Tommy Cobley from Casino Empire Photo: Olly Stabler

Saturday 6th September 2014

Casino Empire at the Cookie Jar

with Beneath The Lights and Albion

A September evening in the centre of Leicester. Fans are gathering at the Cookie, in the High Street for a show that had been planned and publicised well in advance. I have seen all three bands on tonight’s line-up before, so I know how good they all are and I have been looking forward to this show for a long time. I made sure I was wearing the Iguana t-shirt that Casino Empire had given me.

Sam Lowe of Beneath The Lights Photo: Olly Stabler
Sam Lowe of Beneath The Lights
Photo: Olly Stabler

Beneath The Lights. When they start their set, they really start. Three huge blasts of sound fanfares the start of their set and they launch into a compelling song that bursts the room with beats and memorable melodies. The vocals of Sam Lowe exploding over the PA as the band powers away, everyone giving it their all and the bassist was putting in some bouncing moves. Powerful, upbeat songs that show their sense of what constitutes good music. Plying razor-sharp stops and rocket-fuelled rhythms, BTL gave us their set of own songs and some covers. The band attacks their songs with commitment and their two vocalists add a strong layer to the music. In a varied set list I particularly liked their cover of Pompeii by Bastille; they made it their own. After giving us songs like their starting number Moving on (with its particularly catchy tune), Broken Town, Changes, Kasabian’s Underdog, True or False and Usual Disaster, they finished with Too Close. That was an ending and a half; with its big ska beats it was a definite hit. On the stage they had their BTL roller banner; a band with a professional approach. During their set,  the band members delivered a well choreographed performance with plenty of jumps to underscore breaks.

Albion at The Cookie Jar Photo: Olly Stabler
Albion at The Cookie Jar
Photo: Olly Stabler

Albion. When we saw Albion in February we wrote:

The Peterborough five-piece band Albion came to the stage with their fine lead vocalist, Harry Preen, and no shortage of stage presence. We saw them back in December when they put on a quality performance, no less invigorating than the one they gave us tonight. With their impressive musicianship and lively set of songs, Albion was an asset to the evening. The band has been in Wales recently, recording their new EP. They certainly knew how to rock and pumped out of a set of ear-grabbing sounds. Clearly, a very good band.

And prior to that, when we saw them at The Shed, we  said

Indie rock band from Peterborough, Albion, delivered a brilliant set. The five-piece band, with their free-standing lead singer Harry Preen, tore up the stage with a set of songs that had the crowd committed. Their infectious tunes and stage presence, that was not lacking in confidence, made a set of highly enjoyable songs come alive. Harry Preen’s voice was clear and articulate and as a front-man he certainly made it happen.

So, Albion was a band I was looking forward to seeing again. Their set of vibrant, kick-ass songs kept the momentum going with their agreeable guitar-lines, strong vocals and vigorous rhythms. I loved their energy and commitment.

Casino Empire at The Cookie Jar Photo: Olly Stabler
Casino Empire at The Cookie Jar
Photo: Olly Stabler

Casino Empire. This is a band that is making waves. Adrian Manning saw them in August; he wrote

five young men from Blaby. A dual guitar, bass drums and synth set up with enough energy to light the building. If this sounds familiar, then yes, this band are definitely following in the footsteps of Leicester’s current favourite sons. Singer Tommy Cobley swaggers onto and around the stage with a mod haircut, striped jacket and dark glasses. He instantly makes his presence known, gets the crowd involved and cranks the intensity and heat up a few notches. Having been quiet for a short time, they are definitely back and as serious as you can get. It seems they have quite a following and the crowd swelled upon their arrival. Think mid period Stone Roses, on form early Oasis and a tip of the hat to the previously alluded to Kasabian and you get the idea. They deliver a strong set and even with those comparisons they do have an originality in their sound which I hope they develop more. ‘Shine On’ slowed the set down midway and included a really nice guitar solo. The band filled this stage and could easily fill a bigger one. Confidence and ability is not an issue and who knows maybe one day when Serge and co are retired, these guys could be heading to Vicky Park themselves. [Music in Leicester]

Nice reference to following in the footsteps of Kasabian, Adrian. When Keith Jobey saw them at a festival he June he said:

Casino Empire from neighbouring Blaby look set to follow in the footsteps of Kasabian and The Displacements. With faultless guitar work, a good spread of musical styles and a confidence and presence equal to many a big name. The line ‘get out of my way’ ringing out during their opening song is not so much a warning to others but an order. [Music in Leicester]


Casino Empire made it through to the finals of the Play@LMF shows; they failed to win it (a fact that disappointed me even though I admire the work of James Lewis) but I was there to see them. I wrote

They have shot to fame in a short time. Why? As one musician said to me while we watched them “they want it. And they want it bad.” You can tell this is a let’s ‘av it band by the way they perform. Where they are now is probably where the Rolling Stones were when they were the same age. Casino Empire is a young band that plays with shit-loads of passion, a passion that is infectious, spilling off the stage into the audience and filing the large room with mega-watts of energy. It’s like giving the audience a set of jump-leads connected to the stage. A band that music in its genes. I can see them being really big in years to come. The next Kasabian? It’s possible. Those who saw Saracuse at The Shed can correct me if I am wrong. [Music in Leicester]

Playing to a packed room, CE certainly made an entrance. They know how big bands do things and they are sufficiently ‘big-band-minded’ to follow their example. Vocalist Tommy Cobley walks on to the stage in his hall-mark shades to deafening roars from the closely-packed crowd at the front. CE start their set of exhilarating songs and the kids at the front start some serious moshing. Cobley eggs them with his usual rocket-fuelled, rock star presence. It looks like one of those films in which fans go mental for the Sex Pistols. Cobley knows how to whip up the crowd. CE launches into their third song and there is still no let up in the mosh pit. A CE show is a total experience. In the intense atmosphere of the basement room of the Cookie, it’s a furnace fired up by the energy of the crowd and the passion of the band’s songs. Cobley and the band drive music into the room with relentless power as songs pour off the stage without a break and he addresses the crowd as “Leicester”, as though this was just another stop on a UK tour. It’s frenzied, it’s furious, it’s spine-tingling, it’s a band that creates a riot and tears up the stage and many other over-worn metaphors but without any doubt it is music that is amazingly good, delivered with a  fizzing stage show to match.

Follow the bands on Facebook: Beneath the Lights, Albion, Casino Empire.

Tommy Cobley from Casino Empire Photo: Olly Stabler
Tommy Cobley from Casino Empire
Photo: Olly Stabler

See also:

That was August, our look back over last months music

Siobhan Mazzei at Thornton

Murmur, Casino Empire, Ash Mammal and Over the House

About The Editor 535 Articles
The Editor of Music in Leicester magazine is Kevin Gaughan assisted by Trevor Locke