Matt Henshaw at the O2

Friday 18th December 2015

Matt Henshaw

it’s time for peace, love and tea

Tonight at the Scholar Bar, in Leicester’s O2 Academy, Matt Henshaw launched his latest musical offering. Headlining the show, Matt was on stage with his new band; some familiar faces were on the stage with him – Boppa Arrangiarsi, on the drums and Alex Van Roose (Midnight Wire) on the guitar. The peace, love and tea band. Tea! That lot!

Tonight’s show was opened by Toby Leonard. His set launched some of his new songs; sad lyrics but the tunes were often upbeat. Toby has been enjoying some prominent gigs of late including an appearance at this year’s Oxjam Takeover.

Toby Leonard
Toby Leonard

Tonight’s show attracted a lot of people and it was good to see a fair crowd supporting this live music event, given that it was the last Friday night before Christmas, a time when many people go out to party with their friends and colleagues as they break up for the Christmas holidays.

The first band to take to the stage was Leicester’s Once Vagrant Souls. On stage at the O2 for the first time, lead singer David Lewis led his team mates in a fine debut performance. Now a well established and increasingly popular group, Once Vagrant Souls delivered a set of very listenable songs, full of vibrant tunes, engaging melodies.

Read our feature article on Once Vagrant Souls [Music in Leicester]

Abandon Her is a Leicester group fronted by Oliva Bowles with vocal backing from Abby Mortram and Sarah Jordan with more backing vocals from drummer Giles Unwin. Giving a delightful set of attractive songs laced with pleasing rhythms and melodies, they showed us what a fine singing band they were. This is a band that has a lot going for it. Abandon Her played at the Cookie in March, read our feature article of that show [Music in Leicester]

Abandon Her at The Cookie Jar Photo: RhinoFeroSs photography
Abandon Her at The Cookie Jar
Photo: RhinoFeroSs photography

The finale of the evening came when Matt Henshaw took to the stage with his love, peace and tea band. Matt has become one of the stars of the Leicester music scene and tonight he ably demonstrated why that is, providing a set full of captivating songs that stand comparison with some of the best singer/songwriters around today.

Matt Henshaw at the O2, December 18th
Matt Henshaw at the O2, December 18th

The first thing I noticed about Matt was his iconic voice; he has a distinctive sound and one that reminds me of some the greatest singers of the era. Tonight’s performance was top drawer. Many people commented on how awesome it was to see Matt with his band, after mainly seeing him doing solo acoustic sets, and with two of Leicester’s most notably musicians on stage with him, it was something definitely not to be missed. Matt’s song Easier is a classic, just as a piece of song-writing.

Tonight was altogether an outstanding music event; all of the acts were superb and topped by one act that will without doubt become of the defining musical acts of our local area.

Matt Henshaw at the O2
Matt Henshaw at the O2

Here are some reviews of Matt Henshaw

“Sublime…a blue-eyed soul voice that’s up there with the best of them” – Paul Lester, The Guardian

Matt Henshaw’s biography is already so complex at the age of 27 that it gives his song-writing a depth and maturity that could only have come with experience; suffering for his art and travelling a journey that has shaped and honed his skills – and it shows. Having paid his dues, he is still on his way up … and the best is yet to come.

This soul-loving, tea-drinking gardener is a singer/songwriter of some repute from the English Midlands, and since quitting his day job in mid-2013 he has taken in the independent music scene by storm. His penchant for acoustic sets and original songs showcases his love of guitar and vocal–based soul & blues, demonstrating his influences of Otis Redding, Marvin Gaye, Steve Marriott and Sam Cooke, and has earned him the description of ‘an old soul in a young body’.

In 2014 he setup shop in Leicester running a new music night – Matt Henshaw’s Rhythm & Gospel Cavalcade – at the inner-city basement venue ‘The Cookie’ giving a platform to artists such as Martin Luke Brown, Abandon Her, The Strangler Figs, Georgie, Mia & The Moon, and more, and collaborating with the De Montfort University Gospel Choir at a regularly sold out live event.

Through the course of the year, on his own Peace, Love & Tea Records. independent record label, he released 3 EPs ‘It Ain’t Easy/My Life’, ‘Always In The Way’ and the third of which – ‘Your Eyes Are Made Of Gold’ – went on to crash into the iTunes singer/songwriter Top 30 and win Best EP at the Galaxy Music Awards.

Clocking up around 300 shows in just over a year Henshaw’s stripped down one man show has taken him all over the UK, from Aberdeen to Bristol and back again, and he started 2015 with a 5 week jaunt around France, Belgium, Germany and the Netherlands. With incredible dedication and an unrivalled work ethic, his guitar, travel Peace, Love & Tea Shop in a old Fender suitcase in the back of a Toyota Yaris has brought him a loyal fanbase around the continent and enabled him to sell music in every continent on the globe.

Following the European Tour, and a brief stint around small towns and cities in England, Scotland and Wales, Matt Henshaw was awarded ‘Best Male’ at The Midlands Independent Music Awards (The MIMAs) 2015.

“Just Perfect … a prolific songwriter” – Dean Jackson, BBC

“Genius” – Luke Holland, The Guardian

“Dude is Mad Talented!” – Tony D, Don’t Flop Champion

“An Old Soul in a Young Body, a Voice like Honey” – The Weiser Kurier, Germany

“The Missing Link!” Jaime Hodgson, NME, I-D, The Observer

“It’s easy to see why he is getting gigs across the country and over in Europe, just listen to the songs, Matt Henshaw has the potential to be as big as Ed Sheeran!” – Phil Patterson, Music Sector Specialist, UKTI

“In comes Henshaw’s soulboy vocals and suddenly you’ve got a big ass shaking block party on your hands” – Gill Mills, Amazing Radio

“Amazing singer-songwriter, great songs one after the other” – Demon FM

“Soulful with a growing fanbase” – The Leicester Mercury

Tonight’s show was presented by Dreaming in Colour Productions.
See photos from tonight’s show by Steve Fisher

Matt Henshaw and band at the O2
Matt Henshaw and band at the O2

Visit Matt Henshaw’s website and listen to some of his music.

See the article about Matt Henshaw in Sixtynine Degrees magazine.

Matt Henshaw writes for Music in Leicester magazine; read his column On The Road.

Listen and watch Matt Henshaw on Youtube, performing his song Easier

See also:

Our round-up of music in December.

See our feature article on Leicester band Trilogy.


About The Editor 535 Articles
The Editor of Music in Leicester magazine is Kevin Gaughan assisted by Trevor Locke