6th May 2016
by Keith Jobey
When the local football team become champions of England you have to celebrate. And while the city is celebrating and also being celebrated worldwide, what better way to join in than go to see an international gig in the revered haunt that is The Musician in Leicester.
A little bit of background first. Tonight’s gig was put on by Leicester stalwart Ian of Magic Teapot. Word about town was this was his last gig, but as the saying goes, you can’t keep a good man down. So he’s continuing, albeit in a reduced capacity, which is great news for the gig going public. Also involved tonight were Damnably, a London-based record label that put on gigs and are intrinsically involved throughout the show tonight… as you will find out.
Former Utopia are openers. A London-based three-piece, playing a rock-sounding, yet quite angular set. They’ve played Leicester several times before, including sets at Handmade and Simon Says festivals.
Singer, guitarist George tells us he lived in Leicester for a decade previously. Turns out he’s mates with tonight’s promoter Ian and also runs a record label, can you guess which one? Damnably off course.
Next we have, from Kyoto, Japan, Otoboke Beaver, an all-female four-piece playing alternative pop punk.
A wild bunch following in the footsteps of the headliners, playing fast songs, fizzing with energy and fun, and with synchronised stage moves. Crazy greatness in the making. ‘Pleeeease buy our merch so we can fly home’ they tell us. Perhaps we won’t so that they’ll have to stay!
And then it was Leggy. A garage three-piece from Cincinnati, Ohio, USA. These guys must be one of the hardest working and well-travelled bands of the year to date. Ordinarily little known US bands come over to the UK for a quick visit, playing at the major cities.
Leggy tell us they’ve played at 22 UK locations to date. I ask them where they have liked most so far. Brighton, Belfast and Colchester I’m told. Well done Colchester and your lovely Arts Centre! So how come they’re playing so many dates in the UK? It’s all to do with being signed to a UK label of course. Can you guess the label? It’s none other than Damnably.
And so to Shonen Knife, from Osaka, Japan. The legendary Shonen Knife, a band familiar with Leicester having played Summer Sundae, Handmade Festival and the Musician previously (to my limited local musical history). A quick Shonen Knife history; formed in 1981 (this is their 35th anniversary tour); influenced by punk bands Ramones and Buzzcocks; famously supported Nirvana on their first UK tour; went on to rule the world. Yep, that sums them up briefly. An all-female band that has seen a few members come and go, but Naoko Yamano (vocals and guitar) has been there throughout.
The venue was full now, sold out in fact, so I watched from the back, enjoying the atmosphere and the superb sounds. I’ve seen Shonen Knife a few times and know what a professional, quality band they are. With their 20th studio album about to be released they have more than enough great songs to fill up a lengthy set. I left them to it, departing the venue a little early, I headed off to catch the tail end of another event over at the Cookie.
Many thanks to Magic Teapot for another magical musical moment, but also thanks to the underlying Damnably team for the bringing this tour to Leicester. A champion evening in a champion city.