The Great Imitation at The Soundhouse

Saturday 31st January 2015

Great Imitation at The Soundhouse

with Mark Elliott and Karl Phillips

I arrived at The Soundhouse just as singer Mark Elliott was finishing his set.

Mark Elliott has been one of the top singers and song writers of the Leicester scene for some time.

Mark Elliot at his album release show at the Cookie Jar
Mark Elliot at his album release show at the Cookie Jar

Writing about his work I said:

Mark Elliott has established a reputation for being one of the foremost singers and songwriters in our local area; in fact, he is also known for being a musician, having collaborated with a range of other artists and bands; guitar teacher, music producer … the list of his credits is impressive. We saw Mark last at the Cradock where we had joined the evening put on by The Simpletones and before that he was on stage with Charlee Drew at another launch show. Mark’s solo performances never fail to attract interest from his extensive fan base. For tonight’s show, Mark had assembled a prestigious line-up of support acts. Opening the show, a singer who is fast gaining ground on the solo circuits – Holli Coyle brought her eloquent voice and appealing set of contemporary-styled songs to the stage. Mark Elliot is a real craftsman when it comes to writing popular music. His lively songs are huggable and often jubilant though not without moments of spell-binding mood and emotion. The set drew to a close with a full-throttle song, to which hip-hop artist Nijah added some distinctive rap vocals.
An excellent night. A memorable event. [Arts in Leicester magazine, April 13th 2013]

Mark participated in the NX Level show in 2012; we reported:

Singing star Mark Elliott kicked off the second half. The well-known singer used a loop pedal to create his own backing tracks live on stage. Performing one of his own songs, Mark projected strong vocals and stage presence and drew an enthusiastic response from the crowd. The Judges’ verdict was good: “You have potential to sell records”, “consistently impressive at every performance”, “Very different to the other acts but the pedal was a gimmick, you are good enough without it.”

and later

The line-up was whittled down to two. Curtis Clacey and Mark Elliott found themselves in a nail-biting stand off for the winning post. Fortunately the two guys had know each other for a while and were friends. In fact, they once collaborated when they put on an impromptu jam session on the back of a bus and this got into YouTube. Mark has also collaborated on songs with other leading Urban artists, such as Kyle Jarvis (K.Y.)
Curtis performed his last song The One, followed by Mark Elliott who gave us his song Maybe She Will. Two impressive closing performances were almost equally as good, though for different reasons. Their style is artistically different but in terms of quality they were clearly neck and neck. [Arts in Leicester Magazine February 24th 2012]

Another review said:

The [Little Night Terrors] show was opened by Mark Elliott. Not only is he one of Leicester’s finest singers and songwriters but he has an amazing knack of collaborating with some of the top artists in our local area and sometimes beyond. His voice was highly listenable and he uses it to great effect. A finely tuned instrument. Well articulated vocals, agreeable songs, a singer of distinction, he presented a thoroughly good set tonight. [Arts in Leicester magazine, January 19th 2012]

Mark performed at the Strawberry Fields Festival in 2013

Mark Elliott, BBC Introducing Big Top Stage at 16:45. Mark, a charismatic singer/songwriter from Leicester, was an absolute treat to watch. With his silky smooth voice, the world-class catchiness of songs like ‘Maybe she Will’ and a fun, sensitive and light-hearted personality that comes across between songs, his performance was hugely entertaining. Mark’s thirty minute slot was one of my stand-out performances in the Big Top Stage. [Music in Leicester 2013]

Karl Phillips has performed before at The Soundhouse, with his band (when we saw them they were the Midnight Ramblers). We were treated to a great set from this celebrity artist of the UK music scene; also, very funny lyrics which had the audience falling about with laughter; “I met this girl last week and wrote a song about her” – the girl with no arms; the rest we cannot print but it was extremely funny. The perfect act to put on with The Great Imitation. If you check out Karl’s Facebook page you will learn that

The last few years has seen Karl Support Chase & Status, Example, Wiley, Reverend & The Makers, Skepta, RDGLDGRN & Alabama 3 on tour. Air time on numerous BBC Introducing shows, including BBC 6 Music. Summers were spent in Festival mode spreading the Rock/Rap/Ska vibe as far as Latvia! Sharing stages with the likes of The Subways, Tinchy Stryder and Zane Lowe. Meaning Karl and the boys have been performing non stop for nearly 4 years…. and loving every second of it!


Check out Karl Phillips on Facebook

Last time we saw Great Imitation – again at The Soundhouse – we wrote

Tonight we saw the return of The Great Imitation. James Scott-Howes and Ryan Albutt are back! Some of the old songs are still on the menu, such as Boom, Boom, Shake The Room and Do You Feel Like a Real Man now? Age has not withered them not custom staled their infinite variety. So much has been written about these guys over the years. Still the same amazingly good act. These are two artists that work so well together. James does the rapping and Ryan provides the backing. Comedy, presence, and likeability – an act that has its own unique character. Good to see them back.
[Music in Leicester, Saturday 22nd November]

That gig was more like a warm-up appearance whereas tonight was the band’s come-back gig. Now armed with a group of musicians, including a drummer and bass-player, James Scott-Howes and Ryan Albutt are a band again. It seems like many of their old fans have turned up tonight to see them again. New material plus some of the old songs, such as ‘so you feel like a real man now’ and ‘boom, boom, shake the room’ and still the same rocket-fuelled, high octane act – funny and highly enjoyable. Even so, the songs had content and a message.

Writing about Great Imitation, as was, we said:

Music Comedy Night at the Shed, Friday 23rd January 2009. The show was completed by The Great Imitation, the duo comprising wild front man James, accompanied by the more sober Ryan on guitar and backing vocals. James raps his way through some engaging songs, with his flamboyant antics, reminiscent of Mick Jagger on speed. It’s old skool rap, rich in humour but with an edge that can be even aggressive in places. Idiosyncratic and decidedly alternative, the GI is an act that has attracted a devoted following. Pumping out megawatts of energy but with considerable music skill, this is one act you will not forget easily. Crazy, funny but always entertaining, we got quality acts and an equally good audience [Arts in Leicester Magazine]

and again

Dan White’s Comedy Night, The Shed, Friday 6th March 2009. James and Ryan of the Great Imitation have established themselves as an iconic act which is attracting a loyal following of fans. James does the rapping, accompanied by Ryan on the guitar and melodic backing vocals. With sharp edged lyrics and flamboyant action from James, they are an amazing double act. [Arts in Leicester magazine, 2009]

When they won a major national festival and the organisers commented:

Congratulations to Great Imitation who blew everyone’s minds, a much deserved win! Surface Festival takes bands at grass roots level and brings them through a journey culminating in an industry showcase. [Arts in Leicester magazine, 2011]

We saw them at the Strawberry Fields Festival in 2011:

What else can one say about James Scott-Howe’s performances with the Great Imitation, other than unforgettable. This amazing artists is like no other. It’s not just the memorable and amusing rap songs that he sings, it’s also the athletically wild theatricals that go with them. Long before the four musicians arrived on stage, a crowd had gathered in front of the SJ stage, to await the arrival of this amazing act. [Arts in Leicester magazine, 2011.]

Great Imitation supported Sonic Boom Six in 2011:

Sonic Book Six played at the Soundhouse on 14th October 2011. It was one of those magic nights. A big crowd of people had packed down to the front. They were bouncing around and waving their hands in the air as Sonic Boom Six got into their set of totally infectious songs. A hot atmosphere for a hot band as the crowd went mad for their songs. People have travelled a long way to get to this gig. This was the second date in the band’s current UK tour. Last night they played in Derby. I wish all nights could be like this. They were on stage tonight with Last Edition, and The Great Imitation. A memorable night with a capacity turn out. [Arts in Leicester magazine, 2011]

Back to night’s show:

One of Leicester most unusual acts and one of its greatest musical treasures. James took off his shirt to reveal his exhibition of tattoos. The band’s performance delivered split-second timing. At a time when many musical acts appear somewhat sombre, GI stands out.  It’s not all about high jinks and antics; GI is impressively good at song-writing. They are one of the most iconic and unique acts of our local music scene. GI finished their set with their hit single ‘It’s all about you’ (Bittersweet Heart Attackswhich you can see on YouTube.


Follow Great Imitation on Facebook.

Hear tracks from Great Imitation on Soundcloud.

See also:

That Was January – our round up of music for the month.

Our report on Place Faces at The Firebug.

We saw Roboter at The Shed.

About The Editor 536 Articles
The Editor of Music in Leicester magazine is Kevin Gaughan assisted by Trevor Locke