Live Review: Big Joanie / Charly Bliss @ Headrow House, Leeds - 10/05/19

Words by Daniel Rourke

In recent years it’s become common practice that most album release shows are tied to a hometown, an iconic capital city, or a record store that’s been battling against the slew of online streaming platforms. Despite that trend, Brooklyn quartet Charly Bliss decide to do things a little differently for the release of their sophomore album 'Young Enough', and spend their evening in West Yorkshire, England.

While Leeds has become one of several cities at the forefront of the UK’s alternative music scene, there is still something quite surprising about a band from New York spending the eve of their album release day in awe of a half-filled room in the heart of the city, as front-woman Eva Hendricks exclaims, “you guys have made me cry so many times tonight, thank you so much!”.

Of course, there’s good reason for Hendricks and co. to be taken aback by the reception they received, as the half-filled room were that way from the minute support act Big Joanie took to the stage.

Big Joanie have been creating waves themselves within the UK alternative scene, as their 2018 album 'Sistahs' not only received widespread acclaim, but also landed the trio a main support-slot with Riot Grrrl legends Bikini Kill at their upcoming Brixton shows.

While fairly new to most people within the venue, the London trio manage to pull themselves above the dim hum of chatter that bounces around the room at the start of their set, having the crowd dancing and hanging onto every word by the end. It’s clear to see why the three-piece have started to turn heads, and with their huge bass-lines and booming vocals they shouldn’t have any issues making themselves heard in venues such as Brixton Academy.

Of course, those who did show are here for one reason, and that is the return of Charly Bliss. As the lights dim and the PA cuts out, the nervous circle that had daren’t encroach the area around the stage begin to fill out and an eruption of applause and cheers greet the eager four-piece, who launch straight into 'Young Enough' opener, Blown To Bits.

The synth-heavy introduction isn’t much of an indication of what is to come, as the band only play five tracks from 'Young Enough' out of a seventeen-song set. Of course, this isn’t an issue for anyone in the room, as every single person seems to hang off every word Hendricks sings, old or new.

As old material dominates, a break in the set allows Hendricks to chat to the crowd: “So something happened today, our fucking album came out! I really can’t believe it, we’re so proud of this record.” This proudness seeps through as Hendricks can be seen visibly crying multiple times throughout the set, not that those overwhelming emotions stop her or her band from having the time of their lives.

Fan favourite Black Hole follows a batch of new songs, including the engrossing Camera and the Waxahatchee-esque Fighting In The Dark, all providing mass singalongs and more overwhelming emotions from the band and crowd alike. A rendition of Happy Birthday for guitarist Dan Shure brings the night to a steady close, before the terrific Chatroom closes out the main set.

Of course, all parties must come to an end, but most don’t finish before Mr. Brightside is played. Emerging back on-stage for a brief encore, that’s exactly what happens as the band launch into an energetic rendition of The Killers classic, before wrapping up the show with 'Soft Serve' favourite Love Me.

While release shows in West Yorkshire aren’t the norm, this was certainly one to remember. Whether it was the brash punk nature of Big Joanie’s excellent support set, or the euphoric power-pop fun found in Charly Bliss, there was something here for everyone.