Friday 2nd January 2015
obsUnplugged at The Musician
Tonight saw an excellent line-up of talented singers and musicians take to the stage of The Musician for the first show in the series of obsUnplugged.
On stage tonight: Aaron Stratton, Claire Schofield, Idle Empire, Guy Jones, Scribble Victory, Lucy Davies-Kumadiro and Nile McGregor.
The new year always starts with the launch of the first show in the series of obsUnplugged. Now in its fifth year, the series of shows has been a major platform for singers, groups and acoustic musicians.
Opening tonight’s show Aaron Stratton delivered a lively cover song, warmly received by the audience. Stratton played at the unplugged show on 5th January 2013:
One of the youngest artists in the programme, Aaron Stratton (14) started his set with Jessie J’s Price Tag, a cover that popped up more than once throughout the Unplugged shows. Following this up with Berlin’s Take My Breath Away, the young singer demonstrated his ability and his passion for popular songs. Using his clear voice and good articulation, Aaron put on a confident performance. His set included a variety of covers, including Yellow by Coldplay and Wonderwall by Oasis and the audience lapped it up. The only weakness in this otherwise excellent performance was that he did not really make any of these songs his own. We never heard the Aaron Stratton version of these songs. Technical issues with timing and breath control aside, it was a set that the audience enjoyed. [Arts in Leicester magazine, 2013].
Stratton’s singing has been delighting music fans a lot recently; he appeared at the Glastonbudget Festival Christmas party at the Barley Mow in December [Music in Leicester]. In 2013, Stratton performed at the Singers of Distinction show on 14th August:
Aaron is a singer who has appeared regularly at shows and open-mic nights in Leicester and at county venues; he has also been a lead vocalist in a band and is one of the most promising vocalists of his age-group. Other songs in tonight’s set-list included those by Mumford & Sons, Linkin Park, Two Door Cinema Club and Snow Patrol. Using plenty of expression and feeling, Aaron delivered his songs confidently with good articulation and inflexion, being able to capture both sensitivity and power where it was needed. [Music in Leicester]
In the printed biog sheet handed out for that show, it stated:
A young artist from the Loughborough area, Aaron takes his inspiration from TDCC, Jake Bugg, Alex Alare, Ron Pope, and Mcr. ‘ … good strong voice and confident stage manner impressed the audience. His rendition of Teenage Kicks by the Undertones was particularly impressive. Aaron can also deliver some big Michael Bublé songs; he can live up to even the biggest Bublé ballads.’ [Arts in Leicestershire magazine]
Tonight Stratton followed his opening number with a song he often plays – Coldplay’s Yellow. He got his voice round the high notes really well and his delivery had plenty of expression. Still a teenager, Stratton has been performing at public shows for some four years already. Not just a covers artist, Stratton also performed one of his own songs – One Day – and if you had not clocked that it was his own work you would have thought it was a another cover. It was a remarkably good piece of music. Stratton’s performance was both entertaining and technically impressive. He had an attentive audience throughout his set and finished with Mardy Bum by the Arctic Monkeys. See him at the 2015 Glastonbudget Music festival in May.
Claire Schofield delivered a set of sweet songs, sung with a clear voice, accompanying herself on guitar and foot tambourine for most songs and with harmonica and piano for others. Standing up at the mic, Schofield’s set was delightful and including some covers and some of her own original works; she has played at unplugged before (3rd January 2014) [Music in Leicester] Schofield ended her set with a song from her album (which you can hear on Bandcamp.)
The group Idle Empire has now grown to four members – two guitarists, a violinist and a female singer. In fact all of them contributed to the vocals during their set. With vibrant and engaging songs, spirited tunes and ear-pleasing instrumentals, they delivered music with plenty of punch and vigour backed with foot-tapping rhythms. A confident performance that delivered a set of spirited tunes played with [plenty of energy and verve. We saw Idle Empire at this year’s Oxjam Festival when they played at The Musician [Music in Leicester]
Guy Jones led his group in a set that featured well-blended vocal lines. On stage with Jones was a bassist and a female singer. A fairly lo fi collection of numbers but pleasant and atmospheric; They had the audience clapping along to one of their songs.
I recently saw Derby’s Scribble Victory at The Soundhouse on 13th December for the first time and liked them straight away. I wrote
Scribble Victory – two guys on guitar and drums – delivered beautifully harmonised vocals and a set of energetic songs. A performance full of vibrancy and musical quality, their unusual act was very likeable. [Music in Leicester]
An unusual act – one guitarist and a drummer – whose superbly well harmonised voices and energetic stage craft brought us a a set full of colour and inspiration. Jamie Thompson and Tomas Ward have been chums since their school days and got together as a duo in November 2013. On their Facebook it says
A stripped back acoustic two piece with beautiful lyrics that strike a chord in the heart of all who listen. Melodic harmonies that intertwine with subtle rhythms and meandering guitar work. Hailing from Derby they are becoming a firm favourite on the festival and gig circuit.
and they class their genre as Acoustic Folk Pop. Tonight they livened up the room with music that was blessed with energy and ear-grabbing sounds. Their two good voices were backed with instrumentation that had plenty of punch and verve both from the guitar and from drums. Two likeable artists who presented themselves with an engaging sense of humour.
Lucy Davies-Kumadiro is from Loughborough and played at the Musician on 19th August 2014 at the Elizabeth Cornish night. Our reviewer, Keith Jobey, wrote of her
Lucy Davies-Kumadiro is a tuneful teenage talent writing songs about her experiences to date, such as her worst day at school, crushes and making life decisions. An OBS unplugged finalist alongside tonight’s headliner, the relative newcomer to the stage showed little sign of nerves and engaged the audience plenty between songs. The slight huskiness to her voice and the quality of her delivery seem contradictory to her age. She ends her set with a song called The End despite, as she admits, forgetting the words to it at Simon Says Festival. I’m left thinking that if she has written such good songs already with her limited life experience, what classics will she pen to in the future? [Music in Leicester]
She performed at the obsUnplugged finale show in 2014 and for me, was one of my favourite female artists of the night. On stage tonight, Davies-Kumadiro got straight into her set, standing up at the mic and accompanying herself on the guitar. It was a delightful performance from an artist with an ear-pleasing voice and exceptional song-writing ability.
The evening finished with a set from Nile McGregor. One of Leicester’s notable musical personalities, there is so much one could say about him. He told the audience that he never makes a set list – he just gets up and sings his songs. McGregor sings with feeling, playing his guitar which is covered in stickers that he calls his “memories.” He has had his guitar for ten year, he told us. Powered with passion, McGregor described his genre as “angry folk” and is clearly a master of the impact-ballad. His songs were received by the crowd with considerable enthusiasm.
An altogether enjoyable night that brought seven talented and very enjoyable acts to the stage of the Musician. We hope to cover some more of the obsUnplugged shows this year.
Photos taken at tonight’s show by Philip J Vernon photography (log into Facebook to see them.)