Tuesday 6th January 2015
obsUnplugged at The Musician
by Kevin Gaughan
Tonight’s line-up: Steve Parker, Alan Martin, En Route, Emily Crane, Ashley Francis and Jonathan Eve.
Being a school night, the Musician was slightly less well populated than on other obsUnplugged nights, but there was still a healthy and appreciative crowd. I entered the Musician during Steve Parker’s set which immediately caught my attention even before I sat down, and sounded quite special.
It felt like one of those moments of discovery when you find something special. Steve, one of Leicester’s more mature singer/songriters, was perched on the stage with only his guitar but seemed to be one of those natural performers. He made a wonderful sound with his guitar and voice that just seemed to flow naturally, with no effort at all on his part. Quite amazing, especially considering he had a cold. It was easy to hear his thought-provoking and observational lyrics which made the songs come to life. A fine starter on tonight’s menu of eclectic music.
Following on from Steve Parker was Alan Martin, a younger singer/songwriter from Melton Mowbray. Performing covers including the Animals’ House of the Rising Sun. Although a fine performance, he did start to lose some of the audience as the complete silence, left by Steve started to transform into faint murmers. Alan did an interesting mashup which included The Police’ Roxanne among others. Alan did do a fine set with his own take on a number of popular cover songs.
Next on stage were En Route, a very lively three piece from near Leicester. Performing both covers and their on original material, they hit the stage with a real sense of urgency. Lead singer, Craig Blencoe had a big stage presence oozing with confidence making him a great front-man for the band. Dave Evans on lead guitar was also performing his duties spectacularly well, also great to watch as well as to listen to. When performing harmonies together with his brother, Tom (acoustic guitar), their voices were contrasting but in a rather special way which complimented each other well. Their style was varied, some songs more acoustic with great harmonies and others with a Celtic feel as Dave performed with his Mandolin.
After En Route’s lively performance was another performance with a sense of urgency, Emily Crane. Emily, a singer/songwriter from Castle Donington, was lively and energetic. She had a wonderful voice, her lyrics weren’t particularly jolly but her covers included an interesting variation of Set you Free by Entrance which provided a contrasting set.
The penultimate performance of the evening was Ashley Francis, a local singer/songwriter, performing mostly his original material. As with Alan Martin’s performance earlier, Ashley did start to lose the audience’s attention which wasn’t helped by the fact that it was getting late as people started to relax after a few beers. Ashley performed a good mashup of three Fleetood Mac songs which included The Chain.
Ash Francis performed at the Singers of Distinction show in 2013. We wrote
It was gratifying to see singer, songwriter Ash Francis take to the stage because he has been busy with other things of late and his performances have been few and far between. His set of own songs and covers demonstrated his very listenable voice. Francis started his set with his own song World on my Shoulders, a resoundingly good start which was followed by some impressive interpretations of covers and solidly skilled guitar playing. Francis knows how to select just the right covers to suit his voice and style of singing. He finished with a cover by Fleetwood Mac. [Music in Leicester]
Ash performed at the obsUnplugged show on Wednesday 9th January 2013. Reporting on that show Alex Bellwood wrote:
He started off with a slow and sensual take on Michael Jackson’s Billy Jean, and, if it is at all possible, managed to give the song more soul. Ash’s style of guitar was rhythmic and percussive, slapping and picking the instrument, which gave a little more depth to the performance. The style of playing worked amazingly well with his vocals which were soulful and (dare I say) sexy. Ash ended his set with a medley of Adele’s We could have had it all, James Brow’s It’s a man’s world and Bill Wither’s Ain’t no Sunshine. He handled this brilliantly, managing to combine the songs into a continuous flow, belting out powerful, emotional lyrics. However, the set did leave me wanting to hear some original material from this promising young artist. [Arts in Leicester magazine, 2013]
Lastly on tonight’s bill was Jonathan Eve, a singer/songwriter from Leicester who also performs in local blueshine band, the Blueshine Brothers. Armed with only his mandolin, Jonathan performed incredibly intricate and quite daring translations of J.S. Bach’s violin partitas and cello suites. Jonathan’s translations of the timeless masterpieces hadn’t lost any of their original appeal. It was great to listen to, something a little different, the audience had gone silent again as they, and I, clearly thoroughly enjoyed the performance.
Yet another fantastic night of mixed and varied music down at the Musician.