“Do you get this weather all the time? It’s really nice,” Greg Attonito queries as he looks up to a cloudless evening sky above Leeds’ Brudenell Social Club.
The UK is currently going through an extraordinary heatwave and while many of the country’s population is rushing out to buy fans and endless amounts of ice pops, the beer garden of this hideaway is bustling. It’s a hive of flat caps, Doc Martens boots and pin-ups tattoos as the punks descend to see one of the stalwarts of the scene – The Bouncing Souls.
For almost 30 years, the Souls have been bringing their unique brand of “pogo” punk to audiences all over the world and tonight they’re on top form. Attonito’s signature vocals soar around the packed, and perspiring, main room, bassist’s Pete Steinkopf huge neck muscles strain with every sweet harmony while guitarist Bryan Kienlen drives riff after riff as the Leeds natives lap up every drop.
It’s a no-holds barred set as the stinging opener of That Song sets the tone for the evening. Attonito’s demeanour and stage presence may be that of a proud Dad dancing at his daughter’s while not quite really getting her taste in modern day R’n’B but he possesses a unique set of pipes unlike to any of Souls’ contemporaries in the punk rock scene.
The first huge sing-a-long isn’t far away as the anthemic Sing Along Forever is serenaded and screamed back by the baying audience. Souls can pick from an effortlessly strong back catalogue as the heart wrenching The Gold Song is picked up by the poignant Late Bloomer and punched back down by the classic “oi! oi!” track of East Coast! Fuck You!. There is even a chance to take requests which results in a rare airing of the lesser known Punks In Vegas.
By the time Souls rattle into the classic Avoid One Thing cover of Lean On Sheena the room has descended into carnage as bodies roll on to the stage. It’s time to wrap this baby up and with the ode to bromance of Manthem, the tale of lost love Hopeless Romantic and the soaring Gone, Souls do it in style.
It feels like a community rallying together as sweating friends embrace each other at the end of an exhilarating set. The summer heatwave may be over before we know it but a season soundtracked to Bouncing Souls makes it seem like those sunny days will never end.
Words: Tom Walsh