Sunday 4th January 2015
The Musician, obsUnplugged
Tonight’s line-up: Pop Orchestra, China Tanks, Melanie Page, Claire Jackson, Reuben Wisner and Homeless Shakespeare (Joe Doyle.)
A cold, foggy Sunday night brought relatively few people into the Musician. Those who did turn up benefited from a solidly good line-up of musical talent.
Pop Orchestra, from Nottingham, has two artists – one female guitarist (Elaine Crowe) and a male guitar player (Matt Williams.) Crowe provided the vocals. Their set of folksy, original songs were delivered with strong and clear vocals. Williams also had a foot-operated device which served as a drum beat. The instrumentals were very clear. Very enjoyable.
China Tanks had come from Stoke-on-Trent to play here tonight. The three male musicians included two guitarists (David Poole-Bailey and Tim Wood) and a player of the Cajon box-drum (Michael Bloor.) Their set got off to a lively start, with a song that commanded the attention of the audience. Hardcore, the group’s second song, was lively and the string playing delivered sparkling guitar lines. A set that was spirited and engaging was led mainly by one of the guitarists. For their final song, the other guitarist sang and he had a good voice; in fact, I would have liked to have heard him contributing to the vocal line more during the set. The group’s last song had a bite and energy all of its own.
Melanie Page, from Loughborough, began her set with a intricately picked instrumental introduction before coming in with the vocal line. Page’s soft voice delivered enchanting vocals. She held her guitar at a peculiar angle – looking almost like a sitar player – but her string-work was amazingly good. An altogether entrancing set.
Claire Jackson, originally from Cumbra but now studying in Leicester, launched her performance with one of her own songs. Her strong, vibrant voice caught the moment and what a great voice it was – full of colour and impact. Jackson stood up to play and as I listened I thought ‘her voice is so right for musical theatre.’ She sang with passion and gave her songs plenty of feeling. A couple of mistakes did not detract from the quality of her set. A thrilling performance.
Reuben Wisner is a teenager who has recently come to notice on the Leicester music scene. I saw him for the first time at the Soundhouse [Music in Leicester, 13th December] and recognised that he could be the next big star on the local singing circuits. When it comes to singing, Wisner has got what it takes. His voice has a naturally attractive timbre and he used it very effectively to deliver his songs – all his songs all he wrote himself. In his second number, Raindrop Meteorite, he used his foot pedal to enhance the guitar lines. This allowed him to concentrate on his vocals while the backing track continued to play from the pedal device. His songs, though fairly short, were not lacking in impact. Wisner is clearly a song writer with a lot of talent. His vocals were strong and his articulation clear and he seemed to achieve an effortless impact. Tonight’s set suggested that Wisner is one of the best newcomers to the Leicester music scene and, in my opinion, he fills the gap that was left when Samuel Idwal moved away to London. Wisner’s songs, with their captivating lyrics, were full of intensity and drama. His song Don’t You Dare was cheerful and upbeat and, like Jackson, you could easily see Wisner on the theatre stage. Both of them had that kind of voice and stage presence. His song Electric, he wrote when he was 15, Wisner told the audience. In Apologise Wisner tried to get the audience involved, rehearsing them in the chorus and striving to get them to sing along with it. With that many singers in the room, it should not have been difficult. His last song was Night Like These, a captivating ballad that topped off an excellent set. Quite remarkable.
Joe Doyle is a music artist who I have known for quite a long time – since he played bass in one of the top Leicester bands of the time, Weekend Schemers, back in 2009 when he was 16. Doyle’s performance on the main stage of the City Festival, in August last year, was the best performance I have seen him do. Now appearing under the moniker Homeless Shakespeare, Doyle is concentrating on a solo career. His set tonight was a case of ‘and now for something completely different.’ Doyle is an entertaining personality. One of the characters of the local music scene. Rough, raw and rollicking, Doyle provided something out of the ordinary. Reuben Wisner was a hard act to follow.