Brandy Thieves

The Brandy Thieves at the Donkey. Photo: Kevin Gaughan.

Saturday 19th December 2015

The Brandy Thieves

at The Donkey

The Donkey Bar, in Welford Road, held its Christmas party tonight with The Brandy Thieves, Last edition, The Jav’lins and Silvia de Sousa.

Writing by Trevor Locke; pictures by Kevin Gaughan.

Updated: 21/12/15.
See all Kevin’s photos from this show:

The Brandy Thieves at The Donkey, Leicester, 19/12/15

A capacity crowd gathered at The Donkey Bar tonight for a Christmas Party. On stage was a top-class line-up of acts, enough to make any party go with a swing.

Sylvia de Souza at The Donkey. Photo: Kevin Gaughan.
Silvia de Souza at The Donkey.
Photo: Kevin Gaughan.

Opening the show, Silvia de Sousa performed a delightful set of songs, presenting them with a vivacious performance that caught the mood of the audience and provided an excellent start to the evening’s celebrations of fine music.

The Jav'lins at The Donkey. Photo: Kevin Gaughan.
The Jav’lins at The Donkey.
Photo: Kevin Gaughan.

The first of the night’s bands – The Jav’lins – saw Tom Iliffe leading the music in a superb set, his magnificent vocals delivered with unbridled passion to the stomping beats that were bursting from the band. These songs were designed to get you stamping in time and mesmerised by Tom’s fierce singing. Exhilarating breaks following by stunning rhythms, showed us what a legendary band the Jav’lins are in Leicester’s music circles. Tom puts a volcanic level of energy into his vocals and the bassist, Bryn Stilgoe, beats his own drum as well as adding to the vocals. The result is pure drama, the kind that has placed this band at the top of the tree for local rock talent. In some songs all three of them, including the drummer Matt Potter, were singing into their microphones. Now, that’s class. Their songs were rich in classic riffs and their music style has roots in the great traditions of the blues. I see them as a Leicester band (even though they say their home town is Nuneaton) and where ever they come from they are a band of immeasurably good music. Fantastic.

Last Edition at the Donkey. Photo: Kevin Gaughan.
Last Edition at the Donkey.
Photo: Kevin Gaughan.

Ska has always been a popular genre in Leicester and one of the finest Ska bands in the city is Last Edition. They have kept the flame burning for Ska since 2009 with their compelling, foot-tapping rhythms laced with Sam’s sax sounds. A good time band if ever there was one. Happy times roll when this band is playing. The crowd was moving to the beats, drawn towards the stage and what started as a gig turned into a dance party. I don’t know who was enjoying the set the most – the audience or Sharpie the bass player; pretty much neck and neck as far as I could see. Led by the relentlessly robust vocals of Matt Williamson, some of their songs were in praise of beeah (and even mulled cider in some cases) as the audience held their glasses aloft to toast the band. Feverishly fast, Beer O’clock saw audience members skanking in the aisles. I met drummer Chris Swirls in the crowd (just wanted an excuse to mention his band Neon Sarcastic.)

The Brandy Thieves at the Donkey. Photo: Kevin Gaughan.
The Brandy Thieves at the Donkey.
Photo: Kevin Gaughan.

The Brandy Thieves is a band I have been following ever since they started (just as I have done with the other two bands tonight) and writing about their performances and I have never been short of praise for their music and never less than enthusiastic for what they do and the sensational singing of Andrea Kenny. Unequalled among Leicester bands, their music is widely regarded as special, if not unique. Since they started in 2012, The Brandy Thieves has been lauded as one of of our best local bands and it has always been a privilege and a pleasure to watch them and comment about them afterwards.

The Brandy Thieves at the Donkey. Photo: Kevin Gaughan.
The Brandy Thieves at the Donkey.
Photo: Kevin Gaughan.

The band’s music is gypsy-, ska- punk- infused rock. Now that is different. I saw The Brandy Thieves at Simon Says… festival this year and it was a performance that was unforgettable as well as their appearance on the main stage of the Riverside Festival earlier on. [Music in Leicester]

Andrea Kenny of The Brandy Thieves at Simon Says 2015 Photo: Kevin Gaughan
Andrea Kenny of The Brandy Thieves at Simon Says 2015
Photo: Kevin Gaughan

Reporting on the band’s appearance at Simon Says… I wrote

What  an amazing performance! With their gypsy melodies and punk-style rhythms, laced with ska, this unique band delivered a formidable set that was second to none. A stunning performance from lead singer Andrea Kenny accompanied by Cain Barriskill (bass), Bernardo Mendes (drums), James Jarvill (guitar) and Joe Carey (the new accordion player.) The first song started with a solo on the trumpet and then Andrea came in with an acapella vocal passage; after that it just took off and soared. Favourite songs played today: Howling to the Moon,  The Owl and the Pussycat, and more.  It was an amazing atmosphere; people were standing outside to listen, the rhythms were utterly compulsive and Andrea’s was nothing short of sensational.

and I can say all of that applies equally well to tonight’s performance.

Watch a video of The Brandy Thieves performing The Ballad of Stingey Jack and the Devil

See also:

Our Round-up of Live music in December.

Matt Henshaw at the O2

About The Editor 535 Articles
The Editor of Music in Leicester magazine is Kevin Gaughan assisted by Trevor Locke