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‘It’s been a while…’
Oddly enough, the O2 Academy is the one venue I have been to this year above all others. Thus it was for me a special treat to see Demons of Ruby Mae at The Shed. I went to this venue for the very first time in 2002. For many years, it was the only venue I went on on an almost daily basis. Saturday 23rd November was, for me, an absolute pleasure. Jonny Gavin‘s band is one that I have followed since it started. He is a singer for whom I have the very highest regard. So many great, happy memories come back to me of Jonny work’s over the years, not just in Leicester, but also in Birmingham and other parts of the country. A previous band of his, that has made its mark on Leicester’s musical history, is one that Jonny hates me mentioning its name, but, in my forthcoming series on music history, it will be a name I will not be able to avoid.
Demons of Ruby Mae is a music act without parallel in the annals of our city’s musical past and remains so today. Tonight’s performance was breathtaking. It was also unusual because I did not write notes, as I usually do, believing that I would remember every second of it and would be able to remember all that needed to be said about. I did, however, take a couple of photos on my phone:
These reminded of the impression of Gavin on stage and his quite extraordinary singing voice. A voice that he nearly lost when he developed a problem with his vocal cords similar to that of Sir Elton John. Gavin fought his way back from that and has gone on to thrill and delight thousands of fans with his marvellous singing.
and Kevin Gaughan took some too on a proper camera:
Kevin has been taking photographs of gigs for years; many, many years. There was a time, long ago, when he used to write reviews but has abandoned this in recent times.
One other act that caught my attention, that night, was the singer Judith Ude. Blessed with a wonderful voice, her set was musically very unusual, blending hip-hop colours with vocal looping. At one point she appeared on stage with an illuminated Celtic harp. The Midland-based singer started her career in Manchester and has enjoyed quite a successful career since then.
26th November 2019
Jazz is another genre that draws me, these days. On Tuesday evenings I often attend the Regent Jazz concerts. I have been making a new website for regentjazz.com. More about this on my jazz page.
Friday 15th November 2019
I was delighted to see The Lids again. A band that I have liked for a long time. It had been a long time since last I saw them. As I wrote at the time, ‘There is a maturity about their work now that belies their years. No doubt about that.’ One of Leicester’s bands that I have credited with exceptional originality. I included them in my music review of the music of 2017. ‘It was a pleasure to see The Lids again,’ I said, adding ‘Last year this band had made quite an impact. This band has got what it takes…’ on 28th January, explaining later ‘There is a brightness about their music, a sparkling vitality, palpable energy that makes their songs compelling.’ Tonight I was transfixed and impressed what I hear at the O2. Supporting them was Barracuda, another band I like very much. I saw them, again at the O2, on 6th September. Writing up this gig, I stooped into my creative writing skills and threaded together words I had never used before. ‘… testosterone dripping, chest-thumping, swaggering arrogance.’ I loved it that much. Read my review about The Lids.
Saturday, 2nd of November. Another chance to see Earls again, this time at the O2 Academy, reminded of what an unusual and idiosyncratic act they are. Very talented. Very enjoyable.
Sunday 20th October. The start of a new open-mic night at my local hostelry The Old Horse saw me sitting in front of a log fire listening to the singers who had turned up. There I met Paul Roberts, the singer and songwriter whose work I admire. A few days before that I went to The Soundhouse for the well-established open-mic, hosted by the incomparable Rhett Barrow.
Thursday 3rd October was National Poetry Day. To celebrate it, I published my only poem about rock music. The Guitarist is about the rise of a rock star. It was based on several leading singers from the Leicester rock scene.
21st September 2019
At The Shed, I went to see Oceans Apart. It was really good to see those musicians I have known for many years. A superb performance from this iconic Leicester band. So many other musicians there too in the audience.
21st September 2019
Cosmopolitan Carnival. One of the well-established features of Leicester’s annual calendar of events. Now in its sixth year. There was the main stage at Jubilee Square. There I saw several acts I knew. The Tony Webster band was on at just after 13:00. Six of the Best gave us a great set of songs and tunes. There were many other great acts but, for me, the highlight of the afternoon was the performance by Harry Georgio & The Well Behaved Young Men. The festival also brought us the clock tower stage, the Humberstone Gate Youth Stage and a dance zone. It is very gratifying to see this annual event is still going strong.
Tuesday 3rd September
Another good night at Regent Jazz. This time with Tony Gershlick’s Jazz 24. Have you seen my other column which is about live jazz in Leicester?
Tuesday 30th July 2019
The page that I maintain on Acoustic and open-mic nights has been updated.
Also, please be aware that there is a whole-of-page listing of all gigs on our Gigs Guide page.
In may I am playing ‘catch up’ with my writing programme.
I am working on an article about the celebrated jazz drummer
Paul Dufour. He once played the drums in The Libertines, with Pete Doherty
I am writing an article about the early history of the Shed. Leicester’s longest-serving live music venue.
I am also writing a piece
about the history of The Regent Jazz Club.
That’s enough to be going on with.
17th May 2019
Open mic nights
7th May 2019
Rhett Barrow’s open mic night, at the Soundhouse, has always been a happy hunting ground for new musical talent. Well-established artists perform at these shows, on a regular basis. But, once in a while, someone new comes along who is remarkable. One of the joys of this job is spotting new musical talent. Singer Andrew Moran was the featured act at tonight’s show and that is primarily why I was there. I discovered Moran at the Shed, in 2018, and I, like many others that night, was impressed by his musical abilities. A young singer who is now emerging on the Leicester music scene, Moran is outstanding and extraordinary. I asked him how he had got into music. He told me that he had started when he was ten or eleven when he began to learn the guitar. He is now a student at the British Institute for Modern Music (alumni includes George Ezra.)
One of the benefits of being a music journalist is that you get to discover emerging talent. What stands out about Moran, is his beautifully crafted vocals. His singing reminds me of artists like Samuel Idwal, Ash Francis, Prash Gor and Reuben Wisner. I am not sure how many readers will remember those artists today but when they were active on the scene, they were some of the finest male singers in the city. In Moran’s vocals, I heard some of the qualities that had so enchanted audiences, back in 2016, when these artists were active, particular Wisner, whose abilities as a singer and songwriter were outstanding. Another singer who some might remember (for his exceptional ability at a young age) is Jack Kenworthy. There were people at the Soundhouse tonight who remember the early performances of Kenworthy and how everyone was stunned by the young man’s musical abilities.
Tonight Moran sang extremely well, delivering vocals with delicacy, superb control and backed by exquisite guitar work. He chose, tonight, to give us a set of covers but they were well-chosen songs that suited his voice. He made the songs his own. He has the ability to deliver songs with a sensitivity that charms his audience and there is a sweetness in his vocal style that is captivating.
As I commented to a friend, there are people who sing and there are singers. There is no shortage of competent vocalists in this city but finding one who is an exceptional artist is a rarity. Using the voice, as a musical instrument, is something that Moran knows about and, to my way of thinking, that places him in the league along with Idwal, Wisner and others who have gone down that path before him. Don’t be mislead by his youthfulness; there is a maturity in his work that belies his tender years. Moran is without a doubt an artist who has a promising future ahead of him.
2nd May 2019
26th April 2019
Ohana and Chambers at the Soundhouse
with We Be Beasts and Semper Vera.
I headed to the Soundhouse tonight to see Ohana. And, of course, Chambers. Favourites of mine on the local band scene. Semper Vera opened the show. They are from Witney, in Oxfordshire. A trio of musicians playing alternative rock. They were good. They came up with some agreeably different. Having started in March 2018, they said they had a fantastic night at the Soundhouse. They put a lot of energy and commitment into their songs, which made their mark on the audience.
A local band I had seen before. We Be Beasts. I remember seeing them at The Shed in October last year and shortly before that, at Oxjam festival. I remembered the fulsome voice of their lead singer, Nick Brooker and recognised the drummer, Dan Wright. I liked the twangy guitar-lines. Plenty of punchy sounds and a relentlessly progressing beat. Lots of lovely indie sounds to keep us suitably impressed. I seem to remember them saying that they have recorded some singles, so must keep an eye out for them.
Ohana! What more can I say? That I have not already said. Oh boy! Do I like this band, or what? Yeah, mun. I love the way they throw themselves in their performance. Throwing themselves into positions as they play their guitars. They don’t hold back. They go for it.
In the background, I saw Jack Brooks pounding away on the drums like an Olympic athlete. Big, bold beats and bouncing rhythms, highlighted by the soaring vocals of Luke. A band with a passion. Powerful and full of impact. The music of Ohana.
Chambers. These musicians have so much to offer. They really know how to rock. Deeply rooted in rock, they have got it figured out. They are phenomenal. If you want to sample their music check them out on Bandcamp.
A pretty good night out, I’d say. It’s what the live music experience is all about.
30th April 2019
Sad news came in about the death of Tony Knott. A singer and musician I knew personally and wrote about. He will be very missed.
25th April 2019
BBC introducing at The Shed
BBC Introducing has long played an important part in discovering, then promoting, the bands and singers of Leicester. And, of course, the rest of the Midlands. It was very rewarding that, tonight, recording company HQ played host to a show featuring local artists who had been on the BBC Introducing programmes. A rich line-up of Leicester musical talent was on offer at The Shed. Some I had seen before and have known well from previous performances, such as Harri Giorgio, Curtis Clacey and Matthew R. The show was promoted by HQ Familia through Yasin El Ashrafi. Also in the house tonight, Dean Jackson, arguably one of the most important music broadcasters in the Midlands. Dean hosts The Beat programme.
Matthew R is a singer I have known for many years. An artist who loves R and B, which he brings to life with charm and passion. As far as I know, I last saw Matthew at the Cosmopolitan festival in August 2018.
Morgan Munro was from Leicester but now lives in London. Her songs, accompanied by a guitarist, were captivating and she had an astounding voice.
Mae Florence I remembered from when she was the vocalist with the legendary punk band The Docs.
Harri Giorgio is someone I have seen for many years. A singer with a lot of style and personality, his set tonight was highly entertaining.
Curtis Clacey is one Leicester singer who has enjoyed considerable success, since the early days of his career. I remember 2013 in Abbey Park when I write, ‘A massive crowd at Abbey Park hears rising boy band stars The Vamps with support acts from Leicester’s Curtis Clacey and Jonezy.’
It was an enjoyable evening of live music brought to is by talented and agreeable artists.
Saturday 20th April 2019
Oceans Apart at the O2
with Finches of Attica and We Give In
The Scholar Bar at the Leicester O2 Academy. I am here to see bands I like and know well. And a lot of people I like and know well. Musicians and their friends. It is a fine warm evening; more like summer than spring. Finches of Attica play first. Powerful. Strongly pulsating. Great vocals. Compulsive beats. Songs with impact and bite. Exhilarating.
We Give In, with lead singer Jazz Hunt, deliver melodic and pop-punk. Lashings of powerful rhythms. Immediate impact. No end of energy. Songs that rocketed along. Punchy songs. Engaging sounds. They smashed it.
Oceans Apart. Spectacular open with lights and sounds. They always were good at making an entrance. The whole set is theatrically staged. All part of the total experience; the one you get only from live music. A new five-piece rock band from Leicester.
A set of songs that speak to us. The voice of experience. The vice of Ash Ingram. Memorable. A voice that has character, all of his own. Instantly recognisable. Strong on melody, backed by beats that move the music along. A stage performance full of passion and energy. Altogether, a musical experience of considerable quality. These are musicians with music in their blood. They know what rock is all about. They have been rockin’ us for years. Musically, they have moved with the times. Not a group of artists who want to stand still. The boys in the band: Ash Ingram singer, Jordan Harrold lead guitar, Leon Harrold bass, Kyle Harrold rhythm guitar and Kyle Palmer drums.
It was good to see the lads from the old Formal Warning, still active in the music business. Ash, Kyle and Leon. Nice to see Jamie Borland on the sound and lights desk.
Tuesday 16th April 2019
Most open-mic evenings at Rhett Barrow’s open-mic night at the soundhouse are good. Some provide exceptional artists. Tonight was one such occasion. It was a great pleasure to see a young, up-and-coming singer that I had not seen for some time.
Andrew Moran. A fine voice. Good guitar playing. He has a feature artist slot coming up at the Soundhouse, on 7th May. Not be missed. Also tonight, a much younger singer Harrison Gent, performed with the confidence and panache of an adult, professional singer. Remarkable. The act I had come to see, tonight, was Tony Alles.
In my opinion, one of the finest blues guitarists and singers in Leicester.
Read my reports from the Regent Jazz Club.
Saturday 30th March 2019
The Whiskey Rebellion at the Shed
with Seas of Mirth, Not My Good Arm, Inlak’esh and Homeless Shakespeare and others.
It was promoted as Rebel Fest.
What a good night out! Good music. Good friends. It’s what it’s all about.
In the Vault, Joe Doyle and his Homeless Shakespeareans played an assortment of tunes including some of the gyp hop for which they are noted. It was all rather wonderful.
Not My Good Arm is a band I have been following for years. Many, many years. The vocals of Tom Haywood, the trombone of Geoff Davison, the trumpet of Adam Davison, all adding up to a hugely enjoyable offering of catchy rhythms and engaging beats. Music you can dance to. Not that I did. But then…
The Whiskey Rebellion was the headline act of the evening. Absolutely lovely. Much dancing on the floor to a set of very infectious rhythms. Great tunes. Ear-pleasing songs.
Inlak’esh. Extraordinary. Charming. Compelling. They came with their own light show. Hyper-energetic metal grooves played acoustically, this group from Milton Keynes was not just unusual, they were unique.
What made it an extra special night for me was meeting so many musicians, both old and new, ones I have known for a long time and ones I am not getting to know.
Two floors of good music. Quite reasonable prices at the bar. Not much to get in. What is not to like about a night at The Shed?
Before it disappears; what’s what we said in the preview:
Leicester’s own gipsy-folk bandits The Whiskey Rebellion are back in town, hosting a night of high-octane music with a rag-tag gathering of some of the best bands on the circuit. Teaming up with the indomitable pirate sea-shanty merchants Seas Of Mirth, and the hyper-energetic acoustic metalheads Inlak’esh, this night will feature a whopping six bands spread across two jam-packed stages, making this one event you literally cannot afford to miss. Also on the bill are local favourites Homeless Shakespeare & The Pigeon Collective, Not My Good Arm, and Hatstand.
Jazz night at the Regent
26th March 2019. I was at Regent Jazz to see the band The Sunday Painters. Read my review.
I enjoy all kinds of music. A regular attendee at Regent Jazz, I often write about the concerts I see there on my Jazz Page. Burt Bacharach. Duke Ellington. Richard Rodgers. So much to choose from
Bringing back the days of pop-punk
Friday 15th March 2019
It was Friday. It was The Shed. On the bill, three bands intent on a pop-punk revival, with Green Haze, One Eighty-Two and Her Burden.
Tonight’s show opened with Her Burden, a band from Leicester devoted to rock, punk rock and pop-rock. Delicious flavours. They plied their audience with lashings of vitality. Mainly their own songs. And how good they were, too. Born and raised in Leicestershire, the four members of the band were led by Joshua Jones. We have been enjoying them since 2015. Good songs, ear-pleasing melodies and amazing guitar-playing, this is a band that has not failed to please.
The second band was One Eighty Two, a Welsh tribute to the wonderful music of Blink 182. Before I left for the show, I dusted off my old CDs, the ones I started to collect when I got into rock music in the early noughties. Songs came flooding back from bands such as Green Day, Sum 41, Alien Ant Farm, Linkin Park and, of course, those legends Blink 182. Up there on the stage of the Shed, I was reminded of gigs long gone, on that stage, with the music of the golden age of punk-pop and nu-rock. Even that unforgettable night when one of the biggest bands from the USA came over here and played in that very room. Many will have forgotten the Los Angeles alternative metal, hard rock and nu-metal gods whose memory is eternally etched into my psyche. Tonight, however, we were celebrating other awesome songs. Not least those of Dookie, Green Day’s third studio album of 1994. They brought back the look and the sounds of that brought California to us back in the 1990s. I saw Green Day live at the Reading festival in 2001. Sadly not, Blink 182; they were there the previous year and several appearances since. Anyway, I did get to see Queens of the Stone Age, Marylyn Manson, Staind, Iggy Pop, OPM, System of a Down, Cooper Temple Clause, and an awful lot more besides. I digress.
One Eighty Two. Strong vocals from the lead singer and songs presented with passion and power. Like me, the room was full of people revisiting their past. Even some who weren’t around at the time but their parents liked it.
The big draw tonight was the music of Green Day, brought to us by Green Haze, the band launched in 2012 in Cardiff to celebrate the music of the world-famous rock from the vocals of Billie Joe Armstrong and bassist Mike Dirnt.
Green Haze brought their UK tour to the Shed, the tour that celebrated Dookie and Enema of the State albums, in full. Now. That was a concert not to be missed. The full room showed that there were many, here in Leicester, who made sure they did not miss it. It was all about the music, the songs, the infectious beats, the memorable tunes. Played with vigour and commitment by a fine tribute to the great band.
Big Band. Big sounds
Friday 22nd February 2019
Whenever I get the chance, I always go to see the University of Leicester Big Band. To my mind, this is one of the most rewarded live music experiences, offered by Leicester’s music scene. The band performed tonight at The Marquis Wellington, in London Road. And what a performance it was. This is a very big band. Usually, there are twenty musicians or more. Great songs. Fantastic tunes. Good vocalists.
This is a musical experience of high quality. Most of those playing tonight were students at the University. They sounded like a proper professional band. Which they are, in many ways. The band has performed at a number of major music festivals, both in this country and abroad and even at the Royal Albert Hall. The Big Band is one of our city’s great music assets.
Dvorak in G major
at Saint Philips
16th February 2019
I enjoy all kinds of music. Tonight I was at a concert given by Leicestershire Sinfonia. The orchestra performed Symphony No 8 in G major by Antonin Dvorák, the Czech composer (1840 – 1904). Composed in 1889 in Bohemia (yes, it’s an actual place.) Inspired by folk music, it was cheerful and full of ear-pleasing rhapsodies. Always good to go to something different. Tonight’s programme also included Dvovák’s Serenade for Wind and the Oberon overture of Carl Weber. The concert was given, at St. Philip’s Church, Evington, in aid of the charity One Roof Leicester to raise funds for their Winter Night Shelter for rough sleepers.
Friday 15th February 2019
Headlining tonight’s gig was Leicester punk band, Try Subversion.
Only one other band played, the opener My Mate Dave. They played rock and roll covers. Fast and furious. Well known songs delivered with considerable vigour It was just for fun. Can’t argue with that.
I saw try subversion at the Soundhouse when they were on the bill with Ming City Rockers. Try Subversion, as their name suggests, have a political agenda. But then, so does punk, generally.
This is what was said about the band, when they performed in May 2017:
Yet another Stefan on vocals (Stefan Alan) who attacked the microphone with vitriol, spitting venom, he enthralled and encapsulated the sound, layering quality wordsmithery to what could only be described as ‘authentic’ punk rock but with an intelligence that almost betrayed its simplicity. Tekno Ju the bassist and backing vocalist challenges Alan every step of the way, playing bass lines that match the ferocity of lyrics but firmness that keeps the guitarist (Harston Puncture) in errant check. [Laurence Scrivener, Music in Leicester magazine.]
No shortage of passion. Lot’s of energy and commitment. It was altogether a throat-grabbing experience.
at Duffy’s bar
7th February 2019
There are many reasons why I go to gigs. One of them is to see a band that I really like. Tonight, my presence at Duffy’s bar was to see a band that I have not seen for a long time but which I have always liked. A lot. Tonight’s show was put on my Jamin Records. The label was born, as they say on their website, ‘ out of two of our main passions: our love of music and our desire to help people.’ Excellent virtues. Find them on Facebook.
The evening opened with a performance from solo singer Kait Barker-Smith. The singer and songwriter has been going since 2011. Find out more about her on Facebook.
The first band had come from Nottingham. The Half Eight. More of them in a moment.
Chasing Deer is a band I have been following for many years. I saw Chasing Deer several times in 2015. In my view, the band’s lead singer Rob Hodkinson is one of the best vocalists I know of in a Midlands Band. A fine voice which he uses with supreme mastery. Any band that delivers their own, well-written tunes, first-rate instrumental playing and superb vocals, is one that deserves an accolade.
On 25th June 2015, I was at The Shed. I wrote ‘One of the touring bands that came to Leicester many times this year, they are a favourite of mine…’
Back then they were from Leamington Spa. Now they are in London.
On 26th October 2015, I went to a new venue, in Leicester, called The Jukebox. They were there and I described their set as ‘stimulating.’ They were there to audition for the Glastonbudget festival. I added ‘There are not many bands from outside Leicester that attract a loyal following but this is one that is steadily attracting interest, having played here quite a few times this year. the band had already developed a large and loyal fan base in the home area and a large group of them had travelled to Leicester tonight to support the band’s audition for Glastonbudget. We saw them when they played at Pi Bar on 23rd July’
Chasing Deer played at Jonezy’s gig held at The Shed. In my review of that night, I said ‘Tonight also saw sets by the Midlands band Chasing Deer, one that we have written about several times during their frequent visits to Leicester stages. Leicester’s newest young band Kynch put on a terrific set and they were followed by another of the great young bands of Leicester, Flight15. ‘ That was a memorable gig. See my review, Music in Leicester magazine.
‘So what makes this band so popular?’, I said, ‘Two things. Firstly, they are excellent musicians and Rob Hodkinson is a particularly fine lead vocalist. Secondly, the band plays popular songs, both their own and the covers that they play including, for example, Bastille’s Pompeii. Their setlist is one that appeals to a wide cross-section of music-lovers. What I also like about them is their professional image; they play the part of a properly turned-out group and on stage, you can easily see that all five of them enjoy making music.’ Music in Leicester.
I was there at the Glastonbudget festival in 2016 and saw them on stage.
It was a festival-quality performance. A top-flight set and a dazzling part of the programme.
Chasing Deer have released an album, available both on Vinyl and CD. Twelve excellent tracks.
The Half Eight were playing for the first time in Leicester, tonight. Having started in 2014, they had not had the chance, before now, to delight Leicester with their songs. Three very good singers. They were what I call a ‘singing band’, just like Chasing Deer. I rate singing bands higher than those who comprise only a lead singer and a banding group.
The Half Eight was good. In fact, I would raise that to very good. If not, excellent. Good tunes, good stage presence, there was nothing about their music and how they delivered it that I did not like. It is not that often that I see a band from outside of Leicester and commit to seeing them again straight away. Three fine vocalists with very appealing voices. A smashing sense of what makes a song. These guys will come back to Leicester soon, I hope, and I, for one, will be first in line for their shows.
This evening’s show was headlined by Rosetta Fire. Not a band I had seen before. They were from Warwick and they started in 2009. They were good. Not perhaps quite to my personal taste but I know a good band when I see one. The band describes its style in this way ‘ unique brand of pop melodies, 40s jazz-inspired hooks and folk-rock vibes’ Chasing Deer has supported them on tour. During February the two bands went on a tour that took in King’s Heath, Coventry, Islington and tonight at Leicester.
Festivals in 2019
I have made a start on a page that lists all music festivals I can find anything about in Leicester and Leicestershire, this year.
Switchdown and Handwaxx
at The Soundhouse
1st February 2019
Independent Venue Week was an added attraction tonight. In the UK, the IVW celebration ran from 28th January to 3rd February. The week-long celebration of live music draws attention to the venue in which many new music acts begin their lives. The Soundhouse is one of Leicester’s foremost venues and I was there on the night it opened. Still going strong, it has played host to many bands from the local area and nationally. And internationally. It provides an intimate environment in which fans can get close to the bands and artists on the stage. That counts for a great deal. It gives music-lovers an experience they cannot download.
Tonight’s programme of bands was very definitely on my radar. Earls. One of the most exciting acts to have emerged from Leicester in recent years. Kynch. An ‘honorary’ Leicester band based in Nottingham but so well known around here that they deserve our tag. Also on the line-up, a Leicester band with a long back-catalogue, appearing now under their new moniker – Switchdown. Playing in Leicester for the first time and band from Birmingham. So. A great night of music. Some old. Something new. Discovery. Nostalgia.
Handwaxx, from Birmingham, was in Leicester for the first time tonight. They drew a positive response from the room; one that suggests to me that they will be back. Several people commented to me about how good they were. Three musicians offering a selection of alternative, indie songs with a hint of psychedelia. If you want to check their sounds, they have some tracks on Soundcloud.
Switchdown. I have written about them recently, after seeing them at The Cookie on 18th January. These guys are good; their music is epic. I love to watch this band. Seeing them perform the music they play is exciting. They live the songs. They project the feel of what they are doing. They do not hold back. They know how to write a good song and they know how to put across. The musicians of Switchdown used to be in the well-known band Beneath The Lights.
Some bands that are from out-of-town, so to speak, play regularly in Leicester, such that, I regard them as being ‘honorary Leicester bands.’ Kynch is a band from Nottingham, and when playing in Leicester, I turn up to see them. Kynch is amazing. The band’s lead singer – Jack – has real rockstar quality. Presence. Energy.
Kynch has a new recording. Watch the band’s page on Facebook for its release.
One band that I have followed, pretty much since they started is Earls. I say band. In fact, there are two of them. But, they deliver as much from two musicians as a whole band does. One thing that stands out, for me, is their sense of timing. Razor-sharp. A real sense of hitting the right notes at the right time. That sense of timing is magical. They have got it so right. What they give us is theatre. Musical theatre. It’s a level of performance that few others can achieve. You can tell from the reaction of the audience that people are enthralled by what they hear. And see. Despite already having a substantial back-catalogue of songs, they are still producing new stuff. When they first started playing, not that many people turned up to see them. Now, almost every appearance draws a contingent of loyal followers.
Tonight show was worth getting out of bed for.
Son of Glenn
Looking back (something I always do, as you know), I found that I saw them on 19th July 2013. They played at The Soundhouse. And I said, “Son of Glenn delivered an impressive set and their work has grown and developed since they launched in early 2011.”
Before that, on 16th July 2013, I saw them, at the Soundhouse, and wrote: ‘The main attraction of the night was Son of Glenn. Normally a four-piece, tonight three of them were on stage but the band’s music offering was still 100% as good as always. Their songs were melodic, full of ear-pleasing sounds, lead by the vocals of Josh Oakley. I have followed this band for a long time and what I heard tonight represents an impressive level of steady development. They have come a long way since they started and now rightly deserve to be recognised as one of Leicester ’s outstanding young bands. ‘ [From Review of Music on Music in Leicester magazine.]
This is a band that has a CD in the Catalogue of Leicester Music [L107].
I wrote about the release and put: ‘I really like Son of Glenn; I think they have come a long way since they started and their latest CD shows just how much this band can achieve. Josh Oakley’s vocals are full of character and style and with backing from Jack Stowell – Bass/Vocals and Sam Lowe – Guitar/Vocals, the songs are very agreeable. I like the instrumentals and the melodies, the dynamics of the songs and it all comes together in a set of impressively good musical tracks. There is real resonance in their songs: 1. Say you don’t want to believe and 2. Glenn the thief. Both of which like I liked equally. This is a good CD and, if you can get a copy from them, you should.’
14th December 2018
The Soundhouse for Glastonbudget with Finches of Attica and Traps.
It’s good to keep up with the Glastonbudget festival auditions.
Tonight’s audition show was opened by singer Ellé Robertson. She put in a good performance. Enjoyable songs. A strong voice. Well sung numbers. Much appreciated by the audience.
Missing Mile. A four-piece group with three vocalists. They played at the 2018 Glastonbudget Festival. And we saw them at the 2016 Western Park festival. Earlier in the same year, we reported on their appearance at the Noel Arms in Melton Mowbray. [Music in Leicester] Tonight they were on good form with their offering of Americana-inspired tunes.
And now for something completely different. Something tribal. G and the Sound Tribe gave us a healthy dose of their hip-hop inspired funk. Tunes laden with reggae rhythms. Vibes that had people dancing. Good vocals and plenty of action on stage. Well-crafted songs presented by two vocalists. They created a party atmosphere. What’s not to like?
Finches of Attica. A band I have seen many times before. In fact, we reviewed them on 16th November [Music in Leicester] One of Leicester’s most exciting bands, they certainly know how to rock out and their lead singer Tom Howarth – is an exhilarating performer. Big, compelling sounds. Engaging rhythms. Solid songs. Good on stage. A formula that works really well. The band’s set ending with their remarkable rendition of House of the Rising Sun. They played their way. Nailed it. I like their version more than the one by The Animals (1964). Although Eric Burdon was pretty good in that. Someone once described it as “the first folk-rock hit.” Under the hands of Finches, it is a hard rock hit, in my view.
The finale was given by Leicester’s Traps. So much has been said before about this band, it’s hard to know where to begin. Led by singer Jamie Williams, this is a band that has brought many moments of excitement to gigs and festivals, since they began. The band has performed at the Glastonbudget festival before. I remember seeing them at the O2 in 2017 when they supported Milburn. [Music in Leicester] A top-flight band. Their mix of rock, rhythm, melody and ear-licking harmonies is what makes them so. The great thing about Glastonbudget is that you get the best tribute bands and the best local acts. All in one great weekend package. So much to choose from. And when Traps takes to the stage they get a big tent to play in. so many people want to see them. A truly festival band.
11th December 2018
I went to the Soundhouse. I had been in town at a party for writers so I thought it would be good to catch a bit of music afterwards. The headline act was Paul Roberts, a local singer who I have seen quite a few times before. His set was very good and some other artists made guest appearances with him. He has been around for some time but, as others said that night, he has come on well.
It was also good to see Sam Beach, another singer I have seen before and Steve Shuter, the beatboxer. Steve’s abilities to make music with just is throat, mouth and lips is quite extraordinary.
Another singer, who I had not seen before, who gave an impressive performance was Grace Harrhy.
A very good voice and she used it extremely well. Passionate and emphatic. Well worth seeing again.
The thing about the open-mic night on Tuesday is that there is always something worth seeing. Rhett Barrow does a good job as compère of the night.
7th December 2018
Kasabian. Often referred to as the best-known Leicester band. Like other famous groups has its very own Tribute Act. Not from Leicester. Based in Hull. This is a band I have seen before. When I heard they would be playing in Leicester, I resolved to see them. So. It was off into town to a bar called Hogarths. I was going to say I had not been there before. But, in fact, I have. Last time I went to it it was called The Squares. In 2007 I went to this building to see a band called Skam Hash but then it was called The Alchemist. It has changed quite a lot since I was there last. But I remember it as being a very large place. I wrote, at the time, ‘The memorable thing about the venue was that the stage was about ten feet off the ground floor on a balcony that had a gate underneath it leading to a back seating area. There was a balcony around the room from which you could look down on the bands.’ Today, the stage is at ground floor level. There was only one band – Kazabian. A band so good at playing Kasabian songs that the said band likes them. Well. They were good. The tribute band that is. I recognised quite a few of the songs. Clubfoot. One of my favourites. Well worth tracking into town for, I thought.
4th December 2018
Tuesday evenings. I often go to Jazz at The Regent. If you share my enthusiasm for this genre of music, read my page about Jazz concerts in Leicester.
Work gets underway with the new Leicester gigs and events calendar.
My latest record reviews article is up now.
1st December 2018
Saturday. It was one of those nights. Too much going on. Any number of gigs I could have gone to. You could say I was spoilt for choice. But then so were the music fans of Leicester. My problem was – I could only go to one of them. In the end, the historian in me won. I went to The Donkey to see Crazyhead. Again. It has been a long time since I was last at The Donkey – a live music venue since 2005. It hadn’t changed much, as far as I could see.
I guess that going to the Donkey was partly because I am writing about the history of music in Leicester. Part of that history was about the bands that rose to prominence in the 1980s. Some of which are now back on our stages playing for many still-loyal fans. I went to see them when they played in 2017.
Crazyhead formed in 1986. Several well-known musicians and played with the band. As I said in my 2017 article ‘The band was joined occasionally by the likes of Gaz Birtles, John Barrow, (Saxophonists) and Tony Robinson (Trumpet.)’ Not to forget Jesus Jones.
Other bands that are part of this grouping include Gaye Bikers on Acid, Swamp Delta, Diesel Park West, Cornershop and probably a few others. The musical style associated with Crazyhead includes Iggy Pop, Pop Will Eat Itself, The Wonder Stuff, The Ramones, The Stooges, Captain Beefheart, Prolapse, Chrome Molly… tribes of Anglo Saxons and Visigoths.
After a support slot from Dreams of Carnage. A band from Leicester. They gave us an aperitif of punk, garage, rockabilly, all suitably rough and agreeably raw. Crazyhead took to the stage. During the support band, the room had been full. It now got even fuller. A rather peculiar collection of characters, I thought, as I studied them. Clearly, many of them had been fans of this band since they started. I was not one of them. For one thing, I did not get into the pop/rock music scene until after the start of the noughties. In the mid- to late – eighties I was still listening to the music of Brahms, Beethoven, Berlioz and Bruckner. I had no idea of what was happening in Leicester because I hardly ever went into the city. In those days it was a foreboding place into which genteel countryfolk feared to venture. Especially at night.
What I liked about Crazyhead was that it was a singing band. Ian Anderson, the lead singer, was supported, vocally, by two of the other musicians. Their songs had plenty of rhythm and strong breaks. As I watched them on stage I figured that many of those in the audience would be long-time fans; they were dancing and bouncing to the beats.
Content from this page is moved into an archive, from time to time, in order to prevent the page from becoming too long.
29th November 2018
I was at The Soundhouse to see DMU bands
Always good to see what the students are up to. Also.
I start work on an article about the History of Music in Leicester. This will cover the period 2007 to 2017. It surveys the bands that made decade a golden age.
23rd November 2018
I was at the Soundhouse for the
Glastonbudget 2019 auditions
12th November 2018
3rd November 2018
Duffy’s Bar with Poetman, Carlos Stein and Longtooth & Wasterman.
Sometimes, you have to go to a gig which is different; out of the ordinary. A gig that stands out because it is not the same as the others. Tonight’s show at Duffy’s Bar ticked all the boxes for being that sort of event.
Poetman is different. If you have not seen Poetman before, you have not seen anything that is really different. The comedian-rapper stands at the front looping vocal sounds and pre-recording tracks while rapping his highly humorous lyrics. His act is very amusing. But it’s the way he delivers it that catches the vibe. Not the kind of rapping you would get from a serious hip-hop act. At times, he’s taking the piss out of rappers, especially when it comes to Kanye West.
Another Leicester act that is not easy to forget is Carlos Stein. He is one of the great characters of the local music scene. Appearing tonight under the new moniker of ‘Citizen Stein’, many in the audience remembered him when he was ‘Lord of the Loops.’ He sits on a chair playing the guitar, from which he feeds chords into his looping device. For some songs he played the harmonica, choosing some of several that he had ready in his armoury of instruments. In effect, he becomes a one-man-band. What he hear, very often, is the sounds of a group of musicians playing together.
Stein is a performer who is dedicated to entertaining his audience. Many of his songs have a message, either what he has to say about people or situations or biting satires on modern life. That is something he shares in common with Poetman. Character, personality, wit. Stein’s new song ‘Billionaires‘ celebrates the kind of biting social commentary that he started with his earlier iconic number ‘Big Fat Bankers.’ Not your average musical act.
The duo known as Longtooth & Wasterman painted their faces for their performance. Greg Semple I have known for many years. His contribution to the musical life of Leicester has been remarkable. And yet, for all the years I have known him, I cannot remember ever seeing him as part of a rap duo. Well, the pair of them danced around the stage to some very banging beats. A very lively performance that blended punk and grunge. It was an energetic act that went down a treat with the audience. One of the songs they did remind me of Alexei Sayle’s number ‘Ullo John! Got a new motor?’ You know the one – “I keep tropical fish. In me underpants.” Ah Well. A long time ago. 1982 to 1984. But some of their songs did have a similar vibe. So. Well done. Greg Semple and Karl Traae. Different and guaranteed to put a smile on your face.
30th October 2018
Arguably one of the best concerts this year
An evening at Regent Jazz with the Gypsy jazz tunes of Swing-Gitan was sensational.
27th October 2018
with Earls, We Give In, Timmas and Barracuda.
Tonight’s gig was presented as a ‘Halloween Special.’ That did not interest me; I am too old for such things. The venue had been decorated with a variety of materials including spider’s webs and many of those who attended arrived in fancy dress, several of them with their faces painted, including some of the artists. It was all ritually iconographic, as is also the case with the Santas, Reindeer and decorated pine trees associated with the mid-winter festival once called ‘Christmas.’ The word ‘humbug’ comes to mind.
The duo known as Earls began the show, though tonight, they had re-named themselves as GEARLS. Anthony and George had taken to drag for their performance. Anthony wore a very short dress and George, a blond wig. This is the first time ever that I have seen a pair of fishnet tights disappear into a pair of Doc Marten’s boots. It was a metaphor that had a certain resonance, given the nature of their act. Earls began their set with their song I’m a man, in which the wig-wearing Anthony sang about masculinity in his delightfully deep voice. Appropriately enough, they later sang a song about boys in which they use the refrain ‘…the boys are orl right.’ Fabulous.
Despite the contradictory appearance, it was still the same lad’s grunge that we have come to know and love. In fact, there was a point at which I thought their performance was a little more polished than usual. Quickly hoping that it would not become too polished. That would not be becoming for Leicester’s best Skum punk band. Members of the audience formed the usual mosh pit during the songs. During the singing of We Are Skum, Anthony’s wig found its way into the audience while he remained on stage.
As I watched, some of the lyrics reminded me of what I had been writing recently about youth culture in chapter two of my novel The Trench. I won’t bore you with it now, but several passages from their lyrics were, I thought, spot on. It was all delightfully bonkers. The pair ended their set with their hymn to wanting to get drunk and wanting to get laid. Something tells me I was not the only one who absolutely loved this whole set. Whilst reading their blurb on Facebook my eye caught the phrase ‘toxic masculinity.’ Wonderful. I must use that in The Streets of London.
When the next band took to the stage, I recognised the lead singer. Jazz. He works at The Shed. I felt sure I had seen these guys before. It was certainly a busy night at the venue. What I liked about We Give In was the sound – punchy, fast, engaging, the enticing rhythms of grunge and pop punk. Songs with a fury all of their own. Jazz certain puts out strong vocals. The band plied the room with some primaeval beats. No wonder the crowd gave them their enthusiastic support.
Several people suggested I should go upstairs and see Cud. Well. They got me interested. So I did. Cud. A band from Leeds. Britpop. Clearly, a band that has been around for a long time. Well, when I got back I headed for Wikipedia. Formed in 1987, they broke up and reformed. That was in 2006. Now they are playing on the main stage of the Shed. Not the first time that a band has played here that has an entry in Wikipedia. But it is significant. Well, a fair few people gathered at the venue to support the band they clearly knew and loved. They sang a song called Hey! Wire from 1990. It was a long set – about an hour and forty minutes. With their back-catalogue, they were not short of songs. They had the whole crowd bouncing with their infectious rhythms and ear-licking beats. Their support band was Jack Adaptor, from London. I was downstairs at the time, so missed them.
Timmas is a Leicester band (technically a duo) that I have seen many times before. Tim Baker (vocals and guitar) and Tom Carnell (vocals and drums) always make enough volume of sound you would think they were a full band. They began tonight’s set, as always, with their own version of Feeling Good. When I saw them, earlier this month, at the DMU Music Society night at Firebug, I said their performance was ‘sensational.’ Adding, ‘Tim Baker’s voice blistered with incandescent energy.’ Once again they did it. Once again, the crowd erupted into volcanic dancing. It was a lot of fun; despite this, I have to say Timmas is a serious band. Seriously good. Not just dancing but also crowd surfing too place – with an inflatable airbed. It was all about the experience – you just had to be there to get that. The band. The music. The audience. The songs bring the audience alive and the audience brings the music alive. Even from a distance, I could feel it.
The headline band. Barracuda. Having reviewed bands in Leicester for years (many, many years) I have seen quite a few young bands make it. Too many to mention at this point. I think they have been around since 2017. I certainly remember seeing them playing down here in April. They very kindly got in touch to tell me about themselves. They mentioned that they had played at the Western Park Festival in 2017.
Bryan Rhys-Crisp is the singer, songwriter and guitarist of the group. Toby Newton is the bassist. The drummer is Billy Kenney. Together they have put together a band that has attracted a sizeable following, plays at ‘sold-out’ shows and is first among equals with The Lids, Kynch, Smack Jack, Aztec Temples, Event Horizon and several other contemporary bands from Leicester that are making the scene good these days. These three young musicians are not short of talent. I could reel off a long list of local bands that were, in days gone by, as exciting as this group is. Bryan is someone worth watching – to see just how convincingly star-quality his performance can be. When I next write about the young bands of Leicester, the name Barracuda will be on the page.
All in all, a very good night at The Shed. Well worth going out for.
26th October 2018
Trevor goes on an adventure. Well. For me going out of town is an adventure. An expedition. A journey into the back of beyond. I had been invited to a concert, in aid of a cancer charity, to hear the KGB Jazz Band. Not only one of my favourite jazz bands but also its leader singer Gemma Laken is an artist I particularly admire. Countesthorpe. Not sure if I had ever been there before. Two bus journies and a very long walk later I arrived at the ‘venue’ – a building I incorrectly thought of as an old people’s home. In fact, a sheltered housing project. Incidentally, the person who invited me was Brian Spiers. Some of the older readers might remember that he fronted a tribute band called Iz Iggy, a tribute to Iggy Pop. Very enjoyable night of excellent music. A nightmarish journey into the unknown but – in the end – well worth the effort.
Great American songs
I had a very enjoyable night at Regent Jazz listening to the Great American Songbook concert presented by Mike Kemp and his band. Read about this on my column about Jazz in Leicester.
19th October 2018
Oxjam report has been published.
It might have been a long day for us; it might be a long report. But.
12th October 2018
There are some artists who I would not willingly miss. One of Leicestershire’s longest-running solo acts is one of them. Steve Faulkner is a singer I have known for years. Many, many years. Tonight I went to see one of his epic performances at Parcel Yard – the bar next to the railway station.
I was glad to see him again. His previous performances in Leicester are part of my musical archive and, I guess, of many other people as well. I discovered him long ago, singing with his band in a bar called The Half-time Orange. That was in 2009. Since then I have followed his career with considerable interest and enthusiasm. Tonight, Steve’s set lasted from 17:30 to 19:00. Not the longest non-stop performance I have seen him do, by any means. There are few solo artists around here who can sing continuously for two hours. Steve’s set included many memorable rock and pop songs. he even sang the one cover for which he has become justifiably famous – Billie Jean. If you hear Faulkner’s version of this one, you might never want to listen to Michael Jackson’s original ever again.
Just to show how we do not forget performances, here is a vintage photo, just for the record.
9th October 2018
DMU Music Society
The beginning of a new academic year and students are gathering to sample what our city has to offer them by way of music. Tonight there were two bands on the bill that I particularly wanted to see.
The evening began with a performance by Leicester band Groove & the Bathtub Pings. Very good. Very enjoyable. A set of popular songs that appealed to the crowded room. Lively music that set the atmosphere for the night.
On stage two musicians who were once themselves members of the DMU music society. Now, one of the city’s best rock bands. Just two of them –
They put on a sensational performance. They opened their set with their own take on a well-known cover song – Feeling Good – a song that has been covered by man notable artists but which began in 1965 with Nina Simone. The version by Timmas was volcanic. Tim Baker’s voice blistered with incandescent energy. Backed by drumming from Tom Carnell. They went on to sing their own sings as members of the audience moshed to the head-banging rhythms.
Earls followed. Anthony Lamb and George Prosser. Another duo that had made a very definite name for itself and in doing so has attracted a considerable following.
A performance by Earls is always thrilling. The duo recently released an EP called Skum King. Until you have heard their music, it is difficult to describe what they do. Having heard it, it is an experience you would not forget. It’s loud and in-your-face. It’s ballsy and full of attitude. Something that has made them famous in Leicester’s music circles.
Tonight was billed as the Fresher’s Welcome Party and was presented by the DMU Music Society – information about which is available on Facebook.
The full line-up was Groove & the Bathtub Pings, funk, soul, disco bangers from Leicester.
Timmas and Earls reviewed above
and Phatfoxx drum and bass, reggae, jungle and dub from Derby.
5th October 2018
I went to The Shed for the live rock karaoke night. Quite a night; offering more than I was expecting. On stage a band and a microphone. Members of the audience would volunteer to get up on stage and sing songs they had selected from the list made available by the band. Live music comes in many flavours. Some of it is for entertainment. Tonight, a band provided the backings for singers from the audiece. The result was a lot of very well-known songs, of a variety of genres, being performed at a variety of levels of aptitude. Quite a lot of people had turned up for this. The room was pretty near full.
The first singer was Sam White. He sang a number by the Kings of Leon. He was pretty good. Many other familiar melodies followed as singer after singer got up to take the microphone. But then came, what was for me, the highlight of the show. Two of Leicester’s best singer-songwriters shared a number together – Alex Van Roose and Toby Joe Leonard. Fabulous. It could not get better than that. To cap it all, it was Elisabeth Barker-Carley’s birthday. So, she too got up and sang. Not something you would see very often.
2nd October 2018
Jazz. Tuesday. Have you read our page on Jazz in Leicester?
If you are a fan of Jazz, there is much you will find interesting.
28th September 2018
University of Leicester Big Band
at The Loaded Dog
The last time I went to The Loaded Dog I really enjoyed my night out. That was on 29th May. [Music in Leicester magazine]
I was very pleased to return to the pub tonight for another round of Big Band sound. The Loaded Dog is not a venue I go to very often but it does have some memories for me. Years ago, I put on gigs there. Memorable gigs. Once inside, I got myself a pint of beer and then went outside to smoke and prepare my notebook. It’s what I always do. The pub was crowded with young people – students I assumed. Being fairly close to the University, I can see why it is so popular with the academic crowd.
I can’t tell you how much I love this band. Umm. Well, actually, I can. Going to one of the Big Band’s concerts is one of the most enjoyable experiences available on the Leicester music scene. Tonight, about twenty musicians were assembled. Plenty of brass players plus keyboard, guitars, drums and, of course, the vocalists. I noticed on the Facebook event page
As you may have heard, we’re looking for two new singers as Holly and Brennan have gone onto pastures new. BUT for one night, and one night only, they’re coming back with a couple of others for our Freshers’ Week gig! We’re hoping this will inspire some of you to get in touch about auditioning after seeing what we do and how we do it!
Then. There are the songs. Great tunes. Wonderful melodies. The solo performances are met with cheering and screaming. All these young musicians are skilled at making music. It fascinates me to see them working together and to sense the exuberance of both their music and of their fan’s response to it.
As I walked home after the concert I thought ‘I was so glad I went.’
The University of Leicester Music Association includes seven of the University’s music groups: Big Band, Orchestra, Concert Band, Chamber Choir, Voices, Chorus and Band and Gig Society.
21st September 2018
The Robert J. Hunter band at the Musician
The thing about being a gig reviewer is – you have to be organised. It seems easy but, actually, it’s more difficult than you would think. I had a gig in the diary for weeks – ever since it was announced. What I failed to do was book myself into it. I left it until the last minute. The gig was sold out, so even though I went to The Cookie, I could not get into the show. My fault, entirely. You would think that, after all these years of going to gigs, I would have learnt the tricks of the trade. By Now.
The Lids were headlining with support from Baracuda. Two important bands. It would have been a good event. I have been following The Lids for a long time. I saw them at The Cookie in March last year. Tonight, the gig was sold out and there were clearly a lot of young people streaming down into the room downstairs. Two popular bands that can sell out a venue. It’s a gratifying thought that this can happen in a town where filling gigs is not always easy.
I said, at the time, The Lids is one of the bands from Leicester that is rising fast and increasing in popularity. Their music is very contemporary and always compelling. They played at the Handmade Festival last year.
Barracuda – I felt sure I have seen them before. One of Leicester’s new bands that are making their mark on the city. The indie, alternative band formed in Leicester.
Barracuda told me about themselves: “Barracuda is a punk-grunge/alternative rock band that formed last July – after we finished our exams – because we were bored and had nothing to do. All of us went school together. We were all friends but we never thought about making a band in school because we would of got bullied but after our exams we decided to go for it we’ve played at the Soundhouse, the Cookie, Pi bar, 2funky music cafe and the Vault and we are playing Western Park festival in July but we look to play a lot of other shows in the upcoming years.” [Music in Leicester, 2018]
See Barracuda at the Vault on 27th October. Get in the Shed. Details on Facebook.
So, I went to The Musician. Not been there in a long while. On the bill tonight, three good bands. From Leicester, Chambers. A band I have written about before. I saw Chambers earlier this year. Previous experiences of their performances had convinced me they were excellent.
At the musician, tonight, their set was described as “brilliant.” It certainly was. The event at The Musician this evening was put on by Casbah Music Management. Carol certainly knows her bands and it was good to see the venue full of people enjoying live music.
The Jupiter Blues gave us a lively and punchy set of songs. These four musicians have attracted favourable comments from other reviewers. I can add to that. A very ear-pleasing cocktail of blues, Southern rock, and soul, mixed by Dale Orenda’s sizzling vocals and the three top-class musicians of the band. Plenty of scintillating guitar solos to move things along. This is a band that crackled with musical energy. They played a really stomping set.
I enjoy going to The Musician. It is a venue that looks loved. Its walls lined with photos of acts that have played there and they always have a range of tasty real ales.
I felt sure I had seen the Robert J. Hunter band before. What they provided tonight was a performance that was nothing short of sensational. A set of songs styled ‘dirty blues’ heavily laced with rock rhythms, it was somewhere along the borderlands between jazz-rock and metal.
What a great group of musicians! Their songs were full of presence. They really rocked out on the stage. It surely was a memorable performance.
18th September 2018
15th September 2018
Glastonbudget auditions at the Soundhouse with
Rise of the Tomahawk, Kynch, Fat Lip and Blink2.
A large crowd gathered at The Soundhouse, tonight, for another of the auditions for the Glastonbudget music festival in 2019.
Rise of the Tomahawk started the show. A five-piece band that played rock and roll tunes. Well-known cover songs. The audience gathered in front of the stage to support the band. It went down well with the fans that had come to see their favourite group.
The band I had come to see tonight was Kynch. What I love about this band is their boundless energy. (I wish I had a set of jump leads.) Their unbridled enthusiasm. This is a band with Jack – their star-quality singer and guitarist. And two Wills. Their music is like a volcano. Erupting into the room with fire and force. Kynch are from Nottingham. But for me. They are an honorary Leicester band. I rate them very highly.
Fat Lip. ‘A tribute to pop-punk.’ ‘Playing the best anthems from Green Day, Blink 182, The Offspring, Sum 41, Bowling for Soup.’ That says it all. Very enjoyable. Very entertaining. Songs we all knew and love. From the golden age of rock-pop. Or was it pop-rock? Dance songs that got the audience bouncing. Back in the day when … those tunes were in the top ten. And they played Wheatus. ‘Oh how she rocks/In Keds and tube socks.’ Well, not even I can remember those. And also, ‘The Boys of Summer.’ One of my favourites at the time. ‘Nobody on the road/Nobody on the beach/I feel it in the air/The summer’s out of reach’
The finale of the evening was given by Blink-2. A Blink 182 tribute band from Colchester. I would have loved to have stayed and listened to their entire set. Sadly. Not possible. I had to rush for the last bus. Maybe I might see them at next year’s Glastonbudget Festival.
7th September 2018
with Brandon Neal, Not My Good Arm, 94 Gunships and Homeless Shakespeare.
Well. August. What good month that was. For music. Let’s hope September offers half as much, to beat it! The month started, for me, well enough. A night at The Shed. With some incredibly good bands and artists.
So. Tonight. I am downstairs. In the Vault. Having a good time. Writing stuff in my little notebook. As I do. Call me old-fashioned. But I can’t write notes with my thumbs. How they do it, I don’t know. Youths with mobile phones. Typing with their thumbs. Not a skill I ever learned. Give me a pen and a piece of paper, any day.
The evening started well enough. Brandon Neal took to the stage. What a performer! He is unique. Often very funny. Extraordinary lyrics to his songs. He’s so full of energy. At one point, he was lying on the floor. Still singing and playing his guitar. He certainly knows how to work an audience. Very unusual. Very idiosyncratic. Highly entertaining.
During the interval, Will Horspool, a.k.a. Poetman, went around the audience doing magic tricks with people. From what I could see, he was as good at that as he is when he is on stage singing and telling jokes. Nice touch that. Magic at a rock gig. Always have liked that, me.
Not My Good Arm. The first band of the evening. Been seeing quite a bit of them lately. Ah! Look! There is James Robinson on bass. I remember him from the good old days. He’s played in a few bands, over the years. There are the Davisons. Dad is on the trombone. Adam is playing the trumpet. I love bands that have brass. There is the lead singer. Tom Haywood. What great songs! What amazingly good tunes! What a spell-binding performance. From all of them. Scroll down to read more frenzied fan love.
The next band I saw once before when they played at the Vault. 94 Gunships. A group from Nottingham, they presented a set loaded with good sounds. A fusion of blues, indie, pop and rock that worked extremely well. Hugely good rhythms. I saw them, here, at the start of this year. I warmed to their funky beats and tunes that were propelled by energy and craft. Their lead singer has plenty of style and presence.
The evening concluded with one of Leicester’s most remarkable singers and his band. I have known Joe Doyle for years. Many, Many years. I read up on the set. On Facebook, it said, ‘Homeless Shakespeare and The Pigeon Theatre launch their first release as a band! Caravan O’Funk will feature the idiosyncratic Gyp-Hop sounds performed by Homeless Shakespeare & The Pigeon Theatre. The live DIY album will be available on CD and digital streaming/download. Expect nonsense, sense, a lack of sense, sensuality, tingling senses, sensibility and sensibilia. Get on your dancing shoes and prepare your insides for inordinate alcohol intake.’
Doyle, as I call him, gave an amazing performance. A really ear-grabbing set of songs. Adam Davison reappeared with his trumpet. Lon Fisher was on the drum kit. Tom Carnell was on guitar. Or was it the other way round? To be honest, by that time, I had drunk too many Desperados to really know. Any way. I really liked what I heard. Joe’s performance put the whole thing in place. Strains of jazz, blues and gipsy rock laced with ragtime. You can’t get better than that. Splendid!
31st August 2018
I went to the Soundhouse to see Leicester band Midnight Wire. This is a band I have followed since they started. That was back in 2011. I saw them at The Cookie in June 2015. Lead singer Alex Van Roose used to be in a band called The Heroes – one of the very few bands from Leicester to have performed at the Glastonbury festival. Midnight Wire’s songs were lively, dancey, memorable tunes full of indie-pop vibrancy.
They played one or two of their old numbers from the band’s extensive back-catalogue. On stage, Alex was his usual effervescent self; many people commented on what a great front-man he is. Alex’s bubbly personality makes him hugely popular with the audience. He is one of Leicester’s most successful and celebrated songwriters. Midnight Wire has a new album due out soon; tonight they played one or two tracks from it.
This is a band that would not sound out of a place in a large arena. A really good set; a band I will want to see again.
Other bands I saw tonight were We Are Beasts, from Leicester, and Ninth Wave, from Glasgow.
28th August 2018
My birthday bash at The Shed
with Smack Jack and the Many Grams and Not My Good Arm
What a great night! Two bands played. Only two. But, two of the best. I chose strongly contrasting styles of music. I wanted that to signify something about the music of Leicester. Smack Jack and the Many Grams. A new band but one that is making waves on the local scene. And attracting an enthusiastic following. Me included. Songs that are laden with energy and vitality. Grungy Post-hardcore. Drastically different. Raw. psychedelic. I saw them at Glastonbudget, back in May. Good music. Catchy songwriting. This is a band that just gets better and better. Josh St Clair. Star quality. Sizzling vocals. Everyone said how good they were. I was so glad they came. As I said on the night, “This band will go a long way.”
But, if that were not enough, they were followed by Not My Good Arm. A band I had been following for years. A band that has already come a long way. Musicians I have known for many years. Tom Haywood. Lead singer. Flanked by Geoff Davison on the trombone and Adam Davison on the trumpet. Nu Soul Grunge. “…full-throttle genre-defying, movin-and-a-groovin.” It was an exhilarating set. Tracks delivered with passion and energy. A big sound; thumping, exultant, glorious. Few other bands do that to me. They absolutely smashed it. They gave us kick ass music. What an end to the night!
Not quite an end; I continued with my DJ set and managed to get in one of my all-time favourite dance tracks – Heaven by DJ Sammy. Surprisingly, some of the young members of the audience knew the words and sang along. Gone. But not forgotten. Earlier in the evening, I played some of the songs that had moved from over the years. All of them by local bands and artists. From 2007 right up to the present days. I played songs by Autohype, Capture the Flag, Jonezy, Kenworthy, The Chairmen, The Heroes, Razmataz, Strike Up The Colours, Weekend Schemers. My way of celebrating the sounds of Leicester over the past decade.
26th August 2018
Loughborough – the annual pilgrimage to Phantomfest
A wet day did not deter the fans. Or even me. Many good bands and artists. The lineup included several bands from Loughborough – Easy Target, Next Year, Head in the Sky, Aztec Temples from Leicester, singer Chris Quinn and other acts, some of which I missed.
It was a good day out. always nice to get out of town.
Get a sense of what’s happening elsewhere.
I have been going to The Phantom, over in Loughborough, for many years.
Nice to see them; to see Aztec Temples – nice.
I did not get over to The Beacon to see Jonezy and his show; rain. But he said it had gone well.
18th August 2018
Leicester – Cosmopolitan Carnival
and maybe a few notes about important stuff!
18th August 2018
Trip down memory lane
How many bands do you remember from October 2013?
17th August 2018
Ohana, Event Horizon, Smack Jack
When I saw the line-up for Duffy’s Bar tonight I immediately clicked “going.” Must see bands and a venue I like going to; what more can you ask for?
I have seen a lot of Ohana lately. But then they are one of my favourite bands. They were fantastic. As always. There was a good crowd of people in the room tonight and they got involved in the music. All the way through. It always helps if the audience is good. Ohana’s performance was as impressive, just as it was last time. Lead singer Luke Smith – what an all-around star frontman. Ohana got the show off to a good start.
Then the second band took to the stage. Not the one that had been advertised but a last-minute replacement. Which confused me. Event Horizon is a Leicester band I had seen before. I saw them in April when they played at the Shed. Hardcore. Exhilarating. Energetic. That’s what I thought. Kashif Hussain saw them here when they played as part of the Metal to the Masses. He said “Their set was launched by a long but seriously impressive drum solo that already wowed the packed crowd, before leading into a groovy bass line that started the song proper.” He added “A highlight of their set was the slower, more relaxed track Breathe…” Which I think they also sang tonight. Martin Baker went to see them in April. He commented “For such a young band to be giving off the energy and sheer power they were amazing to watch! After a great intro to their set we got some great songs and Philosophical Paradox was a great change of pace that for me was a favourite, more of that please! I feel like this band has got so much to give and with a good deal of polishing in their act they could be absolutely brilliant no doubt about it.” I agree with that. Me. I thought they were seriously good. A volcanic performance. A performance from the lead singer that crackled with energy. Excellent.
The night was headlined by Smack Jack & The Many Grams. I have come to admire their offering of memorable music. This is an outstanding band. They brought together a rich tapestry of riffs and rhythms. They mixed an intoxicating cocktail of musical ideas. That is why they are attracting a strong following of fans that appreciate what they do. To me, they were different. Inventive. Charismatic. I look forward to seeing them again at The Shed – on 28th August – when they will be playing at my birthday bash.
All in all, a really good night out. So glad I went. Too easy to stay at home and not be bothered to go and support the local bands. And it was free! So I had an extra fiver to spend on beer. Can’t complain about that.
10th August 2018
at the Soundhouse with Day of the Moon, Ohana, Kynch and Mellor.
Much relieved that the heatwave now seems to be over, I spent a very pleasant night at The Soundhouse with bands I had seen before.
Some of these bands I have been following for a long time. Some of the musicians look quite a bit older now, than when I first saw them.
Day of the Moon is a band that has featured quite a few times before in this magazine. Six of them on stage. Sounds that blended well together. They do play good tunes, I noted in my book. Sounds that are dynamic, punchy, upbeat; they got the show on the road. They played a new song Take a Stand, which cantered along at a brisk pace dropping engaging beats and romping rhythms. They have a new EP coming out called Nightfall. This indie/alt rock bands is from Leicester. Our line-up is made up frontman Tom Davis, Young Drummer of The Year 2018 award finalist Mark Zanker, bassist Charles Carter, keyboardist Harry Gilmour and guitarist duo Ben Pullen and Dan Youngs. High school friends.
Another chance to see Ohana. But then, I am a fan. There is just so much about this band that is good.
With their lead singer Luke Smith, they benefit from star quality. A presence that is scintillating. Backed by guitarists and drums that makes the whole set sizzle. One of the bands to come out of Leicester recently, they show considerable promise. They played their song 17. Loads of zing; an ear-licking melody. Their string-work always gets me; they really know how to make a guitar sing. Lashing of musical ability. They might still be slightly rough around the edges; even so, every time I see them I am blown away. Pulsing, relentless energy and total passion. These guys really know their music; you can hear their knowledge in the songs. Their set tonight was a tour de force.
If I still did Band Of The Month (liked I used to) They would certainly be it.
Kynch is another band I have been following almost from the start. My, they all look so grown up now.
Still playing Clubfoot; but then, it’s my favourite Kasabian song. I have always enjoyed their performances. For me, they are a stand-out band. This is band that knows how to rock; ah yeah – they’ve got it.
I saw Mellor before, when they were in Leicester.
I wrote about them in January 2016 – From Reading, Mellor was not a band I had seen before but they made an immediate impact with their songs, dubbed ‘Pop Smack.’ Lead singer (Gary?) gave a good performance and the music was ear-smackingly attractive. Another band I would not hesitate to see again. (Music in Leicester magazine, 30th January 2016.)
Taught, sharp, infectious, their songs bounced along with verve and vitality.
My own photos tonight. Failed to get a photographer; I know that sounds like a hint to all your people out there who have proper cameras. Photos on this magazine are seen by many people. Hint.
4th August 2018
What do I do, you might ask, when I am not reviewing gigs? Simple. I go to gigs. I did tonight, just to drink beer and have fun. The show was being worked on my Kevin and Lydia. I like to attend the auditions for the Glastonbudget festival. Gives me an idea of who to watch out for at the next festival.
See the post about tonight’s show. Watch the videos; see the pictures.
It was a jolly good evening. Gigs often are opportunities for discovery; tonight’s was singer Liam Iliffe. This Leicester lad is likely to go far. he was good; exceptionally good.
31st July 2018
Poetry and song
Tuesday. No Jazz at the club this month so an ideal opportunity for me to visit The Soundhouse open-mic night. It was an opportunity to see Poetman, a.k.a. Will Horspool, doing his feature slot. Rhett Barrow reminded me not to miss his single launch at The Donkey on 31st August. Poetman. One of Leicester’s unique acts. Crazy. Funny. Such a mess. Ah! But was it an intentional mess? Or one that was precisely crafted to appear so? Much discussion about this in the smoking area, afterwards.
17th July 2018
Jazz at the Regent
I was at The Regent Jazz Club, as usual. This time to see Mike Sole. Tonight he was playing with a band. Also at the concert tonight, one of Leicester’s greatest jazz singers – Carol Leeming. Sadly, not on the stage. Carol reminded me about the Cosmopolitan festival coming up on 18th August. I am looking forward to that.
11th July 2018
Live Jazz – new page
A permanent homepage for all that jazz stuff that we are supposed to be doing but that gets lost in the labyrinth of articles. A page that readers can always go to to find jazz-related content. Up now.
Friday 6th July 2018
at Attenborough Arts
Tonight’s show was presented by Parkin and Dean. Mike Sole is a virtuoso pianist, singer and musician. Mike was playing on a Bösendorfer piano.
On the drums was David Bryant. I remember Mike Sole when he played in one of my favourite bands – The Gadjos. They were exponents of Gypsy Jazz. Arthur Tyers also made appearances tonight, as part of the trio. He played the guitar. One of their numbers was by Django Reinhardt, the Romani jazz guitarist. What enthrals and amazes about Sole is the sheer scope and breadth of his musical talent. Music of this quality often calls for a trip to Birmingham or London and high ticket prices. Leicester can offer top-quality music for much less.
David Parkin also did a couple of slots. I remember him for his highly amusing comedic musical performances, long ago. He appears in 2012 at the Musician for an event called Broken Mic night. David Parkin’s act was unique. His main song was about playing scrabble with his mother and the spoken lyrics create a strong mood about his experience of mental health issues – it’s a sardonic song about clinical depression. Sole’s musical offerings ranged across many styles of music including jazz, blues and rock. Each piece was stunning for its music skill and quality of interpretation. Tyer’s guitar work was brilliant. Songs from the set list included ‘It Had to be You‘, ‘I Can’t Give You Anything But Love,’ ‘All the things you are,’ and many more. Between the songs, much light-hearted banter. What a fantastic evening. A rare treat. Enchanting. Exhilarating.
4th July 2018
Here we go
I decided to publish the new blog page. This one. Continuing problems with staffing, backlogs getting worse. There are many reasons why things had ground to a halt. So, there’s a phrase we use – published and be damned.
Tuesday 3rd July 2018
Jazz at the Regent Club
The audience at the Regent Jazz club was entertained with a varied selection of tunes, tonight. The show we enjoyed tonight was given the rubric Summer Celebration. Tunes included those from films such as Pink Panther, The Ipcress File alongside songs by Gershwin and Irving Berlin, among others.
The bands tonight were Jamms, Cool Jazz Quartet, Andy Kirkland group, Not So Big band, Regenerates and Afro City Swingsters (South African jazz music.) A large gathering. A game from the World Cup was also being broadcast in the bar area.
Tuesday 29th June 2018
A night at the Soundhouse
with Scribble Victory, Kinkaid, Undercover and The Albion.
I fancied a night out. It had been a long hot day. The prospect of cold cider beckoned. Where better to enjoy a night of rock than the Soundhouse.
Two men took to the stage. No idea who they were. Never heard of them. I sat, I listened. The more I listen, the more it liked what they were doing. But the end of their set, I was hooked. This was a group from Bedfordshire called Kinkaid. One man did the singing; the other played the guitar and operated a laptop, on which he operated some kind of looping system. What they came up with was different. Not a bad thing – different. In style the music was pop. Chilled. Melodic. Very likeable. To me, it had a bit of seventies vibe.
It certainly had plenty of atmosphere. Were they playing covers or their own original tracks? I asked myself. Probably original songs, I concluded. Well, the songs were undoubtedly original in the way they performed and delivered them. The music had a passionate resonance that was appealing. Other people also thought it was good stuff. The guitar parts were remarkably inventive. Smashing.
The first full band of the night was a new one. This might have been their first gig. A group of boys who went by the name of Undercover. They began with a song by the Arctic Monkeys. You know the one – all young bands starting up have a go at it. Something about a dance floor.
What they might have lacked in technical brilliance, they easily made up for with their youthful ebullience. They had selected a pretty good set of songs for us to enjoy. That shows they have musical aptitude. All in all, an enjoyable set that went down well with the audience. Good luck to them; I hope we will see them again soon.
The last time I saw The Albion was at the Foxton Locks festival. I saw them, but only from a distance. Standing too far away from the man stage, it was impossible to see the faces. The music was easier to appreciate. This is a band I have liked for a very long time.
Over that time they have gained considerable experience. The attention-grabbing songs that they played well-known. That was in addition to their own original songs. Lead singer Bryn Williams gave yet another solidly good performance. A star if ever there was one.
Seeing a performance by Scribble Victory is always one of the highlights of one’s musical experience. There are but two musicians but together they deliver more than most groups of four or more. They both sing. Two beautifully harmonised voices.
The Derby duo has a real zeal on stage that makes them stand out as one of the remarkable bands of the region. Consummate musicianship combined with spine-tingling excitement. What more can you ask for?
A night at the Soundhouse. One of the great pleasures of the local music scene.
16th June 2018
I have been to the Foxton Locks festival many times before. Many, many times. But not recently. So, the opportunity to attend, this year, was something that I could not refuse. Part of my pilgrimage to the rural tourist attraction was to support my friend Jonezy.
He performed on a small stage but his performance was anything but small. Even though he has been in the business for several years now, Jonezy continues to bring out new songs. Today he treated his appreciative audience to a new one.
On the main stage, I remember seeing The Albion. A band I have reviewed before. One that I look forward to reviewing again.
12th June 2018
Jazz at the Regent
Now that I have acquired a taste for Jazz, the Regent Club, in Regent Road, is my destination of choice on a Tuesday night. Tonight a programme billed as ‘Modern Jazz.’
Many instruments were seen in the performance area – different types of saxophones, keyboard, trumpet, double bass, guitar, drums… that appeals to me. And no shortage of musicians to play or sing.
11th June 2018
Tonight I have come to see Rhett Barrow. He was doing the feature slot on the regular Drinks and Jams series of shows. In the upstairs bar. Most of what we heard was his own music. Memorable tunes we have grown to admire over the years. Rhett is an artist of extraordinary accomplishment.
Rhett’s slot was featured by singer Guinevere Newton. From London, I think. Not seen her before. But her powerful voice was spell-binding. She gave us a set of captivating songs. Delightful.
Another performer I heard tonight was Jack.
8th June 2018
University of Leicester Big Band
at The Shed
when it comes to bands I like them big. And they don’t get much bigger than this. Both in size and in musicality. The University of Leicester Big Band is a must-see music extravaganza, as far as I am concerned.
I heard that the band is to perform two, forty-five-minute slots. It was not that long that I went to see them at The Loaded Dog. Can’t get enough of them, me. The room was crowded with young people; mostly students, one would assume. This is a band that has a loyal and dependable following. The other thing I like is that the musicians dress up for the occasion. Crisp white shirts are the order of the day. They played songs that I recognised. Music that I loved. It was an evening of good sounds delivered with top-class skills. That’s what I like.
This blog page was started in early June 2018