Wednesday 14th January 2015
On stage tonight: Richard Rands, Blue Skies in June, Christopher Moody, Dexter, Sam (Instrumentalist) Bradshaw and Nick “August” Jones.
Not a bad turn-out for tonight given the weather forecast, which was ominous. OK it rained a bit but wasn’t as bad as the forecasters had predicted.
The show was opened by Richard Rands, from Leeds, who is currently on tour. Playing in the seated position, Rand’s first song immediately caught everyone’s attention. His good voice was used artfully to deliver his set of breezy own songs and covers. One of his own songs – Nameless – was a fast-paced, upbeat number in which Rand’s showed his skills as a song-writer. Vivacious, attractive songs resulted in an impressive and polished performance and an enjoyable musical experience. Rands also plays in a Leeds rock band called Bricks Without Straw (the band’s members all study music-related courses at Leeds Metropolitan University, where they all first met.) Rands recently played in a line-up with Derby duo Scribble Victory – they played at a previous obsUnplugged show.
The first group of the evening was Blue Skies in June. This Leicester band describe their genre as ‘fresh twists on covers of pop, indie, rock, blues, dance, rock ‘n’ roll, bluegrass.’ The four members – Laura, Helen, Richard and Hilary – included three vocalists. Their set of lively songs, embracing popular and folksy styles, demonstrated their well-harmonised voices. Cum On Feel the Noize, written by James Lea and Noddy Holder of Slade, gave them an opportunity to place their own take on this familiar tune.
Chris Moody is a singer we have seen before. Moody performed at the obsUnplugged on 2nd January 2013. I might have been a hard on him; I wrote
He had a vibrato in his voice that reminded me of Cat Stevens. His set list tended to be a bit down-beat but the addition of the harmonica lifted the performance at certain points. He sang with character and commitment but there were too many sad songs. He sang with his eyes closed for much of the time, delivering feeling but unable to focus on the faces of his audience, suggesting he was singing at them rather than to them. [Arts in Leicester magazine]
Moody, who was at last year’s obsUnplugged, also performed at the Riverside festival in 2014 and was at the acoustic night held at The Shed in February last year.
His strong and distinctive voice had a characteristic vibrato that gave a lot of impact to his songs. Moody has a band called Christopher Moody and The Underground Kings. A very able artist, her performed a set of his own songs and sang with feeling and delicacy. You can see him and his band at The Donkey on 28th February.
Dexeter is a midlands group that plays country, rock and pop. Tonight there were two members of the group, from the overall six, Deeanne Dexeter providing the lead vocals, accompanied by Gareth on guitar and vocals. Two well-blended voices imbued with power and clarity added a pleasurable layer to the melodic tunes, the singing having delicacy and feeling. Their set of mainly own songs was a joy to hear.
It is unusual to have an artist who does not sing; Sam Instrumental Bradshaw is the one solo guitar player I know really well. He opened his set with his song Traveller and you could see straight away why Bradshaw is regarded as being a master of the acoustic strings. Always an absorbing artist to watch, his techniques are jaw-dropping. He plays the guitar with both hands. He adds a fair amount of percussive work into his performances. His piece Serenity is a long and intricate composition in which he demonstrates the full panoply of his astonishing techniques.
The evening’s line-up closed with a set by Nick “August” Jones from Leicester. Stylistically his set was more or less blues, to my ears at any rate. His performance had plenty of personality and expressive singing with clear articulation, making his songs immediate and easy to assimilate. He brought some fun into the proceedings by inviting one of the other sings to get up on stage and do a jam session with him. A sing song is always a good way to end a show.