March 2017

Music for the month of March 2017

Our monthly round-up of Leicester’s music offerings.

This is where we publish reviews (or links to reviews) of what we saw in March.

You can be on it

Yes. Your write-up of a gig or show that you went to can appear on this page. Just send us your words and any pictures you took – if you cannot get photos don’t worry – we have a huge library of pics of all the bands and singers in this part of the world.

You don’t have to write a huge, learned essay – just tell us who played, what they did and where they did it. And what you thought about it. How to contact us at Music in Leicester.

Help put Leicester’s music on the map.


Coming up:

Jesus and Mary Chain at the O2. Opening night at the Echo Factory. Opening night at The Shed.  More Metal2theMasses at Firebug.

31st March

Echo Factory opening night

I remember 68 Humberstone Gate when it operated as Fabrika art gallery and cafe. Some people might even recollect it was the old Walkabout Australian theme bar. Just down from The Palais. Now it is a music school. After being closed for a few years, a complete refurbishment has turned it into a state of the art establishment – we reported on it earlier this year [Music in Leicester magazine]  with a large and very well equipped concert hall.

Echo Factory – the stage. January 2017.

Tonight we heard Aztec Temples, Prime and Jabbawoki bands as well as from Emily J Crane and Rapture and acoustic Kait. Branded as Pop-Up Rock, the evening was presented by Phono Media UK – specialists in social media management, marketing, sponsorship, promotions, event and gig management. The first few acts were streamed and after their performances they were interviewed. You can see videos from the night on Facebook.

Aztec Temples at Echo Factory, 31st March 2017. Photo by Kevin Gaughan.

Leicester’s indie rock stars Aztec Temples opened the show with three songs, including the new cover they are now playing – Brim Full of Asha by Cornershop – you probably know it; it has the chorus

Everybody needs a bosom for a pillow
Everybody needs a bosom
Everybody needs a bosom for a pillow
Everybody needs a bosom
Mine’s on the 45

I remembered it coming out in 1997. The Temple’s version is rocket-propelled but you can still get the infectious melody. A good opening performance from one of Leicester’s up and coming bands whose tour schedule is taking them the length and breadth of the country in the months ahead.

Aztec Temples at Echo Factory, 31st March 2017. Photo by Kevin Gaughan.

Having launched the evening, AT came back to headline the show later. This is a band that I admire very much – mainly for their engaging melodies and catchy lyrics. This is a band we have reviewed many times before in this magazine.

Prime at Echo Factory, 31st March 2017. Photo by Kevin Gaughan.

Having seen Prime before (when they supported Jersey Budd at the O2 Academy in October last year) I knew we were in for something good from this Nottinghamshire-based band.

Prime at Echo Factory, 31st March 2017. Photo by Kevin Gaughan.

A set that sparkled with energy was delivered with lashings of enthusiasm there was plenty to like about them.

Prime at Echo Factory, 31st March 2017. Photo by Kevin Gaughan.

Punchy songs, rich rhythms and bouncing tunes added up to a good set. Lee Heir’s lead vocals were a smash hit.

A thrilling discovery tonight was Jabbawoki from Leeds.

Jabbawoki at Echo Factory, 31st March 2017. Photo by Kevin Gaughan.

They were really good. Razor sharp songs and a set of sounds that was decidedly different.

Jabbawoki at Echo Factory, 31st March 2017. Photo by Kevin Gaughan.

This is a band I hope to see again in Leicester one day. Their music reflected influences like Arctic Monkeys, Red Hot Chilli Peppers, Muse, and many more notable names from the world of rock and pop.

Signed to Haggis Records. As their Facebook page notes: ‘Jabbawoki have developed a unique sound- elements of rap, indie and jazz help create their unique sound.’  Musical, edgy, compelling – I liked them a lot.

Emily J Crane performed an acoustic solo set.

Emily J Crane at Echo Factory, 31st March 2017. Photo by Kevin Gaughan.

and Kait also gave us her acoustic offering

Kait at Echo Factory, 31st March 2017. Photo by Kevin Gaughan.

From DMU, the band we called Rapture, but which called themselves
Ra,Pt,U,Re, delivered a forthright and rocking set of songs. Stylish.

Rapture at Echo Factory, 31st March 2017. Photo by Kevin Gaughan.

Interesting to see how the new venue had been arranged, with its shabby-chic re-purposed pallets for tables and chairs, a bank of stage lights and a bar with some commendable prices.

Echo Factory – seating in the foyer, January 2017.

Certainly a place I will want to see the inside of again. Others I spoke to tonight also liked the venue.

Lighting over the stage at Echo Factory, 31st March 2017.

28th March

The Jesus and Mary Chain

at Leicester O2 Academy

Photos by Kevin Gaughan

It’s not very often that we here at MIL go to see a very big band; tonight we did. The Jesus and Mary Chain is a band that we knew about. Kevin Gaughan – who took the photos – had been to see them years ago and me, well even I had heard of them. So we asked if we could be there.

The Jesus and Mary Chain at Leicester O2, 28th March 2017. Photo by Kevin Gaughan.

Founded in 1983 in East Kilbride, The Jesus and Mary Chain’s brand of vintage alternative rock has attracted a substantial following over the years. Tonight’s appearance was part of the band’s Damage and Joy Tour. If you have not in fact heard of this band before, you want to examine some of the superlatives that have been written about them; take this, for example:

Few bands have had such a huge effect on musical culture, as The Jesus and Mary Chain. Their attitude alone, dressed in black, angry with the world, playing short sets drenched in feedback, set the bench mark in the post Sex Pistols music scene of London. Their seminal debut album Psychocandy would go on to change the course of popular music, channeling the sneering angst and noise distortion of the live shows into hypnotic sweet melodies layered with dark lyrics that would beguile and bewilder. [From the band’s official website.]

Since their early days in the wasteland outskirts of Glasgow, the band has travelled around the world. After moving to London, the band was joined by Bobby Gillespie from Primal Scream after the release of their first single Upside Down. Brothers Jim and William Reid have been the backbone of the band. It was in 1985 that they released their seminal album Psychocandy which placed firmly on the map of British music and won them critical acclaim. In 1998 the band split up only to come back together in 2007. The two Reid brothers were on stage tonight together with three musicians who had joined the band in the noughties.

The Jesus and Mary Chain at Leicester O2, 28th March 2017. Photo by Kevin Gaughan.

Tonight, the main arena of the Academy was pretty much full; so that about even to eight hundred people by my reckoning which is not bad for a Tuesday night in Leicester. Mostly people in their middle ages, they clearly were reliving something that had made a considerable impact on them in their youth. I felt like an interloper who had gate-crashed a private party.

The Jesus and Mary Chain at Leicester O2, 28th March 2017. Photo by Kevin Gaughan.

Apparently, this band has a liking for over-produced lighting including lots of stroboscopes and very flashy effects and a pall of of very thick smoke almost obliterating any view of the stage. Added to that they are said to have a penchant for squealing feedback. The few few songs of their set had plenty of bounce and foot-tapping rhythms and you could see hundreds of heads nodding in the crowd. Thereafter, things went downhill with a raft of rather samey songs that might have delighted the dedicated fans but felt a bit flat to outsiders like me. I have to admit that any old come-back band that can fill the O2 on a wet Tuesday night has to have something going for it.

Shimmer Band at Leicester O2, 28th March 2017. Photo by Kevin Gaughan.

There was one support band and they opened the show. Also from Scotland, The Shimmer Band gave us a set of vibrant songs, full of bouncy beats and fizzy sounds.

Shimmer Band at Leicester O2, 28th March 2017. Photo by Kevin Gaughan.

A pretty good night out in many respects. The event was hosted by The Cookie (not sure what that means exactly but thanks to them for arranging our tickets.)

Things to see:

On YouTube, Amputation (official video)

The Jesus and Mary Chain website.

25th March

Aztec Temples

at Pi Bar.

Not having been to Pi Bar, in Narborough Road, for a very long time, I decided to go there to see Leicester’s Aztec Temples.

Conor and Tom of Aztec Temples at The Shed, 19th November 2016. Photo: by Kevin Gaughan.

I could tell you how good they were; but I am not going to do that now.  I will see them again on Friday 31st March when they will be appearing at The Echo Factory, in Humberstone Gate, the new venue.  They will be appearing with Prime and Jabberwoki.

24th March

The Cookie

with False Heads, The Lids and The Blinders. Photos by Kevin Gaughan.

Presented by promoters This Feeling, the evening was a good chance to see the inside of the Cookie again, not having been there for a long time.

False Heads at The Cookie, 24th March 2017. Photo by Kevin Gaughan.

London band False Heads brought several qualities to the stage tonight: energy. Traction. Pace. Impact. Banging beats. A set with plenty of punch. A spirited performance. The band’s Facebook page puts their genre as ‘snot pop’ (inventive to say the least.)

False Heads drummer at the Cookie 24th March 2017. Photo by Kevin Gaughan.

I particularly liked it when the drummer was singing. I admire drummers who sing.

The Lids, at The Cookie, 24th March 2017. Photo by Kevin Gaughan.

The main attraction tonight, for me, was an appearance by Leicester band The Lids. This is a band I have been following and, once I got my head round their music, I realised their sound was important and highly enjoyable. They were wonderful. Their song-writing is clever, inventive, creative, artful. They produce a sound that is contemporary. This is a quality band. Their set was full of engaging songs. Long have I applauded what they do. Three musicians of unquestionable ability. Tonight they gave a performance that was simply immaculate. The Lids are Liam Butler (vocals, bass guitar), Rhys Butler (guitar) and Jack Dearden (drums.) We have mentioned them many times before in this magazine.

The Blinders at The Cookie, 24th March 2017. Photo by Kevin Gaughan.

The Blinders. Powerful. Passionate. Atmospheric. Their set was never short on resonance. The music bristled with static electricity. Clearly a band with creative nous. Not your average stuff.

The Blinders at The Cookie, 24th March 2017. Photo by Kevin Gaughan.

The crowd at the front was bouncing around in a mosh pit of enjoyment. Music that moved people. The band hailed from Doncaster but now are based in Manchester. They describe their genre as ‘alternative’ (though to what remains to be imagined.)

21st March

Surfer Blood

at The Cookie

by Gav Squires

It’s been a rough couple of years for Surfer Blood from Florida. In 2015, just as they announced their third album, 1000 Palms, guitarist Thomas Fekete left the band after being diagnosed with sarcoma. Sadly, he passed away last year and the band have dedicated their new album, Snowdonia, to his memory. The tour for the album brings them to The Cookie in Leicester.

Opening the show are Leicester three-piece Jouska, fresh from releasing their eponymous debut album last month. They verge from sounding like Editors’ mid-00s take on post-punk to an ill-advised foray into a funk breakdown on one track. Although the band they reminded me the most of is very early Stone Roses, if they’d kicked out Ian Brown and kept listening to too much Guns ‘n’ Roses – all riffs and solos. Jimmy actually plays like an angry Mani, bringing the bass to the fore, adding a darkness and a depth. The spoken word backing tracks that they play over a couple of songs don’t really work though, sounding like pretentious, disembodied gobbledygook – I’m sure they work much better on record.

Next up is Pip Blom from Amsterdam, which they demonstrate with a count-in in Dutch for the song Hours. Sounding as tight as a band playing their 14th gig in 12 days but still with an energy that belies such a hectic schedule. They blend the modern take on the classic indie sound of someone like Dum Dum Girls with the riffs of Blur around the time of their eponymous record, although slightly cleaner and less fuzz-filled than either of those. It would be a minor tragedy if more people don’t get to hear their “say my name if you think it’s over” hook. Excellent new single I Think I’m In Love sounds like a song that PJ Harvey could have written for Stories From The City, Stories From the Sea and has a brilliantly nagging two-note riff.

This is Surfer Blood’s first time in Leicester and their first major tour with their new line-up, Mike McLeary having replaced Fekete on guitar and Lindsey Mills in for Kevin Williams, who left in 2015, on the bass. They still have that classic American indie sound, sounding like a cross between Pavement, Weezer and Pixies. Even a new song like Frozen, with its 60s backing vocals and the line “yesterday don’t matter if it’s gone” cribbed from Ruby Tuesday can’t escape the Pavement comparison. Even its chorus, “frozen in your armoury” sounds like one of those ‘is it genius or is it terrible’ lyrics that Stephen Malkmus so often comes up with.

Weird Shapes from 2013’s Pythons still sounds gloriously like The Breeders and really early song Miranda would be filling the sticky dance floors of indie discos up and down the country if the band were better known. While in general the new songs don’t stray too far from the established template, the interwoven guitars that open Snowdonia, the new album’s title track, do hint at more subtlety, more akin to something like Arcade Fire or Neutral Milk Hotel.

In the spirit of gig unity, Surfer Blood had to borrow some guitar amps from Jouska. Meanwhile, Pip Blom has been spending the tour teaching them some rude phrases in Dutch. Before Take It Easy, frontman John Paul Pitts announces his intention to get as far as possible while in Europe. He then proceeds to mingle through the crowd as he performs the song.

Having said that they don’t deviate too much from their usual sonic template, some of the new songs do expand the aural palette. Six Flags In F Or G and Taking Care Of Eddy have traces of Duane Eddy’s Peter Gunn theme and a King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard-esque riff respectively. Penultimate track Matter Of Time is dedicated, with tongue firmly in cheek, to Donald Trump before a truly triumphant version of their debut single Swim closes the evening. This might have been their first time in town but after such a great show, I hope they’ll be back soon.

18th March

Darker Days festival
at the Musician

with Antimatter, Jade Vine, Painted Black, Edenfall, Spires, Orpheum, The Glass House Museum and Vetrar Drougurinn.

Photos and video by Kevin Gaughan.

This show was the debut of the Darker Days Festival, suggesting that more of these might be coming our way.

The Glass House Museum at the Darker Days Festival, 18th March 2017. Photo by Kevin Gaughan.

The Glass House Museum, from Staffordshire, started the day with a set that pleased the largely metalesque audience at the Musician.

Orpheum at the Darker Days Festival, 18th March 2017. Photo by Kevin Gaughan.

From London, Orpheum featured a female vocalist – Erin Johnson – like many of the other bands on today’s lineup.

Orpheum at the Darker Days Festival, 18th March 2017. Photo by Kevin Gaughan.

Dubbed ‘Gothic progressive metal’ on the band’s Facebook page, the five musicians provided an engaging, if not captivating, set reflecting the influences of groups such as Lacuna Coil.

Travelling all the way from Bristol, Edenfall deployed its interests of ‘Witchcraft, English Folklore, Gothic Horror’ to evoke the sounds of Gothic, doom, metal.

Edenfall at the Darker Days Festival, 18th March 2017. Photo by Kevin Gaughan.

Darker tones filled the room; full of mood and atmosphere. As the band points out (on its Facebook page) ‘After a couple of years of pondering the depths of misery, Edenfall released their debut album, Forever Fallen, in late 2011 which included songs such as An Omen of Sorrow, In Slumber and Beauty.

Edenfall at the Darker Days Festival, 18th March 2017. Photo by Kevin Gaughan.

The voice of Clare Webster was operatic and the music to which she sang was symphonic. Very haunting. Very beautiful.

Spires. Signed four-piece progressive metal band from Manchester.

Spires at the Darker Days Festival, 18th March 2017. Photo by Kevin Gaughan.

Reading the band’s page on Facebook I noted with interest: ‘Musically, comparisons are often made to Opeth, Emperor, Mastodon and Cynic; however this barely touches on the kaleidoscope of influences, both metal and otherwise, that combine to deliver a truly original, mesmerising and often transcendental sound.’ Metal2theMasses followers might note this band has performed at the Bloodstock festival. I see the band is performing at Scruffy Murphys in Birmingham on 13th April (just wanted to mention that venue as I have been many, many times in the past.)

Painted Black, from Portugal, was another of the bands that have this event a bit of an international flavor.

Painted Black at the Darker Days Festival, 18th March 2017. Photo by Kevin Gaughan.

The quintet delivered a set of ambient metal songs.

Painted Black at the Darker Days Festival, 18th March 2017. Photo by Kevin Gaughan.

Reflecting the influences of melancholic doom metal, they were certainly not short of atmosphere. They received a lot of plaudits from their fans and admirers in the audience.

Painted Black at the Darker Days Festival, 18th March 2017. Photo by Kevin Gaughan.

Watch Kevin’s video of Painted Black at The Musician.

Those of you who are fluent Icelandic speakers will recognise Vetrar Draugurinn as meaning The Winter Ghosts.

Vetrar Drougurinn at the Darker Days Festival, 18th March 2017. Photo by Kevin Gaughan.

Vocalist Mahjan Welman led the band in a set of melancholic post metal songs. Despite the Icelandic name they are actually from Holland. Drenched with sorrow, their music was evocative and told us something about the Dutch metal scene (in all probability.)

Jade Vine, from London, presented rock with a progressive rock twist.

Jade Vine at the Darker Days Festival, 18th March 2017. Photo by Kevin Gaughan.

Some of the band on today’s stage had been around for some time. These guys started in 2006. The band has a couple of recordings that are out now. You can hear some of their tunes on the band’s Facebook page.

Antimatter has been around since 1998. Melancholic, progressive, electro-rock at its best, many would say.

Antimatter at the Darker Days Festival, 18th March 2017. Photo by Kevin Gaughan.

This year the band will be appearing in many European countries including France, Spain and Armenia. The band has recently released a concert film on DVD; Live Between the Earth & Clouds was filmed and recorded in the Netherlands.

Antimatter at the Darker Days Festival, 18th March 2017. Photo by Kevin Gaughan.

Find out more about the Darker Days Festival on Facebook.

12th March

Metal2TheMasses – heat 6

at Firebug

with Alpha State, Seven Hells, Dawn of Anubis and Before The Crash.

Good vocals from lead singer Natalie marked the set by Alpha State. They might have took a while to warm and get going but then many bands do and when they took off they really rocked.

Alpha State at Firebug 12th March 2017. Photo by Kevin Gaughan.

Plenty of vigorous sounds, punch and traction. From Leicester, the band’s Facebook page states that they play hard rock, heavy metal and progressive metal, influences by Alter Bridge, Sevendust, Skid Row, Megadeth, Trivium, Five Finger Death Punch, Mötley Crüe, Fozzy, Tremonti, Theory Of A Deadman, Nickelback, Daughtry, TesseracT, Avenged Sevenfold, Metallica, Aerosmith, Bullet For My Valentine… Several people commented to me how good they were.

Alpha State at Firebug 12th March 2017. Photo by Kevin Gaughan.

Familiar faces on stage. Yes, it’s Dawn Of Anubis. Faces remembered from The Bench That Rocked – a well known group of musicians from the north western frontier of Leicestershire. Musicians who have trodden the stages of Leicester for many years.

Dawn of Anubis at Firebug 12th March 2017. Photo by Kevin Gaughan.

Tonight, the band played their own songs. Featuring the powerful vocals of Billy Chamberlain on bass guitar. These are guys who know how to fuel a set. Sam Rossell gave some vocals from the drums. This is a band I have seen before, mainly at The Shed, as for example, 16th October 2015 when I said ‘These are experienced musicians; they executed tight, sharp songs that blasted the room with an ample injection of power. There is no doubt about it; these guys certainly know how to rock.’ [Music in Leicester magazine]  So, yea, good to see these guys back again.

Shezza Wileman. Before The Crash.  She delivered a remarkable performance. Another female vocalist enriching the sounds. Shezza brought plenty of personality to the stage. Some of the songs would not have been out of place in a theatrical setting, as part of a musical.

Before The Crash at Firebug 12th March 2017. Photo by Kevin Gaughan.

Some of the bands we have seen in these heats have played special sets in which their usual songs have been ‘metalled-up’, or so I have heard it said. Over these six heats we have witnessed a broad range of flavours of the genre variously called ‘metal.’ This is good. That ‘broad church’ approached has opened up the field and drawn in a wider audience. All the bands throughout these heats have entered the stages with genuine enthusiasm. A series of metal gigs might seem a daunting prospect but, in fact, many of them have offered a similar set of sounds like you would get a many rock gigs.

Before The Crash at Firebug 12th March 2017. Photo by Kevin Gaughan.

Before The Crash challenges the walls, pushes the boundaries, outrages the purists, troubles the traditionalists, counters the conventions – but I loved what they did. It was an impressive set. A remarkable half hour of music. Not what you might have been expecting. But then Metal2 has been full of surprises.

Seven Hells at Firebug 12th March 2017. Photo by Kevin Gaughan.

Seven Hells. Three vocalists. One thumping set. Something more muscular, more shouty, more growly, more screamy, as the band took us back to the vulcanism of vigorous metal to which we have been accustomed. Metal in large volume, deep-throated, pounding rhythms. The audience thickly gathered in front of the stage. They played Inferno. Not sure if it’s recorded yet. But if it comes out, listen to it. It’s a good example of what this band sounds like.

Seven Hells at Firebug 12th March 2017. Photo by Kevin Gaughan.

In the meantime they have some demo tracks on Soundcloud that are certainly worth a listen. Songs delivered with a plentiful supply of aggression, driven by seismic levels of energy, this was a set of war-zone proportions. Very much like a lot we have heard before in this series of shows: frenzied, dramatic, assaulting, exhilarating but above all very pleasing.

Seven Hells at Firebug 12th March 2017. Photo by Kevin Gaughan.

An interesting night!

11th March

IndiePop All-dayer

Firebug

by Gav Squires

While it was originally a copy of the Indie Pop All-Dayer in Nottingham, as it reaches its sixth birthday, the Leicester Indiepop Alldayer at the Firebug is now very much its own thing. Eight bands encompassing the full gamut of the indie spectrum and including some genuine indie royalty.

To some people, the idea of an indie all dayer is a nightmare – a room full of people in cagoules and Converse trainers listening to twee music but to quote that least indie of all bands, Kiss, “these are my people and this is my crowd”. While there are a good number of people in Converse, the cagoule is conspicuous by its absence. However, a good number of people do keep their coats on throughout the entire day.

The 10p Mixes

10p Mixes 11th March 2017. IndiePop All-dayer at Firebug. Photo Gav Squires.

Opening band The 10p Mixes are just the sort of band that the anti-indie brigade hate. Featuring acoustic guitar and one of those keyboards that was popular in schools in the mid-90s, they sing overly twee songs about buying sweets and horses with three legs that can’t get sandals. The sort of band who think it’s shocking to throw in swear words when it really isn’t.  They were a bit much even for me, with too many throwaway songs. It’s a shame as Will can really play guitar and Danielle has an amazing voice. The opening song has the traditional indie insecurities but also the line “I won’t stop until you like me too”, delivered almost as if it’s a threat. Meanwhile, final track Dogs In France somehow fails to include a “bien” and “chien” rhyme. Their best song, Rocking Out, thankfully ditches the keyboard entirely but considers “throwing popcorn” to be worst behaviour.

Rainbow Reservoir

Rainbow Reservoir, 11th March 2017. IndiePop All-dayer at Firebug. Photo Gav Squires.

Second band Rainbow Reservoir are much more to my liking, sounding like Joan Jett’s bands The Runaways or The Blackhearts, all fuzzed up power pop. Bassist Oli Hewer throws himself around the stage like Paul Simonon but with a terrible taste in headwear. Opener Fuzzy really sets the scene, sounding brilliant and featuring great lyrics, “I am a man o war, I have no heart to break” About half way through, the singer Angela takes to the keyboard and sings a track on her own about how “rainbows never end” and it has the vulnerable beauty of a Flaming Lips song. Creepy Kissing on the other hand, a tale about seeing your mum with her new boyfriend, sounds more like the Ramones.

Wolf girl

Wolf Girl 11th March 2017. IndiePop All-dayer at Firebug. Photo Gav Squires.

Wolf Girl’s opener Middlesexy features probably the catchiest chorus of the whole day, “I’ll see you when you reach the city. I’ll meet you at the station, I’ll dress real pretty and you’ll kiss me” While the rest of the set doesn’t match that high point, there are still some really good songs including the Sleeper-esque Time Is Running Out and the jingly-jangly call and response Wonder If She Knows, which sees the guitarist take over lead vocals. They also face into the elephant in the room and make comments about the fact that most of the audience still have their coats on. After imploring people to take them off they realise that maybe they’re wearing just a coat, “If you’ve come to this gig wearing just a coat, I admire you, that’s a bold fashion choice” They then launch into Everything Has Made Us What We Are, which reminded me of The Drums. Following a quick bass and guitar swap, they breeze through a new song about not using the maths you learned at school, a party song about throwing up and awkward teenage poetry and set closer, Samson.

Peaness

Peaness 11th March 2017. IndiePop All-dayer at Firebug. Photo Gav Squires.

 

Peaness play their first ever gig in Leicester and from opening track, I Want To Get Lost With You, their pitch-perfect harmonies are to the fore. This is pop music from before a time when Pop was a dirty word, like a modern-day Primitives. In fact, some of these songs wouldn’t sound out of place in Quagmires in the Black Mirror episode San Junipero.  In new song, Ugly Veg from their forthcoming EP, Peaness tell us that they “want the world to stay green” Set closer They Told Me I Could Be Someone features the line “three hours and I’m still hitting snooze”, a sentiment that everyone can recognise. They’re even allowed to play an encore, another new song, Just Say Yes – this is the benefit of going on before the scheduled break in proceedings.

Po!

Po! 11th March 2017. IndiePop All-dayer at Firebug. Photo Gav Squires.

Local band Po! are C86 but actually from the era of C86. After recording a session for John Peel in 1994 and having their EP named single of the week by Steven Wells in the NME in 1997, they’re back following a hiatus.  The opener with its lyrics which switch from “I want to break your back” to “I want to break your neck” to “I want to break your heart” recalls those other reformed indie stalwarts The Vaselines. I Took My Head On A Date is a song about a night out in Leicester. It starts with deciding whether to go out by bus or by roller skate before realising, “we’ve got so much in common” but, “in the end I slept with her, although I imagined she was someone else.” Appleseed Alley is about trying to cross Trent bridge in Nottingham when forest fans were walking the other way, while The Bushelter That’s A Nighclub To Us is about growing up in Syston and sounds like Fun Boy Three. The most depressing point of the night is a song called Bigger Wall, which was written when the Berlin Wall came down but is being performed as another one is going up. They finish an excellent classic indie set with Sunday Never Comes Around, which frontwoman Ruth Miller describes as being the only love song that she’s ever written, “I’ve been waiting here since Monday, Sunday never comes around”

Chorusgirl

Chorusgirl 11th March 2017. IndiePop All-dayer at Firebug. Photo Gav Squires.

Four-piece Chorusgirl from London have a pretty distinct mid-2000s indie sound, like Razorlight. But early Razorlight, not the terrible landfill indie band that they became after their first album. With plans to record a new album this year, they took the opportunity to play a few new tracks. The one that really stood out was Demon Baby, which demonstrated a certain vulnerability. After two false starts, it’s third time lucky for the song Strangers, which does have a bit more of a mid-90s indie sound. They close with This Town Kills, a song about lead singer, Silvi Wersing’s home town in Germany, which tells the tale of “our last goodbye” All through their performance I was slightly enraptured by the fact that drummer Michael Boyle was wearing an old Tottenham Hotspur goalkeeper shirt – one of those ones that looks like it could be one of those magic eye pictures.

Cowtown

Cowtown 11th March 2017. IndiePop All-dayer at Firebug. Photo Gav Squires.

Leeds trio Cowtown kick-off with Animals with its lines, “I will try to pet and feed them” before starting a debate on stage about whether Welsh is a real language. The keyboards give them a slightly 80s sound but it’s also angular, which makes it also sound a bit Arctic Monkeys (although that could just be the Yorkshire vowels) Having said that, their song Monotone Face is more reminiscent of Devo.  After playing their song about emojis they make the statement that they’re going to play some fast songs, no more emotions. They back this up by playing a couple of songs very indicative of early 80s punk. One cribs the “oh way oh” refrain from Walk Like An Egyptian and the other, a song called Captain Planet but not about the green mulleted cartoon hero but rather a blink and you’ll miss it 60 second blast. They close their set with their song about goths, Night Beats.

Pete Astor

Pete Astor 11th March 2017. IndiePop All-dayer at Firebug. Photo Gav Squires.

Headliner Pete Astor is indie royalty. His first band The Loft signed to Creation Records back in 1984 and his current backing band even features Pete Dale from Milky Wimpshake on bass. Opener My Submarine sounds like country indie and from there there’s a mix of old school jangly indie, country-tinged indie and 80s pop. For example Sleeping Tigers sounds like it should have been huge in the mid-80s.  Pete’s backing band are really tight featuring beautiful, Interweaving dual guitars. The song Why is a lesson to Travis about why it always seems to rain but sounds like early Charlatans but without the keyboard. My Right Hand is introduced as being about a cast of desperate men including Tony Hancock, Marvin Gaye and Philip Larkin. At the end it segues into Almost Prayed by Pete’s former band The Weather Prophets and causes the closest thing that we get to a sing-a-long all day. The highlight of the set is Disney Queen, which features just Pete on guitar.

Some really good bands and a great day. Po! and Pete Astor really nailed that classic indie sound and had the confidence that comes from playing for so long. However, if I had to pick out some highlights or bands to keep an eye out for then it would be Rainbow Reservoir and Wolf Girl.

11th March

The Exchange

I felt like having a night out. I looked on Facebook to see what was on; then I checked the gigs list on Music in Leicester to double check. Two shows stood out: one at the Exchange bar and the other at the Soundhouse. Both had bands playing which I knew well. So, I scrubbed up and went out.

Brassick Bears at The Exchange, 11th March 2017.

On the bill at the Exchange Bar: Not My Good Arm, Brassick Bears and Echolocation. Just the job.

Brassick Bears at The Exchange, 11th March 2017.

The musicians of Brassick Bears I have been following for years: since they started as The Brass Bears. Brassick Bears. Really Good.

Disappointed to have missed Not My Good Arm because I know how good they are; but then that’s a night out in Leicester – too many bands, too little time. Here are some photos to remind you of them:

Not My Good Arm at the Cookie. 2015.
Photo: Keith Jobey

Tom Heywood of Not My Good Arm at Simon Says 2016. Photo: Kevin Gaughan.

11th March

The Soundhouse

I said ‘I would never go out to more than one gig a night.’ Well, resolutions are made to be broken. Round the corner from the Exchange Bar, Her Burden was the headline band. Too good not to be missed. Also on the bill: Prime and Nile McGregor’s The Ice Cool Penguins. As I arrived, Her Burden was just about to start.

Her Burden at the Soundhouse, 11th March 2017.

I knew this band was good. I had seen them before. 23rd December 2015. At The Shed with Stating The Obvious. I said:

Her Burden were, I was told, playing their first gig tonight. They sounded more like a band that had been going for years. Her Burden consists of: Joshua Jones – Lead vocals, Electric guitar, Luke Spencer – Electric guitar, Mathew White – Bass Guitar and Mathew Newton – Drums. They could not be that good on a first gig. I liked Joshua Jones, he reminded me of the lead singer of Green Day. Quite a stage presence. This band gave us rock that was full of emotion, energy and magnetism. [Music in Leicester Magazine]

Her Burden at the Soundhouse, 11th March 2017.

Her Burden. They played a cover of Summer of 69. I might have heard that before. One of my favourite tracks of all time. The band’s lead singer, Joshua Jones – had star quality. He reminded me of Billie Joe Armstrong. You know – the one from Green Day. Slight movements, the eyes, way he performs on stage. Everyone enjoyed Her Burden. Highly entertaining. Considerable presence. A real crowd-pleaser.

Her Burden at the Soundhouse, 11th March 2017.

Prime. Post-punk indie band from Nottingham and Sheffield. Signed to a record label. Mentioned on 1st October 2016 when they were on stage with Jersey Budd and Aztec Temples. [Music in Leicester magazine]

Anyway, both these events were well attended.

5th March

Metal2TheMasses – heat 5
Firebug

with My Legacy, Gallows High, Diceratops and Final Coil.

Tonight the audience was able to vote for three bands; but only after they hall finished playing. Some of the bands that did not get through on previous heats will be subject to a wildcard selection which will give some of them a place in the final rounds of the competition.

Thanks to everyone on Facebook who took the trouble to comment on my post about metal music. Mark shared his love of Iron Maiden, by saying that the lyrics were like story telling and how much he loved the imagery and the artwork. That attracted a response from Kevin Hewick, who thought it was the ‘perfect definition.’ Mark referred to the album ‘Somewhere in time.’ So, I listened to it. Sam thought the key to the music lay in rhythm and beat. For Nile it was the culture that drew him into metal. He loved the mosh pits; for him it was a way of letting out his frustration and anger. Pete though that metal today was not as good as the real stuff produced by the likes of Led Zeppelin. Good music is all about light and shade, texture and melody, Pete said. Joey replied to Pete, by extolling the virtues of Slipknot, Lamb Of God, 36 Crazyfists, Avenged Sevenfold, Billy Talent, Volbeat – “all great examples of bands that use Light and Shade, Texture and Melody to perfection”, he said. Local actor and celebrity Rob Gee comment: ‘A local thrash band played our school assembly and I’d never seen or heard anything like it. Particularly the percussion, it was nuts.’

Joey’s take on this was ‘I think most metal fans work into the heavier stuff through lighter music – I don’t think many people go straight to black or death metal for the first time and instantly enjoy it (I may be wrong) – I grew up listening to pop punk and rock bands of my era that touched very lightly upon metal (bands like Fall Out Boy, MCR, Muse), and these bands opened the gateway for me. Then I started listening to heavier bands like A7X, then heavier again when I found Slipknot and Lamb of God. I remember hearing Slipknot as a child and thinking it was ‘scary monster music’, but when I was 14/15 I was in the right place to understand and appreciate it. ‘ This prompted Matt to comment: ‘ Depends on the definition… The more classic heavy metal (Zep, Sabbath, USA ‘hair metal’) are brilliant musicians, lyricists, and songwriters. Some of the music is just fun to listen to. ‘

When I said I didn’t get grunge, Chris replied to say that ‘Grunge was in direct response to cheesy 80s hair metal. You will notice that throughout the last 100 years popular music has been a direct response in an opposite direction to whatever was previously popular, almost one generation in rebellion to the last. Traditional pop (Vera Lynne etc) gave way to Jazz, Hippie style music in the 60s gave way to bands such as Sabbath and Alice cooper, after grunge, guitar music gave way to all the electronic crap we have in the charts today. It’s not an exact science but as a rule of thumb it works.’

Adam summed up the discussion; in this way: ‘Firstly and most importantly, the metal community is amazing. They are the friendliest most welcoming group of people I have ever known. I think this is because it composed entirely of people who don’t otherwise “fit” socially. They are the wierdos, freaks, crazies, nerds, goths, psychos…. The list of name goes on and on. But they (we) are united in being different and at some level we all think; finally somebody else just like me. Secondly the catharsis. As a group of outsiders, we often have our grievances and frustrations. The way to move on is whale song or Enya, but to scream yourself horse and to mosh to the point of exhaustion. It’s impossible to feel angry after that. You can be like a salmon against the stream and lose yourself in the chaos. Which brings me neatly to moshing. Normally pushing into somebody and screaming in their face is the height of hostility. When moshing it broadly means “I am having fun, I bet we can be friends” the appropriate response being to shout and push them back! Moshing despite its appearances is a friendly activity with it’s own rules. ‘

Now I know this is not usually how gigs are reported. But… metal is sometimes misunderstood by rock music fans. The one thing that this competition has achieve, I would say, is opening up the genre and setting out a well-stocked smorgasbord of music delights; not to forget that that there is much more to come. If it does anything, then the social media discussion begins to pick up the issues and breadth of experience of our local fans; hopefully this might tempt a few more people to enter the fray.

Well, back to Metal2TheMasses. Opening tonight’s show, Leicester band My Legacy gave what they call ‘melodic metalcore.’ Let me explain what I think that is: the music in often heavy and aggressive but not so much so that the average rock fan might find it a challenge. Bands that fall in this sub-genre might include Shadows Fall, Killswitch Engage, As I Lay Dying, August Burns Red, All That Remains and Trivium.

This band has appeared in previous Metal2 shows. James Hickling saw them last year and she said:

…next came My Legacy, who are something of revered local heroes. From the moment the first tune battering-rammed the assembled audience, the air was filled with cheers and chanting. It’s easy to see that these gentleman are already contenders for the highest brackets of the competition. The band find themselves somewhere between melodic and brutal and are not afraid to indulge in some sludgy riffs to the get the mosh-pit swirling. The running theme of the night, that of tight rhythm sections, was not veered from. The engine room was potent and thumping, giving excellent platform for the guitars to ascend to dizzying heights. Whilst all of this madness was ongoing, the front man controlled the stage with a natural power and an unmistakably comfortable aura. A true talent. There also plenty of to and fro with the audience, which was very welcome. My Legacy’s vibe was a celebratory one: they clearly loved playing, and the audience loved hearing them do it. A particular highlight was their track “Icarus”, a growling, yet harmonious tour de force. I really do recommend that you keep your eyes on these guys: they’re going places. [Music in Leicester, 28th February 2016]

I thought it worth putting that in because I would have said something pretty similar. I would add only that night their music had drive and impact; the sounds were igneous. My Legacy’s album has just come out.

From Leicester and with a female lead vocalist, Gallows High brought a distinctly different sound to the stage.

Gallows High at Firebug, 5th March 2017.

I asked the band what they thought their genre was: this is what they said ‘ it’s hard to put a finger on, there’s some elements of classic rock but it’s a modern sound. We all have different interests in the band, we just write and see what comes out. ‘

Gallows High at Firebug, 5th March 2017.

That’s fair. What I heard from the stage tonight was listenable, melodic, fast-paced, intensely rhythmic and backed by soaring guitar parts. A very enjoyable performance.

Most of the bands that have appeared in these heats have come from Leicester; if not then from place not far away. This means that our city has a strong cadre of metal acts. It also means that new bands have had the chance to play alongside well established acts and to present what they have to new audiences.

The mood change when Leicester band Diceratops started to play. They gave us a well-delivered set led by singer Rory Bentley.

Diceratops at Firebug, 5th March 2017.

Plenty of passion. Racing rhythms. Rory’s vocals had a range of styles: from sung melodies to screamed phrases, growling and impressive sustained notes. Not stopping between some of the songs, their momentum was relentless.

Musically they delivered plenty of impulse and momentum. Far from being simple stuff there was plenty to get stuck into. I especially noticed the guitar sounds; produced perhaps by using pedal effects or the way the amp is tuned or it might have involved use of the whammy bar (tremolo bar) – which changes the tension on the strings. Anyway, it sounded really good. Altogether a really impressive performance.

Regular readers will already have noticed my enthusiasm for Final Coil.

Final Coil at Duffys Bar. 2015. Photo by Kevin Gaughan.

I seem to remember Phil saying that the band has recently recorded a new album – somewhere abroad. Tonight they played new material. Their first song made its way into the room, the vocals setting the mood and colour of the piece, backed by large statements from the strings – ponderous, dramatic, foreboding statements. What I heard was taut, stressed, gripping, evocative. Sounds that painted pictures, scenes, imagery, it made you see it in your head. I do so hope that, when the album comes out, it has the lyrics printed on the sleeve. Technically clever stuff this was an impressive performance.

Final Coil at The Shed, 16th October 2015.

See also:

Music for February.

Record reviews.

Open-mic nights.