Our round-up of live music events in Leicester and Leicestershire. Our team of reporters and photographers have been to gigs and filed their thoughts, comments and pictures.
If a piece is not attributed to a named author, then it has been written by the editor.
The latest dates get added at the top.
This month sees Dave’s Leicester Comedy Festival taking place in the city; we will be covering some of the gigs on Arts in Leicester magazine.
Metal bands are massing
at Duffys Bar
28th February 2016
British Sea Power
Academy 2 (Queens Hall)
by Keith Jobey
British Sea Power, a name that evokes a sense of pride in an island nation? Or a name that makes ordinary folk head from all parts of the country to (in this instance) Leicester on a cold Sunday evening in February? It’s the latter obviously.
Prince Vaseline is the only support. Like the headliners they are a Brighton band, and my mate soon spots that the bassist is Mark Beatty from Brakes, a band that of course has connections with the headline band. Prince Vaseline have quite a heavy, rhythm driven sound, edging towards psyche at times, maybe a bit Krautrock. Anyway, it goes down rather well with the crowd leading to a busy merch desk during the interval.
British Sea Power have an immense following. Check out the British Sea Power forum if you need to see any evidence as to the devotion of their fans. Personally, I like them but they’re not my favourite band. Yes they have some great songs, their set was loaded with them tonight, but they just don’t gel with my personal tastes. That aside though, it was an enjoyable evening, the amps and mike stands were adorned with foliage and fairy lights, the band played brilliantly, the sound was fantastic, the light show was dazzling, even though the band members were often obscured in the multi-coloured fog that hung over the stage, there was a great crowd (350) who threw themselves into the show and an eight foot Polar Bear mingled on the dance floor at one point. I’ll no doubt see them again at some point.
Saturday 27th February
Some sort of showcase
We saw Once Vagrant Souls, Alligatr, Scribble Victory, The World Can Wait and Little Dead Town at The Shed; as part of
Friday 26th February
Aztec Templies debut at O2
Leicester’s Aztec Temples performed at Leicester’s O2 tonight with Arc Isla and Cupids.
My first visit to the O2 since I moved up to that end of town; it took me only ten minutes to talk to the venue. I was there to see the band that I discovered about a year ago and whose progress I have followed since then.
Tonight the ‘Temples gave us a new song – Time Bomb – and wow it was a gooden! These guys write amazingly attractive tunes. I think it will be a hit; it certainly had all the elements of one. After a year or so of rapid progress, the ‘Temples are still producing top-class music, new songs alongside established favourites like See you on the other side and One Man Army. This band’s live set is just one good tune after another; it’s what makes them stand out as one of the best bands for popular, melodic song. With Conor Simpson’s strong vocals often backed by two other musicians, they have a good quality vocal layer to their music and with compelling rhythms, catchy breaks and memorable lyrics it is not difficult to see why they have attracted a big following of music fans.
Arc Isla, from Nottingham
The show was launched by Arc Isla, an indie band that started with a song that reminded me of Midnight Wire’s early tunes. Catchy, listenable and full of verve, this band set the night off to a flying start.
With their two singers the tunes danced off the stage and set many feet tapping and heads nodding. Enjoyable and pleasing sounds driven by intoxicating beats are what you would expect from this group of musos from Notts and Leics. In fact, these guys are recognisable from other bands that have played in this area; Edd Saffell, one of the guitarists, we have seen before in a band that bears his name.
Cupids from Manchester
Tonight’s show was originally to have taken place at The Cookie but was moved to the O2 with only a couple of days notice. The four guys from Manchester – Cupids – had one of the vocalists on the kayboard and the other on guitar and gave us a set that was distinctly different from the other two acts tonight and it was amazingly original. With their two well hardmonised voicesd, Cupids played to a growing audience. Several people I spoke to liked this band and thought their music was appealing and different. I certainly thought so.
Also at the O2 tonight (in the Queens Hall I think) a performance by Blossoms which was a sell out event. Interestingly this date was to have been attended by Viola Beach, billed before the tragic and horrific crash crash in Sweden that killed the whole band and their manager. Blossoms said (on their Facebook page) ‘We first met Viola Beach 2nd October 2015 at King Tuts Glasgow. They were playing across town with Eliza and the Bear and they came down after to watch our set. We hung out that night and then invited them on tour. They were a great gang and a brilliant band. The last time we saw them was after the Leamington Spa show last Thursday. We said our goodbyes to them as they headed off to Sweden. We’ll never forget them. Their tunes forever in our heads; Craig, Jack, Kris, River and Tom always in our hearts. All their families have been contacted and tonight, and then on every date on the tour they were due to join us on, we will mark their slot by playing a full audio recording of their set that was recorded from the Leamington Spa show.’ At tonight show they played a set recorded from Viola Beach before the performance by Vyrll Society. You can watch this recording of Viola Beach on YouTube.
Glastonbudget auditions at The Shed
Taking to the stage tonight at The Shed
Chris Ostler, Megan Carlile, Tim Smith and others
Chris came up from Exeter for this show
Megan is a singer, song writer and guitarist from the East Midlands
Saturday 20th February
The Reckless Youth
Wednesday 17th February
Dreaming in Colour Productions brought us tonight’s show at The Shed, part of its regular series of events called ‘Upstairs/downstairs’.
Opening the line-up upstairs was Raffer.
Raffer sang his own songs accompanied by his guitar and laptop. Strong vocals filled the room and the electronics produced vivid beats and rhythms. Raffer told us that he usually plays with a full band. The London-based indie artist has tunes you can hear on Soundcloud. Clearly, a very talented artist.
Downstairs we heard from The Scrubs. A young band that we saw here back in December when they played under another name [Music in Leicester] the four teenagers delivered a workmanlike set of covers. From Leicester they have been playing at various local venues recently. You can watch them playing at The Shed, on YouTube.
Upstairs, we heard from The Velcro Teddy Bears. The rock ‘n’ rollers from Sheffield delivered massive guitar work, fast tunes and were a hit with the audience.
Now, it was very rainy tonight but, undaunted, a crowd had gathered at The Shed to hear bands from our local area and further afield. Not a capacity crowd, their numbers were split between the two stages such that there were many times when they were not all together in one place. Both stages were playing at the same time.
A lot of people headed for the upstairs stage for the set by The Alchemy, the alt rockers from Kent.
Three of the four musicians on stage sang – always a good thing – and the music was heavy, loud and stunning. From their volcanic opening number through to the end they produced one explosive song after another with the vocalists adding plenty of punch to the songs. Personally, I heard sounds from of the old-style pop-punk days of the Hertford bands but mixed with lashings of big metally music. Fantastic.
Downstairs, Sahara provided a voyage of discovery. This indie rock band from Basingstoke, London and Brighton gave what, for me at any rate, was a fascinating and delightful set. The four-piece group, with Laith Whitwham as the lead singer, made complex, syncopated rhythms that were engaging and not short of musical quality. A commendable performance from a band playing in Leicester for the first time. Well, they can come back again and if they do I for one will be there to see them again. Wonderful.
For me the main attraction of the night was our local favourite Kynch. They play some of their own songs and do some covers, like Monkey Wrench by Foo Fighters. The musicians play with fervour and this is one of the young bands that has come on really well in recent months. It was a brilliant performance from a group that has brought us so many first class appearances.
We missed Pilgrim. We found out later that their set had gone down well. Here are some of the comments posted on Facebook about what they did: ‘They were kicking.’ ‘Really heavy Welsh blues rock. Very laid back guitar/bass and drums (the bloke with the big curly ginger hair/beard), and a manic drunk singer (skinny bloke with flat Mohawk). They were very loud, rhythmic and entertaining. Ace!’ ‘I thought they looked like they would be entertaining! I will try to find them on Youtube. It’s a shame we missed them but by that time I was verging on hyperthermia and had to leave!’
Pilgrim played after Kynch and by that time both of us had left to catch the last buses home.
The full line-up for tonight was Raffer, The Velcro Teddy Bears, The Alchemy, Before The Crash, Pilgrim, The Scrubs, Sahara and Kynch.
Saturday 13th February
I was at Oddbar tonight for Dave Fraine’s birthday party.
Not many people know where Oddbar is these days; but I remember when it was the in place for young musicians in Leicester. In those days the venue was called Odyssey. Tonight’s it was the venue for the birthday celebrations of Dave Fraine, someone who is well-connected in the Leicester music scene and who has family members ‘in the business.’ On the stage tonight were Jonezy, Chris Armson, Sam Bradshaw and Seconds Apart.
Rotherham band Seconds Apart were simply fantastic; it took many minutes of digging into the archives to find that I had in fact seen them before in 2013 when they played at The Shed on 11th May. There in my notebook the entry for 11th May 2013 with the band’s name on the lineup and some notes scribbled down as they played. They were there by the invitation of I Wanna Be A Rockstar, run in those days by promoter David Norris, and they were on late; sparse notes: three-piece with singing drummer, lots of energy, all three on vocals, grunge/thrash, good stage craft.’ Well they must have come on a bit since then because tonight they were brilliant. For the historians amongst you the winning bands that night were Luzon Bleeding Heart, Strike Up The Colours and Titan. So. Yeah.
Jonezy was there.
It’s been a busy time of late for the Loughborough-based rapper, who, for a long time, seemed to have disappeared from the scene. He was at Curve a couple of days ago (see below.)
and Chris Armson
Chris is one of those legends of the local scene who has been around for a long time. I saw his name a few days ago when editing one of my books on the history of Leicester music. He used to play in The Jack of Hearts Band with someone called Bopper. Chris has made many, many appearances at the Glastonbudget music festival.
and Sam Bradshaw
Sam Bradshaw is widely known as ‘instrumentalist Sam’ and is a guitar hero of the local scene. I did hear him sing once a long while ago but he mainly plays his own compositions, some of which have become established favourites for the music-going public.
Dave Fraine had a fantastic birthday party.
Friday 12th February
obsUnplugged finals 2016
The first of two finals took place tonight at The Musician for the obsUnplugged showcase; the running order was: Anna My Charlotte, Michael Vickers, Remy Turi, Amii Dawes, Idle Empire, Rob Kelly, Emily Crane, Dan Wright and Luke Broughton.
Diamonds and stars lit up the stage for tonight’s first singer Anna My Charlotte who sang whilst playing the harp. Her soft voice and well-articulated singing gave us a refreshing set of ear-pleasing folk songs.
Unplugged offers a showcase for singers, acoustic artists and groups.
It was a great pleasure to see Michael Vickers again. I have been following Mikey’s career in music ever since he was the singer in a band called Kicking Habits. He’s still going strong after seven to eight years entertaining audience around the UK with his upbeat, story-laden songs. His songs are taken from real experience and he delivers them with a passion that few can surpass. To me he is the Ed Sheeran of the Leicester music scene and I mean that in the nicest possible way. He ended with one of my favourite Vickers tunes:
A well pleasing performance from an artist who is roundly memorable.
See Michael Vickers at the O2 Academy, Leicester, on 23rd February when he will be supporting Barns Courtney.
Another singer, one who is well-known on the stages of Leicester, was Remi Tury. Her finely tuned voice and ample expression launched her captivating lyrics into the audience as she sang some of the her own songs, including some new ones.
obs Unplugged does for song and acoustic music what the well-known Original Bands Showcase does for bands and rock music.
Amii Dawes provided singing that had resonance with the crowd. Her fine voice doing justice to the delicately lyrical tunes that they played.
Idle Empire provided a full stage of musicians including a violinist, double bass player, two guitarists and a Cajón box drummer. Their music was rich in vitality as they plied the room with a set that was compelling and very enjoyable.
Idle Empire played at the Simons Says festival last year and at the Riverside Festival.
The band has played at previous obs Unplugged shows.
The second of the two obsUnplugged finals took place the following day on 13th February.
at Hansom Hall
by Keith Jobey
I say, I say, I say, what do the Leicester Comedy Festival, Hansom Hall and Sleaford Mods have in common? Simple: they all had something to do with Thursday evening’s gig.
In what can only be described as a bit of a coup, Just The Tonic Comedy Club, who put on regular comedy shows at Hansom Hall, persuaded Nottingham duo Sleaford Mods to come and play as part of Dave’s Leicester Comedy Festival. And despite it being a very under-publicised show, it sold out.
Since it was part of the comedy festival we got a compere and a couple of stand-up routines as warm up. All expressing their amazement at how different the crowd were from their usual shows. Will Hodgson first with up with tales of his My Little Pony collection and the Dave’s in his local pub. After a break Paul McCaffrey came on for a brisk 10 minute slot with a routine I recall watching on TV, highlighting the joys of music festivals. After this it was time for the music.
Sleaford Mods were simply outstanding. I hadn’t seen them live before but I knew what to expect. I knew there’d be these two geezers, one who sings (Jason), the other who presses play on the laptop and drinks lager (Andrew). The type of characters you try to avoid eye contact with in an unsavoury bar, but when you inevitably find them talking to you, turn out to be really sound blokes. It was a brilliant set. Seventeen profanity proliferated, beat bouncing, lyrically laden songs. But underlying it all is the reason I suspect they were chosen to play tonight. There is an essence of comedy present. A laughing in the face of adversity. Lyrics that may be harsh, blunt and cutting but so brilliantly worded that you can’t help but grin as you hear them. It was a brilliant crowd too, plenty dancing, moshing, singing and jumping about, making the floor of the venerable old hall bounce along with the beats. Inevitably, the crowd spilled onto the stage, mostly to dance alongside the duo, occasionally to stage dive but nothing to interrupt or distract from the superb performance.
I wouldn’t be surprised if this becomes gig of the year for a number of those attending. It’ll no doubt be one of mine. So with the Stella kicking in my brain, I’m off to tweet, tweet, tweeeeet!
Saturday 6th February
Some Kind Of Showcase
The Shed played host to one of the new series of events put on by Dreaming In Colour Productions. On stage were Jonezy, Once Vagrant Souls, Robert Kelly, Before The Crash and The Lads from BKK.
It’s a busy month for Jonezy; Leicester’s irrepressible rapper has been popping up all over the place, including Curve theatre but tonight he has back in his spiritual home: The Shed. Tonight the hip-hop star gave another fizzing performance of his songs in a varied set list that included some new numbers, alongside a few of his established favourites; all delivered with that same energy and commitment that is the hallmark of his success. Jonezy is unique; no one else does what he does and that is what makes him stand out.
Leicester band Before The Crash gave us another sparkling set that filled the hall with thrilling music and vibrant sounds. This band has climbed the ladder of popularity since they started and they get better every time we see them.
5th February 2016
Karns Bar, Hinckley
by Keith Jobey
Always looking out for a bit of an adventure we caught the train to Hinckley on Friday evening after noticing that Siobhan Mazzei was playing in Karns Bar in the town.
Karns Bar is a wine bar (yes, they still exist) and puts on a number of gigs, previously hosting bands such as UK Subs, Swamp Delta and The Minnaars. Tonight it was the turn of Alright the Captain and Luna Kiss. We anticipated a chatty event, with the acoustic singers tucked in the back corner, but how wrong we were. The acts were given a fair portion of the front raised bar area, with full PA, dry ice and fancy lights. Impressive.
Steve Faulkner promotions organised the event and the man himself was first to play. His was a quick set, consisting of four (or was it five) varied and interesting cover songs. He’s a competent performer with a decent, powerful voice. The Bowie tributes are still getting aired, Steve finishing with Life On Mars.
This was Siobhan Mazzei’s début gig in Hinckley, and it didn’t start well, when she broke a string in the first song. That man Steve Faulkner was quick to lend her his guitar though. However, if you’ve seen Siobhan play guitar before, you’ll know that she does a bit of guitar slapping / drumming accompaniment. Would the guitar survive unscathed? Her set featured most of her latest EP, a couple of jokes, her cover of Radiohead’s Creep, and her take on Slipknot to finish. I reckon the Hinckley folk liked her and will have her back, but will Steve lend her a guitar again?
So, the adventure was deemed a success, and seeing Siobhan also gave me a chance to get a physical copy of her latest CD. The main downside was that the last train back to Leicester departed at 10:59 so we had to make a hasty exit after Siobhan’s set, missing the two bands that followed, who presumably played until after midnight.
Incidentally, if you’re a fan of Siobhan you probably don’t want to miss her gig at the Musician on 22nd February where she’ll be playing with a backing band.
Rappers at Curve
Curve theatre saw performances by some of Leicester’s top rap artists including Jonezy, Lacky C and Frei as well as a DJ set by Harri Giorgio.
They were appearing as part of Local Offer Live, an event that brought together a wide range of organisations and the young people they help and support.
31st January 2016
Peter Wilkinson reports from the Noels Arms at Melton Mowbray
We pulled up a table near the front and joined the friendly folks that frequent what is locally known as Sunday – Funday. The trio MiSSiNG MiLE have the stage, and have already begun. The Fire is lit, the music is Americana, and today is going to be a very good day. Don’t let appearances put you off, the stage-wear theme is hats.
Matt Keneson bears more than a passing resemblance to Goodie Graeme Garden sporting a leather Stetson, where Mark Riley seems to be sporting the Badly Drawn Boy look, Richard James with his Top Hat, looks almost majestic seated upon his Cajón. In their own words “‘MiSSiNG MiLE’ [noun]: a raggletaggle trio of reprobates playing it how it feels across a selection of Americana-infused tunes”. We were told to “expect Acoustic niceness, sarcasm and hats” And that is exactly what we got. With Mark and Matt on Acoustic Guitars and Richard on Cajón, all three added vocals to build up some superb vocal layers and harmonies. Mark treated us to a unique cover version of Kate Bush’s Running up that Hill. The Ryan Adams classic Sweet Carolina was just simply moving.
At the half-time break, the pool table is covered in a selections of cheeses and snacks and the customers politely put a pound in the dish then help themselves, to what is quite often home cooked themed breads. Quite often ‘Marmite Cheesy Bread’ is on offer. If Heineken made pubs comes to mind… The Guys carry on with a sublime, renditions of The Weight by The Band, and Tom Petty’s Won’t Back Down, a fantastic afternoon was had by all, with anti-guitar banter from the rhythm section, Richard dislikes all guitarists apparently not just these two! With his smiling face and his tongue very firmly placed in his cheek. The guys skilfully weave their way through Americana, a little Pop and more than a hint of Country to boot. MiSSiNG MiLE: I’m missing you already!
Why not pop along and see what Melton has to offer on a Sunday? Immediately as the Noels Arms winds down the Crown (Burton Street) will usually have a band starting up (7pm) it’s not unheard of for the Noels Arms act to join in with this Gig at the Crown with plenty of time to jump back on the last train to Leicester. This is why it’s Sunday Funday. No two weekends are the same.
The Noels Arms: Wax Comical’s got Talent: 7.30pm
The Audience from MiSSiNG Mile stay on tonight for an extra addition to the evening in the form of Wax Comical’s Got Talent. The Noels started two years ago with original artists nights called Wax Lyrical. Then the Idea last year came for a bi monthly comedy evening that they call ‘Wax Comical’ tonight the audience has been asked to stay and help judge the funniest new comics from Jon Pearson’s recent Comedy Workshop. This is a special evening in preparation for Dave’s Leicester Comedy Festival. Tonight three newbie Comedians will pop their Comedy-Cherry What’s more the best will be invited to perform on Jon Pearson’s upcoming show at Melton Theatre on the 12th of February.
Jon Pearson hosts a night where you as the audience decide who is the funniest from his latest new comedians workshop. From the applicants the two that the Noels Arms audience deem the funniest will be performing alongside Jon at Melton Theatre for his Dave’s Leicester Comedy Festival “I Am What I Am” show on Friday February 12th. This is a great opportunity, not only do the New Comics get an open, warm and friendly audience as they take the first steps into comedy land, they will also get to upscale to a real 340 seater theatre for their second gig. This is an amazing start as Jon points out his first gig was to two blokes and a dog.
Jon Pearson hosts the evening and eases us into the night as we’re introduced Carl Jones, a circuit comedian with the best hair in the business! Carl is a very experienced comic, together with his Tracey Beaker hair, happily informs us that he is not a Geography Supply teacher, albeit he gets asked this a lot! With smooth delivery, he takes us on a weird and wonderful journey of Slow Cookers, 18 – 30 Holiday sightseeing, and even having once had a cuddle from a Drug Dealer during a Citizen arrest.
We next move into what Jon calls “The Middle Section” featuring Jon’s comedy worshippers. For the last four or five weeks Jon has been hosting a comedy workshop for our comedy hopefuls at Melton Theatre now we meet our first, Pete Welsh. I must here declare here an interest, as Pete is one of my friends I’ve met through the Noels Arms on Sunday Funday’s however I had no idea he was performing tonight. Very confidently Pete tells us of his coloured past. He tells us of his passage through the Army, enduring Mustard Gas and Pepper spray and finally emerging as “A WELL SEASONED OFFICER”. The Army life was not for him, but was great training for being a bar-man in Wales, especially for Ladies Darts Night. He’s been to some bad places in his time, Wrexham! I think he was talking about drugs when we found out about “The best Crack in Wales.”
Our next Comedy hopeful is Dominic Wood. Some people have volunteered for this workshop, Dominic informs us that he’s been ‘VOLUNTOLD!’ by his Classy-bird Wife and is living out his Mid-Life Crisis. Country squire looking Dominic tells us of the big things happening just over the border in Rutland. Not only have they got a bypass but they’ve got an M & S! The tales of the Battle of BP, between private school rivals from Uppingham and Oakham kick off on this Neutral BP Ground. It’s ‘Hockey Sticks at dawn with Fois–gras and Humus gets spilled everywhere. We are then all haunted by the spirit of Gloria Gaynor. There’s some strange goings on in that there Rutland. A superb first effort from Dominic, I can’t even tell gags to my mates in a pub and get laughs, yet Publican Dominic did this with ease. Well done.
Our last newbie was Tony Dunnill. The very smartly suited Tony informs us his musings on the North South Divide. Going from “Proper North” County Durham! He lets us know his new ideas on where London begins, I never realised it was Scotch Corner! Melton Mowbray is now a part of the Borough of London, well was news to me, as was that cockneys are from ‘Watford Gap’. The cheeky grinning comic talks of tales as an ex paramedic, trying to put an ECG on an old lady, Who’d have thought finding the “Nipple-Line” would be so difficult. Tony has invented a new phrase that I hope catches on “Breast-Slinky” the house erupted with this came out of his mouth. Brilliant Comic, you would not know for any of these guys that it was their first time.
Rounding off our evening we have Circuit Comic Will Duggan. He tells that Doctors are the closest thing to wizards and about inappropriately named hospital wards, No lie, there really is a ‘Forget me not’ Dementia Ward, there should be a ‘Usain Bolt Spinal Injuries Clinic. He has a problem with his eye and still made us laugh with material on this. It’s ok though, he’ll be cared for in ‘The Stevie Wonder Ward.’ Jon rounds off what has been a very enjoyable evening, He will announce soon which of the three acts will Join him on stage soon at the Dave Comedy Festival Show on the 12th of February Melton Mowbray.
NEWS JUST IN
Leicester organisation 2Funky Arts told us that applications have opened for the 2016 Project:live. They are looking for music artists, singer and rappers aged 18+.