Our round-up of live music events in Leicester and Leicestershire.
Our team of reporters and photographers have been to gigs and filed their thoughts, comments and pictures.
If a piece is not attributed to a named author, then it was written by the editor.
Come back to this page regularly; it gets updated day by day.
The latest dates get added at the top.
Thursday 28th April, Skam at The O2.
Friday 29th April is the first day of the Handmade Festival.
What we saw this month…
28th April 2016
at The Cookie
by Keith Jobey
Tagged as a Handmade ‘pre-festival party’ show, the Wytches played the Cookie on Thursday night. The band was initially billed on the Handmade posters but your Handmade ticket didn’t gain you entry tonight. But that didn’t stop it selling out in advance.
Hula Girls are quickly rising up my band league. They’re a Leicester / Coventry fast paced, power punk duo with a not so serious attitude. Why haven’t they got a cult following?
Leicester duo Savanna Bones have the same set up as Hula Girls (guitar and drums) but are more serious and more rock sounding. They’ve got a decent crowd to play to as people stake their spots for the headliner.
The last time the Wytches played the Cookie (see review February 2014) it was a wild moshie night. They weren’t as big back then as they are now so I think we all knew that tonight was going to be crazy. I opted to brave it and squeezed in by the left stack, ear plugs firmly in, while friends decided to tuck in by the sound desk. And sure enough, as soon as the first riffs fired up, the crowd became a human sea, washing back and forth, regularly breaking and crashing onto the stage. You can be sure there’ll be some bruises to be burned out today (get it?). From my position it was all fine. Further back though my friends reported that it was not, to the extent they actually gave up on it and went upstairs well before the end.
As for the band and the music, well they’ve added a fourth member since I last saw them, and a few of the songs now have live keys courtesy of the new guy. But the style was still the same. That surf rock grunge that drives the crowd so wild.
So with the Handmade pre-festival party over and done with, it’s time for the main event. Handmade Festival here we go.
Sunday 24th April
More Metal for the masses
The quarter finals of Metal2 The Masses saw five excellent bands wow the crowd at Firebug.
Saturday 23rd April
Suicide Bees & Babe Punch
by Keith Jobey
Suicide Bees were a late replacement and were appearing as an acoustic act. Well, semi-acoustic, since it involved three semi-acoustic guitars plus vocals. They sounded a little like the Verve at times. It’ll be good to see them as a full band.
Babe Punch were the band that had attracted us to the Soundhouse tonight. A Riot Grrrl/Grunge sounding Derby/Nottingham quintet, who are gaining attention and getting to play regularly outside their home area. They’ve had a few line-up changes recently, and are no longer the all-female band that they started as but that’s not a problem because this band has serious potential.
by Keith Jobey
After the Soundhouse it was off to Brewdog, opting to show our support for an up and coming local act (unfortunately too late to catch Alligatr and Arc Isla).
Gloss have had their fair share of line up problems of late, frontman Niall Godfree describes them as turbulent times but adds how pleased he is with the sound the current reduced quota of band members are making. So here’s hoping the future is more settled for Gloss as they are a band worth listening to.
Saturday 22nd April
at the Soundhouse with Ibisco, Aztec Temples and Poetman.
Tonight’s show was opened by Ibisco, a band, I was told, from Hinckley. The band’s set offered engaging songs with plenty of beats, led by frontman Dean Welch, whose performance was not short on style.
The alternative rock quartet provided some foot-tapping sounds, cleverly constructed tunes indie pop songs that had a bit of an Oasis feel. Several stomping passages kept the momentum going. The band performed at the Leicester Oxjam festival in 2015. On 25th September they were at the Shed where they performed for the judges from the Glastonbudget festival. The band played their first gig in 2014 at Pi Bar, supporting a night headlined by The Harrowbrooks.
“Good evening” shouts Conor Simpson. “It’s Friday night after all” he says to the crowd and then it’s straight into the music. When I saw this band for the very first time I said “They’re good. They will do well.” I was right. It was not long before they were signed and now they play all over the UK.
If you think back over the last ten years of music in this city a few bands have made some exceptionally good songs; of those, a few have been able to turn out one hit song after another. Aztec Temples is one of them. Tonight they were on top form and the songs rolled off the stage one after another.
Sandwiched between the two support bands and the headline act was Poetman. Now, if you have not come across the spoken word artist before, you ought to know that Will Horspool is making quite a name for himself.
He is one of Leicester’s most unusual acts – part poet, part rapper, part singer, part comedian – and his notoriety is gaining him recognition and new fans day by day. He now finds himself playing on music gig line-ups. He provided his own brand of entertaining and humorous pieces and this was a suitable warm up for what was to follow. He makes people laugh. His sharp wit and incisive observations on life hit the mark for people and even those who have not seen him before soon got caught up in the vibe.
When I saw Trampolene at the Cookie last September, I immediately warmed to them. Tonight, as then, Jack Jones opened with a short monologue, a kind of rap, about himself and his youthful experiences. Originally from Wales, the band is now based in London.
The band has toured with This Feeling, the rock night promoters; they have played at London’s Koko, Glastonbury and the Isle of Weight festival. They also appeared at Strawberry Fields festival in 2014. Lead singer Jack Jones supported The Libertines on their arena tour. His spoken word pieces sound rather like John Cooper Clarke although some think he is akin to Russell Brand.
Last year the band supported Carl Barat and the Jackals in London. The three members of the band all had microphones and they played with a film back projection. Jack Jones has an appealing stage presence and is a real charmer with the crowd. Their songs are fast, frenetic and packed with plenty of punch. Referred to as Brit rock, they do have flavourings of Oasis and The Libertines with a whisp of Kasabian but its more garage in certain respects.
If you don’t know their music and want to sample what they like, listen to one of the songs they played tonight – Concept Lover – on YouTube
Quite a band. Very Likeable.
with Calvin Jeffrey, The Clarendons and Yodaclub.
Linear is a well established Leicester band. Read our feature article about them.
See all of Kevin Gaughan’s photos from tonight’s show:
|Linear at Duffy’s Bar, Leicester, 22/04/16|
What you sayin’ episode 2
A packed basement saw an excellent line-up of artists – poets, a comedian and performing and hosting the event the master of verse and the loops pedals – Poetman. The theme – bad taste – provided plenty of fruity material. Upstairs the audience was entertained by a line-up of acoustic artists. It was all very good.
Saturday 16th April
MIL was at The Musician for the OBS first semi-final. There we saw: James Cull and Black Storm Nation, Kermes and Stating The Obvious.
James Cull is widely acknowledged as being one of Leicester’s greatest rock singers. Tonight he was on stage with a drummer and bassist who were Black Storm Nation. Cull is an exhilarating singer and celebrated solo artist and having two other musicians on stage with him tonight gave him an added level of magnificence. A set that was spangled with sparkling guitar parts and the huge power of Cull’s vocals.
Kermes. Keith Jobey wrote about Kermes when they were at The Cookie on 8th April with The Big Moon (see below). As you will see if you scroll down, Keith said “Sounding like a mix of the Cure, the Smiths and the Libertines, it was fun, fast and frenetic as they played a series of punchy songs with lyrics mostly about gender. Check this band out. I’m sure there’ll be plenty of opportunities because they are undoubtedly going to be in demand.” By the end of their set I could see exactly what Keith was on about and yes I completely agreed with it. There is something about this band; something that will make them big. OK, I have to say it, I kept thinking of Ash Mammal at first; but as they got into their set, I stopped doing this. Bands often like to invent new genres for themselves. The writers of the Facebook page for Kermes put ‘trashgaze/screampop’ for genre. ‘trashgaze’? ‘Screampop’ I can get. A lot of the songs were about gender. I think. But wow – what vitality! Sharp songs with abrupt endings. Tunes that were full of life and vigor. Lead singer Emily Rose Teece did a stunning performance. Sparkling, invigorating, powerful. Not a band you would forget quickly. A performance that was mesmerising.
Stating The Obvious is a band we have written about several times before. They were one of the bands that got mentioned in our Review of the Year for 2015. [Music in Leicester] when they played with Linear at Sumo on 7th February. They played at The Shed on 23rd December with Her Burden, The World Can Wait and Flight15 [Music in Leicester]
and at The Shed to see Tom Bem
Singer Tom Bem was fantastic. The London singer of RnB/Electro songs performs regularly in Leicester. We have been going to see him for time and have always loved his music. Tom is a great performer; he plies his work with plenty of passion and commitment. On stage with him was Ben his guitarist, keyboard player and laptop operator.
He sang one of my favourite Bem numbers: Kalashnikov. It’s the rich rhythms of his songs that get me; plenty of punchy breaks and bursting beats.
A London artist who believes in playing in Leicester. Respect. He told us he has a single coming out in a couple of weeks, called ‘Hide and Seek‘, which he sang tonight. Despite the room being rather sparse on this wet Leicester night, Tom still gave an arena-level performance.
Friday 15th April
MIL was at The Cookie to see Aztec Temples.
Leicester band Aztec Temples opened the night and wowed the crowd with their set of memorable melodies and ear-grabbing tunes.
Tonight all the bands were spot-on.
I particularly liked Pleasure House.
Tonights photos were taken by Pascal Pereira.
Friday 15th April
Nights at The Shed
at The Shed with The Cheap Thrills, Hanzo, The Docs, Damaged Band and The Bad Flowers.
Of these I saw The Docs, Damaged Band and The Bad Flowers.
Damaged Band. I liked what they did. Playing to a nearly empty room they gave it all they had, a set fired up with life and energy that would not have looked out of place in a much bigger setting, like a festival stage. I loved their charisma; they way they put themselves into the music.
It was a set that pulsated with life and throbbed with excitement. Bursting, throbbing, brimming with passion. They played their own take on Beastie Boys Fight For Your Right, and that summed it all up. Few bands would do a cover of a Blink 182 song and follow it with a cover of a song by The Proclaimers. They did! And it worked. They were magnificent.
The Docs were back. Following their appearance at The Vibrators gig on 2nd April.
A quartet of punk-playing blokes whose down-to-earth tunes had impact, beats and the kind of ear-grabbing sounds that pulled people into the action.
It was punk without the pain. Pleasing, relentlessly rhythmic and a set of songs that set the room alight.
The evening finished with a set by The Bad Flowers. Well, it had been damp night, outside. This trio warmed us up as they launched into their set with no shortage of power. Two vocalists; I could see where they were coming fom with their songs (even I was increasingly unable to see much else through the bottom of my glass.) They played the room like it was rammed with people. Respect. Give credit where it is due. We wrote about this band in June last year when they were at The Shed with Chris King Robinson. [Music in Leicester] We said “The Bad Flowers gave us a set that was truly inspirational. As I said at the time, better to play to a few people who really wanted to hear what you had to play than a room crowded with people who were not that bothered.”
I went on to say: “Remarkably, as the band got under way, an audience appeared as if from nowhere. The three musicians got up and smashed it. In one of the best sessions of classic rock to have been heard at the venue in many a long year, these guys brought The Shed alive with thumpingly good singing and guitar work. After all the ‘is-it-really-worth-it’ stuff, they brought us something sensational. Top notch rockers, these lads tore up the stage with a set that could have come only from a hard-working, serious band. They might have been tired from a long day of work and driving, but that didn’t stop them from delivered blistering guitar solos, ballsy beats a visceral vocals.” Ending with “As for their rendition of Renegade Lover – all I can say is “sick”, as in utterly awesome. The Bad Flowers: a band that really knows how to rock”. So, there you go.
Tuesday 12th April
Trilogy at The Musician
9th April 2016
The Leicester Indiepop Alldayer
by Keith Jobey
Spring is in the air. Flowers are coming up, April showers are abundant, lambs are gambling in the fields and indiepop bands are playing all day at the Firebug. Yes, it’s Sweeping The Nation’s annual Indiepop Alldayer. One of the most reliably entertaining, value for money events on the Leicester gigging calendar.
Today’s event is being played in two halves for the first time. With a half time break to allow people to get food without having to miss any of the bands. The first half kicks off mid-afternoon with Sonic the Comic, a duo with an impressive backing track giving them the sound of a full band. T-Shirt Weather from Durham are next. They intended to sound like the Beatles but it came out like a silly, North East Green Day (they once said). And it’s a fitting description. Finnmark! (with an exclamation mark) soon followed. They are based in Leeds and describe their music as melancholic jangly pop. Closing the first half was Oh Peas! (another exclamation mark). The solo act of Rosie Smith (she also plays noisily in Totem Terrors and Trust Fund). And with that we entered the interlude.
Mammoth Penguins kicked off the second half. Fronted by Emma Kupa (former Standard Fare frontwoman), the three piece are the most conventional rock band of the day with crunchy guitar and soaring, powerful vocals. Chorusgirl were due to play in this session but had to pull out; this occurring too late in the day to line up a replacement.
Talking of Flowers coming up earlier, penultimate band Flowers have come up from London. I’ve caught this band several times now and they never fail to impress me. Tonight their sound is ace, with Sam’s guitar sounding incredibly good, Jordan’s drumming impeccable and Rachel’s voice as angelic as ever.
The Spook School played this event a couple of springs ago and were tremendous. They return a more mature sounding band. Their sound may have matured but it’s pleasing to see the band hasn’t. They’re still the fun, catchy pop band they always have been and drummer Niall is still as quick witted and off the wall as always. Watch out for their imminent return to Leicester as tour support to Paws at the Musician on June 28th.
Saturday 9th April
8th April 2016
The Big Moon
At The Cookie
by Keith Jobey
The Big Moon first appeared in the Leicester skies at last year’s ill-fated psyche festival at the Academy. They were known as The Moon back then and my mate who went was treated to a private performance as the crowd was that sparse. Their next show (as The Big Moon) drew in a larger crowd, but it was as support to the Magic Gang at the Cookie, so it was hard to say who was there seeing whom. So what could they do as a headliner in their own right?
Leicester band Kermes were first to play. It was about time I caught them live as I’ve been listening to their online music for a while. And it was a live set worth catching. Sounding like a mix of the Cure, the Smiths and the Libertines, it was fun, fast and frenetic as they played a series of punchy songs with lyrics mostly about gender. Check this band out. I’m sure there’ll be plenty of opportunities because they are undoubtedly going to be in demand.
Tour support were London three-piece Virgin Kids. They reminded me of American bands like Devo or Weezer, but a touch more garage, a little more pub rock. Recently released debut album Greasewheel shows their garage roots, recorded in a basement in one or two takes. They were well liked by the audience and I suspect we’ll be seeing more of them soon.
And so to the Big Moon. A girl gang quartet led by Juliette Jackson. It’s interesting to see what a difference a bit of time can make to a band. A year’s hard touring perfecting their sound, fine tuning those guitar driven, sharp and clean pop tunes has led them to their current position. They’ve earned their headline tour and the throng of fans who have grown to adore them already and who’ve come out to see them tonight.
They’ve pulled in a decent size crowd. They tell us they’d made a sign but forgot to put it up. No matter, the audience know who they are this time. This band are surely on the point of releasing one of the debut albums of the year. An album that’ll earn them at load more fans. Fans who’ll love them to the moon and back.
Friday 8th April
with Unfounded, The World Can Wait and Her Burden.
Opening the show the duo Unfounded saw Courtney King and Emily Watson plying the room with some memorable songs. As they said to the audience “we are on Facebook and all that stuff…”; yes they are too – Unfounded. They clearly had a few friends in to support them tonight, judging from the shouting and screaming at the end of each song. Here they are singing a cover: I can’t help falling in love with you.
The World Can Wait performed another of their astoundingly excellent sets. Having seen them many, many times and written about them more times than I care to remember, I thought I would take a new tack tonight. I am writing an epic poem called The Guitarist, a long poetic work scheduled to be performed (by me) publicly on 21st April. It’s work in progress at the moment.
Watching Sully Archer singing and playing guitar gave me a lot of inspiration; so I wrote copious notes about what I saw and what I heard as input to my new piece of creative writing. While I am working on this I will play Smelling Your Deceit on Soundcloud.
In a new development, for the first time tonight, Beth came on stage and sang with them. This was very good. I think she contributed something strongly good and likeable to the sounds of the band. A great voice; a lot of people will be excited to see her again with this band.
I saw Her Burden on 23rd December when they played at The Shed again with TWCW. I wrote:
Her Burden were, I was told, playing their first gig tonight. They sounded more like a band that had been going for years. Her Burden consists of: Joshua Jones – Lead vocals, Electric guitar, Luke Spencer – Electric guitar, Mathew White – Bass Guitar and Mathew Newton – Drums. They could not be that good on a first gig. I liked Joshua Jones, he reminded me of the lead singer of Green Day. Quite a stage presence. This band gave us rock that was full of emotion, energy and magnetism. [Music in Leicester]
How true that is, I am not sure because on the band’s Facebook page it states ‘Founded in 2014’; however minor details apart, tonight they gave us a good set.
This band is gaining recognition and they have been busy on Facebook since they started, recently having published a video on it – Her Burden Facebook.
They do some really good cover songs alongside their own work. The band’s lead singer Joshua Jones has a lot going for him: he can sing well and he has presence. The band kept the audience entertained with a set of appealing songs. Always good to hear a song by Green Day.
A band of enthusiastic musicians; playing with plenty of punch and then they brought on the brass section – trombone, trumpet and sax – well! Impressive!
And then I went to the Soundhouse.
I saw The Subways.
However much we try to clock up the big gigs and the major bands, it’s still easy to miss something important. I did however manage to get the headline set by The Subways – yes the actual Subways (not a tribute to them or a cover band.) This is the band with a tour of North America coming up and 267,859 likes on Facebook and 24,000 followers on Twitter. This is an English band that got going around 2000 and can be described as rock, pop, alternative, possibly indie, possibly punk, possibly pop-punk revival… and they are signed to Warner Bros. in the US and Cooking Vinyl and Infectious in the UK, among others. After Glastonbury they went on to play Reading and Leeds and John Peel played them on the radio. They got signed in 2004 and released their first album on 2005. There is lots more about them but it’s all on the Internet.
As one of the band members said “It’s going to get really hot and sweaty tonight.” It did. Some pretty good sounds were heard, even though I was at the back scribbling notes. This is a band with some very solid sounds, I noted. Their songs are full of beat and rhythm and the crowd went wild, as they should; they sang along with the choruses, they knew the songs and some of them might have seen the band when they played in Leicester before, at The Charlotte, around 2005, 2008 ish. Leicester band Shortwave Fade supported the Subways once; as did another our local bands Ashdowne. Sources state that The Subways played at The Charlotte in October 2006.
Tonight the Soundhouse was packed; I didn’t get near enough to the stage to take any photos.
Sunday 3rd April
Saturday 2nd April
Punk legends The Vibrators headlined the night at the Shed on their 40th Anniversary Tour with support from Budgie Smugglers, IVMK and The Docs.
What a great night that was! A packed house enjoyed a really set of bands and some music to go crazy for in one of the musical moments of the year so far.
IVMK opened the show. It seems that is not flavour of the month these days. So, tonight was an opportunity not to be missed for the punkers of Leicester and its surrounding areas. Many people had travelled a long way to be here tonight.
Punk is a genre that has had an immense influence on the development of rock music, including metal. IVMK (pronounced Ivy Mike) opened the show and their first song thrust into the room at a frenetic pace. As a band, IVMK sparkled with energy; the two singers penetrated the audience with their staccato vocals. This trio of musicians delivered a volcanic performance that sizzled with heat and brilliance. Powerful vocals combined with feverish string-work and adrenaline-fuelled drumming. It was a set that was thrilling.
The quartet that is The Docs played tonight without their usual vocalist but stand-in singer Mae Gillingham proved to be an able replacement, delivering bright and cheerful songs in a set that included many well-known and much-loved covers. It was a really good set that kept the party going.
The fun continued when The Budgie Smugglers too to the stage; a band that can be relied on to bring a smile to your face.
The four-piece delivered a smash hit set that reverberated with entertainment value.
With the lead singer using the bar top as an extension to the stage, people were in high spirits and relishing the show.
They punked-up several well-known songs including Simon and Garfunkle’s Mrs. Robinson.
Thoroughly enjoyable; just what you need on a damp evening in Leicester. These guys know how to really rock.
The headliners gave us a night to remember. The Vibrators were on tour; not just any tour by their 40th; and tonight they had come to our local live music destination.
And what’s more, a large crowd of people had come here to see them. This trio of musicians and singers created a moment in the musical life of Leicester.
The Shed has hosted many great bands over the years; some of them have come from all over the world to play here – from Los Angeles and Tokyo to Sydney. This is a place with a history. Tonight we saw one of the great punk legends of our time.
They gave us a set that throbbed with rhythms and compelling beats. Packed together on the floor, the crowd is pressed into the music. It was all rather marvellous; an intense experience that represented rock music in all its glory.
I was lucky enough to meet one of the Vibrators outside in the smoking area.
This truly was ‘one good night at The Shed.’
e.g. ” Early in 1977 the band supported IGGY POP (with DAVID BOWIE on keyboards) on a UK tour”
Meanwhile, over at the Cookie
The Cookie, 2nd April 2016
by Keith Jobey
After supporting Jaws at the Academy in December, Sheffield duo Nai Harvest spotted Nik Sharpe (the Cookie’s event manager) and told him that they’ve always wanted to play at the Cookie. Nik was equally keen to get them to play there. Fortunately, there was a spare matching slot in both their calendars and tonight’s event was born.
Ash Mammal were local support and openers. I haven’t seen them since January and they’ve been busy writing by the sound of it. Their set contained a whole load of new songs. Only Taste, Little Bird Bones and Freddie remaining from sets of old from what I recall. They had a bit of a crowd too. Are they starting to get a gig going following? New song Axeman was used to close the set which went down well as Ash Mammal delivered another fantastic show.
Brighton five-piece Abattoir Blues were the tour support. I hadn’t checked them out prior and hence they caught me a little off guard. As they started I was thinking they were a psyche band but it soon became obvious they were more than that. The songs were short and sharp and the singing was sung with attitude. Punk psyche? Anyway, it was good stuff and the crowd thought so too. After a few songs they picked up on their sound and the moshing began in earnest.
As wild and crazy crowds go, this was one of the wildest and craziest crowds the confines of the Cookies basement has ever hosted. As soon as set opener Sick On My Heart begun, the crowd, already in a moshing mood from Abattoir Blues, took it as a call to arms and didn’t stop throughout the whole set. It was surprising that they didn’t end up fully on the stage beside the band with the amount of movement that was going on. At the Academy gig, the band were cut a little short and didn’t get to finish with Hairball. No way was that going to happen tonight and the crowd knew it was coming. And with one last burst of adrenaline driven energy the floor erupted again. It was the end of the tour for the band and a great way for them to finish it. They summed up the night nicely when they tweeted after the show ‘Leicester that was scary wild!!!’ So true Leicester, you did well.