The first payday of the year has just passed, so what better way than to blow (some of) it on a new local music mini-festival?
Together is a brand new one-day event showcasing some of (mostly) Leicester’s finest local musicians. Eighteen musicians performed over the two main stages at Leicester’s O2 Academy (Academy 1 and the smaller Academy 2). The solo artists and bands played in turns on alternate stages which worked extremely well and meant you didn’t have to miss any of them, especially as it was only a short walk down the stairs between stages.
The one-dayer appeared to run smoothly with no gaps in the entertainment and the quality of the performances, without exception, was spot on, a standard we’ve come to expect from our local musicians.
Special acknowledgement must go to the organisers, Nik Sharpe (The Cookie) and Matt Kirk (Firebug) for their relentless efforts and commitment to turn their dream into reality to provide a platform for the musicians to showcase their work and provide us punters with an amazing musical experience which will hopefully be a regular annual addition to the Leicester gig-goer’s diary.
My first slot was given by Humble He. On stage, in Academy 2, was Joe Morrell. An artist I have followed for many years. Better now than ever.
What a voice! Appearing as Humble He, I thought back to the days when that was an ensemble of impressive musicians playing some of the most divine music of the time. I recalled what I said about Humble He in 2008: ‘…a blessing to music lovers.’ No change from then to today. A set of enjoyable songs that were well presented. A chilled ambience with Joe’s distinctive vocals. Atmospheric and evocative. Joe was accompanied by Alexsis whose beautiful voice harmonised deliciously with his.
Alessirose was the first act to perform on the huge O2 Academy’s main stage. A wonderfully mature-sounding voice emanated from this young lady. Her voice and performance seemed well beyond her years.
Alessirose’s performance was very confident as she informed us this was her first-ever gig, my jaw nearly hit the floor!
Next up on the smaller stage was Loveday, a singer/producer of electro-pop, hailing from Warwickshire. Surrounded by an assortment of keyboards and guitars, this young artiste made good use of her loop-pedals to create the various layers for each song right before our very eyes. I do love a good bit of looping and this was no exception, complimented by her dreamy vocals, Loveday engaged with the audience as her performance had plenty of ambience and emotion.
She had a lot to do, with all her gear, but she did it well and entertained us all.
Downstairs to the main arena to see The Lids. One of my favourite bands, long have I been a great admirer of their work. I studied the three musicians on the stage. Liam Butler contributed most of the singing. Rhys Butler I am sure did a lot of lead vocal at previous appearances. Behind them, Sam Deas-Bogie was on the drums.
I saw The Lids on 15th November last year, against here at O2. In my review of that event, I drew attention to the vocals provided by all three musicians. Though not a long set, what they did was exciting, vibrant and packed with good sounds. Here are three musicians of considerable ability who have consistently plied us with high-quality music.
It was great to see the well established (locally) Courtney Askey perform without her band on the smaller stage. Accompanied by just her rather sparkly but devilishly distorted guitar and various pedals, her performance was electric, the reasonably sized, silent audience was as mesmerised as I was with her musical journeys and lovely sound.
Sadly, as it turned out, this was to be her last performance for a while as she takes a break from performing her wonderful music.
On the main stage was Echolocation, as their Facebook page says ‘”The Provisional wing of the Leicester music scene” Since 2005’.
Stalwarts of the scene, putting on an abrasive electro-punk show, reminding me of Mark E Smith and The Fall – angry and making me want to break things!
On the smaller stage was Heart Sauce. Describing themselves as ‘post-vague pop’ – first time I’ve come across that genre, they are definitely rough-around-the-edges indie-lo-fi, but done well, with plenty of dynamism and accomplished musicianship.
Enthral and excite, they certainly did, with their high energy, high distortion show. The music was performed with attitude. I couldn’t take my eyes off the young guitarist/percussionist (pictured below) who was frantically running around the stage, picking up various instruments while thrashing the hell out of it then moving on to the next one. Even on the huge main stage their energy had no limits.
Awesome stuff, great entertainment and sounded good, musically.
Following on from The People Assembly was another well known, well established and well respected local musician, Luke Broughton. Performing to a small but attentive group on the smaller stage, he wowed us into his performance with his haunting, atmospheric vocals. A very unique style, definitely distinctive, but give him a moment and you can’t help to be drawn into his musical landscape, captivated by every twist and turn in his songs.
Never failing to entertain with his captivating style, for those of us who gave him our attention, it almost felt like a mind, body and soul experience.
Then it was time for the sultry, seductive tones of singer/songwriter Alice Kübe, performing her luscious range of soul and RnB classics as well as her own material. It was great to hear some RnB in today’s offerings and wow, what a voice. Accompanied by her guitarist and cajón player, her performance was just the palette cleanser I needed between the mostly faster-paced, noisier, indie bands on the line-up.
Time for some ‘post-spud-jazzcore’ by the name of Spudge.
Uniquely talented, definitely with their own individual style and a wholesome and enthusiastic audience. Spudge’s style is a mashup of various bluesy-jazzy-punky styles, performed enthusiastically and with an entertaining stage show.
Following on from Spudge, back in the main hall was Jools, named after the legend that is, Jools Holland, and not resembling him in any way whatsoever, they bought their high energy shouty psych-punk show to the main stage.
Having been performing live for only a year, this band get into the audience and whip the crowd into a frenzy pretty much from the first note to the last. It was great to see main man, Mitch, getting into the crowd and enjoying them as much as they were enjoying him. How he can do that and sing at the same time baffles me.
Their music and style were generally pretty angry, it made me angry, too, but I loved it!
Next up were Superego bringing their sultry grunge-pop tones to the smaller stage. Superego have been simmering away on Leicester’s scene since around 2015, they’ve performed country-wide and have also been played on BBC 1’s Introducing with Huw Stevens. An experienced band with a solid pedigree, which was reflected in their performance.
A solid show with great tunes. Loved it.
Arcades. Another of the all-time greats. I saw them last at the De Montfort Hall during the summer. Tommy Cobley. What a star! A proper singing band. A band worth seeing. Music full of good vibes. Laden with energy.
Writing about their 24th August appearance I commented, ‘Today, Arcades is an established act on our local scene and one that commands considerable support from music fans across the city and county’. Their performance was astounding. Their music was exhilarating.
Earls. One of Leicester’s unique acts. Totally different from anyone else. They gave us a good dose of primal beats. Only two artists but they push out power like a much bigger band. Very entertaining. Blistering rhythms. Amazing on stage presence.
It’s always good to discover a new band. Mouth Culture was one such. I know nothing about them other than what I heard on the main stage which I thought was surprisingly good. I thought, as I watched them, ‘Not bad. Not bad, at all.’
Pandit. Not a name you would be likely to forget.
In the smaller Academy 2 was a musician I had known for many years. Chris Pandit seems to go back into my ancient history and yet here he is still on stage, still making music. CJ Pandit took me back to the early days of The Shed when he was in a band called Panda Youth. That was way back during the great golden age of indie. Back then, I said he had an ‘ear-pleasing voice’ and it came as no surprise to find that he still has it. In fact he has an incredibly strong voice. His vocals stand amongst the most powerful in Leicester. Using it, Chris gave us tunes that were atmospheric and evocative.
A very satisfying performance.
Finally, on the main stage was local rapper, Kamakaze.
Grime rapper by night, professional footballer by day and an interesting choice to end this day. Rapping about his everyday observations and life experiences, he went down well with the plentiful audience and was a great end to a fantastic day.
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