Friday 12th June
Chris King Robinson
at The Shed
with She and The Junkies, Those Fine Strangers, Kirikai and The Bad Flowers
The weather had broken. I walked to The Shed through light rain. It was a night of dodging the wet patches in the smoking area. I thought it would be a routine night of seeing bands – little did I know how wrong that would prove to be.
Long before the gig I received an email. Someone I had never heard of before contacted me and asked if I would come and see his band. Tonight was a commitment – I would rather have spent the night at home, in a warm, dry lounge, perhaps with a glass of something nice. But, if you have make a commitment – you have to go. Rain or no rain.
Having set myself up at the venue – a glass of something refreshing and a notebook in front of me – I soon found myself talking to a rather pleasant young man from Peterborough. Chris King Robinson, the guy who had sent me the email, introduced himself and told me about his band. I asked the usual questions: had the band played at The Shed before – “no.” Had they played in Leicester before – “yes, once.” Chris told me about his band, how long they had been playing together, what the music scene was like in his home town, and so on. It was not long before he was on stage with his three colleagues and wonderful music was filling the air.
The Chris King Robinson band is a young Blues group – except for the bass player who was around my age. After they had played a couple of numbers, I realised who they were like – Kenworthy. I think the comparison was justifiable and several others I talked to agreed with me on that.
Chris proved to be a very able singer with a solid vocal technique. Next to him, the band’s keyboard player Zac Wood a pianist worthy of equal acclaim. All in all it was a very inspiring session of music. All the instrumentalists delivered quality musicianship and they worked well together – you could sense the chemistry between them. Chris demonstrated his remarkable skills with a guitar solo.
It was a set that clearly resonated with the audience because there were points when they applauded even during the band’s numbers – not something often seen here in Leicester. The whole set was satisfyingly excellent (whether you were an aficionado of the Blues or not) and everyone knew they were listening to fine quality music.
So, who was Kenworthy? The Jack Kenworthy Trio was, I would say, one of the most musically accomplished young bands to have come out of Leicestershire this decade. The first time I encountered the music of Jack Kenworthy – here at The Shed of course – I just stood there and stared in disbelief – my jaw dropped – my ears quivered with excitement. Jack was about 16 at the time and his debut at The Shed heralded a brilliant career as one of the foremost Jazz singers and instrumentalists in the county. Seeing Chris and his band brought it all back – it was a moment of déjà vu. The great Kenworthy trio is regrettably no longer with us but one wishes that this group from Peterborough will be coming up back to Leicester to give us some more moments of sheer musical magic.
Follow Chris King Robinson on Facebook and the band’s website is also worth reading
Kirikai – a four-piece band from Coventry, took to the stage next and everything changed. Rather than me blathering on about them, why don’t you watch this video of them performing at tonight’s show. You can see Ant (Vox, Guitar) Andy ‘G’ (Guitar) Andy E (Bass) D ( Drums) doing their ‘rock/grunge/alternative’ thing. Ant is the main songwriter, taking influences from bands such as; Nirvana, Seether, Silverchair and Alice in Chains (to name a few). So if that doesn’t whet your appetite – nothing will.
Follow, Kirikai on Facebook
Down in the basement a post-hardcore rave-up was underway. I ventured down to see what all the banging was about. A large posse of kids were enjoying a line-up of bands to which they moshed in the steamy atmosphere of the cellar. I listened to a bit of Liverpool’s Bitter Youth – I have to say, they were pretty good.
Listen to Bitter Youth. Sick.
The Shed is a venue on the international circuits. Last week we enjoyed a band from the USA, before that another US band – Victory Heights (from Colorado), not forgetting Alwaid from France and the 169 Club, also from France. Hildur Höglind from Sweden sang here. Section4 (Ireland), Robinson Krause (Germany), El Violento Frankie (Spain), a gypsy rock band from Hungary… gigs you would not forget could also include the time when Norway’s rising pop star Alexandru was on the stage, Cable35 from Malta, that band from Tokyo whose name I always forget, and the unbelievable night when the massive Boy Hits Car came from Los Angeles to play here. There is hardly a country on the face of the earth not represented in the annals of this little Leicester venue.
Now it was time for The Austrians. She and the Junkies came to the stage to bring us their take on Viennese music. The band was on its album release tour. On lead vocals Andreas Grubner, Dominik Bora on guitar, Matthias Ihrybauer on keyboard and Stephen Leo Ihrybauer on drums. Je Danziger said ‘they offer the proof that Austrian bands can all succeed internationally!’ The band was nominated for ‘best austrian band’ in 2014 by GoTV, Austria’s biggest music TV-station and it is said their music could fill a stadium.
With a reputation for playing loud and raucous rock music, this was a band to look forward to. After Leicester they went to play Carlisle, Cambrdge, Bideford, Hull, Doncaster, Lowestoft… they were running round England like headless chickens. But tonight they were ours. The band’s combination of infectious rock music and nudity soon got people’s attention. When naked guitarist Dominik jumped off the stage and ran round the room playing his instrument, we knew this was band with balls. They really rocked out and we will never think of Austria again as the country of Maria Von Trapp.
And now for some reggae. Leicester people love ska and reggae. The city has long been recognised for its national contribution to this genre: By The Rivers, Last Edition, Stop That Train – these are all local bands that have graced the stage of this venue with their music. But tonight it was time for a band from Coventry to show us if they could do it. Those Fine Strangers – the five-piece from Cov. had three vocalists – one of whom was also the Sax player. They put a lot of effort into their performance, plying their beats with plenty of energy and passion and keeping a tired Friday-night Shed awake. Daring to come to the bastion of ska and reggae in the Midlands was an audacious move on the part of this band. But hey, if a band can drive along a wet M69 to entertain us we should show respect.
Taking a well earned break in the smoking area, I encountered some fans from The West Midlands who were here to support their mates from the area around Cannock and Rugby. From time to time, members of the band would put their rather long faces round the door to report on how many people were left in the venue. At one point things began to look not good as one of the musicians sounded like they were not going to bother to play to an almost empty room. Clearly discussions were underway about what to do but in the end they decided to stay and play to those who had stuck around to see them.
It was good that they did. The Bad Flowers gave us a set that was truly inspirational. As I said at the time, better to play to a few people who really wanted to hear what you had to play than a room crowded with people who were not that bothered.
Remarkably, as the band got under way, an audience appeared as if from nowhere. The three musicians got up and smashed it. In one of the best sessions of classic rock to have been heard at the venue in many a long year, these guys brought The Shed alive with thumpingly good singing and guitar work. After all the ‘is-it-really-worth-it’ stuff, they brought us something sensational. Top notch rockers, these lads tore up the stage with a set that could have come only from a hard-working, serious band. They might have been tired from a long day of work and driving, but that didn’t stop them from delivered blistering guitar solos, ballsy beats a visceral vocals.
It might not have been a stadium-sized crowd, but those who were there really got a big treat and they showed it by their rampant enthusiasm at the end of each number. As for their rendition of Renegade Lover – all I can say is “sick”, as in utterly awesome. The Bad Flowers: a band that really knows how to rock.