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.’
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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Last edited: 10th February 2019