The beginning of a two-day event at Duffy’s bar, in Pocklingtons Walk, in aid of the homelessness charity The Bridge. This has become part of the annual calendar of must-see events on the Leicester music scene.
Kicking things off was Cathi Rae who gave us a performance of her poetry. Poems with plenty of punch. Including ideas that were engaging, if not compelling. I wish I could write poetry as good as that. A poet of our time, her pieces were full of edgy ideas and heart-grabbing emotions. It was a wonderful start to a star-studied cast of artists.
Kevin Hewick. Kevin talks a lot but he says things that are worth hearing about. He made reference to the recent passing of Andy Wright. The last song on Kevin’s impressive set list was Billion Pebble Beach, from his album ‘Touching Stones, Tasting Rain.’ This can be heard on YouTube here.
Kevin’s inter-song chats are both funny and interesting. Recollections of historical significance, in my view.
James Scott-Howes is a name some readers might remember from long ago when he was in a band called the Great Imitation. As I said at the time: ‘Great Imitation – in the beginning, there were two. A unique act that changed the face of Leicestershire music. Still wowing the crowds and often side-splitting funny, James Scott-Howes is the stuff of legend.’
Today, James gave us a set of remarkable spoken word performances. Also accompanied on stage by Jemima Hughes, their offering was high-calibre entertainment. I have seen worse by professional artists at major theatres. Leicester has seen many good artists over the years. Today what we heard was more like rap than poetry but with all the same vibrancy and impact.
An amazingly good experience that will not be quickly forgotten. I was very impressed by the whole set and by both artists. It is very satisfying to see that some of our artists from years ago are still around and still wowing the audience of the current generation.
The rest of the evening turned musical, commencing with the wonderfully sultry sounds of JJ Lovegrove and her keyboard, as captivating and haunting as the spoken word acts that were before here – another beautiful performance where you can’t help but get lost in the moment.
Following on from JJ Lovegrove was Kenny and Paddy, both from The Table Troubadours who were standing in for Echolocation. Kenny and Paddy played a number of more upbeat songs, with Paddy’s more gravelly vocals complimenting Kenny’s on the harmonies.
Next up, ratcheting the volume, pace and energy up to 11 were post-space punksters, The People Assembly. The Tiny Duffy’s bar filled with like-minded post-space youngsters all having a great time as this young but talented 6-piece band did their thing, and did it rather well, also being interactive with the crowd as the guitarist came to join us.
Following on from The People Assembly and winding it down a bit were Leicester’s favourites Uncle Frank. Equipped with good humour, robust banter and joking with the crowd were Uncle Frank, fronted by Frank Benbini with Naim Cortazzi (both from Fun Lovin’ Criminals) and Nile Barrow (By the Rivers and HO‧FU) bought a touch of class to the days proceedings.
Most of the younger crowd who came for The People Assembly and the next band, Earls, disappeared to the bar while Uncle Frank was keeping the maturer audience entertained.
Hot-on-the-heels of Uncle Frank, and turning the energy, sound and pace back up to eleven were popular local punk band, Earls.
Earls used to be an angry two-piece, but these days, they’re mellowing out slightly as a four piece, although tonight’s performance saw them as a three-piece! Either way, it didn’t stop the younger section of the crowd from packing the tiny room and letting rip with the mayhem that ensued.
Finishing around midnight, on my one-and-a-half-hour walk home (pushing my punctured push-bike), I walked home with a permanent smile on my face as I reflected on the eclectic but rather wonderful day I had just experienced.
Michael Vickers. I remember him from years ago when he was in a band called Kicking Habits. That was before he started his solo career.
Since he began as a singer and songwriter, Vickers has delivered a constant stream of recordings and songs. Today, he gave us a vibrant performance buzzing with energy and compelling songs. I have followed his career enthusiastically and today it was hugely gratifying to see him on stage, still working, after so long. After hanging up his guitar, Vickers took to the keyboard. I found that interesting. Seeing him on the keyboard is not something I can remember from previous gigs.
It was all a superb performance from one of Leicestershire’s long-standing young artists.
Another name that has a rich cache and musical status is Mellow Baku. It is a rare treat (for me) to see so many notable artists and musicians playing together at a venue over a weekend. Baku is an artist of high calibre who is – like many others – part of Leicester’s musical heritage. Her beautiful and entrancing songs were delightful.
She sang a song by James (an English rock band from Manchester) ‘Oh sit down, sit down, next to me‘, which she made her own. She brought the song to life and gave it her own seal of approval as a singer and songwriter.
Courtney Askey made a welcome appearance with her edgy, grungy and distorted guitar – I love the mix of the attitude laiden, somber vocals, with the brooding guitar, almost seems to put me in trance, I love it!
She often appears with her band, but it was good to see her on her own this time – I loved the stripped-down perfomance – it makes for a more unique performance.
Lee Spreadbury was on stage with local drumming legend, Malcolm D’Sa as Gu-Ru. Spreadbury is a guru of the keyboard and Jazz-infused electronica laced with lashings of psychedelia. I’m sure at least half of their set was improvised which gave it a spontaneous feel – you could see Malcolm thinking – ‘what’s Lee going to do next?’ as he conjures up yet another masterful piece of drumming.
Following on from GU-RU was the eagerly anticipated ex-frontwoman of local favourites, The Brandy Thieves, Andrea Kenny, often seen with her own band, Token Boy (which also features Malcolm D’Sa on drums) tonight she treated us to a solo performance.
Andrea is a mighty-mini-powerhouse packing a massive voice into her tiny frame – her performance was heart-felt and lively, used to owning the stage, big or small, it was great to see her again, singing her heart out in an incredibly enthusiastic performance and a perfect way to top of this weekend’s Access All Areas 3 experience off.
The thing about these homelessness gigs at Duffy’s is that they have pulling power. This weekend’s concert was in benefit of The Bridge – a most worthwhile cause taking care of people who are homeless.
Let us put our hands together for the work of Luke Broughton (who was unable to be there due to having COVID) and his team who make sure this was an unforgettable concert.
This weekend’s festival rose £1200 for The Bridge Homelessness to Hope charity.
Videos and credits
To see The PeopleAssembly perform Battleship F**k off at AAA3, click here.
To see The People Assembly perform Sun for the Sun God at AAA3 click here.
To see Earls perform I can’t Move at AAA3, click here.
To see a clip of GU-RU perform at AAA3, click here.
To see Andrea Kenny perform Lay Your Head (acoustic) at AAA3, click here.
Food was provided by Mithaas Pure vegetarian Indian Restaurant.
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