It feels like Flyleaf and The Academy have done their utmost to confuse us with this one. State isn’t known for our Sunday prowess, but combining a -day after the hour change’ show with a mid-afternoon start and hosting it in the Academy 2 – a venue that has all the sound quality of a sensory deprivation chamber – is very nearly a step too far. For a few, in fact, it’s very actually a step too far. Despite being -sold out’, the Academy’s dungeon is never more than two thirds full, which, of course, does nothing to assist our view of the band, who stand what seems like an entire inch above the height of the assembled throng.
Still, for all the obvious flaws with this venue, Flyleaf are not an act to be taken lightly. While most Sunday afternoon gigs might be treated with a certain degree of apathy, this gig prompts a queue outside The Academy a full hour before the support band – pop punkers The Crave, who are loud and’¦ well, pop punk – kick off, and manages to be almost unethically raucous.
The Texans centre around baby-doll lead singer Lacey Mosley, a vocalist who looks every bit like she’s transported straight from the Twilight Saga and packs a vocal punch that cuts through the accompanying instrumentation in a manner not dissimilar to Evanescence on a hard rock bender. Stood on a stage-front perch and posing for the crowd, Lacey has a small whirlwind going down next to her in the form of bassist Pat Seals, who looks like a bearded Lord Of The Rings character and plays his instrument with suitable vigour. We’re convinced the neck of his guitars rips into the Academy 2’s low ceilings on at least a couple of occasions.
Flyleaf’s on stage antics are so boisterous, in fact, that it’s sometimes an effort to concentrate on their music (a problem you can overcome by standing anywhere near the back, of course). Once you get used to the walls blurring the more idiosyncratic of riffs, their style translates well live: pelting, screechy choruses and hefty bridging riffs dominate proceedings. Tracks from distinctive second album Memento Mori dominate, with opener -Beautiful Bride’ and closer -Arise’ bracketing the set with the most poignant of highlights.
Sadly, The Texans also see the stage as an opportunity to preach (sorry guys, we know you mean well, but using your religion as a form of -motivation’ just doesn’t sit comfortably), and the speech puts a palpable downer on things. Mustering up this kind of energy on a Sunday afternoon, causing a sweaty roomful of kids mosh their hearts out, leaping around like idiots and still managing to sound both original and musical is nothing to be sniffed at, though. They certainly woke us up.