We Were Frontiers – Gig Review By Lucy Howdle

We Were Frontiers

Tuesday 13th August

Oporto, Call Lane, Leeds, LS1 7BT

Introduce yourself to the infectious ‘Indie Folk’ of We Were Frontiers.

Just don’t compare them to Mumford & Sons.

Following what can only be described as a breakout year for We Were Frontiers, the genre-defying outfit from Leeds turned to their favourite hometown bar to host their exciting EP launch. Giveth Taketh Away features four diverse offerings that take you on a seamless journey through a myriad of the band’s many influences and experiences. But with a darker edgier spin than you might have been expecting, you shouldn’t take to stereotyping them in a hurry.

After all, it’s relatively early days for the five lads and a lady, and they’re the first to admit that they’re a difficult one to box. Having played in your “typical Indie Libertines bands” growing up, they’re actually self-confessed emo rockers at heart, searching for an honest outlet for the human voice, at its rawest quality. I’m paraphrasing there; pretty smooth right? Now promoting an entirely self-made EP, recorded, mixed and produced from whatever location that was free, that’s exactly what they’ve found: freedom. And it’s that sense of experimentation that lingers with the listener, as you roam from a fierce folkcentric track like Glory Days to the bluesy piano riffs of Madness of July, with some serious electrics and irresistible western twang thrown in along the way.

But in an industry that’s plagued with record label appeasement and box ticking, has the question of defining their sound already begun to pose a problem? Soon to play folk festival favourite, Shrewsbury Fields Forever, lead singer Stu tells me, only after locating a cider, that the crowd will “probably hate us”, much to the amusement of brother and fellow band member Matt, who’s already assumed the position of spokesman. He’s really quite good at it, too. In actuality, We Were Frontiers have an interesting quirk to add to the folk scene, which has become frightfully saturated over the last couple of years, especially. But as they blur the lines of genre and style, they’re a real breath of fresh air – as was their exuberant set on Tuesday.


Drawing an impressive crowd of tartan-clad regulars and quickly establishing ‘fans’, you couldn’t help but acquiesce to your body’s toe tapping demands. And it’s really no surprise given their furious energy and confident presence, although it must be said, the small stage did struggle to contain them. Not that it prevented their musical aptitude from shining on through, with Richard on the trumpet coming into his own during the final encore of Walk Away. Interesting to note that he was a late addition to the band and introduced as a nod to their Spaghetti Western obsession. That in itself made a conversation with the guys as diverse as their music, as I found myself in the midst of discussions about the sublime scores of Ennio Morricone and the genius of a Tarantino soundtrack. A conversation I had no problem partaking in.

But if there’s one thing that resonates after a We Were Frontiers gig, it’s the profundity of the lyrics. At times, I was just a little taken aback by the intensity of their verbal expression. “I tried to be a better man/ But I don’t like the rules” struck a woeful chord during their performance of Night Terrors, whilst clever repetitions throughout the acoustic-tinged Devil’s Type reiterated the human tendency to question life and question it again, absorbing the listener with a worrying sense of familiarity. The mere fact that the band’s talent for the written word derives from the Wright brothers, who describe their ability to collaborate as “instinct”, adds a spark of sentimentality that gives them an edge over the next band that might follow suit.

Still skeptical? Put them on the spot to name their ultimate groupie and you’ll find the likes of Clint Eastwood, Steven Fry and, my personal favourite, Dolly Parton (then and now) make the cut. Something tells me that for any question they’re fired down the line, they’ve got a witty retort tucked up their cut-off denim sleeves, ready and waiting.

Review by : Lucy Howdle

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