There are certain things in life that make me really happy. Nothing gives me greater pleasure than getting into bed, it doesn't even have to be my own bed as there is a slight thrill in getting to know the intimate lumps of a strange mattress and the varying crispness of sheets and the obligatory pillowcase. Some people approach different beds with a degree of caution. I've seen people in hostels turn their noses up at bunk beds and exclaim "i'm not sleeping there, who knows who has had their greasy head on that pillow?". To those people I urge them to just dive in and embrace what is unfamiliar because in the end you're just going to wriggle down, relax and let yourself drift into a state of peace and relaxation... Just like a Leatherface live album...
Viva La Arthouse is a terrific chronicle of the Leatherface live experience. Recorded in Melbourne during their 2010 tour in support of The Stormy Petrel, this 19-track beaut shows the band performing songs that span their entire lengthy career, playing old favorites such as “I Want The Moon”, “Peasant In Paradise”, the fast-as-hell “Watching You Sleep” and “Dead Industrial Air”, alongside soon-to-be classics off the most recent album like “God Is Dead” and my two personal faves of the Stormy Petrel tracks included here, the rapid and intense one-two punch “Nutcase” and “My Worlds End”. Another great moment is the wild and raucous “Hops And Barley”, which would seem to be the perfect end of the show. However, this is not to be as they break out one more tune, a rather ramshackle cover of NIN’s “Hurt” (very Johnny Cash sounding). Anyway, not only is this a great live album from Leatherface, but on a personal note, with every listen it reminds me of the fun that was had seeing them play Brooklyn last year.
One of the most influential punk bands to ever exist, and a band who penned the absolute perfect punk record early in their existence (Mush), somehow Leatherface have gone this far into their career with only a couple official live recordings. Surprising considering their vast back catalog, not to mention their captivating live show, though they finally grace us with a full live set from their tour last year in support of The Stormy Petrel disc.
As I sit here listening to their latest release Viva La Arthouse – Live in Melbourne I realise it’s nearly 20 years since I first heard Leatherface, courtesy of a DJ at The Venue, a once great (now crap) music club in London’s grotty suburb of New Cross, and it got me reminiscing a bit. That first introduction was the band’s cover of Message in a Bottle, an epic reworking of the Police classic – bigger, faster, harder, growling vocals. I loved it.
Punk rock godfathers Leatherface present a recording of the Melbourne date of last year's epic 'Stormy Petrel' Tour, that covered Europe, Canada, America, Japan and Australia. Having been on the go for nigh on twenty years, it's easy to overlook Leatherface in the wake of the local scene's recent resurgence of alternative and acoustic rock. One listen to 'Live in Melbourne' however, and it's abundantly clear that they're still going strong.