A really good night
Published 9th January 2014
We were there at the Musician for an extraordinary night of music.
On the line-up tonight: Evangeline, Josh Kemp, Steady Hands, Benn Hartmann, Monroe, Jason Smith.
Here is our report with photos, videos and a review of the acts.
Here is Kevin Gaughan’s slide show of photos from that night:
Photos by © Kevin Gaughan
by Trevor Locke
Opening the show, Ian Babington, one of the members of Evangeline, wove his songs with his quality vocals and pleasing guitar work. A pleasing set of varied songs was delivered with craftsmanship and drew appreciative acclaim for the audience.
singer Josh Kemp – no stranger to the stages of Leicester – brought his fine voice and variety of looping and pedal devices to the stage.
The loops added complex backings to the songs, most of which were his own, plus the bonus of a “cheeky mash-up” of the theme from The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. Kemp bounced into his first number with an ear-grabbing number. His tonally rich voice and strong musical sense made him a singer of distinction. In his mash-up the namesake was transmuted into the fresh prince of Sandiacre! His set included The Hangover Song, a favourite of mine and one of the tracks from his Sofa Surfin’ EP; also from the EP was Reason, his third number tonight, in which he demonstrated his skills with the loop pedals. Kemp’s performance tonight was masterly making him stand out as one of the eminent singer-songwriters of the East Midlands.
The musicians from Steady Hands gathered their array on instruments on the stage for a set of musical delights that was astonishing.
On stage I could see a violin, a full double bass, keyboard, guitar, full drum kit with what looked like a car-exhaust hanging in a metal frame (part of the percussion assembly) and oboe. From the first song of this remarkable ensemble, we recognised right away that we were hearing music that was high original, different and out of the ordinary. ObsUnplugged is known for its ability to throw up acts that are markedly different. The group’s second song began with all five of its member singing an a-capella intro, in close harmony, before launching into the main subject of the piece, featuring haunting violin parts and delicately executed percussion effects. It was a spell binding piece, the voices of the lead singer and female vocalist blending together beautifully and emphasised with richly woven orchestration. In the third number, taken from the band’s EP, the somewhat celtic-sounding introduction broke into the vibrant first subject with a full folk-rock vibe, laden with tantalising dynamics and sumptuous colours, resolute breaks and alluring atmospheric sounds. The songs had a comedic undertone and I kept seeing, in my head, Henri Matisse’s famous painting “The Dance”. Brilliant.
Benn Hartmann and his musicians set off at a cantering pace for their first song, giving us, as their second number, a song about Leicester – This City – a vibrant piece decorated with engaging riffs and licks. Tonight, Ben was joined on the stage by Alastair Ballentine on the guitar, Dan Monk on Bass and Josh Bugden on Drums. Highly enjoyable music.
Polly Yates came to the stage with a group of musicians Munroe – for a show-stopping set and we all said to each other “wow! What a voice”. Back on stage were Benn Hartmann, Josh Bugden, Dan Monk and Ian Crabtree.
It was a case of ” … just when you thought it couldn’t get any better …”. Polly Yates led the band in a bouncy song that was full of bracing rhythms, her voice filling the room with its resonance and power and mesmerising colours and vocal techniques. The first song was followed up by Always Forever, from her forthcoming EP. It was a song with immediacy, pulling you into the sound with its captivating lyrics and soaring vocal lines set against luscious guitar lines. Blending jazz, pop, soul and blues, it was a set of richly powerful and fabulously expressive musical lollipops. Behind the voice was an artist with plenty of personality. Stunning.
It was singer Jason Smith who took the show to its close. The singer-songwriter from Leicester presented his own songs, using his characteristic vocals that reminded some of us of Bob Dylan, delivering raw talent and oodles of expression.