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Music diary July to December 2012 § Nos vidit. Nos exaudivit. Nos scriptsit.
This page is part of the music section
Our diary of music gigs, shows and events in Leicester and the East Midlands. Notes about shows, bands and artists we saw in July to December 2012.
For earlier entries see our January to June 2012 page
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See also: our Gig Reviews section
Still can't find it? Try control-F (windows computers) to search for a band name.
Articles on this page are by The Editor unless otherwise by-lined
Well, that's it for 2012's year of live music. We hope you will be back for more coverage of the gigs, festivals, bands, rappers and singers that will make 2013 at least as good, if not, better than the previous 12 months.
In the meantime, there are some other pages for you to look at
Bands at the Exchange Bar
Despite a last minute change of venue, Meri Everitt of Flying Kangaroo Alliance pulled off a highly enjoyable show at the Exchange Bar tonight.
Our music year ends with Drongo, an exciting young alt rock band from Northampton and Delis Mix from Leicestershire with Flying Kangaroo Alliance and emotive punk band from Leicester The 1221 Amor. Despite the last minute change a goodly crowd turned up to see and the bands and there was a post-Christmas party atmosphere. A very enjoyable night with good bands and the intimate setting of the Exchange bar's basement.
Christmas eve buskers raise money for the homeless
Photo © Harjinder Ohbi
Si Clancy and Adam Dunmore led a group of singers and musicians in a fund raising busk-in at the clock tower. It was raining at the star of the event but there were a lot of shoppers out doing the last minute stuff and by the end of the event, the rain had stopped and the sun was trying to break through the clouds. The group raised over £100 for Shelter, the charity that helps homeless people. The standard of the music was high and everyone had a great time singing for the public, bringing some live music to add to the cheer of Christmas. Well done to everyone who took part. Let's hope that they organise a repeat performance next year.
Bands at the Cookie Jar
The basement stage at the Crumblin' Cookie, know by its venue name The Cookie Jar, has hosted a number of live music shows this year, along with a variety of other kinds of shows and has gained a very favourable reputation amongst the music-going public of Leicester. The best new arts venue in Leicester has brought added value to the scene and tonight a room-filling audience gathered to see a line up of top local acts.
Singer Steve Jones opened the show with a set of enjoyable songs. An established and widely admired artist, his set was enthusiastically appreciated by the all ages crowd.
A mosh pit formed as Luzon Bleeding Heart's songs crashed into the room, the teenage element of the crowd demonstrating their prowess at this particular form of highly controlled dance riot, to the amusement of some of the older people members of the audience who might not have seen such displays of crazy wildness before. It goes with the band's style of music and their high-octane, adrenaline-fuelled songs played with precision and lashings of passion.
Andy Cooper (known for being the front man of the Weekend Schemers) was on stage with his guitar as singer and rock god Tom Zbaraski led The Delis Mix through a storming set of the band's powerful rock numbers. In the heat of the crowded room, Tom was soon stripping off to display his exceptional showmanship.
The headline band of the night Ferris brought an altogether different offering with their polished delivery of rock and roll. These masters of melody are part of the solid backbone of musical talent in the city delivered their work with plenty of style and panache.
A well attended show with good sound and lighting and an audience in good spirits it was well worth attending and its varied line-up meant that there was something for everyone.
Calder McLaughlin at the Soundhouse
Singer, songwriter Calder McLaughlin was on stage at the Soundhouse with his band tonight.
Music First Promotions big night at The Shed
A mammoth lineup of very good bands were on two stages at The Shed. Carlos Stein brought his distinctive, alternative act to the main stage at the start of the evening. The Lord of the Loops fed bass lines and vocals into his electrical wizardry to provide the backing to his richly idiosyncratic and often sharply satirical songs.
Coming from Derby, the four members of Broken Reality, lead by their lead singer, delivered their ballsy set with plenty of presence and star quality. They put on a good performance and I think this a band one could get to like for their drive and energy.
Down in the basement Sink The City put on a storming set of hardcore songs that went down well with the crowd down there who were looking to mosh out to music of the sterner kind.
Local band Yossarian was on the main stage, a group of well known musicians drawn from other bands and on the guitar and vocals Josh Barnett who showed what he could do with some rip-roaring metal sounds. So different from his early days in Third Time Lucky, but so good, proving that he is a musician with growth and development. It was good to see them again.
Bleechbox, a Leicester four piece band, gave us a strikingly good set of musical delights, laced with fast, infectious rhythms and adrenaline pumping energy. They certainly know how to rock out and I for one am looking forward to seeing what they do over the next year. A band to watch.
Music First Promotions has given us many shows this year and brought bands to the Shed, from all over the country and a fair chunk of our local acts. Their gigs have helped to keep open this iconic venue with one of the longest running stages in the city. Hopefully they will continue to provide music fans with work of this quality for the next 12 months.
Seven Deadly at the Soundhouse with Vengeance and Mandown
I don't often go out to see a band I don't know that happens to be playing in Leicester. But this band sent me a press release and invited me to go to the Soundhouse to interview them. Impressed by their initiative, I went to check out Seven Deadly and boy was I glad I went! Unusually for me, I saw them for the first time and absolutely loved them. They floated my boat with their compelling music and super stage performance, lead by front man Archie Wilson.
Originally from Gravesend in Kent, they have been playing for just over a year, though some of the musicians had been in other bands (Panic Cell and Denounce), prior to joining this one. "Seven Deadly are only set to get BIGGER!" said Metal Hammer magazine, they brought out an EP The Allegiance in May and they were on stage at Download earlier this year and they have supported London heavy metallers Orange Goblin.
Tonight's visit to Leicester gave us some of their thrilling songs with richly visual performances from Archie Wilson and other members of the band. They certainly knew a thing or two about putting on a show. They tore up the stage, with their high-octane set of inspiring singing and spine-tingling instrumental works. Deep emotion and high drama backed by a lot of catchy breaks. Magnificent!
One of two support bands tonight was our very own Vengeance, one of our featured bands here on Arts in Leicester.
Despite being short of their bassist tonight, they put on a high standard performance, delivering a set that was enjoyable and engaging. After four years, the band from Broughton Astley has become an established part of the local musical elite, having supported some big line-ups at most of our local venues and festivals. Their sound is not harder and sharper than when they started and has a power and vibrancy that really makes this a stand out band.
I also liked Leicester band Man (' You'll never pigeon hole us') Down. The four members of Mandown powered up some formidably good songs that brought together the strong vocals of Alexander and Jason, sharing the singing and both doing solos, their performances added a engaging layer to their powered-up music. I immediately warmed to this band's infectious sounds and fearsomely good tunes. Definitely a band worth seeing again, I thought.
Demons of Ruby Mae at the Concordia Theatre
Titan at The Shed
Headlining tonight's auditions for the Glastonbudget Festival 2013 was Leicester band Titan. Having attracted a sizeable crowd to their late Sunday performance, they made it a worthwhile wait, putting on a set of rocket-fuelled numbers driven by the strong vocals from lead singer James Shaw, whose soaring vocal lines were laden with feeling.
Backed by energetic strings and thumping drums, they did the business, delivering a storming set and projecting a sense of total engagement from the stage. This is one good rock band that can put out some spine-tingling tunes. Titan deserves a festival audience. A solo from Sam Walsh had most of the men in room air-guitaring. Marvelous!
Young bands success at The Shed
Leicester's Shed, live music venue, continues to act as the incubator for young bands launching their musical careers. On our Young Bands page.
Riot at the Soundhouse
Random Hand joined forces with Tribal Riot and Last Edition to put on one of those unforgettable nights for which the SoundHouse has become noted. Following hard on the heels of Get Cape's Sam Duckworth's amazing night and the massive mosh-up of the Sonic Boom gig, the SoundHouse pulled off another sensational show tonight.
The ska, punk, metal maestros from Keighley, Random Hand, worked the crowd into a frenzy with their rocket-powered songs. Fans got down to some serious dancing as the fired-up foursome put on a superb set of high-octane tunes lead by the hugely exhilarating Robin Leitch on trombone and vocals.
The cold night turned into a sweat-dripping summer holiday of a party as the band launched one compulsively ear-licking let's 'ave it song after another.Fast, furious and fantastic, it was full-filled music designed to discharge Christmas cheer into your face.
Venue booker Mark told us "We have had a good year at the Soundhouse. We have put on some really big bands." Tonight it was all about the atmosphere and there was lots of it as clothes started to get torn off in the sauna-like heat of the gig. Live music at its most vibrant; a live experience that no one can download; you just had to be there to get it.
Supporting Random Hand was Tribal Riot, the electric foursome now featuring the added pizzazz of singing front man Harri Georgio and the strings of guitarist Emilio Michael Solinas Wroth, with the two electro wizards, Scott Hancock and Rob Wilson doing some incredible work on the decks and stuff.
I have always been a big fan of this outfit ever since I discovered them, in 2010, by chance one night at The Shed when it was just the two of them and their set of infectious dance sounds that really floated my boat. We made them one of our featured bands in recognition of their of their contribution to electro music in Leicester.
Since then they have gone from strength to strength and when they acquired their lead singer Harri Georgio they got a big boost. Armed with a posse of fanatical fans, tonight's performance was every bit as good as when we saw them last at the Firebug on 10th November when they smashed the room with a set of high-octane beats that got a lot of people on their feet.
Leicester ska, punk band Last Edition is one of the great established (dare I saw veteran) local bands and is no stranger to these pages, since we started to follow them after their formation in 2007. These dedicated musicians have contributed a lot to the live music scene and tonight's appearance added to a impressive list of support slots they have done over the years.
Some photos of tonight's act are on their way. Come back soon.
Friday night just wouldn't be Friday night without a trip to The Shed. In the basement bar I saw Awaking Athena. I like a bit of hard, heavy head-banging sound now and again and this band was just the job; their playing was tight, their songs exhilarating and their performance - even in the confines of the lower bar's tiny stage - was exciting. In the world of post-hardcore metal they make a big mark. I thought they were wonderful and quite a few other people agreed with me on that.
Upstairs in the main stage area, Glastonbudget was holding its auditions. On stage was the young Leicester band The Estates (apprently about to change their name to avoid confusion with other bands.) The four peice rockers put out a strong vibe and pumped out some powerful songs, headed up by their strong lead singer, Lewis Grewcock, who had quite a presence on stage. One of the more noticeable new bands in our local area, their music was impressive and I see them becoming one of the established acts on the music scene.
Follow The Estates on Facebook | The band's new name is The Harrowbrooks | Read our article about them including an interview with Lewis Grewcock
Get Cape Wear Cape Fly's Sam Duckworth at the Soundhouse
"Naked and exposing" were the words used by singer Sam Duckworth to characterise how he felt about being on stage at the Soundhouse without the rest of his band Get Cape Wear Cape Fly. No stranger to the stages of Leicester, Sam returned today as part of his tour as a solo artist.
The last time I saw him was at Strawberry Fields on 28th August 2011. I remember it well. GCWCF at Strawberry Fields festival. The band appeared at the first ever gig to be held at Leicester's O2 Academy in September 2012.
Sam Duckworth at Strawberry Fields 2011
Tonight a fairly large crowd had gathered to hear the acclaimed artist from this well known band. It was one of the most impressive live music events I have attended this year. Sam demonstrated the power and range of his vocal abilities, through his ability to deliver soft, sensitive pianissimo passages counterpoised with those that were fortissimo, upbeat and robust. His songs were made all the more engaging for their striking lyrical content and emotional agility.
He showed that he could ably captivate and enthrall a crowd and did so for the best part of an hour and and half. He did so with versatile vocals and awesome guitar playing. There were musical moments that were spell-binding and songs that were riveting, many of which came from the cannon of the band. His vocalisation was excellent - the well articulated words were easy to hear and also worth listening to.
Interspersed between the songs, Sam talked to the crowd, at times explaining what the song was about, at others telling them anecdotes about his life in live music. He told his admiring fans that he had been off the road for about year due to health problems. He had the audience in the palm of his hand; what amplified his performance was the way in which his personality and character came across. Sam reminded his audience that, at 26, he had already clocked up an impressive number of music miles since the start of his career " ...a touring musician for a third of my life."
Those in front of the stage were clearly enthralled by the whole set: often standing in quietude, completely engaged with the songs. Even when a string broke on his guitar, the show went on and while he replaced it with a new one, Sam recounted stories from his travels, establishing a real rapport with his audience.
Sam explained the background to one of his songs - 8888 - which was about the movement for democracy in Burma and the work of freedom campaigner Aung San Suu Kyi and the devastation wreaked on the country by cyclone Nargis in 2008. "it was the night the heavens opened", Sam sang in his evocative lyrics.
He also sang a song - Angels in the snow - inspired by the film Heavy Water - a film for chernobyl which Sam described as "an hour of intense cinematography." The film was based on Mario Petrucci's award-winning book-length Poem for Chernobyl which described the deserted town of Pripyat. "They dance amongst the wreckage, like angels in the snow." It reminded me of the early works of Don McClean (Streets of London, American Pie.) You can hear this song on Sam's web site (see below.)
Towards the end of his set, members of the audience joined in with some of the songs, always a good sign. Sam Duckworth left the stage at the end of his set to an enthusiastic ovation.
It was a remarkable performance and unmissable musical experience.
Get Cape on stage at the O2 Leicester in 2010 photo © Harjinder Ohbi
Get Cape. Wear Cape. Fly - the name reputated to have been coined from ZX Spectrum magazine - is noted for the albums The Chronicles of a Bohemian Teenager, which made the top 100 albums of NME and Q in 2006 and Searching for the Hows and Whys, the band's second album which came out in 2006 and which featured guest vocals from singer Kate Nash. Sam Duckworth has also released the album The Mannequin, under his own name and he sang several of the songs from this album at tonight's show.
The Lovely Eggs at the Soundhouse
The Lovely Eggs played at The Soundhouse. Before the show, we asked them:
ArtsIn: Has The Lovely Eggs played Leicester before?
The Lovely Eggs: Yes, Leicester is one of our favourite places to play after first being invited to play at The Donkey about two years ago. We keep coming back for more!
Artsin: Does the band have fans in Leicester?
The Lovely Eggs: Hopefully! Unless they've come to the wrong gig! We've played around 3 or 4 times in Leicester before and the dos so far have always been packed out. A right good atmosphere. We love a party with a happy atmosphere!
ArtsIn: How's the Wildlife album going?
The Lovely Eggs: Well it's not out yet. We'll tell you after Nov 26th! We're having the launch party for it in Leicester though at The Sound House on the release day so come and ask us then. Hopefully people will F**k it and come out on a week night. Ladies and gentlemen the hangovers are on us!
Artsin: How has it worked out on the tour? What's been the best gig yet?
The Lovely Eggs: Well the tour begins on Nov 21. We always love touring though. We try and have a party every gig so it will be a good do. We have lots of favourite places so can't really pick one. Can't wait to get back on the road and play the new album to people.
Refuge - a remarkable band
Our feature article, published today, looks at the music and work of Refuge, whose album is to be launched on Saturday 1st December.
Park Bench at the Musician
Fans gathered at The Musician today for an afternoon show by Leicestershire's Park Bench Society. In celebration of the launch of the band's second EP - Forest Gate - , the band played two gigs today - one in Leicester and another later this evening in Nottingham, in recognition that their fan base is split between the two cities. Some of the teenage band members are students at Loughborough Grammar School (were they are doing their A Levels) and their followers are spread between the two areas of the East Midlands.
Fans were treated to all four new songs from the EP as well as some songs from future EPs: Girl from the city, Where you gonna hide, Looking glass, Go home, Call it what you like, Late to say, Room 66, Back on the town with Down by the bus being their encore number.
Lead singer Murray told me, before the gig "We are very excited, ticket sales are doing really well and we are all getting a bit nervous now." I asked Murray how things were going with the band and he told me about having a manager now. "Things are looking good at the moment, " Murray said, and we are having a brilliant time."
First to take to the stage was Leicester singer Nancy Dawkins. Opening the show Nancy delighted the crowd with her sumptuous voice and enthralling songs. Whether singing her own songs or covers by, for example, Florence and the Machine, she captivated the audience, holding them spellbound, with her crystal clear voice and delivering her singing with delicacy and sensitivity
"Most of my songs are sad ... about breakups" Nancy told the audience. She has risen rapidly this year and got to know Park Bench when she met them at the Summer Sundae Weekender, a few months ago. Nancy was recently on stage with Smokin' The Profit at the Sonic Boom night at the Musician (see below.) Her reputation has grown as music lovers have discovered her beautifully rich voice and attractive style of singing.
Park Benchers Dave, Murray, Sam and Steve
Park Bench Society has also attracted a lot of attention this year, not least from highly influential people like Dean Jackson. They performed at the Strawberry Fields festival before going to Leeds and Reading Festivals and later on they were at the Summer Sundae festival. A remarkable year for them, given that they are still at school.
Their music tickets all the boxes - great tunes, stage presence and lashings of style. Their music is not your average indie stuff, it has a resonance that has made them stand out and, were they old enough, they would be signed to a major label by now.
Their set at the Musician attracted a goodly crowd for the Leicester half of their day. They were called back to the stage for an encore by the enthusiastic cheering of their fans. Having finished their set, people of all ages and musical persuasions told me how much they had enjoyed Park Bench's music.
Not just a group of one directional boys of interest only to teenagers, this is a band that can delight music fans across the board. What impresses the most is their musical talent and sparkling creativity.
Singers help to light up the city
A sea of people gathered tonight in Town Hall Square for the switching on of the Christmas Lights. One of the acts on the stage was Leicester's finest singing group The Simpletones. The crowds completely covered the square and people of all ages turned out to celebrate the start of the season in the city centre.
Introduced by Radio Leicester's Jim Davidson and Rupal Rajani, the members of The Simpletones quickly got into some entertaining melodies with their deliciously ear-pleasing harmonies. The songs and voices of this celebrated singing group were clearly a hit with the large audience. The Simpletones have performed at many public events this year, including a night at Curve theatre.
Huge crowds see local artist at Abbey Park
Leicester singing artist Luke Bingham performed to 19,000 people at the Abbey Park fireworks tonight.
Sonic Boom Six at the SoundHouse
Back in Leicester, back at the SoundHouse, Sonic Boom Six's performance tonight was a gig to remember. When I arrived - hotfoot from another show - Karl Phillips and his Midnight Rambles were just finishing. The venue was packed and there was several of the local rockerati in the audience. It was good to see a well attended night with many people painted up for Halloween.
Tommy and Hilary from Smokin' The Profit
Leicester band Smokin' The Profit was there too with guest appearances from Sean Clutterham on Harmonica and Nancy Dawkins came in with some vocals. STP are in the process of recording their new album at Flux Studios, lead singer Tommy Bee told me.
One of the great bands of Leicester, STP pumped out an extraordinary set of intoxicating songs, laden with ska and reggae rhythms.
A large band with a brass section Imperial Leisure followed and got the crowd dancing to their set of infectious songs. They put on a good performance, charged with lots of energy and blisteringly powerful beats. Those at the front soon got into some frenzied moshing.
We billed this as Gig of the Month and yes I certainly felt that just justified. It brought together all the essentials of a big night out with great bands, a capacity crowd and some seriously good music.
Sonic Boom Six - from Manchester - is one of my favourite bands and when they are in Leicester, which thankfully they are from time to time, then that makes for an unmissable gig. Check out our interview with the band. The 'Six have two amazingly good front singers, Laila K and Barney Boom, who is the bass player. Last night they played at Nottingham's Rock City and tonight they are in Leicester before going back to Manchester tomorrow to play at the O2 Academy. Their current tour with Imperial Leisure reveals an eye-wateringly busy itinerary.
From the start of tonight's set I was right at the front, being buffeted about by the manic moshers who were totally intoxicated by the music, part from the drinks that were flowing all night. It was an amazing night.
Uncle Frank at the Guildhall
What a night out! Uncle Frank knows how to put on a great party. The setting of Leicester's ancient Guildhall was unusual, for live bands, but is now seeing a few of them from time to time.
The show took place to publicise Uncle Frank's new single. Copies of the Irresistible Me EP were given to the audience as they arrived. The EP included four tracks - Irresistible You, Desperate Town, Gravy Baby and Poonani.
Frank Benbini is the drummer for American alternative hip-hop/rock band Fun Lovin' Criminals; when playing with his own band he goes by the name of Uncle Frank.
What Uncle Frank does best is to put on exiciting and compelling music, combined with a dazzling show full of colour and burlesque-style entertainment.
Champaign was served to the guests by costumed ladies. Not to mention the doughnuts - ah yummy. The dancers - The Frankettes - were on stage adding coliour and glamour to the show.
The show started with Leicester-born comedian Annette Fagon. Funny - not half! Half an hour of side-splitting humour. Naughty but nice Annette had the audience laughing their heads off, with her fast-delivery narrative about life, men, food and other things that float her boat. Annette got an enthusiastic response from the audience and delivered a really good start to the show. She now lives in Birmingham but here's hoping we will see her back in her home town of Leicester soon.
The member of the Uncle Frank band came on to the stage for their set, dressed in the yellow outfits that saw when they took to the main stage at this year's Summer Sundae Festival. There was a guest appearance from Charlie Jones of Charlie & The Martyrs.Videos by Kevin Gaughan
Find out more about Uncle Frank from their page on Facebook
Photos by © Kevin Gaughan
Carlos Stein at Curve
Lord of the Loops, one man band and alternative musician Carlos Stein was at Curve tonight. Playing to the theatre goers, Carlos brought his distinctive musical confection of comedic and satirical songs to the Curveball stage.
Theatre goers leaving the opening night of Joe Orton's Entertaining Mr. Sloane. stopped for a drink and a chance to hear one of Leicester's most idiosyncratic songwriters.
Spector at the O2 Academy.
It took Spector a long time to set up and get going. Sets tonight were like intervals between socialising but at least the ample audience had time to talk to each other in between listening to bands. The five piece band was greeted by cheering as the musicians walked on to the stage. On each side of the front man there were good vocalists, supporting his singing.
The audience, having warmed up, were clearly ready for some clapping, arm waving and movements that looked suspiciously like dancing. The guitar player moved on to the keyboard/synth at times, adding a solid slice of electro into the songs. The most enthusiastic fans had packed into the front of stage area although the rest were evenly spread out across the floor of the Queens Hall.
The front man - Fred MacPherson - talks to the crowd, making them feel at one with the band, always a good sign. Tunes with some pumpingly good rhythms came off the stage which built up as the set progressed. Softer melodic numbers alternated with harder songs, energising the audience and throwing out clappy passages and big anthemic passages giving opportunities for fans to join in with the singing.
London-based Spector are being celebrated around the music industry including a nomination on the BBC Sound of 2012 and their album Enjoy it while it lasts received reasonable reviews.
Pirates sieze Furies
Furies and If Looks Could Kill played at Pirates Bar in Pocklington's Walk.
Local artists celebrate Gospel at Curve
Curve does not often put on music concerts. Musicals certainly, shows that have music but gigs - not run of mill for them but tonight was a welcome and enjoyable exception.
The evening celebrated the music of Motown and Gospel. In a varied line-up, a range of musical styles and artists brought their music to the stage of the studio theatre including the celebrated Leicester Saxophonist Mark Bunny.
The Leicester Gospel Community Choir made several appearances on stage with featured vocals by tonight's host Bizzie Dixon. The Choir's six singers delivered wonderful harmonies, each member being a soloist in their own right. They also got the audience to join in with the songs. What stood out about this concert was its sense of fun and enjoyment; no sitting back in your seat passively watching and listening - tonight was about getting involved, participating and being part of the music experience. The audience celebrated the music, clapping along and singing with the artists on the stage.
Dancers from the DNS company also entertained the crowd with some well choreographed routines. Singer Bianca brought her rich and powerful voice into play with a series of well known classics from the era that formed the theme of tonight's show. KT Arts dance troupe also brought a series of well synchronised movement to the stage.
An usual artist, introduced as Gospel Rapper, came on. Jonezy soon had the audience in the palm of his hand, with a professional performance that easily won over the 350 people in the theatre. His song Victory drew enthusiastic acclaim from those present.
Britain's Got Talent stars Michael Senior and Michael Junior did an entertainment tribute to Michael Jackson. The pair had appeared on the TV show in 2010. Dress in their gold lame outfits with the hallmark sequined gloves on one hand, the delighted the room with their iconic dances.
Bizzie Dixon demonstrates his considerable vocal talents with a series of R 'n B classics, showing off his fabulous voice with singing of exceptional quality. The show quickly turned into a party when everyone joined in with Stevie Wonder's Superstition.
The concert demonstrated that music that was born in the Churches can come out into the wider community and the sell-out show indicated that there are plenty of people out there would love this kind of music. It was a night of excellent music.
Young artists on stage at The Shed
The Matinee gigs at the Shed on Saturday afternoons are important launch pads for young bands and artists (under 18s). Find out more from our Young Bands page.
James Lewis is back
The James Lewis Band played at the SoundHouse. Making something of a come back, after a year off the boards, they brought a new approach with new songs, wiping the slate and back with a new line-up.
Flat Five Records at the O Bar
Photo © Kevin Gaughan
Flat Five Records put on a night at Braunstone Gate's O Bar, which featured the singer Kieran Fowkes with his new band White Giant. Seeing singer Kieran Fowkes in front of a full band was something different; previously he has appeared as a solo singer, performing his own songs. His unique vocals were still very much in evidence but now backed with a group of musicians, it took the whole thing to a new level.
The new four piece band from Loughborough made an immediate hit with the audience and several people commented that they liked what they did, which is good news because seeing a new band for the first time does not always work. This time, the comments came in quickly and they were all positive. This is one band that is likely to take off big time. Classing themselves as indie/folk, they also showed a much more robust side to their music, which, at times, veritably burst into the small room.
It was also good to see Joel Owen and the Antoine Band on the bill; one of Leicester's best blues bands, they brought their infectious swing and boogie to the room with plenty of big brass sounds and strong vocals. Excellent.
Luzon at the SoundHouse
New Leicester band Luzon Bleeding Heart was at The Soundhouse tonight. With the distinctive voice of lead singer Patrick Tams, the young band has been busily climbing the ladder in our local area. Their offering of compelling, rhythmic songs and ability to pick and mix musical idioms into a cocktail of alt rock and grunge sounds, has won them a lot of fans. On the stage of the Soundhouse tonight, Luzon's band members were in their element, delivering driving beats and committed music that got some of the fans at the front moshing to the thrashy bits
At times head-banging, at others bouncy, their speed metal song was rocket-fuel propelled and the creativity flow was evidenced in their hallmark tune Luzon Bleeding Heart. Fans particularly enjoyed Gatecrash The Waltz. Their set was a great deal of fun, roundly enjoyed by members of the next band on - The Accidents - and Jonezy, the jet-propelled rapper who represents them.
The massed bands and singers from city and shire gathered in their hundreds in Leicester's Cultural Quarter for this year's OXJAM festival. See our coverage of the Leicester Oxjam Takeover
West Midlands bands at the Glastonbudget auditions
The Glastonbudget music festival is the biggest of its kind in Europe. Each year, festival organisers put on public gigs and use these to select which acts they wish to hire for the following year's festival.
Over the autumn period, The Shed, in Leicester, has played host to these audition gigs. On stage at tonight's show were two bands that we have covered before. Limelight is a five piece band from Wolverhampton and have returned to the Shed having got a bit older and more experienced than when they played here last. With their free-standing lead vocalist they delivered a polished sound. Their set of melodic, original songs was listenable and exhilarating.
Generally speaking, the standards at the audition gigs have been high and the gigs have attracted bands from all over the UK. Festival organisers and judges have decided to watch all the bands (throughout the auditions season) and to announce their decisions in December.
Returning to The Shed was another Midlands band that we have seen before: Cal-22. This three piece group from Cannock had a presence and a sparkle that made them stand out. With two strong lead vocalists and an excellent drummer, they brought their talents to the room and made the show come alive. They pumped considerable energy into their set and delivered a sizzling performance, creating a buzz between them and the audience.
Drawing the crowd in and getting them dancing, their sense of performance and stage craft resulted in a very satisfying set.
Newton Faulkner at the O2 Academy
Singer and songwriter Newton Faulkner was in Leicester so we sent Adam Zareba to talk to him and see his show at the O2 on Tuesday 16th October.
Adam: You stated that you wrote the new album to be played live and not to be recorded; do you feel that you achieved your goal, and if so in what way? If you had to choose, what is your favourite song on the new record?
Newton: Of course, I feel that, as a whole, the album translated a lot better than my other works. My favourite song would have to be right now, Sugar In The Snow.
Adam: Since your last album, how do you think you've progressed as a musician?
Newton: I think, overall, I've just gotten better at playing, spending time working on my weakness and developed my skills at writing. In some ways, I feel that the second album as a little bit too 'personal.'
Adam: You're style - when it comes to playing - is unique. How did you develop it?
Newton: Just through experimentation and messing around with new techniques. I would often sit and watch other players and mimic small hand movements and build upon that.
Adam: Has the birth of your son affected your style as a musician and is there a track on the album that has some significance to him?
Newton: Not at all, maybe in certain obvious ways, such as traveling, as for a song on the album, no there is not, only fragments scattered throughout the entire record.
Adam: If you could invite three people to dinner, living or dead, who would it be?
Newton: Peter Sellers, Sami Davis Junior and Brain Blessed.
Adam: What former aspect of your life growing up will most affect how you raise your own children?
Newton: I think the most important aspect would be just following what he wants to do in life. My parents always supported me in doing music, so I feel that that is important for a child to have, the idea of being supported.
Newton Faulkner's third album WRITE IT ON YOUR SKIN is OUT NOW on iTunes.
Adam Zareba was at Newton Faulkner's gig at the O2 Academy and here is his review:
I had the pleasure of attending Newton Faulkner's live show at the O2 Academy in Leicester. On arrival at the venue, there was already a vast crowd gathered outside, waiting to be let in. The excitement grew as the doors opened and people flooded in.
First to take to the stage, armed just a guitar, was Sam Brookes. Carrying his voice effortlessly through the crowd caused the conversations to stop, as people watched on in excitement and awe. With a hint of Damien Rice to his voice, Sam held his own very well, even speaking to the crowd in-between songs and keeping them entertained all the way through until finally leaving the stage with a thunderous applause. He certainly won the hearts of many girls in the room, along with the fans.
Colour The Atlas, came on next - a four piece band with a clean and crisp sound. Led by their female vocalist Jess, they started their set strong, keeping the tempo rather slow and calm, causing lighters to be waved in the air as Jess's voice reached every corner of the room with ease, hitting falsettos which caused everyone's mouth to drop, with the sheer power of her voice.
The crowd, who had warmed up a bit more at this time, had got involved, clapping their hands at any given opportunity, until finally, the band left the stage to a loud cheer.
You could now feel the excitement as people began to push their way to the front of the crowd to be able to catch a glimpse of the ginger dreaded legend and fifteen minutes later, they got their wish, as Newton arrived on stage/
With his full force, he opened his set with the amazing Pulling Teeth ( from the new album) causing the crowd to bounce and scream the words back to him. Going on to play other new tracks such as Brick by Brick and Clouds, Newton certainly knew how to keep the crowd engaged.
Even when blasting out a cover of Superstition, by Stevie Wonder, he dazzled the crowd with the finger tapping for which he has become famous. Watching from the front, I could almost sense the excitement oozing from the crowd as they soaked up as much as they could, seeing Newton doing his thing.
Newton's down to earth nature helped him interact with the crowd with ease, even joking about him not being able to afford shoes since the release of the new album - which helped give the room a relaxed atmosphere. Newton played classics such as I Need Something and the very rare Full Fat, beaming from ear to ear as people sang the words back to him.
As the night drew to an end, Newton closed his set with the ever favouriteDream Catch Me and of course the Write It On Your Skin, from the new album, even giving the crowd a small encore with Pick Up Your Broken Heart, before leaving the crowd wanting more.
It' s clear to see that all the acts had found the skill in keeping a crowd not only entertained but also connected with them on a much more personal level but I think it's safe to say, that everyone there would agree that Newton is certainly an act that deserves what he has, and in some ways is still underrated. Either way, if you do have a chance to see this 'ginger dreaded Jesus', as one fan called him, then we would definitely recommend it.
Adam Zareba is a singer, songwriter from Nottingham who has performed this year, in Leicester, several times. Find out more about him on Facebook.
Bo Ningen at the O2 Academy
By John Wray
There's a tangible hum of anticipation in the air at the O2 Academy tonight, as Leicester waits for some Sunday night mind-bending from Japan's finest purveyors of noise.
But we've got two Leicester acts up before that, and first to take the stage is Laser Beast. Generating an unbelievably heavy sound from their modest set-up, the foursome meld Electric Wizard-esque doom metal with quirky, frenetic hardcore. Frontman Martin Smith's hunched, shaking presence in centre stage lends a jittery edge to their blasts of noise, and his near-impenetrable vocal style confounds and impresses in (almost) equal measure.
It's fair to say the crowd's response is somewhat lukewarm - in fact, no one seems to want to stand within twenty feet of the stage - but the band soldiers on, ripping through their set before joining the crowd to await Some May Run's appearance.
Some May Run face a similarly apathetic crowd, vocalist Charlie sighing, "Everyone's here for Bo Ningen, aren't they?" This might be true, but the band's post-hardcore din is still impressive: with sharp tempo changes reminiscent of At the Drive-In overlaid with black metal shrieking, the band stews up a powerful concoction. Their set is broken up by the occasional proggy, distorted intro and even some funk metal-indebted bass riffs, but for the most part it's a full-fat hardcore onslaught.
It is difficult to adequately express the visual impact the members of Bo Ningen collectively wield. Tiny and androgynous Japanese émigrés with waist-length hair, they dress in colourful sixties smocks and/or floor-length gowns. Whilst it's fashionable for bands nowadays to play the 'just regular guys' card at every opportunity, Bo Ningen stand proud in their psychedelic garb like monks from outer space.
Their entrance onto the stage is, somewhat accordingly, met with a strange sort of hushed awe. Twists of echoing, distorted guitar start to ripple around the room, before, without warning, frontman Taigen turns his back on the crowd and throws his arms aloft like a hippie priest.
Fantastically-bearded drummer Monchan matches his pose and, roaring, comes crashing down onto his kit. This is the cue for the mentalist quartet to explode into life, and in a second they hurl the stage into a swirling cacophony of psycho psychedelica. Writhing and flinging themselves over the stage and each other, as if caught up in the mental hurricane of their own creation, they are instantly mesmerising.
Taigen beguiles, throwing wild shapes with his stick-thin arms whilst releasing vocals that range from strained stoner-rock yells to Karen O-style squeals. Koroshitai Kimochi is the most stratospheric high point in a set full of them. It's spiky central riff repeatedly shatters into feedback-drenched walls of noise, constantly pummeled along by Monchan's maniacal poundings.
Guitarists Kohhei and Yuki create an inescapable sonic vortex: their all-encompassing loudness shadowed by intricate melody. The audience can't help but be drawn in - consumed, even - by the world that Bo Ningen create on stage. These four psych-rock warriors represent an increasingly rare sight in modern music - a truly enigmatic and unfathomable behemoth of a band who play like their music is the only thing keeping them from falling into the abyss.
As their set draws to a surreal close in a sea of fuzz, with Taigen thrusting his bass into his belly like a hara-kiri knife, the audience seem almost disbelieving of what they have just witnessed. Indeed, it's not until well after the walls have stopped shaking and the band float off the stage like tie-dye spectres that this reporter stops grinning vacantly into space. Tonight, Leicester was lucky enough to play host to the most exciting live band around. Insanely, blindingly brilliant.
Super 73 at the SoundHouse
The newly formed superband played at the SoundHouse.
Kevin Gaughan writes:
I had very high-expectations from tonight's debut performance by Super73. The band comprises of ex-members from some of Leicester's long establish and well respected rock bands, namely, Themselves, Ictus and Citizen Smith. As far as I was concerned, there was no room for error, complacency, or putting in a wooden stage performance.
Most of these guys had been around the block enough times to know what's what, what a band should and shouldn't do, and how to write proper, hard-rocking, solid music while keeping the show interesting and fun.
Having prepared myself for great things, even before they started, they surpassed my expectations by playing a pre-recorded intro, during which the background chatter was replaced by silent anticipation. Launching into the first song of their high-octane, hard-rocking set, I wasn't disappointed - musicians who have become masters of their craft, culminating in a show that seemed greater than the sum of it's parts.
The show was good, hard and heavy. Each song taking not more than a millisecond to titillate my rock senses with melodies immediately satisfying my thirst for unadulterated, heavy rock.
Finishing with a pre-recorded outro to complete the show, the chatter that returned was more an excited buzz, as people discussed what they had just experienced.
A serious performance from a serious band and a debut show to be proud of. A formidable force has been born!
The Shed, Music First Promotions
Photo: David Norris
A random night at the Shed. I went there to see Brother but they had pulled out. So instead I saw JD and the FDCs. They were good. A Notts/Derby rock quartet of experienced musicians, dressed in black shirts with hall-mark arm-bands, they energised the room with their rock 'n roll songs. Strongly delivered vocals backed with a top class drummer, this established rock band was highly enjoyable. Armed with three good front singers they had presence and, combined with tight playing and lots of energy, they delivered a storming set.
Dodgy at the SoundHouse
Leicester band The Fazed have graced the boards of our live music venues for many years and they are still as good now, if not better, than when they started out. One of our great veteran bands, they were the first act on the bill.
The Falling Leaves sported two fine lead vocalists but the audience left a very large gap between the front of the stage and the start of the crowd. Without being exceptional they were good at what they did.
The bar was raised considerably when Move came on to sail over it. One of the best rock bands in Leicester, the four singing musicians, lead by the great JJ McKenna, showered the audience with presence and vitality as the crowd filled up the area in front of the stage to get near to their much beloved rockers. Fervent, driven songs delivered with lashings of verve, this was an exhilarating set.
Returning to Leicester, the members of power pop trio Dodgy proved themselves to be the popular headliners of the show, as the crowd squeezed into the front to get a glimpse of a band they clearly loved and followed. As the lead singer announced the songs, the fans cheered, a sign that they knew what was coming and had heard it before.
Dodgy have released three albums - totaling over a million sales worldwide - and 12 top forty singles and played on the Pyramid stage at the Glastonbury festival. They played at the Musician in 2011. They released a new album in February 2012 to critical acclaim.
Pushed along by passion the band delivered a set that clearly had the crowd enraptured. It was a good night at the SoundHouse and thanks to Mark and Paul for putting it on.
Singers at Next Wave
Next Wave is a show takes place at Phoenix (note absence of definite article from name of this Leicester Arts centre, following tradition started by Curve, theatre) on the first Saturday of every month. Organised by Manic Music Productions, the Saturday matineé brings singers and acoustic artists to the performance area, some of them very young but all under about 25 ish.
Today Mark Elliott launched the show and also compered it. Mark is a singer and song writer with a considerable reputation and today he gave us some songs that were delivered with delicacy and expression.
Fifteen year old Anna Pinckard, accompanied by Paul on the guitar, gave a listenable performance that included a cover of All My Lovin' by the Beatles (appropriate choice given the current preoccupation with the 50 year anniversary of the all-time great group.) Anna's beautiful voice blended well with that of Paul when he joined in with the choruses.
Singing her own songs Nina Rubesa's voice was full of rich tones and subtle vocal techniques but exuded power and expression. With a set that was vibrant and engaging, she demonstrated her talent as song writer.
Next Wave is a valuable showcase of vocal talent. It also provides an environment in which young and budding artists can share stage time with established singers.
Bands, singers and rappers were on stage today for the second music festival on Eyres Monsell Park in Leicester.
Hard and metallic at the Firebug
Friday 5th October saw a big night at the Firebug with Arms of Atlas, Silent Resistance and Skam on the bill.
Jonezy at the Soundhouse
Tuesday 2nd October at the SoundHouse rapper Jonezy's a feature set as part of his pre-Album release was followed up with his audition at The Shed for the Glastonbudget 2013 music festival.
Sunday 30th September at the Musician saw folk band Grace and the Magic Roots bringing their delightfully ear-pleasing music to the venue.
Jersey Budd at the Soundhouse
Top Leicester singer Jersey Budd was on stage at this charity fund-raiser event and with him, on the line-up, were Elizabeth Cornish, Martha Bean, The Delis' Mix and Robert Vincent.
Singer and songwriter Elizabeth Cornish has always been a top class vocalist with a beautiful voice but now she has a full band behind her. On stage with her tonight were three musicians to amplify her engaging and atmospheric songs that filled the room with music laden with colour and feeling. An uplifting set set the evening off to a delightful start.
More marvelous music followed from Martha Bean and her musicians, whose transportingly lovely songs were laced with the sounds of violin and cello. This outstanding ensemble brought their quality musical offerings to the large crowd that had gathered at the SoundHouse for this night of good music and good causes.
There was a sharp change of style as Leicester's funk, alt, psychedelic, blues rock quartet - The Deli's Mix - took to the stage. With lead singer Tom Zbaraski in his custom-made blue silk and sequins outfit, there is no mistaking the genre-defying high octane songs of this band, as he delivered his vocals with the energy and gymnastics of an Olympic athlete. In the heat of the stage lighting it wasn't long before the iconic dream-coat came off, in a Chippendales-esq moment, to reveal the muscly vocalist's physique. The ex-track and field sportsman lead the band in a set of songs that evoked Muse, Red Hot Chilies, Hendrix and Jane's Addiction. If you wanted to run the Marathon all you would need is Tom and a set of jump leads. But what about the music? Stylish, unusual and vibrant tracks filled with interesting musical ideas.
Visiting from Liverpool was singer, songwriter Robert Vincent accompanied by a fine set of musicians that included a lady keyboard player who accompanied David's vocals. With the sounds of a cello and violin in the songs, his brand of vibrant folk, tinged with country, soon had a packed crowd gathered in front of the stage.
Local legend Jersey Budd brought his big voice to the mic as the crowd gathered in front to get a rare close-up view of this big-stage star. His iconic rich and powerful voice filled the small venue with magically good music, delivered with a tinglingly strong sense of stage presence. An artist of high caliber his set tonight brought a real sense of magic to the SoundHouse.
Jersey's new EP entitled The Heartbreaker is coming out in mid-November on Smoky Carrot Records alongside a new UK, European and Latin American tour.
Tonight's show raised over £1,250 for cancer charities Coping with Cancer and LOROS.
Friday 28th September at Lock42 saw up and coming band Creatin' Havoc on stage. They were back on 3rd October, this time at the Shed. Creatin' Havoc makes its mark in having B in the lead role, delivering the vocals in this female-fronted pop-punk band from Leicester.
Wednesday 26th September at the Shed, top singers Sam King and Nancy Dawkins were on the line-up with bands One Suspicious Monkey with Brains for Breakfast, being among the acts in this acoustic evening put on by Music First Promotions.
Modern Faces headline at the O2
It's good to see band that is making it across the UK, especially when they come from Scotland. Having seen Modern Faces twice before I knew what they had to offer so their re-appearance in Leicester was a good opportunity to get to see them and find out what they have been up to. I went to the Exchange Bar to meet up with the Band before they set off for their show at Leicester's O2 Academy.
Lead singer Lee Montgomery told me that Modern Faces started their current UK tour a couple of weeks ago. "Tonight we are playing Leicester", he said, " We are playing a couple of dates with Twisted Wheel, then we are in the studio again."
Lee continued " We did Sheffield and Leeds last week. It was really good, we had a massive response. We have not played O2 before. We played at [Leicester's] Sumo before, which was a great night. That was in April. We played a couple of warm-up dates before the tour and we played in Manchester and Aberdeen and both of them were rammed. Manchester was mega."
Lee is chatty and personable; a guy who exudes rock star quality on stage but who, off stage, is modest and likeable. He totally believes in his band and they all work amazingly hard to get to where they are going.
"Folk there were full-on fans", Lee said talking about the gigs they have played recently. "We have a growing fan base in Manchester and up and down the country. On our first tour we were getting about a hundred people in every venue we went to. This tour we are getting around 200 to 250 a night."
"As un unsigned band, if you can do that in ten cities up and down the country, it can only get better."
"You have been out on tour with the Twang and you played with them at Strawberry Fields", I commented. Lee responded "The Twang tour was really good. We grew up listening to them. They put a dance spin on things. Top lads. They know how to party a bit", he said with a wry grin. "They were sort of up-staged by us a little" he said with a laugh, that was echoed by the other band members.
I asked Lee what the band had been doing in the studio. "We have been recording recently and we have done a limited edition single, at the start of the summer. We had a massive response to that. We are going for an underground feel. We have enough material but we are still young - we are 22 - with a lot of time on our hands. We have an album there but we are waiting for that record deal to come along and we'll take it from there."
Lee spoke with an air of confidence. With his unfaltering belief in the music of Modern Faces, he seemed to suggest that getting signed was only a matter of time. Not if, but when.
"We have a few tracks on our web site but, apart from that, we like to keep it underground and old school. If people want to hear our tunes they need to come and see us live."
Lee in the middle with Gary, Mike, Craig and James
I asked Lee about one of our local bands that they have played with. "Kasabian is your finest export" he said with a smile, "they are the biggest band in the world right now. Top lads - they gave us a kick in the right direction last year, when they gave us that support slot".
"From there we just up'd our game and pushed on and took inspiration from them and hopefully we will be up there playing with them again."
I asked the band members which Kasabian tracks they liked the most. They all said they liked the first album the best. "Any Velociraptor fans here?" I asked. "Of course man - top notch. Breaking down the boundaries and setting the scene. Nobody can touch them. But the first album was still the best" came back a chorus of comments.
There are a lot of Leicester bands. There is only one Tennysons. Amongst the thousands of band members in this city there is only one Ryan Dunn. The lead singer and song writer for the Tennysons is widely celebrated as a songwriter of ability. When I met him at the O2 Academy tonight Ryan was in confident mood. "the band is going really well at the minute", he told me. Be introduced me to Ben, the band's new drummer. "Our new drummer is brilliant" Ryan explained. "He has helped us with our new tunes.
Ryan told me that the Tennysons have a new EP coming out soon, called Fortune Favours The Brave, and the band will be headlining at the Soundhouse on 6th October. I asked the band members how they saw their future. They told me that, at the moment, they all work as tradesmen. "We would like to get signed and become full-time musicians", Ryan said and bass player Max added "of course you want to get signed and get people to hear your music. You want people coming down to your gigs and you want to play tours."
Ryan commented "We want to get our first EP out on iTunes. If we make a bit of money out of that we can use it to get back into the studio."
The Tennysons have been going for a while but much never is the young Leicester band Leaving Party. After only six months they had come to the O2 Academy tonight, following on from their success at the Y Theatre, earlier this month, when they played the main support slot to Midnight Wire's first anniversary show.
I asked lead singer Jacob Benfield why the band had experienced such a meteoric rise; he was matter of fact in his reply: "Obviously people like our music" he said. You can't argue with that but I thought 'there must be more to it. Many people like the music of many bands and in Leicester there is an awful lot to choose from.'
The band's success is surely due, in some part, to their ability to get on to some key line-ups. "We are supporting the Crookes at the O2 on 16th November", Jacob told me and went on say the band is also booked to play a key audition show at the Shed for the Glastonbudget festival before going on to perform at the Oxjam festival on 20th October.
Now, that shows initiative - getting on the right line-ups, getting to play with significant, bigger bands. The Crookes is a not insignificant band! If they get through to Glastonbudget it will be their first festival appearance. I haven't seen a local band rise this fast since The Heroes started out.
I asked Jacob if the band had plans to publish some new music. "We have our single Roots out now and we are going to record an EP in the near year ... but we are not going to rush it", he explained in a rather mature tone.
Jacob, the principal song-writer of the band, said "Our style is like Two Door Cinema Club." I suggested that the band might try to get a support slot with them. When they get back from their North American, European and Asian tour of course. Presumably the band members will be heading over to Rock City to see them when they come to Nottingham on 29th January, failing that Birmingham Academy on 2nd February. "Yes, we would like to support Two Door Cinema Club", Jacob told me with a wistful look in his eyes. "But I think we are a bit too small just now ..." Well, as I have always said, "In the music business anything can happen."
Radio Leicester broadcasting live from the city centre
BBC Radio Leicester's live broadcasts of our local musical talent has become an established feature of the weekend. Today the sun was shining, the crowds were out and entertaining them were plenty of singers busking their stuff around the shopping area of the city.
Radio Leicester is usually out on a Saturday morning so we went down to see them in action.
The outside broadcast car arrives and the mast goes up. The signal goes from the radio car to the studio at the other end of the High Street and from there is beamed out to the county's radios and Internet audiences.
The OB presenter introduces the artists; today Ed Stagg is doing the broadcast while Tony Wadsworth is away.
While Ed is introducing the set to the listeners, today's singer = Kieran Fowkes - tunes up his guitar.
Presenter Ed Stagg talks to Kieran Fowkes about how he became a singer and what influences have shaped his songs.
Kieran then sings a couple of his songs as Ed holds the mic, accompanied by his sound engineer who is listening to the broadcast as it goes out over the airwaves.
It goes live to the Radio Leicester listeners and that is pretty much how it works.
On the otherside of the High Street Siobhan Mazzie was busking for the passing shoppers.
There were plenty of other artists out there with their guitars on this fine autumnal morning. Hopefully we will be listening to Siobhan on a live radio show soon.
Get smashed show at the Shed
Alex Sheldon reports on a gig at the Shed put on by Music First Promotions:
I arrive at The Shed, early on Saturday evening, unsure of what to expect. This well known Leicester venue has been graced by some of the finest unsigned and up-and-coming bands since 1994. With its large range of genres on show, from Indie to Metal, there's something for everyone and tonight was no exception.
As I take a seat at the back of the upstairs area, the first band of the night, Luzon Bleeding Heart, is going through its sound checks. I take in the scene and realise it must be a quiet night for The Shed. The crowd is small, but this doesn't stop Luzon Bleeding Heart from giving it their all when they get started with opening song, Fire Walk with Me. This song is ruled by the heavy and catchy drum beat that runs throughout, matched by the speed and strength of the vocalist, Patrick Tams.
Photo © Music First Promotions
Despite labelling themselves as Electro-Rock, this piece is strongly influenced by Speed Metal, and the sheer swiftness of Jack Hall's drumming and Coco Stretton's powerful guitar keep the song moving. For a young band, they can clearly demonstrate their skills, as next song, You, shows.
Starting off with a catchy intro from the synthesizer and rhythm guitarist, Ben Swan, You is calmer and less speedy than their opener. Once again, the drums seem to keep it all together, forming the foundations of what is a calmer but still anger driven song. The next few songs follow the same formula of heavy drumming and bass from Hall and Ben Davoir, supported by the quick, catchy guitar work of Stretton and Swan, and Tams' fierce, screaming vocals. Despite admitting himself that his throat had been bad over the last few days it was barely noticeable, and as they move into Gatecrash the Waltz, from their new EP of the same name, you realise they've created something really special.
This slower song seems to take you through some untold story. The piano-like intro and haunting guitar and bass carry you off into a dreamlike state. Despite being written in response to Patrick's hate of classical music, this song successfully blends the classic with the rock, creating something truly unique.
I move downstairs after Luzon Bleeding Heart finish, to check out the hardcore metal below ground. The crowd seem to be feeding off of the Metalcore and Grindcore down there, and you can't help but headbang to the screeching vocals and destructive sound.
Back upstairs the Rusty G's have started their set with their new single, Breaking Up. This alternative rock trio from Milton Keynes is made up of lead vocalist and guitarist James Finch, backing vocalist and bass player Tom Finch, and drummer Dan Lopez.
Photo © Music First Promotions
Breaking Up is a powerful grunge song going for it straight from the start. James Finch's voice is satisfyingly deep and croaky giving the song a hell of a lot of energy. In the next few songs, he takes complete control of the stage during the instrumentals, throwing himself around and genuinely enjoying the experience.
They close with calmer rock song, Losing You. It starts off with an awesome guitar and bass intro from the two Finch brothers, before kicking into a catchy chorus. The band seems to be enjoying themselves greatly and this radiates out to the crowd. As the song goes quiet during the middle, James slowly falls to his knees, his face down, covered by hair. The mood seems to become darker as he does this and you feel the pain in his voice.
The Brink take to the stage next, a 100% classic British rock band. Apart from their amazing hair, they also have an bucket full of stage presence, stealing the show right from their opener, Fairytale. You know right away that they mean business. Guitarist Alex Bittles, bassist Gary Connor, and Drummer Jes Kerr get the song started with an instantly memorable intro, before eneretic front man, Tom Quick boosts the song into overdrive with his refined and true rock 'n' roll vocals.
Photo © Music First Promotions
As they strut around the stage, putting on a true show, you know these guys have really refined their craft. Over the next few songs, Skin Star, Broken Romance and I Know, Quick moves around the entire stage, even leaping on top of one of the amps and getting down into the crowd at one stage. He knows how to work the crowd, even though it wasn't such a full house tonight.
They throw a goodly amount of softer songs at us, showing off their diversity and even going for a power ballad in the shape of Can I Find You?. Alex Bittles is allowed to open up in this one as well, throwing out a powerful guitar solo in the middle of the song, which seems to really drive home the emotion contained within. Once again, the hero of the hour is still singer Tom Quick, who manages to flick from heavy rock vocals to soft but strong ballad vocals at the blink of an eye.
Set closer, I Want It returns the band back to the catchy, pure rock sound they had with opener Fairytale. This is the band giving it their all to close the set well and you can literally see the amount of energy they're putting into this song. Not a single member of the band stays static during this closer, and the perfect mix of rough and tough vocals, incredible guitar playing, strong bass and a drum beat that ties a fancy bow around the whole composition, makes this a standout song for The Brink. Possibly even for the whole night.
The closing act of the evening is Indie Rock trio The Cream Tangerines, made up of Cam Potts on vocals and guitar, Dom Potts on bass, and Louis Potts on drums. Keeping it in the family it seems, but despite the love/hate relationship most families have, these three seem to get on perfectly, especially whilst blasting the crowd with their unique mix of indie, rock and blues.
Photo © Music First Promotions
They have a strangely retro feel to them as they tempt us with songs like Across the Pond, a bluesy rock anthem full of smooth vocals and assertive yet soft bass and drums. The American influence of this song shows through and you can't help but swing to it. They look very comfortable on stage, especially the front man, Cam Potts, who seems to get completely wrapped up in the music as he sings. They forgo theatrics and crowd involvement for sheer technical mastery and the way they play their instruments is incredible.
I leave, my ears thumping and my chest pounding, the whole night running through my mind. What a show it was, and the assorted music on show kept the evening varied and fresh. The Shed shows again why it's one of the finest underground music venues in the Midlands.
Luzon Bleeding Heart at the Shed
Auditioning for a place at the 2013 Glastonbudget Festival was Leicester band Luzon Bleeding Heart.
Photo © Harjinder Ohbi
One of Leicester's new youth bands taht are making their mark, Luzon is attracting a lot of favourable comment for their creating music and cunni9ng ability to merge styles of rock into a cocktail of rather likeable sounds. Personally, I thought they played well tonight and I was well impressed by their songs and their on stage performance.
Open mic at the Soundhouse
Up and coming singer, song writer Kieran Fowkes was at the Soundhouse to do a feature set as part of the open-mic night. With his unique voice, some have likened him to established singing star Ben Howard. Backed by quality guitar work, his songs are strong on mood and charged with emotion. Although some people said they thought his singing style was marmite, I happen to like it. That vocal styling makes him stand out and to me it has a definite blues-folk style, with its portamento phrasing and accentuated tessitura.
Whatever the technical ramifications, Fowkes is a fine singer. He looses himself in the songs, delivering them with complete passion and full-on feeling. Tonight he demonstrated a remarkable range of string techniques to accompany the equally remarkable range of his vocal technique. I think he one of the our local male vocalistts most likely to be discovered.
Axis Mundi at the SoundHouse
Our band of the month Axis Mundi was on the line-up at the SoundHouse tonight, supporting a visit by tourers I Am Giant. Despite a few technical difficulties with their complex electronic equipment, Axis Mundi demonstrated their powered-up rock which generated even more sparks than their synthesiser. Putting on an exhilarating performance, the three Mundis let loose their new track Science Junkies with its scorching electro layer. With some impressive track and field level running and jumping, vocalist Shaun Garner showed off this gymnastic prowess whilst still singing forcefullly into his radio mic. This is a band that comes to life on a big stage but in the confines of the SoundHouse it didn't work quite as well for me. Not to worry I am a fan of their music and it is always good to see them.
Another band that I, for one, am always eager to see is The Furies. They have always been a good band, right from the word go, but tonight showed that they are now more than just good. This year has seen them mature into a sensationally good band. Their high-octane, rocket-fuelled rock blasted off the stage lead by the star quality vocals of Alex Beattie and driven by the drumming of Neal Hill they delivered a set of furious songs. Stunning.
London band I Am Giant, signed to Sony Records, came here to headline at the SoundHouse as part of their UK Tour. Whilst in Leicester, they were included in John Sinclair's programme on Radio Leicester.
The band's new single Purple Heart was released today. You can hear it on YouTube
Matinee time at the Shed
If The Shed venue is known for anything then it is renowned for acting as a launch pad for new bands. From the prototype of Kasabian onwards, many of our local bands have started their musical careers on its main stage. The Saturday matinee gigs have become an established platform for emerging acts. Today's event saw three new bands showcase their work.
The four members of Drongo got up up on stage and delivered a sensational set of their heavy rock numbers. Now, they say that what they do is alternative rock. Ok! Whatever it's called it's pretty damn good. The songs can be metally with big pouding sounds, almost hardcore, but its not conventional stuff. I think that they have got some really interesting songs together and they pull in a whole load of different influences. That is what makes their work exciting. They also are imaginative in their approach. In one number James Shaw does an acoustic song with just himself and the drummer. We liked Drongo enough to put them on at one of our showcase gigs.
Glastonbudget at the Shed
It's that time of year again when the organisers of the Glastonbudget Festival hold their auditions at The Shed for next year's festival. The auditions are public gigs where bands and artists perform live on stage and are assessed by the festival selector's with a view to deciding which ones they wish to invite to appear at the festival. We have a whole section about the festival where you can find out more.
Audition shows at the Shed are good gigs to attend; they are well-attended, the acts that go on are varied and of a high standard and they are well organised. It's usually a good night out for fans of live music and tonight was no exception.
Singer and song writer Holli Coyle opened the show with a selection of her own songs and covers. Several people commented on what a good voice shed had. Her singing was listenable and engaging her set provided a warmly enjoyable selection of songs.
Leicester band FourPointOh put on a storming performance. Delivering their songs with lots of energy, their punky-hard-rock style music was very enjoyable. Led by their lead vocalist Becky Woolman, who is also the bassist for the band, they did a really good job of keeping their own fans energised, as well winning over people who had not heard them play before.
It's important to grab the opportunity of winning new fans from people who are new to a group and who might otherwise not get to see the band at the shows they usually go to. Judging from the audience reaction to their set, I would image that there were a good few people who would want to see them again. I was particularly impressed by the playing of their lead guitarist Robert Fulton-Hamilton who displayed an inspiring level of skills on the strings as well having an on-stage presence that was equally as remarkable. Fingers crossed that they get selected but we won't know this until December, when all the auditions have been held.
OPM at the Soundhouse
We dubbed this 'The Gig of the Month'. "ooo how self-indulgent", I hear you cry. It wasn't just the visit by one of the world's great punk rock bands but the impressive line-up of top local acts that caused us to assign tonight's gig that outlandish accolade. It's true that OPM's worldwide smash hit Heaven is a half-pipe is one of my all-time favourite tunes but what is also true is that I am dead impressed when a massively big touring band from Los Angeles stops off in a little Leicester venue.
Supporting OPM were some of my favourite local bands: The Variables, RickyC, Silent Resistance and Formal Warning. Now that makes tonight's gig a block-buster of an event.
With their set of infectious pop-rock tunes, the trio that is The Variables is, in my view, a highly likeable band and they launched tonight's show with a great warm-up set. A band with an engagingly vivacious song list, The Variables know how to please an audience. Their lively stage craft, ability to get people to respond to them and appealing tunes make them one of my favourite acts. I know for a fact that venues and promoters are only too happy to book them, when they want a crowd-pleasing and reliable addition to a line-up.
Live music not just about rock. Hip-hop also had a strong place and bringing RickyC to tonight's programme was a master-stroke. Ricky's Harsh Reality rap stands out for me as one of the best songs of its type in the local repertoire. On stage with him were rapper I-Kotik and with DJ Blade on the discs, it was a set that pulled in the crowd of (mainly) rock fans to make some noise and do some moves.
Ricky also performed one of his legendary free style raps with members of the audience shouting out words and phrases to which the star rapper would apply instant lyrics. One of the most talented performers in Leicestershire, RickyC always put on a top-notch act and tonight was particularly entertaining. The audience loved it.
Unlike some people, I am very happy with an eclectic line-up and so I was very happy to move from hip-hop to prog-metal when Silent Resistance took to the stage. Still at the top of the metal pyramid, they delivered a set of super-charged songs many of which I and a large body of other fans have come to know and love.
Silent Resistance have a tour coming up and a big show at the Firebug with the mighty Arms of Atlas (another umissable gig I just have to go to).
Songsmiths and hit-makers Formal Warning brought their large following of fans to the front of the stage and, for half an hour, the audience all danced as one. With star vocalist Ash Wright at the main mic, the five piece team worked together to produce a magnificent set of anthems and songs.
These masters of melody have written some blindly good tunes of their own but a 'Warning night would not be complete without their iconic covering of Kasabian's Clubfoot. They brought back Boys of Summer, one of the songs that launched them into the dance circuits of the Leicester scene. Bear in mind that FW has supported Kaiser Chiefs and Scouting for Girls this year alone. A thoroughly enjoyable prelude to the headline act of this remarkable evening.
The time had come for the main act of the night. Some of those present tonight told me they had come to hear OPM sing one particular song. It would be a travesty if people thought that this was a one-song band. During their hour long set, OPM covered a song by Gorillaz - Clint Eastwood 'Sunshine in a bag' - which everyone remembers. That doesn't make Gorillaz a one-song band any more than Velociraptor does for Kasabian. In any event we all had to wait 'til right of the end of the set to hear it and then it was medley'd into a compilation of other songs.
What we did hear was a spell-bindingly thrilling tour through the songs of OPM lead by the legend of a front-man John E. Necro. OPM is said to be an abbreviation of the phrase Open People' s Minds. Hailing from Southern California, the ska punk band fuses punk, reggae and hip-hop into a delicious cocktail of sounds that has energised music fans around the world from the year 2000 onwards.
In the second gig of their 2012 Uk Tour, OPM arrived at The SoundHouse before moving on to such illustrious venues as Moho Live in Manchester and The Underworld in Camden. No strangers to the Uk's touring circuits, OPM have popping into our venues for a few decades.
They kept it going with non-stop bouncing, beltin' beats and revved-up rhythms for well over an hour. Even after a long evening, the crowd was packed into the front of stage area and giving it up for an extra-ordinary night of music. Alongside their set of own songs they included a number of covers, such as The Clash's Should I stay or should I go?
An outstanding show and full-marks to the SoundHouse for putting it on.
Arts in Leicester held its benefit gig at The Musician and eight acts delivered a night of top notch musical delights. Read our report
We always knew that August would be a huge month for live music. We have not been proved wrong as we struggled to keep up with the tsunami of festivals and gigs in our local area.
Midnight Wire at the Y
I can't believe it's been only a year since Midnight Wire set sail on the seas of live music. Sure enough tonight saw them celebrating their first twelve months with a big show at the Y Theatre. Where better to hold a show! It's a nice theatre; its gilded balcony, it's nice bar area with a selection of reasonably priced beverages and it's sprung dance floor make it the destination of choice for discerning acts. More of a sense of occasion, I feel, a gig at the Y. Being the Y it is accustomed to having a lot of the younger generation running around the place.
So, a large crowd gathered for tonight's three bands. Taking to the stage for the first slot was Raptusound. The four musicians pushed out some big, bangy sounds. A the smog machine filled the stage with atmosphere to bring out the especially good production lighting, Chris Brown came to the mic to fill the hall with his voluminous voice.
The band fires volleys of beats into the room, with Leigh Dunning's synths adding a rich layer of electro into songs. The crowd stands at he back with a vast gap between them and stage. Even Chris's powered passion for the songs is not enough to magnetise them. Not easy being the warm-up act!
Raptusound. Photo © Harjinder Ohbi
Ollie Petch and Kieran Edmonds are on the sound controls and I have to say, you could hear every note with crystal clear sharpness. Raptusound know how to create mood and atmosphere with their music. Their beltin' ballads and raw power supercharging finely constructed melodic lines and richly arranged vocals.
Musically a resounding start to the evening.
Lots of familiar faces in the audience. Very much a gathering of the music clans. A fair smattering of the local rockerati had turned up to get a slice of the action.
Leaving Party. Photo © Harjinder Ohbi
A band that has rocketed into the skyline of Leicester recently comes on stage. Leaving Party have suddenly burst on to the local scene and are now popping up all over the place. This time the crowd gathered in front of the stage and the room had filled. The pack of fans began singing along to their songs. As everyone keeps saying to me "watch these guys - they are going places". Yep, I had figured that out already!
Jacob Benfield. Photo © Harjinder Ohbi
With their bouncy, catchy songs, arms were waving in the throng in front of them and heads were bobbing up and down as the audience lapped up the songs. Even though it was their first time on a big stage, they sailed through the set with the aplomb normally associated with established touring bands. Not bad for a bunch of teenagers!
Happy, uplifting and vibrant sounds, Leaving Party were a good choice to pave the way for the headline set. With sirens blaring and a back drop projection, on to the stage came the members of Midnight Wire - making an entrance. Rooster takes position at the mic and calls out "Hands in the air Leicester" and a forest of glow-stick wielding arms appear in front of him.
Chris Merriman strings in the opening chords of Lola and the set takes off. It's not long before the ultra-catchy chords of Running Forever reverberate around the gold encrusted hall. Rooster is in his dapper gray jacket and Arj is clad in a parker. By the third song the 'Wire is beltin' out a high-energy number to which the fans respond by joining in with the clappy bits. It's not long before the jacket is abandoned and Rooster appears in his hall-mark white vest.
Midnight Wire. Photo © Harjinder Ohbi
Kings of the City gets them all dancing and the sprung dance floor is resonating to the vibrations of several hundred feet. Towards the end of the set a photo of the New York skyline appears on the back of the stage and the band gets into its hit song New York City Lies. Kids get up on each other's shoulders and they are all waving and cheering. It's where the band shows off their considerable aptitude for writing massively attractive pop/rock songs.
They are called back for an encore and play one of their new songs. The band shows they can sell out a venue and put on a night of top notch music. I have seen people saying that there are no good gigs in Leicester anymore. Methinks they are going to the wrong nights. I thoroughly enjoyed the whole show and did several hundred other people.
Metal/Hardcore Night at The Shed
John Wray was there and sent us his report:
Clear Sky Events presents Deadlight, Amends, Icons, Awaking Athena and Season's Guilt.
Quarter to eight on Thursday evening at The Shed and, whilst half of the considerable crowd mill around the bar, the rest (clearly not old enough to get served) loiter awkwardly and wait for things to get started.
Super-prompt openers Season' s Guilt take to the stage before this writer can even get a drink, and launch straight into their brand of grungy pop-punk. It's only the local lads' second gig, but you wouldn't know it. Bassist Ryan sizzles through his riffs whilst vocalist Jared is, for the most part, an assured front man - looking more at home with the band's occasional hardcore stylings than the emo-tinged choruses. Fourteen Years gets a strong reception from the rapidly building crowd.
Photo © John Wray
Next up are relative veterans Awaking Athena. A ragtag pit opens up almost instantly as the Loughborough five-piece's brutal wall of noise is cranked up. Steven Geary's guttural, grindcore-style growls are counterpointed by bassist Caleb Bee's melodic backing vocals; and, flanked either side by some ridiculous shredding, they form a force to be reckoned with.
The Collapse is a set highlight; it's crunching bassline and spidering guitar athleticism making for an aural assault you could do with a sit down after. There's no let-up though, as the band recruit a sixth member from the crowd for extra vocal duties and bring their set to a crushingly heavy close. Hail Satan, urges Geary as the band leave the stage; and, whilst devil-worship is conspicuous in its absence on a Thursday night in Leicester city centre, AA's music has certainly left a menacing air behind.
Perhaps Icons sense that the mood needs lightening, and singer Neil Vernon is only too happy to oblige. Walking onstage to the strains of Jim Reeves's Welcome to my World, he bemoans the relative youth of his audience ("I feel old, grow some beards!", he advises) before dealing out a hefty slab of the band's vaguely prog-influenced hardcore.
The squalling string-bending, coupled with the chunky bass and enormous drum parts, make for a sound reminiscent of Cemetery Gates-era Pantera, albeit with Vernon's much rawer vocals; most effectively evidenced in Marshmallow is not a Fruit.
The band treat us to some new material, most of which sounds like a song-long breakdown (no bad thing) then change the pace slightly with a more spacious, melancholic Meridian. The jarring guitar of a thunderous Hitch-22 ends their set. "You're great," Vernon says to the crowd. "Can I have all of your numbers?" Someone has pinned a Justin Bieber poster to the communal kickdrum onstage; and whilst the Bieb doesn't seem to have exerted any malign influence over the music on display this evening, fourth band Amends, at least, seem to go to the same hairdresser.
Photo © John Wray
"We're the only band here not old enough to drink", moans singer Bill Iliffe as they come on, tears streaming into his J2O. They probably could have used a beer or two: whilst whiplash-inducing opener London Will Breathe a Sigh of Relief is taut and unrelenting, the band seem somewhat unsure of themselves once it ends. Clearly nervous, they forget the name to their own webpage before deciding it would be better to just play another song.
The band's metalcore is energetic and rapid, their two-minute bursts of aggression recalling Trash Talk in their manic intensity. Iliffe jumps into a somewhat bemused crowd at one point, before retaking the stage for last song First (see what they did there?), which proves to be a frantically-paced but strangely melodic finale. The stage presence, you suspect, will come with time, and judged solely on the quality of their songs Amends represent a bright future for the Leicester scene.
Photo © John Wray
The crowd has thinned considerably by the time Deadlight begin their set, but those who have gone home early miss the most accomplished set of the night. Opener Tsunami boasts a blistering central riff, which acts as a touchpaper for vocalist Ben Thompson to torch with his rabid delivery.
A monstrous Worthless is the centrepiece of their set, it's sweeping guitars breaking into high-octane death metal via some Rammstein-esque industrial chugging. As Thompson ends his vocal acrobatics and thanks the crowd at the end of his band's set, they are rewarded with the warmest reception of the night by the remaining crowd.
All in all, an excellent showcase of Leicester's thriving metal scene, at a venue again proving itself to be a lively breeding ground for local talent.
Dave Smith of Clear Sky Events commented ' This was our first event at The Shed, and we wanted to open with a bang! Give the audience the WOW! factor. The night was a great success and the music was second to none. We are passionate about breathing a new lease of life into the local music scene. With Clear Sky Events you can expect a night of exceptional live music with a feel good atmosphere that looks and sounds great, giving the crowd something to remember when they get home.'
Dunk my Cookie! It's Jazz night at the 'Jar. I went there for one of the regular Jazz at the 'Jar nights and on stage was Mike Sole and The Illusive Trio. With Mike Sole on keyboard, Chris Lee on Tenor Sax and David Anderson on drums, it was an impressive demonstration of musical expertise. The three on the stage were artists of high calibre. Their style of modern jazz was enthralling to listen to and I was totally captivated. Going to see live Jazz is a rare experience for me but on this occasion I found myself enjoying a truly delightful evening of fine music.
The Deli's at the O2
The Delis' Mix were on stage at Birmingham's O2 Academy where they were peforming at the Regional Finals of Surface Unsigned. The band put on a thrilling performance of their songs but it was not enough to get them through to the finals.
We were there for the second half of the day and that had ten bands on the line-up. Another ten bands had already performed in the first half. Out of the 20 bands that were on the bill that day, only six could go through to the finals in London. Three judges were there to assess the bands, their votes making up the bulk of the overall score for each act. The Deli's Mix were on stage shortly after their group of fans arrived. We all decided to wait around for the announcement of the winners, so see if our band had got through. It was a long, long night.
The Deli's Mix put on a great set. Tom Zabraski's lead vocals and specially designed outfit projected the image of a total rock star. Combining Olympic-level leaps on stage with compellingly good music, the band delivered a set which we thought was sensational. Sadly the judges did not. I liked The Deli's Mix a lot. I think they have a lot going for them which is why I have booked them for ArtIn's gigs. Even if the Surface judges didn't warm to them, I think they have a great future and, in my view, what they do is pretty damn good.
Young artists and bands gathered at The Shed for another matinee and in the evening we went to see Leicester band Titan at the Soundhouse.
The matinee gigs for young bands have provided a launch pad for many new, up and coming bands, that have gone on to become erstablished acts in Leicester's extensive live music industry. Top young bands like Brother and Leaving Party started their careers at the Shed's Saturday matinees. Luzon Bleeding Heart and Drongo have also played at the Saturday afternoon events. For many young bands this is often their very first gig and lots of people have turned up to support them.
At today's show we saw Ascend The Skies, Goldstien and Below Gravity. Four piece grunge punkers Goldstien's lead vocalist/guitar player delivered plenty of verve. They soon had the crowd gathered in front of the stage (always a good sign.) Their beltin' set of raw and punchy grunge, punk and ska rhythms soon had the kids skanking.
Ascend the Skies's set saw four musicians take to the stage for a ear-bashing half hour of hardcore screamo. Pulsing with energy they presented well on stage, as pounding bass lines and banging drums thumped the walls of the room. Their song Next in Line, about a girl who could not stay single for one second, found plenty of enthusiasts amongst the male members of the audience. It wasn't all screamo however; their third song had more of a melodic slant with clappy rhythms and strongly compelling feelings.
Featuring the vocals of matinee idol Aaron Stratton, Below Gravity's set of rock songs included some covers by Muse and The Artic Monkeys and their pop rock style entertained the all ages audience. Playing the Undertone's Teenage Kicks wasn't exactly a rare event but the crowd did enjoy it. Foo Fighter's Monkey Wrench also met with a lot of enthusiam, as their take on The Kings of Leon's Sex on Fire.
The Soundhouse - Titan
I went to the SoundHouse to see Leicester band Titan. Band member James Shaw used to be in Paladin and his vocals had a cart load of catchy hooks. Backed by their star-quality drummer, with a lot of good work from the guitar and bass players, the five piece delivered a most agreeable set of songs. Powered by driving rhythms, the vocals were strong and the crowd really lapped up their set of engaging sounds. After an absence from the circuit, this come-back appearance was a success. They engaged their audience and with their well constructed songs I was left wanting more. Looking forward to seeing them again.
Also on tonight's line-up was This Motion Picture. Thier set of garage rock tunes blasted out some crashy, thrashy sounds, powered by an engergetic stage performance. Featuring some shouty vocal lines and plenty of rawness, the audeince's response was muted. Not the right gig for them methinks.
Excludees take to the stage at the Shed
Community music organisation Excluded held its second live show at The Shed, with rappers, singers, MCs and DJ. A duo from Sheffield called The Freaks put on a really good set. Delivering a strong stage presence and some really compelling beats, the two guys worked well together that had a wow factor that won the crowd over, me included.
Today, on the main stage, a succession of artists demonstrated their skills as singers, rappers and DJs.
Excluded's first show at the Shed, on 3rd May, saw a succession of artists take to the stage to present their work and show case their abilities. Rappers like Ruff Rhymes, Vivi, JK and Fegredo made an immediate impression. See the photos from this night on the Excluded web site.
Excluded shows how music can be a potent force in helping to change people's lives, for the better. Excluded has worked successfully with people recovering from drug and alcohol addiction and with ex-prisoners and homeless people.
17th to 19th August
Three days of summer music
We hadn't even begun to write up one festival than we found ourselves at the next. Summer Sundae 2012 is now available in the Summer Sundae section.
11th to 12th August
How to rock out at a Strawberry Farm
The third year of Strawberry Fields saw an eclectic line-up of musical offers waft across the fields as bands, singers and DJs plied their wares for the three day festival. A full team of Arts in Leicester media was there and our report is now finally available in the Strawberryfields Festival 2012.
ArtsIn Productions brought three singers to the stage of Curveball, at the cultural's quarter's flagship theatre for the finale of its Singers of Distinction programme of concerts. Steve Faulkner, Ilea Cavner and Kieran Fowkes sang to visitors and some of the audience of the musical Oliver in an after-show gig. Review coming soon to our page Singers od Distinction.
Later this evening the Musician saw the amazing Tribal Riot playing, now with a new lead singer and guitarist joining the two MC's electro wizardry. See our feature article on Tribal Riot.
Thursday 9th August
It's good to be different
Musician Carlos Stein brought an assembly of unusual music acts to the stage of the Musician for his show The Stein Collectives. Ukulele band The Nukes, the great Carlos himself, the fabulous songs of Kenton Hall, the wonderful tunes of Paddywax, the powerful raps of Jonezy, the glittering guitar and vocals of Dean Sharman came together for one enjoyable celebration of music at the edge. More on this coming soon.
Friday 3rd August and Saturday 4th August
Rockin' in Cosby
Cosby Big Love festival brought a line-up of hugely enjoyable bands and singers on to its two stages. A lovely festival, thoroughly enjoyed by all those who attended. See our report on Cosby Big Love 2012.
Thursday 2nd August
Our flash gig is a success
Vengeance Photo © Ohbi photography
Organise a whole gig in just 36 hours! You must be mad, they said. We did it. Read our report.
Grunge at The Musician
Stevie Jones, Steve Faulkner and Rhett Barrow's new band were among the artists on stage for Gunge Night at the Musician. The Dedbeats is the new project by legendary singer and gig meister Rhett Barrow. Plenty of good comments to choose from after the band's performance, including "absolutely brilliant", "wicked" and lots more. They were intensely rockin'. A good lineup and another night of top music in Leicester.
28th July - Flip Like Wilson at the SoundHouse
After their successfully 'come-back' at The O2 Academy, Leicester rock band Flip Like Wilson capped their breakthrough with another sensational performance at the Soundhouse.
25th July - Raghu Dixit at the Donkey
Photo © Harjinder Ohbi
The two hour performance of The Raghu Dixit Project at the Donkey was, for me at least, one of the most enjoyably magic moments in this year's immensely good offerings of live music.
It is a great credit to Leicester's live music venues and promoters that bands of international acclaim and reputation come to this city to perform. What was so good about about tonight's concert was that you could see and hear one of the world's top class bands right up close.
It was two hours of completely wonderful music. Raghu Dixit is a superb singer and tonight he was backed by a lineup of top class musicians. The introduction of a flute player added a remarkably good layer of sound into the band.
Photo © Harjinder Ohbi
What stands out about this band is their ability to appeal to people from all cultural backgrounds. There is an immediacy about the music which makes it accessible to everyone. The amazing colour and vibrancy of the songs is amplified by the presence of many genres, not just in Raghu's singing but more so in the playing of the guitarists, drummer, violinist and now the flautist. Indian folk, rock, blues, jazz, all these great musical traditions are mixed into one intoxicating cocktail of musical delights.
Looking round the crowd that has packed into the intimate setting of the Donkey bar's main room, you could see all kinds of faces, young and old, western and asian, people from the music industry and people who were there for the sheer enjoyment of this auspicious and happy occasion.
Raghu knows how to work a crowd. At one point he had the entire room singing in Kannada, his native South Indian tongue, and, even if you had never spoken one word of this language ever before, everyone was up for giving it a go.
Clapping along with the infectious rhythms, bouncing up and down and joining in with the friendly and good natured banter from the stage happened throughout the show.
Raghu reminded his ardent fans of his previous visits to Leicester, which he recollected with genuine enthusiasm. He shared treasured memories of his performance for The Queen at her Diamond Jubilee. He talked about appearing live on the Jools Holland show and the many festivals at which he and his band had played in recent times, including Glastonbury (which I watched on TV.)
This was a night that will go down in the top gigs of 2012.
Photo © Harjinder Ohbi
One other aspect of Raghu's gig at the Donkey deserves a mention. There was a van there offering free tests for diabetes. The van had been accompanying The Raghu Dixit Project's UK tour. This came about through Leicester MP Keith Vaz who asked the band if they could co-operate with this important issue. Diabetes is a medical condition that affects people of all ages but is frequently undiagnosed in people of asian origins.
24th July at the Soundhouse - Lacky C
Leicester rapper Lacky C did a headline slot at the SoundHouse open-mic night. On stage with him were backing singers Jonezy, rapper Sly, Sheridan Powell, and guitarist Jake 'Shakey' Smith. Now sounding like a complete band, Lacky C delivered a brilliant set of songs. including his colourful and compelling song with the punjabi beats. Vibrant and engaging Lacky's songs were appealing, even to those who were not fans of hip-hop. He is a great performer and his stage presence is always top notch.
21st July - Neon Sarcastic at the O2
Reviewed by Trevor Locke with photos by Brad Smith Photography.
A good night at the O2. The sun had come out at long last as a reasonable sized crowd of music fans filed in the Queens Hall (or the medium-sized stage at the Leicester O2 Academy) to hear five local bands.
The Accidents opened the show and they got the night's entertainment off to a flying start. With their two strong lead vocalists Ryan Brown on guitar and Liam Bruce on bass (not forgetting the occasional backing put in by guitarist Jay Tuite) they worked on the crowd that had gathered at the front, getting them moving and joining in with the singing.
Now, that's something I always look for in a band: they hugged their audience and made them them feel good. I call it stage craft. The Accidents are fairly new; I think they told me they had played 14 gigs since they started and there they were, on the stage of the Queens Hall, walking boards hallowed by a plethora of great bands that had gone before.
The band's offering of popular, ear-pleasing pop-rock songs have begun to win them a solid reputation and a lot of new fans. Their spirited on-stage presence warmed up the room as the audience joined in with the singing and some were even dancing to the foot-tapping rhythms. Their two front vocalists Ryan and Liam had nicely contrasting vocal styles.
Off-stage these four cheerful chappies are equally effective, cultivating contacts in the local industry, busily getting their name out there and playing what ever gigs come their way. They even went all the way to Preston (of all places) to play at a show.
You can't help but like them. Dedicated, energetic, enjoying what they do and talented. Now that maketh for a goodly band. With their convincing singing and tasty choice of tunes, they are an excellent addition to a line-up and tonight they had some great bands to support.
Bands like Flip Like Wilson whose performance was nothing if not surprising. I had seen them launch on to the local scene back in 2011, play a few well attended gigs, falter a little (when they lost their drummer), re-staff the group and tonight had the hall marks of a come-back and relaunch.
Well if that is what they did do tonight, then they did it remarkably well. It was surprising (if not astonishing) that Jake Sterland had become their lead vocalist. The one-time drummer of Kicking Habits had secured a reputation for being one of the most talented young drummers on the local scene. Yet tonight Jake demonstrated his Dave Grohl-like gifts as he stood in front and sang to the audience.
Flip Like' do not just stand there and play their instruments. They live their music, giving their sound a strong visual element, dancing around the stage, jumping and gyrating to the rhythms and bringing just the right level of theatre to their musical show. Their vibrant pop-rock tunes continued to fan the flames of the fire started by The Accidents.
They kept the crowd in the hall and Jake Sterland sang to them. That's the mark of a really good rock star front man - singing to the audience not just at them. With the lights blaring in his eyes, he might not have been able to see right to the back of the large hall but he could see the front rows and he performed to them. It looked as though he had been a lead singer for years, reaching down to shake hands with the fans, singling out faces in the crowd for comment, setting up a chemistry between himself and the throng in front.
Given that this was the first time Jake had sung to a large audience on a major stage, his performance as amazing. He told me afterwards "I was really nervous about tonight. I was petrified it wouldn't work." It looks like the adrenaline had kicked in and fuelled his natural talent because the 18 year old delivered a performance that was ten times better than a lot of lead singers I have seen who are twice his age.
Flip Like Wilson's set of punchy, catchy songs were tightly delivered and several of the rockerati in the audience commented favourably on what they had heard. If this was a come-back event, they pulled it off well.
No More Adventures is not a band I know as well as the others on tonight's line-up. Having seen them before (when they played at the OBS earlier this year) and commented on them, I recognised them as a good band. All three of them sing (even the drummer) - so, a couple of ticks in my book. Their songs were punchy and somewhat heavier in style, then the others on tonight's stage (they refer to their style as space rock - original but not recognisable.) Their presence lacked the sparkle that we saw in the other bands tonight. They would have had a bigger audience if they had taken their guitars on to the patio because the hall had emptied, as most had gone outside to enjoy the warm summery evening with a drink and a chance to socialise with friends.
They have not been around as long and have not accumulated anything like the following enjoyed by the others. The band bashed out some beguiling beats to those who had stayed to watch but they failed to elicit much response from the rather static crowd. So they were a good band, in a city crowded with good bands, but I felt that had not yet found a way to stand out.
The headline act was Neon Sarcastic. They had hung the stage with three large, eye-catching banners bearing the name of the band. After a rather odd intro track the musicians walked on to the stage to the cheering of their fans and then lead singer John Willson bounced in, to even more adulatory noise.
The five members of NS are all strong individuals who have worked together for several years now and perform together as finely trained team. Having followed them since they started, I have always enjoyed their lively, listen-able songs and admired the way they have continuously penned new material, whilst never letting go of their characteristic sound.
They have moved on from their early Blink-182 covers to put together a set-list that reflects the eclectic influences of their members. They threw in a couple of covers (including Jessie J's Price Tag), which they need not have done because they have a back-catalogue of their own songs, large enough to fill a headline slot.
NS is a band that has worked strenuously to notch themselves up the slippery pole of live music notoriety, since they started in 2007. Since then they have penned a respectable number of songs, cultivated their fan base, (3,238 likes on their Facebook page, stands comparison to other top local bands) and always put on a good show whenever and where ever I had seen them.)
With their ever-expanding portfolio of agreeable songs and passionate showmanship, they are a band that has enjoyed a place at the top of the popular music tree in our local area, for quite some time.
If Looks Could Kill, Glass Cannons, Violet, The Elijah and As Cities Burn
Jonezy features at the SoundHouse
By Bethanie Harris
Jonathan Jones (stage name Jonezy) is a rapper from Loughborough. He performed his original songs as the feature artist at The Soundhouse Open Mic night on July 10th.
After a brief introduction, Jonezy took to the stage to a spattering of half-hearted applause. The mood of the audience reflected a lack of enthusiasm. However, no sooner than he took to the stage, and his set began - with a bang! - Jonezy threw himself straight into his music and grabbed the attention of everyone in the room.
Even the quietest people, hidden away in corners were craning their heads or standing to get a better view, as he blasted his way through his first song, excitedly bouncing across the stage and jumping into the front row of people.
From the very first line, there was a sense of relief coming from the crowd. Jonezy was relieving them from the background hum of repetitive covers of mainstream music that dominates the UK charts.
Straight away, Jonezy made a connection with the audience, that he managed to hold throughout his half hour set in which he performed eleven songs, each just as crowd pleasing as the last. He performed with skill and energy to an increasingly approving crowd.
Jonezy has an unbelievable amount of stage presence, using the whole stage to his advantage and drawing in the audience as much as possible, through his relaxed between-song banter and his excitable nature.
It is clear from watching him that he enjoys what he's doing and, from observing the audience, it's clear that they enjoyed it just as much. Even when he lost a little audience attention (during the slower paced songs) he managed to draw them back in with his stage presence and skills as a performer alone.
Seemingly contrary to his own beliefs, Jonezy is a skilled song writer, weaving in his own personal stories, with meaningful messages, all the while obviously believing in what he is saying. This was definitely picked up by the audience, who livened up far more during his performance than throughout the rest of the evening.
With subtle religious hints in the lyrics, it is not immediately obvious that he is singing about his Christian faith, in some of the songs. Even to audience members with no religious or spiritual beliefs, his songs are catchy and easy to listen to, and certainly still hold positive, universal messages and values that should be respected regardless of religion or lack thereof.
In fact, the only time I even noticed the religious undertones was in the seventh song of the set, Lord Hear Me, which was a biographical song serving to tell his story and just happened to include religion as part of it.
With occasional on-stage support by friends Matt Dobson, LackyC and Anna Pinkard, his music took on a style similar to Plan B or Eminem, with rapping combined with melodic singing. Matt was a really good addition to the performance and lent his support well and served to slightly change the style of the songs.
The same goes for Anna, whose voice seemed to increase in confidence throughout the performance, as she backs up the words said by Jonezy. LackyC, brought a different sort of support to the set than the other two. All three contributions gave each song a slightly different twist and set the songs apart from one another.
Despite not usually being a fan of rap, I was intrigued by what Jonezy was singing and found myself wanting to hear more and more of his songs. He was engaging and left you wanting more. He is a really good performer who can grab your attention, even when you aren't a fan of that particular genre of music.
He definitely deserved the enthusiastic applause he received as he left the stage at the end of his half hour set.
Jonezy has an album coming out in October 2012.
Bethanie Harris is a new reporter; this was the first time she had seen Jonezy. We wanted a review that looked at a well known act with a completely fresh set of eyes.
Roots launch - a great success
At The Exchange Bar tonight Roots entertainment launched their open-mic night. More than just an open-mic, it was a show that brought together singers, comedians and poets in a celebration of music and culture.
Claire Edwards brought a range of songs to the mic.
A night of top class singers
We invited five of the best singing artists in Leicestershire to come to the Musician to showcase their work. It was a night of supremely good music. You can read our review on our page Singers of Distinction.
Other pages you might like:
Our guide to rock music pages on ArtsIn
Has this page helped your band?
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