White Denim


Walking into the Albert Hall I have always felt mixed levels of excitement. I’ve seen David Gray there at an all seated event, feeling like the youngest person in there, and then King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard in the middle of summer, probably the sweatiest gig I’ve ever attended. So, as I walk up the stairs to the main room, I keep an open mind to what I’m about to experience.

I first heard White Denim back in 2016 when they released their album Stiff, arguably the album that finally got them noticed. My mate described them as “Kings of Leon before they got shit”, so I instantly gave them a listen and they did grab my attention. Looking around the crowd there is a complete mixture of people: kids like me dressed in chord jackets like KOL, yet dedicated older music lovers with their wives/husbands too because they know what a diverse and tight band we are about to witness.

Coming onto the stage with ‘Backseat Driver’, off their latest album Performance, a tune with instant funk then fuzz, slipping into jazz, it’s an absolute head twist of a song to get your head round musically yet it beautifully opens up what is to be an intense journey around many different genres of Rock n Roll.

Coming from Austin Texas, they have an immediate deep rooting of southern folk to them. Their stage set up is nothing impressive in the slightest – it is basically a stage and four blokes stood there (well two sat actually) playing their hearts out, knowing they don’t need a lighting show to back up music. Throughout the set the thing that keeps my attention constantly is their ability to change tempo at such unexpected points.

The set is basically 2016’s Stiff and 2018’s Performance played in almost their entirety, with some old tunes from their earlier albums thrown in. Unfortunately, I stand there all night waiting for my favourite song from Stiff, ‘Take It Easy (Ever After Lasting Love)’, to be played but it’s probably just a bit too wet for the night. When blasting out ‘Had 2 Know (Personal)’, it’s even hard for a band with such diversity to go into soulful love ballads. So, I wasn’t too upset eh.

As a drummer myself and I will probably always write about my opinion on the drumming performance at a gig as it’s basically what I’m mostly staring at (not listening though) when at gigs, this dude has some serious groove, him and the bass player to keep up with the tempo changes expected from each song must be difficult. I love King Gizzard and most probably always will but I can’t say that their tempo changes have anything on White Denim and they only have the one drummer.

The highlight of the set came on early for me: ‘Ha Ha Ha Ha (Yeah)’ seams to just be the perfect song for a band to play to get a crowd warmed up on a cold Friday night gig – “Try be yourself and have a good time!” What more do you want a front man to shout at you?

Ending the set on “Shake Shake Shake” a belter of complete in-your-face blues rock, is just the perfect way to end the night. This band live are a force to be reckoned with in the rock world, they may be many albums deep but I think they’re only just starting to get the recognition they deserve now.

They must be doing something to attract the right people though – the Coen brothers choose them to cover the famous Bettye LaVette track ‘Just Dropped In (To See What Condition My Condition Was In)’ for their Fargo Season 2 soundtrack, which if you haven’t heard is definitely worth a listen. Also, not to worry if you missed out on Friday night because the boys are back in town supporting Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds in June at Heaton Park, and also on the bill are Doves so something for us to look forward to during winter.

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