They say it's grim up North, and the melancholic gravity that hangs heavy over Leeds-based OFFICERS offers bold testimony to the adage. It's their second tour of duty on a Numan tour, appearing at the personal behest of The Man himself who has made no secret of the fact he believes OFFICERS are the finest young band in the UK today. And where Numan leads, his followers generally, well, follow, and they embrace OFFICERS as one of their own, the excitement and anticipation within the packed venue possessing a tangible air of both suspense and excitement.
The band takes their place on stage whilst intro Counting My Guns looms over the PA, but it's apparent that summat, somewhere, has gone slightly awry, and their usually all oppressive, all encompassing gloom, seems lacking much of its intended thunder. As they kick into Disarm, the ghosts in the machine continue to wreak havoc, and visibly agitated vocalist, Matt Southall, battles valiantly to not let it faze him. Refusing to allow the gremlins to get them down, they showcase a new song, Born In May, which sees their signature sound imbued with an element of optimism despite it's talk of "...the bodies in the tree line", and suggests the new album, when it comes, will be at least the equal of their brilliant On The Twelve Thrones debut. As if by magic, and just in time for the relentlessly aggressive, blitzkrieg pulse of the mighty Co-Education, their sound noticeably steps up a few gears, giving the band a chance to finally enjoy themselves.
Guitarist Jamie Baker loses himself behind in a squall of My Bloody Valentine-style noise fuzz, the spotlight reflecting off of his guitar’s scratch plate, illuminating the crowd under it's unstoppable glare. Meanwhile, the rest of the band are finally finding their feet and seem to actually be enjoying themselves this time around, whereas last time they played this massive venue they seemed almost awed by it's size, and it's thrilling to see the band growing as a live unit, and realising their live potential in the process. Refusing to slow their pace, OFFICERS blaze through a stunning Good Day To Die and the Miss Lucifer-ish vibe of Afraid Of Your Love, the sonic equivalent of tectonic plates crashing together, the violent, kinetic energy combining to creatie something utterly beautiful along the way. As the hypnotic Mosquito draws the set to a glorious, riotous close, all thoughts of technical gremlins having long been decimated. Finest young band in the UK? Seems like that Numan fella might know what he’s talking about. 8/10Giles Moorhouse