Leeds disability rock band on brink of collapse getting set to play to thousands

Leeds disability rock band Ultimate Thunder on their joy at supporting Yard Act at huge Millennium Square show

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A Leeds rock band made up mostly of people with learning difficulties has spoke of its delight after being confirmed for one of the city’s most anticipated shows this summer.

Ultimate Thunder was on the brink of having to disband after funding was scrapped earlier this year but they are now set to play in front of thousands of people in August.

The band will support Leeds act Yard Act at their huge homecoming show at the Millennium Square on August 3.

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Ultimate Thunder will play the Millennium Square in AugustUltimate Thunder will play the Millennium Square in August
Ultimate Thunder will play the Millennium Square in August

James Mabbett, Ultimate Thunder’s producer, said the news was “incredible”, adding: “It was unexpected really. We couldn’t have imagined this a few months ago.”

Asked how the rest of the band responded to the news James said: “They’re really excited but they’re a funny lot because you can tell them this amazing news and they’ll be like ‘ok, great. Shall we go and practice?’. All they care about is playing.

“Once we’re stood in Millennium Square it’ll hit them, but they’re just focused on now and day-to-day stuff.

“There’s definitely excitement about this happening. They know it’s going to be a big one.”

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It’s a huge change of fortune for the band, who had their funding scrapped earlier this year. Mr Mabbett said: “We were out on our own and it looked like we’d have to call it a day as we had no money to pay for all of the extra support that the band needs.”

Yard Act frontman James Smith said that choosing Ultimate Thunder as a support act felt like an 'exciting and important choice'Yard Act frontman James Smith said that choosing Ultimate Thunder as a support act felt like an 'exciting and important choice'
Yard Act frontman James Smith said that choosing Ultimate Thunder as a support act felt like an 'exciting and important choice'

A GoFundMe was set up which received masses of support from industry figures such as Tim Burgess of The Charlatans, Nathan Clarke, owner of The Brudenell Social Club and Yard Act.

Mr Mabbett said: “Tim Burgess offered us a place at Kendall Calling and then Nathan from the Brudenell, who’s promoting the gig, called us up and said ‘hey, why don’t you open for Yard Act?’.

“James (Smith) from Yard Act got involved and it’s just spiralled from there really.

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“It was just incredible to be asked. If you’d have told me this would happen at the start of the year then I wouldn’t have believed it.”

Leeds band Yard Act are set to play their biggest headline show to date when they play the Millennium Square in August.Leeds band Yard Act are set to play their biggest headline show to date when they play the Millennium Square in August.
Leeds band Yard Act are set to play their biggest headline show to date when they play the Millennium Square in August.

Yard Act frontman James Smith told the YEP that he’s been a fan of the band for some time and that they had been on his radar since he worked as a support worker previously. He said that choosing them to open felt like an “exciting and important choice”.

He said: “When their funding got cut everyone got behind them and it raised a lot of money and kept the band afloat which was amazing. It felt like the logical next step was to get them to open the show and get them to share their music - which is great - with a wider audience.

“They’re a band that are dear to our hearts and I implore everyone to make sure they get down early for them.”

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Asked what those arriving early for Ultimate Thunder’s set, Mr Mabbett said that the shows are “completely improvised”. He said: “It adds an extra element of danger and excitement. It’ll be loud and exciting.

“I find that when they’re playing they really take the audience with them. Because of the nature of it you can see people really on the edge of their seats waiting to see what happens and see how it comes together.”

The band’s second album ‘A Spider Will Come and Eat Your Flesh’ was released earlier this month and is available to listen to online.

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Mr Mabbett said that the support received after funding was stopped has been “absolutely overwhelming”

He said: “There’s been so much goodwill and people have been so generous and that’s allowed us to carry on in the short term. In the long term we’re looking at further funding through sponsorship and funding bids to larger organisations that supports projects like this.”

Also playing support slots on the day is Leeds band English Teacher and London punk/dance group Fat Dog.

Tickets for the show are priced at £33 and are still available online.

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