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
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
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
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.
I enjoy all kinds of music. A regular attendee at the Regent Jazz Club, I often write about the concerts I see there on my Jazz Page. Burt Bacharach. Duke Ellington. Richard Rodgers. So much to choose from
at Duffy’s bar
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 was 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 they 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
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.’
Content from this page is moved into an archive, from time to time, in order to prevent the page from becoming too long.
Last edited: 17th February 2019