Toby Joe Leonard
at The Shed
for his album launch of Pain Relief
with Will Coles and Adam Robinson
An audience gathered at the Shed today to mark the launch of singer Toby Joe Leonard’s album Pain Relief.
Will Coles opened the show with a performance of Green Day’s Time of your Life. He followed this up with a song by Frank Turner.
And if I knew anybody who played pedal steel guitar,
I’d get them in my band and then my band would get real far,
But I was raised in middle England, and not in Nashville Tennessee,
And the only person in my band is me.
An amusing stage manner, Coles won over his audience and drew people into his set. Even though he kept messing up he turned it into part of his act. His guitar-playing was of a high standard. He kind of reminded me of Brandon Neal. I particularly liked his cover of The Libertine’s song Music when the Lights go Out.
but all the highs and the lows and the to’s and the fro’s they left me dizzy / oh wont you please
forgive me. / but i no longer hear the music oh no no no no
An excellent set and a vibrant start to the show.
So far so good. Adam Robinson kicked off his set with a revved-up version of Jeff Buckley’s Hallelujah. I song I know really well, although not at that speed. Still, it’s about putting one’s own take on a number. A rousing start. He then announced “A happy little tune about dying”, which brought am amused reaction from the audience. I hear him say “A lyrical ballad in e-minor.” Plenty of delicate finger-picking (I am particular fond of that style of guitar-playing.) For the third time this week I hear a version of The House of the Rising Sun. That was followed by a song about a dinosaur and a pterodactyl. Different. The audience was invited to join in by roaring like dinosaurs – which they did.
And then it was time for the headline set of the show.
This might be a good time to reflect on what Leicester’s music scene has done before to support the cause of mental health.
In 2012, Arts in Leicester magazine ran a feature article on Refuge: ‘Refuge is a Leicester band that stands out – both for its music and for its involvement in the work of an important mental health campaign.’ Reviewing the band’s launch of its album Time Together, it said:
‘Through the lyrics, Peter Hirst explores feelings, emotions and images of inner experience, as for example “choose your state of mind” from Chances, the third track on the CD. The expressive lyrics are laden with poetry and imagery that draws the listener into the contemplations and stories that Peter tells though the medium of song. The melodies perfectly bring alive the lyrics, capturing the poignancy of the song and highlighting its emotional depth.’
In some respects that is a good introduction to tonight’s show in which Toby Joe Leonard launched his new album Pain Relief.
Before Toby came on stage, the screen at the back showed a film of Toby being interviewed in which he talked about the background to his album and the issues it gives a voice to, the issues concerning mental health.
During tonight’s performance, Toby sang songs from his album Pain Relief. Toby is a singer and songwriter. We have featured him before in our magazine.
“It changed my perception of what I was writing about”, he explained as he talked through the background to the story of how the album was developed. Bad Dream is one of his songs that has strong and impactful lyrics.
It was a moving experience. A set rich in messages and reflections, thoughtful and insightful. He came across as an article with a voice and a desire to share his experiences with his audience. His songs were delivered with real feeling and conviction and the audience was right behind him.
As he worked through the set, Toby explained the background to his songs, explaining the stories behind the lyrics. At one point, Toby unplugged his guitar and came down on the floor to singer to the audience. Pitch perfect. The mark of truly able singer. His lyrics showed that he is also a fine songwriter and lyricist. A lot of what we heard was deeply personal, something that cannot be easy for an artist, but for us it was a very rewarding experience – engaging, compelling and captivating. A brilliant night.
What the Shed demonstrates is that live music venues no longer need to be places of darkness and gloom. This afternoon, the big window let in plenty of light and outside we could see a world lit by spring sunshine. The big window was the most brilliant innovation in the Shed’s conversion, bringing the place into the ethos of the twenty-first century. Even when it opened in 1994, the Shed’s decor was ten years out of date.
Some memories of Toby at previous performances
Toby Leonard. Elisabeth Barker-Carley and Poetman in 2015See also