Submotion Orchestra @ The Brudenell Social Club, Leeds

Posted by vibrations on 24-04-16

On first hearing that Ruby Wood wouldn’t be on stage for the sold out, hometown leg of the current Submotion Orchestra UK tour, admittedly my heart sank. Submotion without Ruby? Isn’t she the crux of their sound? Perhaps bravely, the band have taken the decision to perform with two new vocalists, Aly Usha and Billy Boothroyd on the Colour Theory tour, who’d fill in for Wood whilst she is off tackling motherhood. What prevailed was a completely new dynamic within the band; a different experience to the Submotion we’ve come to know and love, but certainly not lacking, and in no way did they disappoint.

First up to fill big shoes was Aly Usha, a sublime vocalist with a similar lightness of touch to Wood - a less-is-more, soulful vocal – but with a touch more acrobatics on the big finishes. She is undoubtedly a force of nature on stage, and is an absolute joy to watch. Billy Boothroyd meanwhile has been compared to Thom Yorke, and it’s easy to see why with the degree of sensitivity he lends each piece. There’s real heart in his exquisite vocals, and he can certainly he rack up some high notes. This guy has some serious pipes, and it’s great to see a different tone and dynamic to some Submotion tracks – particularly on new single In Gold.

As ever, the rest of the fantastically talented band are on point - the rhythm and percussion section are as solid as the rock you’d expect from a troop of jazz graduates, with Tommy Evans providing a formidable backbone and danceable beat. For all of the band’s virtuosity though, let’s not forget one of the most vital ingredients in the mix here; Dom Ruckspin, producer of Colour Theory, is in the house as their live sound engineer – a somewhat unorthodox set-up, but one which really allows the band to masterfully bring their record to life on stage.

So, whilst it’s safe to say that Ruby Wood is definitely not out of a job, tonight really illustrated that Submotion Orchestra are a talented collective who are wholly the sum of their parts, relying on no one member to carry the show, evolving and progressing with new collaborations. And as much as I am looking forward to the return of Wood to the fold, I’m left secretly hoping that this isn’t the last collaboration we see from the band...

Katharine Hartley


On the Vibrations stereo...