It’s 7:45pm in a club just a few paces from Kings Cross Station, London. The first support band has just taken to the stage at Scala. Thee MVPs [6/10] (Most Valuable Players), an unsigned band with influences ranging from Black Flag and Nirvana to The Stranglers and the Beastie Boys are playing to a largely empty room, there’s perhaps 20 – 30 people currently stood inside the 1000 capacity venue, but this does not phase them.
They rocket through their set sounding like a punky alternative to fictional band Sex Bob-Omb (from the film based on the ‘Scott Pilgrim’ graphic novel series by Bryan Lee O Malley). Despite the small crowd they are received well by the people here, the bands drummer in particular standing out for some stellar speedwork and cymbal bashing. These may be one to watch for the future, in particular for fans of bands such as Dinosaur Pile-Up and Fidlar, and although they were definitely a fun band to watch, they are most certainly not what the people came for tonight.
Thee MVPS - Photo Credit: Linn Koch-Emmery
Tiger Cub [6/10], a three piece from Brighton bear few similarities to tonights headliner. An indie-rock band with a much darker, moodier tone to their songs, somewhat similar to The Amazons and Cage The Elephant. The room becomes a bit more lively now, and a few hardcore fans of the band have appeared near the barrier, singing the lyrics to every song right back at the band. The most notable being their set closer ‘Destroyer’, a beast of a song with heavy set guitar and murky vocals that carries an interesting tone, one of those slow headbang types of songs that you can move, but not quite groove to. Unfortunately neither support band tonight has been helped by muffled vocals, making it hard to understand the songs if you aren’t already familiar with the lyrics.
Tigercub - Photo Credit: Laura Brown
The crowd has become noticeably dense now, as tonights main event stroll on stage, taking no time at all to burst into new album title track and set opener ‘The Haze’. A huge mosh pit opens in the centre of the room almost immediately, and people are going NUTS. This is how you know it’s a Pulled Apart By Horses [8/10] show. They may not be arena touring festival headliners, but they definitely know how to work a crowd. Frontman and rhythm guitarist Tom Hudson’s vocals are on point tonight, as they plough through ‘The Big What If’, complete with crowdsurfing action aplenty.
After a roaring ‘I Punched A Lion In The Throat’, guitarist James Brown remarks; “what day is it? Tuesday? It feels like a Saturday night in here!”. The setlist tonight is mostly made up of songs from the new album, and a few old favourites from the debut self titled album. “This one’s for the lizards” announces Tom, bathed in green lighting as ‘Lizard Baby’, the only track played from 3rd album Blood, goes off something special. When the steady bassline intro kicks in, you could feel the surge of fans ready to erupt, and then the chorus hit accompanied by a sea of voices screaming it back at the band.
Right in the middle of the 13 song set the band unleashes ‘Hotel Motivation’, one of the catchiest songs the band has ever written. The moshing turns to dancing, people are bouncing up and down, singing their lungs out to the Iggy Pop inspired number. New drummer Tommy Davidson is slaying the drumkit like Hercules slayed the mighty Hydra, as bassist Robert John Lee lays down some harmonic backing vocals. This is where the show has peaked for now, the chaotic atmosphere of the room takes a breather as the crowd recuperates itself from PABH’s vicious brand of indie-grunge-rock.
Pulled Apart By Horses - Photo Credit: Elliot Grimmie
This is until PABH made the interesting choice to cover The Beatles ‘Helter Skelter’, picked things back up a bit, however it isn’t until final song of the night and fan favourite ‘High Five, Swan Dive, Nose Dive’ that Pulled Apart show us what they’re all about. Tom makes his way past the barrier and into the crowd as a colossal circle pit materialises and he disappears from sight. Meanwhile James chucks his shirt off and climbs the stage right amp tower, teetering over the edge as the security stood on the balcony above pull him back before he falls off the edge. The song reaches the final push, everyone in the room knows this is their last chance to party. All of a sudden Tom arises from the crowd, carried along by the waves of people as he thrashes his guitar, James dives from the amp tower landing back onstage on his knees triumphantly.
As the night comes to a close and Tom plants his feet firmly back onstage, he rips the strings from his guitar, pulling the bridge off in the process, and throws it to the floor. It’s apparent that amongst the chaos that just ensued, some people have missed this detail, as the band walk offstage amid chants of ‘ONE MORE SONG, ONE MORE SONG’. Pulled Apart By Horses have yet again proven they are a versatile band capable of decimating any stage they play, be it the main stage at Reading & Leeds festival or this little club in London, and an essential watch at the many festivals they are booked to play throughout the UK this year.