Originals Bands Showcase
Page last edited: 17th May 2015
Cameras: RhinoFeroSs; Pens: Trevor Locke
Scroll down for reports on the semi-final in April and the calls-backs of 4th April.
Saturday 16th May 2015
The 2015 OBS Grand Final
The tenth final of the Original Bands Showcase was held at The Musician tonight. It was won by Dig Lazarus.
Having got through the first round heats, the semi-finals (and for some) the call-backs, seven bands were on stage tonight
Not My Good Arm
Beneath The Lights
and Dig Lazarus
The previous winners of OBS were
2004 – Dirty Backbeats
2006 – Proud To Have Met You
2007 – The Chairmen
2008 – M48
2009 – The Heroes
2010 – James Lewis Band
2011 – Kenworthy
2012 – Midnight Wire
2013 – Leaving Party
2014 – Tapestry
2015 – Dig Lazarus
Of these the only band still to be performing under the name it held at the time of the OBS is Midnight Wire. Most of the others have now split up and ceased. The Chairmen’s members now play as Demons of Ruby Mae. M48 members went on to become By the Rivers. The James Lewis Band now are called Violet Cities. Kenworthy came to an end when Jack moved to London; he is now in a band called Osca. Leaving Party split not long after winning OBS. Tapestry appears to have finished.
Fans started to queue to get in to the Musician – something virtually unknown at other venues these days but a feature of Grand Final nights in recent years. The entire cast of the Grand Final night gathered outside the venue for a photo call.
By 8:10 the venue was bursting at the seams with fans.
Not My Good Arm
The first of the seven bands to take to the stage as Not My Good Arm. A feisty performance from Tom Haywood and his fellow musicians who put a lot of effort into their stage-craft. With plenty of engaging rhythms and compelling beats, their set delivered a fine start to the evening.
It was a performance that drew favourable comments from other musicians, suggesting that this was a band that had established a reputation fairly quickly after it started. With three vocalists contribution to the songs and Haywood’s robust and characterful voice, Not My Good Arm gave the evening a blisteringly good start.
Powerful, thumping sounds from this trio gave us style of music they describe simply as as ‘rock’ and Clinton’s vocals were imposing.
Backed by stunning guitar solos and Olympian drumming, the trio worked together to deliver a set of ear-licking songs. Clinton is a singer/songwriter he has a prestigious background in music. Thrilling stuff.
Another trio took to the stage, a band founded in March last year, based in the Oakham/Stamford area, they describe themselves as a ‘guitar pop band.’ Their songs had plenty of attack, lively rhythms and strongly entertaining sounds.
This is a band you have to see. The lead singer puts on a performance that glitters with theatricality.
Ash Mammal is a band that has done more than most to break the mould, to break free of the conventions that constrain many others bands. a world dominated by conformity, Ash Mammal has faced up to being different.
Beneath The Lights
OBS is not a popularity contest. Organisers of the events would be the first to say that. Having said that, BTL had a very noticeable and sizeable presence at tonight’s show, as could be seen from the very large number of people sporting BTL t-shirts and badges, not forgetting the large coach that has brought the band’s contingent of fans over from Coalville. Nothing unusual in that – it is something that seems to happen every year, when Coalville acts are on the final line-up.
As to the criteria used by the judges tonight, we can only guess. It is possible to gauge the popularity of bands by the density of people gathered in front of the stage – something that tends to vary from act to act. Tonight, Beneath The Lights opened with one of their best songs, one that makes this band stand out and they had their fans clapping away with their hands in the air; this is a band that ticks all the boxes for me – they write very listenable songs, they are one of Leicester’s foremost performance bands and they have one of the best lead singers in the business. Some thought, by the end of their set, they were in with a chance of winning, simply because they had all the assets of a great band. Well, we now know that not to be the case. The only thing of which anyone can be certain – about OBS – is that it is full of surprises. Winners or not, BTL is a band that a great many people will want to see again.
You can tell that English Guns are on the stage by their striking appearance. Two of the band members sported magnificent crested hair styles but it was their music that made the moment: a band whose feverishly fast and fervently furious songs raised the bar for originality and enjoyment.
The final band of the evening was the best. After all, they were declared the winners of the OBS 2015. With two strong vocalists and an energetic stage presence, Dig Lazarus connected their had something to connect the band to the music.- songs that had plenty of pulse and punch that energised the room, giving the audience to bounce to. They delivered the kind of set that rock fans crave.
A fitting finale to tonight’s show, Dig Lazarus gave the crowd something to shout about.
When I saw Dig Lazarus at The Shed in September, I said:
Have you ever walked into a venue and found a band playing you had never seen before? When I walked into The Shed tonight a band was playing its last song and it instantly grabbed me. That band was Dig Lazarus. The song had fine, driving rhythms, simple, immediate beats; it was a tune you could not ignore. OK I did not see the first part of their set but if this last song was anything to go by, seeing them again would be very worthwhile [Music in Leicester]
So that was OBS for this year.
Seven bands is a lot to get through. Seven bands chosen from a cohort of others – they can rightly claim to have been the best of the best. It was a night of music that mattered.
18th April 2015
Tonight saw the first of two semi-finals of the OBS, taking place at The Musician. The second semi-final took place on 25th April. The two-semis will decide which bands will appear in the line-up for the grand final.
Tonight’s line-up: Linear, Velocity, Flight 15, Ash Mammal, Not My Good Arm and Beneath The Lights
The second semi-final (25th April) features: Ladies, Ali Clinton Band, Nazarene, Luna Rosa, Dig Lazarus and English Guns.
Saturday 4th April
We were at the event on 4th April when eight bands were called back (from the first round heats) for another chance to secure a place in the semi-finals.
On tonight’s line-up were: Ladies, Bloodsugar, Once Vagrant Souls, English Guns, Aztec Temples, Velocity and Linear.
The three-piece band delivered a set with good instrument playing and singing. A competent piece of playing but in some respects it sounded rather too “safe”, a band that maybe seemed a little afraid to venture outside of its comfort zone. Even so, they impressed the judges with their sound and the audience reacted to them warmly.
An Indie rock band from Loughborough. We saw them at The Shed (in February) when they were auditioning for the Glastonbudget Festival. We said “Bloodsugar brought a very large contingent of fans with them; this was, we were told, their first gig in addition to being their audition for the Glastonbudget festival. The five members of the group included Callum Jones in the lead role. They state on their Facebook Page: ‘Once together, the band rehearsed intensively and produced a live demo of their track Eye Of The Storm in one take at deadline studios Leicester. The band’s sound incorporates heavy indie bands such as Oasis and Kasabian alongside lighter bands such as The Smiths from Luke’s guitar sound. For a new band playing its first gig, they did well.’ [Music in Leicester]
Call backs are somewhat peculiar events. Comprising bands that were not selected to through in the first round heats, bands are called back to give the judges a second opinion. Usually this means doing the same set again as they did in the first round, although some might have changed their set-list a bit. One of the assets of Bloodsugar is the band’s lead singer – Callum Jones – whose voice has character and clarity; with backing from one of the guitarists they gave the band a strong vocal layer. Bloodsugar’s set was not short on colour and atmosphere, although I do think it lacked one or two ‘floor fillers’ – the kind of songs that everyone will remember on the way home. Those kind of songs are a must for any group that wants to get into the ‘premier league’ of local bands. Even so, Bloodsugar’s music is listenable and their last song did have the kind of fizz and verve that would make them stand out, a song with plenty of its own character. Very good.
Once Vagrant Souls
With David Lewis (ex For The Record) as the lead singer, this newly formed band comprised four well experienced musicians who delivered a set of melodic rock songs that were of a high standard. A confident performance that carried across to the audience and drew them in. Only one shortcoming lowered the bar for them – a lack of backing vocals. Good though Lewis is as a singer, a few lines of backing vocals would have added strength to their songs. The band’s set ended strongly with a foot-tapping number that was full of rhythm. Very good.
Very different from what we had seen before tonight, English Guns delivered a set that was difficult to fit into the established orders. The five-piece group presented a set of punk-speed songs with rap vocals that was as frenetic as it was furious. A delicious cocktail of ska and reggae rhythms their songs were alive with the energy of Caribbean sounds. On the band’s Facebook page they say: ‘Punk with ska influences from Leicester.’ Not a band that has taken the time to inform the world about itself, yet. They say they will be recording in May.
This is a band we have seen before; when we them on 14th March we said: ‘Leicester band Aztec Temples got the show off to a resounding start. I saw this band when they played recently at The Shed on 7th March. The four-piece band played an engaging set of songs which they delivered with verve and commitment. A solidly good vocal line was well supported by the guitar players and the drummer.’ [Music in Leicester]
Tonight, they played engaging songs that moved the crowd and with three good singers at the front, they delivered a strong vocal layer. Rich in rhythms and beats, their music drove forward with plenty of verve and attack, in a set that worked pretty well. Although they are a new band and perhaps still a little raw, they oozed plenty of potential. Ear-pleasing songs and an energetic stage performance are just two of many boxes that they ticked for me. This is band that I think will definitely good somewhere in the year ahead. Exhilarating.
Infectious, rocket-fuelled rock – this band has climbed to the top of the tree in the local forest. With their supercharged music they always put on a good show. That is what makes them stand out. Their lead singer – Fionna Newbold – has a performance that sparkles. Lead guitarist Darren Moulds is one of Leicester stars on the strings. This is a band that not only sounds good but also has a bubbly stage presence. Excellent.
Let’s face it: all of tonight’s bands were good. With the vocals of Jack Franklin giving the bands its characteristic sound, Linear delivered a set of songs that was outstanding. Lauded for sounding like Morrissey, Franklin is a force of nature; he delivers his vocals with lashings of feeling and panache. Many flavours of rock were being sampled tonight but Linear gave us something that was in a class of its own; their set had moments of drama, supremely commanding flashes of atmosphere and waves of sonorous ballad-ising. Linear reminds me why rock music is so entrancing, so uplifting; they have the ability to weave glorious melodies with exuberant rhythms to provide music that is as exciting as it is satisfying. Linear has a magic that puts them above the rest; they are a phenomenon. Sensational
Four of these bands were chosen to go through to the semi-finals: Ladies, Linear, Velocity and English Guns.
Saturday 18th April
The first semi-finals of OBS
with Flight15, Not My Good Arm, Linear, Ash Mammal, Velocity, Beneath The Lights
Playing to a packed venue, the celebrated trio of teenagers that would make bands twice their age green with envy. In a city rated for its young bands, Flight15 stands out as one of the best. Tonight, they delivered a spectacular performance.
Not My Good Arm
Not a band a I had seen before but on stage there were some faces I recognised from bands gone by. Lead singer Tom Haywood (ex The Jacaranda Chaos Band), trombonist Geoff Davison (ex Brass Bears), trumpet player Adam Davidson (ex Brass Bears), Pete Dobson on bass and on the drums Chris Evans. The five-piece band gave us a set of funky songs that bristled with beats and was redolent with rhythms. Not short on colour and character, Heywood’s vocals led the band is a set that was upbeat, up-tempo and up lifting. Even though I missed their first heat, I immediately warmed to their music – it was engaging, lively and compelling. They had that ‘big band’ sound that you get with groups like By The Rivers and Kingsize. I will definitely want to see this band again. Exhilarating.
What impresses me about Linear is the sheer power of their music and the way that certain moments of musical excellence that grab you during their set. Watching them perform on stage you get the feeling they you are watching a really major band – not just one of our local groups.
Unlike anything we have heard previously tonight, Ash Mammal put on a set that was sensational. What makes this band outstanding is their lead singer whose performance carries echoes of David Bowie, Freddie Mercury and Iggy Pop all rolled into one. Not the only vocalist in the group, at one point he handed the mic over to the bassist who carried on the song and wow! did he have a good voice or what? In fact three out of the four musicians contributed to the vocal layer. They delivered a big, brassy performance that was rich in verve and sparkle. A superb piece of musical theatre. This is a band that has been widely celebrated as being one of the best on the local scene. Read Adrian Manning’s review of Ash Mammal when they played at the OBS in March 2014, where he said ‘Dan Rhodri Gould (lead singer) twists and spits his lyrics out over a tight musical combo and it’s the originality in his voice that first captured my attention. ‘ [Music in Leicester]
All of the bands thus far tonight have been excellent, so finding something new to say about Velocity is not easy. At first, I thought I would say they were very ‘professional’ but then you easily say that about all the acts we saw tonight. Velocity has an amazingly good lead singer – Fionna Newbold – something that I know most people would agree with me about. The band also has an ace guitarist in the shape of Darren Moulds. All in all this is a band that offers a quality musical experience. MIL has written about them before; see for example, our article about their gig at The Shed in December 2014 [Music in Leicester]
Beneath The Lights
Did they save the best for last? After listen to five very good bands, I found myself running out of superlatives. One thing I would say about BTL: they had one of the most memorable songs of the evening and they started their set with it. Their set-list tonight was all their own music – some old numbers and some new ones. On stage they really lived their music; it was a set that had showmanship. This is a band that we have covered several times before now. If we go back to May 2014, we saw a band that had started late in 2010, so already had a fair bit of experience under their belts. They had played Glastonbudget festival several times and were part of the finals of last year’s OBS. They were also on the main stage at the Riverside Festival in 2014 [Music in Leicester] BTL is one of MIL’s featured bands [Music in Leicester]
A series of shows that puts on a wide range of bands, all of which are of high quality, presents a challenge to the writer; not least finding something fresh to say about them on successive occasions. I would be the first to admit that my impressions are partial and often influenced by previous experience of these groups at a variety of different gigs and venues. The majority of the people who attend the OBS events to do so because they want to support one particular band. The challenge for each act that plays is to win over the fans who have not come to see them.
It is, I am sure, no less challenging for the judges to select bands from this panoply of talent. In case you are wondering (and we have been asked about this) our reviews are published after the results have been announced; in fact we often stay for the announcements right at the end of the events. Three bands were chosen by the judges to go through to the finals on 16th May: Ash Mammal, Beneath The Lights and Not My Good Arm.