Friday 27th March 2015
with Siobhan Mazzie, Quadra, Mikey Kerslake and Trilogy.
Trevor Cobbe reports
Yet again it’s the weekend, a Friday night and I am spoiled for choice for gigs in Leicester. I’m not complaining and I’m not undecided either, because, of the four acts on at The Donkey, I know three well and would happily go to a gig with any one of the three headlining. The fourth act is another reincarnation of the musical meanderings of Alex Ulyett, a musician who seems to come up with new bands more frequently than Kanye West shares his greatness at award ceremonies.
So it’s off to the Donkey, one of my less frequent haunts but a very welcoming and easy to get to venue. With the effervescent Mr Collins on the door, it’s a friendly greeting before warming up my camera grip with a spot of Red Stripe can re-familiarisation.
The Donkey is already buzzing with two Market Harborough tribes supporting two Harborough bands, Trilogy and Quadra. It’s not actually that tribal and there’s no face-off in the car park.
First on tonight we have a Leicester songstress who we’ve had the pleasure of meeting on the Leics Music More Music Live Stream, Siobhan Mazzei, pronounced, ‘MattSay.’ Siobhan takes to the stage and immediately engages with the crowd in her effortlessly friendly manner. I’m guessing quite a few of this crowd haven’t encountered her before but her impassioned plaintive, powerful delivery soon draws everyone into her web of intimate, personal songs. The applause at the end of each song is prolonged and genuine and her rapport with the crowd is a sure-fire sign of a musician comfortable in her own skin and with her craft. As well as sharing the inspiration for her songs she also tells us that her apparent confidence in gazing out into the audience is in fact a sham – she simply cannot see into the audience because of the lights. I’m not convinced. I’m more inclined to believe this is a musician at the top of her game who can feel the vibe back from the audience and who knows she is going down a storm. Siobhan is an artist who could quite comfortably be spotted, marketed and grace whatever stage she is put on. It’s a frustration to see some of the bland, manufactured artists who currently are picked from obscurity and marketed to fame, when you see genuine talent in Leicester that could wipe the floor with them.
Next on the stage, we have the aforementioned Mr Ulyett, with his latest vehicle – Quadra – for delivering his synth, laptop, guitar and drum-based musings to Leicestershire audiences. Phoebe York accompanies Alex with vocals. Phoebe started off somewhat anxiously, probably due to the rather lengthy set-up on laptops etc. of her accompanist. It took me a short time to realise that the prolonged set-up was actually over and we were into the set. Once underway, Phoebe’s vocals build quickly to deliver an accompaniment that is at times haunting, at times soulful and all the time engaging. The overall sound is a mix of dance, trance and club and again we had an enraptured Donkey audience. One of the other musicians on the night compared Phoebe’s vocal to Bjork. That, from a rated musician, is quite a compliment. Quadra already have a considerable volume of music, which you can find on Soundcloud. I hope Alex sticks with this format because it is a sound I would definitely revisit.
Having made an entrance of note, with his entourage during Siobhan’s set, it was now the turn of swaggering Mikey Kerslake to delight the Donkey’s crowd. Mikey has played with a number of bands before branching out solo, something he occasionally mixes up with his duo project, Humdrum. Mikey is another performer who is totally relaxed in his own persona, swapping banter with the eager to respond audience. This relaxed and natural exchange sets the two more experienced artists apart but comes with time and I’m sure the other two acts will develop their own style of audience interaction in due course. Mikey mixes acoustic guitar with loops on his pedal and plays a wonderful set of folk rock tunes which delight the crowd. I’ve seen artists lose an audience as they set up loops but Mike has the experience and the natural charm to keep the audience engaged while he sets up his next song. Surviving a shout of none, when he asks how many more songs he can play, he quickly burns back with a withering riposte. Ouch! It would be rude of me not to mention the much admired ‘guns’ that Mike was impressing certain members of the crowd with.
To wrap up a superb evening, we had our headline act, Trilogy. I’ve seen Trilogy three times before tonight and it’s becoming difficult to think of new superlatives for the sound these three Market Harborough lads deliver. Self described as a fusion of jazz, blues and funk, Trilogy are growing in confidence. They have always been a tight unit but their stage presence and audience interaction is now developing and tonight they seem to be revelling in the freedom of being the headline act. They mix their act up with long and short numbers and vocal and instrumental. Pocketwatch, probably my favourite track, receives a funked up extension and we are also treated to a song I don’t think I’ve heard before, one of their first tunes written. Trilogy write their own material and it’s remarkable stuff for a relatively new band. Adam and Greg swap vocal and drumming roles and Greg adds in keyboards for some songs. Again one of the night’s more seasoned musicians commented to me with genuine surprise, ‘they’re good aren’t they?’ I’ll be very interested to see if Trilogy can continue to develop as they have to date. If they can, then they will surely go far.
A big thank you to Paul Collins of Wake Up Promotions for a stellar line-up.