31st October 2015
Oxjam 2015 Review
by Keith Jobey
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If you ever want a snapshot of the current happenings in the Leicester music scene then OXJAM is as good a place as any to get it. It might not be a fully comprehensive snapshot, not every band/act/artist can play, but it surely must be up there with the likes of Simon Says for showcasing the eclectic mix of local acts currently available in the city [with a few from out of town.]
Not wanting to miss out, I arrived promptly at Manhattan 34 for noon to catch Joe Connor. The former Furies and Beneath The Lights guitarist gave a refreshing upbeat performance. Playing songs from his debut EP and some from forthcoming EP it was a perfect way to start off the day.
Oscar Prince, singer with Dead Question, followed, and with nothing else to compete and an unfinished drink I stayed put. And he was good. He has a deep powerful voice with a droll, melancholy style.
Over the road in Midas ambient experimental electro duo Quadra were on. With one of them controlling the sounds while the other sung it was a chilled result.
Drawn by the choice of beer as much as anything it was time to go to the Ale Wagon were events were getting underway with Milly Reed and Mayne. Featuring another Dead Question member, this time guitarist David Mayne, and Milly Reed, singing and showing some excellent vocal qualities. At the moment their set is all cover songs, but they plan to write some material soon. Something to look forward to.
Walking by Midas the noise erupting from inside had a magnetic attraction, the Neumonics were on. With the singer in full skeleton get up thrashing away at his Gibson Thunderbird there was to be no passing by on this lot. They were the first full band of the day were possibly the find of the day for us. The psyche/shoegaze/rock trio from Northampton put on a show of relentless energy. I would be great to see them back in Leicester again soon.
A quick check in at The Shed and we caught the tail end of Nameless Snakes. A guitar and drum bluesy/rock duo. I didn’t hear them sing (if they did) and there’s no sign of them on the internet so I suspect this was pretty early in their career.
I’d been looking forward to the Soundhouse at 3:30 since the listings were published revealing Tom Lewitt, former guitarist with The Screening, here with his new band The Scharenheuvals. His name has recently been appearing on support slots so I was keen to hear what he was up to. Don’t expect the indie anthems that the Screening were known for, the set today was a much calmer folk tinged rock played on acoustic guitars with backing drums.
Off to the darkness of the Exchange basement next for Beth Morris. A singer songwriter from Leicestershire who has a characterful voice, a bit of attitude all topped off with a sprinkling of fun. She announces towards the end her set that she’s going to do a cover of songs she listens to ‘which are all 50 years old’. It turns out to be a great medley of Elvis and Beatles tunes. I’ll be looking out for her again.
Regrouping in the Shed I caught the last half of Norhamptonshire rock band Over The Influence. A female fronted five peice who’d made an effort on the Halloween fancy dress front. Their style is toward the harder side of rock, so they weren’t out of place on the multi-lit stage of the Shed.
A second visit to the Ale Wagon to see Kenneth J Nash ensued. However, he’d been replaced by Hannah Hayley. I’d first seen Hannah at last years Oxjam. Despite not being who we’d gone to see this year she was good entertainment, playing a mixed pace set that hit the mark with the crowd there.
I might have seen them several times already and sung their praises on more than one occasion but come 5:15 the Exchange was the only place I was going to be at. Midcity are now getting gig hardened, their set is slick and efficient, the songs fit together well and there’s not a weak moment throughout.
After the youthful electric exuberence of Midcity, Kevin Hewick had opted follow them by bringing in Dave Dhonau on Cello and bass. This added a subtle depth to his normal acoustic sound and allowed him to play a new song Season Three. With the timings running behind schedule it was a shame they were cut short after four songs.
After missing supporting Girls Names recently due to illness it was good to see Courtney Askey as a late addition to the Midas schedule. Is it really only a year since I first seen her perform live at Oxjam 2014? She’s come on so strong since then, including landing a recording deal. A confidence is now evident in her playing, a self belief in the quality of her songs she’s written are great. She’s got the sound right, she has a captivating stage presence, there’s a real star quality about her. Made even better by the light show of Lumieire Ogbanje with his overhead projected creations.
Notes by Kevin Hewick
Midcity were superb, they are playing intelligently and imaginatively and have great potential to develop and grow as a band. Really impressive.
Carlos Stein has now got a unique act, a self made man with self made technology that responds to his often dark vision. He makes you laugh but he makes you think as well. Lord of Loops indeed.
Jonezy worked the crowd and got them 100% onside. I love his passion and his sincerity and his uplifting positive message. Every moment of his set had a point to it, he can face an audience with a mic and a backing track and make it all happen.
Ash Mammal seemed road hardened and on the edge of their own psychic mania, the spectacular Lumière Ogbanje light show should be a permanent fixture at all their shows. Boris and Doris Karloff dueted on ‘The Monster Mash’ making the perfect Halloween musical moment. You just know you are watching the most interesting band in town eLumière Ogbanjeee them.
more to come soon
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