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Club Smith - Band Review

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by Katie Thompson (subscribe)
University of York Graduate, aspiring to be a journalist with dreams of one day publishing my own novel. Blog: Published work can be seen at and
York/Leeds based Club Smith are back with a new album
If you've read any of my previous gig reviews , you'll know that my live music experiences predominantly consist of large concerts for ageing rockers who should probably know better. Nevertheless I'm a great believer in trying anything once, and twice if I like it, hence I took myself to the cosy setting of York City Screen's 'Basement' to view electro-indie band Club Smith.

club smith york
Frontman Sam Robson entertains the crowd

With an impressive background playing at Leeds and Reading festivals, as well as supporting The Kaiser Chiefs, Club Smith, back with their new album Appetite For Chivalry, had every reason to call themselves professionals. After my eardrums had received a sufficient pounding in this 'intimate' venue, courtesy of the earlier support acts, it was refreshing to see four tamer-looking lads entering the stage. Drummer Vijay Mistry raised a smile instantly as he set his kit up while donning a woolly hat – but I quickly learned that his nothing-short-of-epic drumming would keep him warm later on.

Frontman Sam Robson wasted no time with introductions, going straight into a belter of a note with their show-opener Young Defeatists. Robson's vocals were put to the test immediately with this punchy and attitude-laden track, and together with some soul from bassist Lee Clark, their 2011 debut single did not disappoint.

Amongst a sea of feisty lyrics and heavy guitars, it was refreshing to see the 'electro' part of the electro-indie band in the form of keyboardist Neil Clark, whose dancing was as entertaining as the funky sounds coming out of his piano. While some tracks such as No Friend Of Mine had a slightly angsty undertone, bantersaurus Robson kept the mood light while he chatted to the audience. What could have been an awkward moment became an opportunity to have a quick giggle with the fans, as Robson expertly fixed a loose pick-up on his guitar and carried on like a true professional. He also assured us that their estranged saxophone player would be making a rare appearance tonight as they were playing 'locally', and raised a smile as he informed as that, not only was he a whizz on the sax, but also pretty nifty with a pair of spoons.

I must confess to thinking that a lone saxophone amongst an electro-indie set looked a little out of place, but I quickly learned that it would be very welcome within this band. The night reached its peak in the form of The Green Room, a funky synthy track with an addictive drum beat which, of course, would lead the way into the cover song of the evening, none other than David Bowie's 80s hit Let's Dance.

As The Green Room faded out, drumming legend Mistry expertly blended its beat into the Bowie classic, and before we knew it we were grooving to the sweet sounds of a now very appropriate sax. Putting their own slightly heavier spin on the track, Let's Dance oozed with cool and I dare say it was better than the original, earning itself a well deserved second place closely behind The Green Room.

club smith leeds
Leeds/York-based Club Smith rocking out

After a nine-song set I was amazed at the energy that these four young York lads could muster – Mistry's t-shirt was a considerably darker shade than it had been at the beginning of the set and Robson had clearly belted his heart out, while still finding time to turn on the charm with the audience. As they left the stage after a particularly energetic rendition of their aggressive No Friend Of Mine, I quickly learned that they were in fact a very friendly bunch of lads, and Robson made the time to have a chat with me afterwards, explaining to me the reasons behind the Bowie cover.

Having played at Leeds and Reading, I was thankful to see Club Smith in a smaller setting and couldn't help but notice the professionalism which was akin to a band who'd been together far longer than their short two years. A previous 'gig-virgin', I am now a convert, and for what I saw on Friday evening, I predict that it won't be long before they're filling seats at much bigger venues in the near future.
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Why? To see how this York/Leeds band are up and coming!
Where: Basement, York
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