27th July 2014
Leicester Music Festival 2014
Our report on the LMF (amended edition of 19th October)
The photographs taken for MIL by Kevin Gaughan will be in soon; in the meantime, here are some of my own shots to give you a quick flavour of what I was doing over the two days of the festival. Please come back to this page on Monday for the second edition (with added photographic content.)
Photos by Trevor Locke.
The Leicester Music Festival.
Trevor Locke reports with photos by Kevin Gaughan.
The Leicester Music Festival was held on 25th and 26th July 2014 at the Tigers Stadium, Aylestone Road, Leicester. It was organised by Kong Events, a Leicester-based event management company. The crowd enjoyed two days of very warm sunshine and had travelled to the event from many parts of the East Midlands.
Friday 25th July 2014
(see below for Saturday)
The main stage
Heatwave was the first act on stage – Harvey Cantwell (15) having pulled out – so they got the opening slot. Best known for their hit song Boogie Nights (1977), the concert was opened by Heatwave. This funk, disco and soul band has been a chart-topping group since the 1970s. Boogie Nights, Always and Forever (1077) and The Groove Line (1978) are often quoted as being their most popular numbers. The band was on stage at Leicester’s O2 Academy for the Alexander O’Neal gig last year. In our review of that show we wrote
Heatwave came on to the stage and gave the audience a full hour of their catalogue of songs. The two singers at the front were backed by a full band that included keyboard players, guitarist, drummer and bassist and two female backing vocalists. What the room got was sixty minutes of compelling beats and rhythms and a storming stage presence. Their front man made the most of his lively stage act, which included a full cart-wheel, which brought the house down. They got the audience singing along to their songs and refraining back “ooo baby yeah baby.” The room was filled with their fans and what was clear was that this style of music is widely loved and enjoyed by Leicester people and, of course, those who had travelled quite some way to be at the show [Music in Leicester 2013]
Heatwave was on Top Of The Pops in 2009 and on other occasions. Keyboard player and song-writer Rod Templeton wrote songs for Michael Jackson.
Hannah Boleyn was on stage today, in one of two appearances, with her backing band. Hannah is a local singer and song-writer who grew up in Leicestershire and counts among her influences, Amy Winehouse, Lana Del Ray and Shirley Bassey. Hannah has played support with The Overtones, James Morrison and Toploader in both Leicester and London. She has her own headline show at the O2 Academy and came to the attention of Dean Jackson who played her songs on The Beat programme.
Aswad provided a set of reggae sounds that brought back the colour and atmosphere of of over two decades of their albums and chart successes since they formed in London in 1974. Noted as being pioneers of Caribbean music here in the UK and in Europe, they have recorded with Bob Marley, Pete Tosh and Bunny Wailer. In 1976 the band’s Back To Africa became a number one hit on the reggae charts. In 1988 Don’t Turn Around was number one in the UK charts.
Billy Ocean’s set brought us several songs we know including and people got up to dance and sang along with these well-known chart hits. People really liked this and a huge cheer went up at the end of the song. In his lifetime, Billy Ocean has sold over thirty million records, giving him a number of gold and platinum awards world-wide. Love Really Hurts Without You reached number two in the UK charts. It was a song that the LMF audience loved and a good many of them sang along to it.
Katy B was on stage with her DJ and four dancers; she got a good response from the crowd and her vibrant set kept the momentum going after the Billy Ocean set. A singer with a string of chart and album successes behind her, she put on a set that caught the mood of the crowd, her energetic performance resonating with people of all ages.
Diversity was dance act I had seen on the TV a few times, particularly when they won the 2009 sires three of Britain’s Got Talent television competition, where they astounded judges like Simon Cowell and Piers Morgan, winning the series and even knocking Susan Boyle into second place. I have to say, I really enjoyed Diversity, the dance routines were spectacular and the music was amazingly good. Diversity, a street-dance troupe, formed in 2007 and were based in London. They performed two sets, one on Friday and again on Saturday, and were a huge hit with the audience. People were cheering and screaming as they watched some of the astonishing acrobatics of this highly talented young group. At one point they were joined on stage by a guitarist who added an additional layer of sound into the backing tracks. Many of those who had seen them on the TV would remember the smallest of the dancers Perri Kiely, the one with the big afro hair who gets thrown around a lot by the other members of the troupe. Exciting and highly entertaining.
Soul II Soul saw ten musicians on the stage with a variety of instruments and three singers plus their DJ to provide an up-beat set of songs. Vibrant music from Caribbean roots, Soul II Soul features Jazzie B, who performed last year at the Alexander O’Neal concert in Leicester’s O2 Academy. Jazzie’s distinguished career has seen him win the Ivor Novello award in 2008 he was honoured with an OBE for his services to music. One of the acts at LMF that has over many years placed Black music firmly in the charts and music history of the UK, trend that has been added to by artists such as Labrinth and The Real Thing.
Professor Green was one of two headline acts at the end of Friday’s line-up. On stage with him were a guitarist, keyboard player, drummer and bassist and female vocalist. Is he a rapper or a singer? Well, he is both. Someone you would have seen on the TV a fair bit as well as live at a variety of festivals and stadium events, Pro Green was the headline act at the opening of Leicester’s O2 Academy. Reporting on the opening night, in 2010, Arts in Leicester magazine wrote:
Professor Green (Stephen Paul Manderson) appeared on stage and huge cheer went up from the 1000+ fans packed on to the floor of the house. Dressed in a simple green t-shirt and Jeans, he cut the image of an ordinary joe in the street. His performance was that of a super star… Professor Green talked to the crowd, drawing them into the action, warming to them as much as they warmed to him. In between and sometimes during songs, he talked to the fans, making them feel like they are having an audience with him, personalising his show. He understands what they are feeling, they understand what he is singing about. It’s interactive in a way that TV is not… he has grown from an underground hero to mainstream star. He has just released his debut album (Monday 19th July) ‘Alive Till I’m Dead’ on Virgin Records to mass critical acclaim, reaching #2 in the UK album charts. [Arts in Leicester magazine, 2010]
As he said on stage today, he was glad to be back in Leicester and referred to his appearance at the O2 Academy opening night. Pro Green’s set was full of energy and he worked the crowd tonight drawing them into his act, getting to sing along and delivering a set that sparkled with passion and excitement. He has a new album coming out for which he has written some new songs, he told the audience.
Local rap artist Curtis Clacey was sandwiched between the two closing headline acts. Curtis will be remembered for his set at last year’s Abbey Park Fireworks when he and another local act – Jonezy – went down well with the thousands of teenagers who had gathered to see boy band The Vamps, just at the point when they were beginning to hit the big time. Curtis Clacey is an artist who is enjoying increasing popularity at the moment.
Tinie Tempah was the star attraction of the day, if not the whole event. So many people commented on how good his set was. It was an explosive performance. During his visit Tinie, who looks set to top the charts with his new single this week, spent time with children from the Wishes 4 Kids charity – the organisation, based in Leicestershire, helps life-limited and terminally ill youngsters from the region meet their idols. See below for a link to their website.
Saturday 26th July 2014
Today’s show began with Violet Cities, the local band that won itself a place at the festival’s main stage. Violet Cities is a band that is enjoying considerable popularity and success at the moment. MIL was at the Play@LMF semi-finals which they won to get their slot on the main stage at today’s festival- Play@LMF finals report. Having formed in 2013, Violet Cities issued their EP Young Hearts at the LMF (it’s also available on i-Tunes.) Lead singer James Lewis has enjoyed a successful career as a solo artist and has had previous band before forming this present one. The band has been featured by presenter Dean Jackson on the BBC’s Introducing programme.
Local band Formal Warning followed on the main stage. One of our long-established local bands (they formed in 2009), Formal Warning has a reputation that has included many appearances at large festivals both in the UK and in Europe. We saw them at the Glastonbudget festival in May and again at the Foxton Locks festival. Formal Warning is a band with a high energy stage show, featuring the star lead singer Ash Wright. Today’s set featured some of their best-loved pop/rock and indie songs that have earned them a large following in Leicester. Their music, described in the programme as “catchy commercial” includes many memorable melodies and catchy breaks. They have supported Kaiser Chiefs and Scouting for Girls and they were on stage with the iconic Los Angeles band OPM with whom they toured in 2012.
Stereo Nation’s lead singer Taz (Johnny Zee), from Coventry, whose Hit The Deck remained in the UK Asian pop charts at number one for 36 weeks, a song that was produced by Neville Staples from The Specials. Stereo Nation has pioneered pop fusion and today’s set provided a good example of this cross-cultural genre. Taz won the Best International Artist at the UK Asian Music Awards in 2005.
Hannah Boleyn’s second set of the event marked her out as one of the many successful female artists from Leicestershire, where she grew up, although she is now based in London.
Only The Young, a young, four-piece pop band from London entertained the crowd with a selection of their bouncy ballads. The two boys and two girls commented on the band’s Facebook page “Leicester was amazing.” In June the unsigned band played at Wembley Stadium for the Summertime ball.
The Real Thing’s three singers had a string of hit singles in the 1970s including You To Me Are Everything and Can’t Get By Without You. They became one of the UK’s best-selling black groups and have had many singles in the all-time top 100 charts. Their set of soul-influenced progressive songs went down well with those in the crowd who remembered them when they were in the charts and on the radio and TV. Pioneers of disco, the band is till performing and touring throughout the UK. Listening to them live on stage today was almost like watching a TV programme, there were so many memorable hit songs.
Ali Campbell band. Ali Campbell left UB40 in 2008. A good performance much liked by the Crowd.
Sam Bailey, from Leicester was the singer who won the 2013 X-factor. I saw her live at The Athena Theatre two days before she won the star prize on the TV show and I could see then that she was a phenomenally good entertainer as well as being an artist with a stunning voice. The stadium was filled with Sam’s magnificent vocals, soaring over the field and stands with the crowd cheering like mad. Sam is expecting her third child soon, some national newspapers reported after today’s appearance. Sam has become one of Leicestershire’s biggest music stars.
Boy band Union J are four young men whose music had enjoyed a massive following amongst the nation’s teenagers and their career, like that of Sam Bailey, took off when they got through to the semi-finals of the X factor, and they were a clear favourite with today’s young people at the LMF.
Kool and The Gang was another of the iconic acts on this weekend’s festival stage whose music delivered a set of instantly recognisable tunes. Celebration being the one that I particularly liked. This Grammy Award-winning group has clocked up millions of record sales world-wide and they been performing live for the past 35 years.
Diversity was back on stage again today for a second dance routine; and the wowed the crowd as much today as they did yesterday.
The Saturdays – five young ladies who challenge The Spice Girls, in my opinion – delivered an ear-pleasing set of pop songs and a tantalising stage show to go with it. With a series of top ten hits behind them, since they formed in London in 2007 with Polydor Records. They toured with Girls Aloud and followed this up with their own headline tours. A highly successful singing and dancing group, they have several studio albums and singles behind them which have achieved chart success.
The closing headline act of Saturday was Labrinth. I went down to the front for his performance and there was certainly a buzz in the crowd. I had seen him live before at the 2012 Strawberry Fields festival. It was the experience that made it, the interaction between the man on the stage as the crowds packed in front of the crash barriers. It was a thrilling experience which brought the festival to a resounding finale.
The line-up offered a rich variety of sounds over the two days: pop, hip-hop, rap, reggae, rock… there was something for everyone in the eclectic programme that brought together some of the iconic sounds of the past with those of the contemporary music scene. The programme also gave the opportunity for two Leicester bands to play at a major music event – Formal Warning and Violet Cities (who were the winners of the Play@LMF competition.)
The urban location of the Tigers ground meant that it was easily accessible and, as a sports stadium, having advantages, over field events that we are used to, for most of our local festivals.
Putting on a festival of this scale at a stadium never used before for a music event was bound to a challenge. Bringing together a programme of established acts – some ‘golden oldies’ and some top notch now acts – with a miscellany of genres, was always going to be a gamble. It was an event aimed at families and pulled in fans from a wide geographical area. Just looking round the crowd over the two days, it was clearly an event that had drawn people in from a wide region. LMF clashed with the Simon Says festival which took place at DeMontfort Hall and which attracted a lot of Leicester music fans who might possibly have gone to the other event. We can speculate as to why the two events ended up on the same weekend but the end result was that music lovers were provided with a wide choice of music over this weekend. Ticket-wise the prices for both events were roughly similar.
What stood out for was the programming, in which well established bands with considerable reputations in the history of UK pop music could be enjoyed alongside some of the country’s rising modern stars. That must have attracted the wide range of people that were in the stadium for the two days of diverse musical choices.
In a press release issued by the LMF, this weekend was described as an ‘inaugural event’, suggesting that we might well see it returning next year and in future years. In a message on the LMF’s Facebook, they wrote “we look forward to seeing you next year.”
You might have thought that the LMF audience was a bunch of ‘oldies’ in search of nostalgia; in fact it was a very mixed crowd in terms of age, teenagers attracted by the pop acts standing alongside the older people who remembered the songs from the 70s and 80s that were offered by the long-established artists. You could tell that it was a music event enjoyed throughout by people of all ages.
I hope that the festival will be back next year and will continue to celebrate the kind of musical culture that appeals to fans of all ages both in the country as a whole and to our local residents, in a city and region that stands out for its musical heritage. If the festival organisers decide to continue to offer stage time to both big-named national acts and also to the rising stars of our vibrant local music scene, then I for one will be only to happy to be there again.
Some radio stations were broadcasting live from the event. I was in the media room overlooking the pitch at the top of the Goldsmiths Stand (I dubbed it the ‘commentary box’) with Demon FM so I got to do a couple of interviews about what was happening on the stage. Several acts came into the OB studio for interview sessions, including Hannah Boylen, Violet Cities and Curtis Clacey. The event got coverage in the national press and on national TV. So, millions of people got to see that Leicester now has its own music festival.
In front of the main entrance to the Tigers Stadium local promoters had set up an acoustics performance area where local acts could entertain concert-goers as they arrived on site. On Friday Andy Fox and Nile McGreggor were working the sound system and looking after the artists as they arrived.
One local band got to play four times: The Bench That Rocked and the steel band Contrast Steel also put in a number of excellent performances.
Strangler Figs was one of the highlights of Friday’s acoustic line-up. Joel Hanson was there with his full double base plus their keyboard player, a full drum kit and three microphones for the singers. Plenty of people stopped to listen on their way into the stadium.
There were performances on Friday from Leicester band Beneath The Lights, singers Sylvia de Souza, Joe Connor, Dan Freestone, George Simpson and Matt Henshaw. On Saturday Leicester band The Deadshoot did an acoustic set with further performances from The Strangler Figs and The Bench That Rocked. A pretty good line-up of local talent as this free side-event.
Holding music events in sports stadiums is not new to the UK but it is new to Leicester. Compared to the larger number of field-based events that have going on for many years, a stadium event offers some noticeable advantages.
Seating was in plentiful supply. The main stand was huge and the stage was placed so that it was facing it. The pitch, covered to protect the grass, allowed a generous supply of standing room. Whereas field festivals require the supply of toilets and bars, the Tigers ground had all the facilities built in as well as having its perimeter well organised to cope with the flows of large numbers of people.
There were some added features that are not normally found at field events, such as the air-conditioned boxes that were made available to media and VIPs at the top of the Goldsmiths stand. With its Wi-Fi built in, this was a luxury. In some ways, it was like being in a four star hotel and the standard of catering and the supply of lounge areas, the deeply carpeted corridors and public areas of the site giving it the feel of a hotel; but then the Tigers stadium was built with all the facilities of a first-class conferencing and hospitality venue purpose made.
The main stage was big – probably on the scale of the one used at the recent Kasabian gig on Victoria park. With TV screens placed with side of the stage and up to four cameras projecting images on to it, this was a suitably professional standard installation.
Around the pitch area were food outlets, ice-cream vans and some stalls offering merchandise. So, in that respect, the main public area had the feel of a field-based festival. The whole of the grass area was covered with specialised plastic sheeting – so none of the mud or animal droppings frequently associated with events taking place on farm sites. Towards the back of the pitch people were sitting on rugs and in the sunshine with which the event event was blessed over the two days, it resembled a beach scene. This was a family event and there was plenty of open space for young children to run round and play.
The fine weather was a real bonus and overall it was a good event that added something new to Leicester’s thriving music scene.
visit www.leicestermusicfestival.co.uk, follow @LeicesterMF on Twitter, or see Facebook www.facebook.com/leicesterMF
For more information on Wishes 4 Kids visit their website.
Leicester Music Festival takes place from 25th to 26th July 2014 and will be held at the Welford Road Stadium (the Tigers Ground.)
This article looks at the background to the event and to the acts that we are looking forward to seeing over the next two days.
The programme for the two-day event offers a large number of nationally famous music artists.
On Friday the main stage will see Professor Green and then Tinie Tempah.
On Saturday, UB40 will be p-laying in the afternoon, followed by X-Factor winner Sam Bailey and in the evening Labrinth will be the closing act.
Local bands will also be performing at the event, including Play@LMF winners Violet Cities, Leicester’s foremost pop rock band Formal Warning and the always entertaining The Bench That Rocked.
Organisers Shane Whitfield and Manoj Keshavji are very proud to announce Leicester Music Festival will take place in July next year. Both local Leicestershire businessmen have promised to bring a wide array of music from Soul, R’n’b, Hip Hop and Pop. Organisers are hoping that the festival will help Leicester attract larger events and bring commerce to the city. Manoj said “Be proud of your City, Be proud of Leicester.”
Leicester Music Festival will take place over two days July 25th and 26th at the home of the Leicester Tigers, The Welford Road Stadium. There will be expected crowds of up to 22,000 for each day.
The planned Festival opening hours between midday to 10.30pm and will feature different genres of music to suit all ages encouraging a family atmosphere.
Leicester Music Festival is being held at Welford Road Stadium, which is home to the Leicester Tigers, The best-supported and most successful club in English rugby, Leicester Tigers occupy an enviable position in the game both at home and abroad. From domination of the Midlands Cup in their formative years to national knockout cup conquests and on to a place at the top of the professional game, nine English league titles and back-to-back European crowns, Leicester have set the benchmark for others to follow.
Leicester’s burgeoning local band scene is invited to get involved in the biggest music event to hit the city in recent history – with a slot sharing the stage with A-list artists up for grabs.
PLAY@LMF will offer the chance for unsigned bands from Leicestershire and the Midlands to prove to a credible panel of judges that they deserve a place on the line-up at the Leicester Music Festival.
Two winners will perform on the same stage as million-selling acts such as Professor Green, Union J, Billy Ocean and Soul II Soul, with one band each playing to a crowd of 22,000 music lovers on Friday 25 and Saturday 26 July 2014.
Launching today, the competition will whittle down entries through online voting and a series of live heats, which will take place in venues across Leicester from March 2014.
A maximum of 150 entrants selected by the PLAY@LMF team will be progressed into round two of elimination by public vote. A total of 50 bands can progress to live heats, based on the number of unique votes cast on the website at www.leicestermusicfestival.co.uk/PLAY.
Successful bands who make it through to live heats will be judged by an expert panel to be announced on the day. Judging criteria will include performance, musical ability, originality and fan response.
Entry conditions include that acts must have at least one member who resides in or was born in Leicestershire or the Midlands, and they must not have been signed to a record label.
The first two acts have now been released to the public. The first act to be released was Soul II Soul with Jazzie B featuring Caron Wheeler. Jazzie B was nominated for 19 awards between 1990-1993, five of which he won. He was also honoured with an OBE from the Queen for his services to music.
The second act to be announced by Leicester Music Festival was Billy Ocean. Over his career he has sold over 30 million records worldwide and had number one hits in the USA, Australia, Germany, Holland and the UK. Billy Ocean also wrote the original “When the going gets tough, the tough get going”, which has been an iconic song throughout the years.
A-List stars from each genre of music are expected to be announced over the next few months. One of the headline artists is to be released before Christmas!
Information and reviews
The idea of the festival was first suggested at a show organised by the same people and held at The O2 Academy Leicester in June 2013, when the headline act was Alexander O’Neal. Read our review of this show.