinetic in her musical accessibility, from the emotionally charged drawl of unreleased single ‘The Woman’ to the indie-spirited guitar-twanging ‘Moments’, the crowd are invested. With an underlying sense of nostalgia to her sound, her setlist was surprisingly anthemic in both her voice and her presence – she’s charismatic and comfortable on the stage, and a fitting tribute to The Pigeon Detectives’ support slot.
The band take their leave with a raucous applause, the kind I haven’t heard for a support act in a long time, and it genuinely makes me proud for the Yorkshire lass.
What follows in the interval is electrifying.
I thought I had missed the band’s entrance with the number of pints being thrown around; alas, it was simply ‘Hard Life’ and ‘Creep’ playing. The band have curated a playlist to generate enough hype that I’m considering wearing toe steel caps and a hard hat to my next Pigeon concert.
Once they do finally grace the stage, it’s a whistle-stop tour of hit after hit.
‘Falling To Pieces’ has the crowd exactly like that – the first track from their sixth studio album, ‘TV Show’, has an infectious riff that catapults you from head-bobbing to toe-jumping.
It’s intrinsically simple, a testament to their sound – not exactly dated, but Bowman himself reassured the audience in good humour that they won’t be playing the entire new album in full.
And if you thought the rejoice for that statement was loud, well; ‘This Is An Emergency’ for your ears, because the tribalistic tonality of that opening note turned things up a notch. Our chants don’t seem to be breaking the sound barrier, though, with Bowman insisting we shout louder and louder with each chorus.
We’re feverish, a palpable energy in the room that becomes seismic in the call-and-response quality of ‘I Found Out’ pounding out of the speakers. The crowd surged towards the stage, prompting frontman Bowman to inhabit a Daltrey-esque persona, frenetically throwing his body and microphone around the stage.
Matt Bowman is a wild performer – it’s that nurtured northerner coming out in full force, redefining the term ‘friendly’ with his seamless interactions with the audience.
Even when he was encouraging those in the pit to join him in flipping off the balcony viewers, you couldn’t help but chuckle along at what felt like an inside joke. We’re all mates here.
He’s high fiving, teetering over the barrier to grab onto everyone and anyone’s hand; snapping pictures on the phones he’s able to wrangle from people; demanding we all give a big cheer for ‘Anya’, who’s watching the show through a facetime call and is now face-to-face with Bowman in real time.
The Pigeon Detectives have released six albums from 2007 to present. (Image Credit: Talia Robinson)
Acknowledging the front row for their consistency in showing up to every show and still somewhat mumbling along to the newer singles does not feel like a disgruntled jab. It’s lighthearted and he’s truly grateful in the roundabout way: “We couldn’t do it without you guys, giving it your all and still knowing f**k all!”
The Yorkshire lads streamed a steady rotation of new material throughout the show, and they aided in giving the crowd a moment to breathe without completely saturating the mood.
‘Lovers Come And Lovers Go’ is expectedly fast-paced and frantic, focused on their repetitive riff signature, whilst title track ‘TV Show’ has more pop-sensibility, weighted in a brief melancholy.
The intervals of newer material blend seamlessly into the more recognisable ‘Done In Secret’. Arms raised this time not with the intent to throw pints but to create waves across the crowd, Bowman commandeering us to sway back and forth as he quickens the pace.
It culminates in the frontman crowd-surfing the sea he’s created gloriously during ‘Romantic Type’ and it’s probably the only time he’s kept hold of his microphone for the entirety of a song.
Rock City is condensed with the scent of sweat and spit. Literally, for all Bowman confessed he was “boiling” numerous times, the array of water bottles at his disposal barely touched his lips before they were being drenched over the audience.
Bowman took a moment to thank everyone for selling out the venue tonight, reflecting: “We always try and give the audience an opportunity to create memories.
“And security, bless ‘em, they’ve done a great job – they’re gonna tell you to get down, and we’re gonna to tell you to get up on someone’s shoulders.”
With all intent to break the record for the number of people on someone else’s shoulders ever in Rock City, I think it’s safe to say by the time the chorus hit for ‘Everybody Wants Me’, you could not physically see the stage.
I do plan on seeing the band again, however; when Bowman resumed his notorious position of climbing the PA system on ‘Take Her Back’, microphone stand knocked over for the umpteenth time, it felt refreshingly real.
This is a proper show. It’s the kind of gig that makes fans of casual listeners.
The Pigeon Detectives are halfway through their stint across the UK, and you can still buy tickets to see them live here.
Stream their latest album, TV Show, out now.
Featured Image Credit: Talia Robinson