The Firebug, Leicester
29 May, 2015
A celebratory and passionate final date of Eureka Machines’ tour finds Martin Haslam rheumy-eyed but joyous at their anthems of positivity.
Sometimes, even in middle age, you have to make the effort to get to a gig as you KNOW you’ll regret it if you stay at home. It’s rare that I feel that way nowadays, but a handful of bands will inspire this. Top of the pile are Yorkshire’s finest; Eureka Machines.
Having heaped praise on their fourth album, ‘Brain Waves’, I’d resigned myself to missing their current tour. Lets just say things take more planning now if I want to see a band; we all have priorities/commitments. However, when I realised that these might be their only dates this year, I knew something had to be done. Cue eternally supportive wife, some phone calls and, voila, myself and trusty photographer Alex Grady are on our way to The Firebug in Leicester.
Their previous album, and first using Pledge Music, ‘Remain In Hope’, was my introduction to the band who inspire devotion from their followers that beggars belief. Until you’ve seen them live. Since then, I’ve become part of a small community of ‘Champions And Underdogs’, the forum managed by the very patient Vicky Peck. It’s been genuinely heart-warming to attend gigs and feel this sense of belonging spread through the crowd. You can talk to anyone and know you’re in good company. Amazing.
So, onto the gig. The Firebug is certainly a ‘cosy’ venue above a pub. Long and narrow, think ‘function room’. I haven’t ventured to Leicester for over 20 years, and know that some good venues have closed since then; The Princess Charlotte. Food for thought, again. By opening time the gig is pleasingly sold out. First on are local band Produkty, with their brand of angular yet glam riffs. An odd quartet, two male/two female, with Velvets style drumming which at first seems out of place, but after a few songs I’m warming to it. Check out ‘Tom Cruise Woo’ on their Facebook page or Youtube.
Main support comes from Huddersfield’s Tropical Contact. I can see why Ginger Wildheart likes them; they have the melodies and charm of a young Wildhearts and the energy of an excited puppy. While they don’t take themselves seriously, the songs are tight and focussed and fun is their agenda. I could imagine them picking up a lot of fans (from me, this is usually the kiss of death, so, good luck!). They end their set by asking the Eureka boys onstage to collect from them their ‘award’ for being “the nicest band to Tropical Contact in the last 18 months”. This sets the tone of the evening.
So, onto the band who inspire such genuine displays of public affection. Riding high on the UK rock chart with ‘Brain Waves’, they start with album opener ‘Paranoia’, and we’re off! As usual, everyone here knows every word of every song. It’s hard to choose a favourite when there’s such a celebratory mood tonight; the last gig of the tour, minus Camden Rocks tomorrow. Chris’s between-song banter is more prevalent than ever, though I’ve personally never needed to lick my ear plugs to keep them in.
There’s something from every album, so many classics; ‘Being Good Is O.K….’, ‘Television’, ‘Pop Star’, ‘Champion The Underdog’, though I’ll single out ‘The One Who Wouldn’t Change You’. No, honestly, there was just something in my eye for a minute there.
With the new album, there’s been some discussion as to whether they’ll end on album closer ‘We’re Going To The Future’ at gigs rather than ‘Zero Hero’, and when Chris introduces the former as “the last song tonight”, I figured this was a great way to end the set, and the tour. Once heard, never forgotten; an anthem to positivity. The live “we’ve already won” ending was very touching. But then…the familiar intro to ‘Zero Hero’ appears, and we’ve got the best of both worlds. Result. I doubt that The Firebug’s floor has bounced so much in years, as the crowd, as one, begin to jump in time.
Once again, Eureka Machines have excelled themselves. I met up with some old friends and made some new ones, but didn’t manage to say “hello” to Vicky Peck (sorry, next time).
Thanks to Mark Granger for organising the gig and helping to keep independent music alive when venues are closing every week. And well done to us all for making a happy little community around a great band. Come to the next one and say “hello”. You’ll love it.
Words by Martin Haslam, find his Louder Than War archive here.
Photos by James A Grady.