Live music in Leicester
in October 2016
Music in Leicester magazine’s reporters and photographers have been out at gigs
and here is what they found.
at the Cookie
with Alligatr and Midnight Wire.
It was Halloween night so several of the audience members and most of the musicians had dressed accordingly. Me. Not at all. Bah humbug. Can’t be doing with paganist revivals.
The show opened with a performance by Leicester band Midnight Wire. This is a band we had not seen or heard for about a year. It was a reunion of some of the original members including Chris Merriman and Nik Green. Nik has moved to Oxford so had returned specially to play with the band. Alex Van Roose provided the vocals and Arj was on the bass guitar and vocals. Out came several of the band’s original songs, like Excuses, Say Goodbye, Running Forever and Shake It Baby. In my view, these are among some of the most memorable songs written by local bands – ever. With Alex’s entertaining style of leadership it was a highly enjoyable set. One of the most popular bands in the city. MW has an ability to write popular melodies that is rarely rivaled locally.
Alex Van Roose’s other job is running the Honey Label; the band’s playing tonight are signed to them. Made by musicians for musicians. One happy, happy night. Old friends meeting up, groups of young friends getting much excitement. The venue is comfortably packed with buzzing fans. Midnight Wire. What a band. Someone should write a book about them. I didn’t need reminding just how good their music is. If you had not known these four musicians had not played together for about a year you would never have guessed.
When Alligatr came on stage there was no let up in the flow of musical confections. They are one of Leicester’s more popular and successful bands. They kept the sweetness coming, gave us songs that were rich in rhythms, bouncing beats and joyous tunes. The band members had dressed fancily. Apart from the drummer’s stool breaking, soon to be replaced by a sound engineer, it all went smoothly and happily as the crowd bounced and moshed to the infectious music. The drummer was not phased by a breaking stool he just stood and carried on playing. Now that’s dedication for you.
Gloss is a band that has been widely celebrated, not least because of the captivating star quality of lead singer Niall Godfree. His stage presence was ice cool. Nile had a style of singing that you usually hear from blues singers. His persona had something edgy about it, slightly risky, almost unpredictable. And yet there was an appealing charm about him; a slight glance at the crowd, a momentary expression on this face, a brief movement of the head, he was a singer you cannot help but watch. His performance was stunning. There is always a mystique about rock stars especially when they are hip.
All of the band members played with authenticity. Giving us probably the heaviest sounds we heard tonight, Gloss delivered a set of songs that was enthralling. Musically, Gloss is a band that provides much to make a fuss about; rebuffing what is mainstream they have switched on to something contemporary and have crafted sounds that have an urgently now appeal. In fact I would go even further and say that they are defining what’s next. Down at the front the crowd broke into a mosh as the music soared into a set of compulsive beats. It was very intense, fueled by unbridled enthusiasm and megawatts of energy. They lived the songs. They were the music. It was that depth of commitment that was outstanding. Oh yes, and they are too young to have beards; another reason to like them a lot.
Not just another gig. This was a night to remember. As I strode determinedly for the last bus, I thought – it was my good fortune that I went to this show.
Previously on Music in Leicester
Gloss have had their fair share of line up problems of late, frontman Niall Godfree describes them as turbulent times but adds how pleased he is with the sound the current reduced quota of band members are making. So here’s hoping the future is more settled for Gloss as they are a band worth listening to.
Here’s another new band for you, Gloss. Niall Godfree on guitar and vocals, Daniel Peel on guitar, Gianluca Castaldo on bass and Cameron Parnell on drums. These Leicester lads seem to have even less past history than Lacura. They’ve played The Cookie before but that’s about all I can find out about them. Despite being at such an early stage as a band with songs still in development, what they have to date is good, reminding me at times of fellow Leicester band Clubs. They’ve got potential and I’ll certainly be keeping an eye on them.
and then performing at Lock42 in February 2013 there is a reference to Nial Godfree
GU-RU at the Cookie
Friday night. The Cookie in the High Street. Trevor Locke is there to see GU-RU but first there is James Cull and the Black Storm Nation. Trevor has seen James Cull many times before, sometimes as a solo singer and at other times fronting his band.
Cull is a singer you would be unlikely to forget. His hugely powerful voice and impactful expression wins people over. When the band is in full swing, expect to hear brilliant guitar playing and storming songs. Tonight the band played with its new drummer. Theo Crew is still the bass player.
Prophets of Saturn. Stoner rock. Doom. Psychedelic. That is what this band does. They are from Leicester and George the lead singer has been around for a long time. It’s the kind of music you would understand if you were stoned.
In the background the projections of the light show by Lumiere Ogbanje; blobs, globs and strange waves of coloured oil flowing around in a sea of liquid. Lights and washes that give the stage of the musicians an etherial, other-worldly atmosphere.
The reply came back “Well I’m not stoned and I’m enjoying it.” For sure. Enjoyable it certainly was.
GU-RU is an odd name. For a band. The band’s page on Facebook says: ‘Full-tilt motor groove.’ They are from Leicester, like the bands that went before them. They like the Doors, Frank Zappa, Return to Forever, Captain Beefheart, Pink Floyd (does anyone actually not like Pink Floyd) and a few others whose names even I do not recognise.
Lee Spreadbury is on the keys. In his vest. He was the one who created the band. They say they fuse together soul, funk which is true but I hear jazz and blues. Dynamic rhythms. A sense of swing. Complex arpeggios of riffs. Intense and complex multi-layered mixtures of sounds. Brisk paced melodies. The songs cantered down the home straight, full of energy and vitality. Music that is out of the ordinary. Not your run-of-the-mill stuff. They even claim to have a Moog Synthesiser on the stage. There is simply nothing about them that fails to impress.
Oh and I felt strains of Pantera; even Jamiroquai in some places.
GU-Ru has an EP in the oven. Probably due to be born in December. Worth looking out for.
Also at The Shed tonight
Auditions for the 2017 Glastonbudget festival with
Escapade, Finding Georgia, Chris Ostler, Uban Myth and No More Heroes.
Some of these we have written about before.
Particularly sad to have missed Chris Ostler. He has a new CD out. Details are on his website.
Dreaming In Colour Productions had a show tonight at Jumpin’ Jacks in the High Street. Not somewhere I had ever been before but it was a very cool place. Playing there All Us On Drugs and Crywank. There is a gig coming up there on 5th November – Musicians again Homelesses featuring Arc Isla. So that is good.
Glastonbudget auditions at The Shed
with Anoa, Those Who Know, Weekends on Mercury, Hubcap and The Zufflers.
In a surprise announcement, Muz, from Glastonbudget, took to the mic at the end of the evening to say that all five bands had been selected to play at the festival. The Shed has been hosting the annual round of auditions for the festival and bands and singers take to the stage each week to see if they can secure a slot at the following year’s festival.
A comfortably large crowd of people had turned out tonight to supports the bands. Always nice to see the venue full of people. These shows are ones that are open to the public and the auditioning acts are encouraged to bring their fans to the show to support them.
First on stage was Anoa. A four-piece lad rock band from Leicester. Brit rock with no shortage of edge and punchy songs or as the band itself says ‘indie, rock n roll, alternative.’ Lead singer Alex Harris led the band in a set of songs that had recognisable riffs. The band’s set comprised their own songs and one cover. Vocals from Alex were strong but there were backing vocals. But that apart they provided a sparkly opening to the evening.
Those Who Knew, from Derbyshire, saw five musicians on the stage including the lead singer in a fancy Jacket – Danny Graves – giving out some strong vocals. Their set of what I would call indie songs was delivered with commitment and made for tuneful listening. Mainly their own songs including a “band new one.” Bouncy rhythms that were brisk and a varied set that avoided sameyness. Pretty Good.
Weekends on Mercury, a punk rock band from Nottingham, had played at The Shed before. The trio flew the flag for punk, a genre that seems to be under-represented these days in the cadre of young, unsigned bands. Their set brought some lively sounds into the house. Clearly a band that means business.
Hub Cap. Only two of them on stage but their set of psychedelic blues rock was extraordinary. They turned out enough music to equal a full quartet. Lots of character and personality; they really rocked.
The ended was completed by The Zufflers. A large group of musicians took to the stage to present the band’s set of musical delights. This is a band that played at the festival last year and the previous four years before that. It was an invigorating set of rock covers that created a vibrant finale to the evening’s entertainment. The crowd at the Shed were jumping and rocking out just like the audiences did at the festival.
14th & 15th October 2016
What Became Of Us Festival
at The Cookie
by Keith Jobey
The Cookie hosted What Became Of Us Festival at the weekend for the third consecutive year. The event, spread over a couple of evenings, saw a few popular local acts, a batch of hotly tipped ‘about to break’ bands and a dash of ticket-selling established acts. Previous performers have included Blossoms, Crows, Cheatahs, Clubs, Ex Comets, The Voyeurs, Bad Breeding, Amazons, Hula Girls, God Damn, Vant and Bloody Knees. This year it’s a joint effort with the Bullingdon Arms in Oxford, with the non-local bands playing both venues over the two days. A small scale version of Leeds/Reading, but without the tents and mud.
Alligatr open the festival and despite the start being a little low key they quickly pick up the pace and close in style with the dreamy pop of City Lights.
Willie J Healey doesn’t grab my attention much, just not my kind of music, although it’s well played and structured.
We Three And The Death Rattle have their second album recorded and are here to plug it, hence a set list that only includes Split Lips from the debut album. Despite the disappointment of there being no Alligator it’s still a familiar set with singles Stray Rounds, I See Static and Black Lightning’s Daughter included.
Cabbage were next. They’re in the ‘about to break’ category and judging by tonight’s performance, that will happen soon. The Cookie very rarely has barriers but tonight they do, and Cabbage use them to great effect. Every now and again the Cookie has a moment. Wolf Alice and Black Honey’s first appearances, Tinny topless on stage with Telegram, the stage invasion with Eagulls and so on. Tonight, Cabbage’s performance joins that list of Cookie moments!
Toy are next and have to follow that performance from Cabbage. They’re a completely different style of course and being an established band they have pulled in a batch of loyal fans. It’s no real problem which band they follow, they grind and chug away and the mosh pit churns and turns.
Yuck have been off my radar for a few years, but they’re back on it now and sounding on form. Despite their new album being featured in the set, it’s old tune The Wall that’s the highlight of the set for me.
Saturday evening begins with Hudson Scott and his band. It’s early (6:30) and the crowd haven’t arrived to hear his 80s influenced sounds.
Arcades always seem to bus a crowd in from somewhere so it fills up quickly for their set. This was the first time I’ve seen Arcades since they became Arcades (having previously been Casino Empire). The line-up is the same but there is a definite difference in style and approach. I don’t think any old Casino Empire songs have survived, yet in a blind listening of new stuff I reckon I could still identify them. Watch out for new single Phantom.
Lacura have provided some great performances (including this one), but towards the end of their set announce that they will be taking a break. They may be back at some point, but for now they’re gone. Let’s hope whatever form they reappear as that it’s sooner rather than later.
Ulrika Spacek, October Drift and Genghar represent another batch of ‘about to break’ bands, but I couldn’t stay to see them. I’ll be back next year though. Maybe then I’ll even find out why it’s called What Became Of Us.
Beneath The Lights
at Duffys Bar
with Scribble Victory and Flip Like Wilson
It’s Friday night and I am out to see some of my favourite bands. It’s what Friday nights are for. I have a pint of ale and a mark on my wrist – so I’m happy. I walked to Duffy’s; it being a dry night and me needing some exercise.
Seriously good music was made by the wonderful duo of musicians – Scribble Victory. Two singers with beautifully harmonised voices. One plays the guitar and the other plays the drums. Music by them is always good. I have seen them many, many times; but each time I see them there is something new to discover. A good band to watch; nice personalities. The pair of them exude energy and vitality that is palpable. People love them.
There was a time, long ago, when pop punk was all the rage. It was when we all loved bands like Blink-182, Sum 41, Green Day, Fall Out Boy, and many more. They ruled the world with their big, bouncy beats, the energy of the bands feeding the youthful vigor of the young fans. Those were happy days; they gave us some of the best days of our music lives.
Leicester’s Flip Like Wilson is keep those sounds alive; they are revitalising the spirit of those halcyon days. They are keeping the fans bouncing; energising today’s pop-punkers with the the kind of music we love. That is why I love them; that is why I crave their performances; that is why I feel the passion and rhythm of their music. They lift my spirits; sometimes tell me I am not the only one. They turn a gig into a celebration.
The headline band tonight was Beneath The Lights. The room at Duffys was rammed. It was like going to a special party. It was more just another gig. It was an event. It was a moment. A room full of happy people having a good time. That means a lot. Tonight Brandon was back in the band. Plenty of people turned up to savour the magic of a gig that delivered hugely good music by the bucket load. BTLs really rocked the place.
Jersey Budd at the Soundhouse.
Tonight we were at the Soundhouse for the show put on by The Soundhouse with the input of Helena Hughes. Produced under the moniker of Musicians Against Homelessness it was one of a series of music events taking place at this time aroudn this theme.
As the intro to the events page on Facebook explained:
Musicians Against Homelessness twin aims are to raise funds for the homeless charity Crisis and provide gig opportunities for bands and artists across the country. It has been launched by Creation Records legend Alan McGee.
On stage tonight were Jersey Budd, Aztec Temples, Prime, Jagged Little Thrills and artist John Boulter.
Compered by song legened Kevin Hewick, this was a night well worth supporting, not just because it provided a night of fine music but because it drew attention to important cause. Thanks are due to Helena Hughes who worked hard on the night to make it all happen.
Aztec Temples is one band from Leicester that I have supported in recent years, perhaps more than most. Why? Because, as I have often said, they write exceptionally good music. Somone said to me last night that “it’s melodies that make songs good.” I have to salute that idea. When it comes to writing mleodies that are sticky – they buzz round in youor head for days after you heard them – one band really stands out for me at this time and that is Aztec Temples.
Last night Aztec’ played
Back of the line
One Man Army
Flying Away (new song)
all their own songs. Some of these – such as Other Side, One Man Army and Retreat – have become establish favourites of the band’s fan base. Tonight they tried out a new song, only just completed – Flying Away – and we all liked it’s infectious beats and engaging vitality. What this band provides is popular indie music; more pop than indie but full of sumptuous tunes and vibrant rhythms.
Find out more about Aztec Temples in our feature article.
I saw Jersey Budd at the Simon Says festival earlier this year, when he was on the stage of the Marquee with his band. Budd is one of Leicester’s most celebrated and successful musicians and I have seen him performan over many years at both festivals and shows; often that is from a distance. The best things about tonight was being able to see him from close quarters in the intimate setting of the Soundhouse. What stuck me most about Budd’s performance was the strength and technuque of his vocals and the tense emotional impact of his songs and the way her performed them.
In my report on the festival I made a note: ‘being a remarkable singer is not just about the ability to sing well; it’s not even about the ability to perform songs. With some artists there is a light about them, even an incandescence, something that bursts out of them from deep inside and makes them shine. That is something that comes with experience. They have to believe in their music; they also have to believe in themselves.’ Now, that would be the kind of think that could be said about tonight’s set by the legendary Jersey Budd. [Music in Leicester magazine]
Prime is a post-punk band from Nottinghan and sheffield. They have played in Leicester before.
Jagged Little Thrills, from Northampton, plays Indie, punk.
MIL asked Kevin Hewick what he thought of the show; he was there introducing the acts as the compere; he said:
When I first heard Jersey, with just him and a guitarist, a couple of years ago I found it to be a revelation, I suddenly ‘got’ him in a way I hadn’t before. He’s a direct, sincere songwriter in the true classic mode of Springstein, Van Morrison, Jackson Browne with some touches of Weller in there too, you can relate to what he is saying, instantly. It’s not hard to see that he should be a household name, they are like songs for the people, about things everybody goes through.
Aztec Temples are an interesting work in progress. They can hold a crowd’s attention and seem a thing of their own making with their own style. New single ‘Places’ seems like a real breakthrough song to me, it’s the quality songwriting and thoughtful lyrics of this song that points them to what they can achieve in the future.
Both Prime and Jagged Little Thrills were out of town bands keen to win new friends in Leicester and both succeeded in that. Both had excellent frontmen who enjoyed solid backing from their respective bands. Jagged Little Thrills had a sense of real abandon in their set, Prime went from Ramonesque punk to quite convincing rock balladry.
John Boulter inhabits his own musical world, like an acoustic version of modern day Scott Walker meets Lou Reed and Metallica’s ‘Lulu’. He regularly performs with striking canvases, melting faces that match the melting music he creates. Audiences are often taken aback by just how different to anything else John is but there is a lot of melody in there and he riffs with the power of a five piece metal band.
Throughout the night there was strong awareness of the cause, Musicians Against Homelessness, a sincere attempt to raise consciousness and funds to help some of the most vulnerable people in our society, people in a situation that’s sadly all too easy to fall into. The difference between being housed and unhoused seems but a sliver. A few financial misfortunes or personal issues and the world can indeed fall apart for any one of us.
I think Helena Hughes deserves a lot of credit for making the night happen.
Thank you Kevin; your thoughts are much appreciated.
Over this year I have written much about housing including a whole book on the subject of housing policy. What has been bubbling up in my head in recent days is an article about homelessness. I still start work on this now and hopefully I have something readable soon. If that happens I will put the link to it here. Trevor Glyn Locke.