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Page last updated
Saturday, 18-May-2013

obsUnplugged - showcase for singers and acoustic artists 2013

This page is part of the music section

Read our review of the OBS Unplugged showcase gigs prior to the two finale events

obsUnplugged was a series of music events intended to showcase singers and acoustic artists from the Leicester area and further afield. The programme was held at the Musician in January and February 2013.

See our reviews of the obsUnplugged for 2013 | obsUnplugged reports for 2012

On this page: | obsUnplugged Finale part 1 | obsUnplugged Finale part 2 | History of the obsUnplugged |

obsUnplugged had two finale shows: 2nd February and 9th February

Part 1 - Saturday 2nd February

By Trevor Locke and John Wray

Acts in order of performance

Matt Humphries

Leo Kai

Pamella Moo

Melanie Page

Little Dead Town

Stop That Train

Moccasin Mile

The Fallows

The Simpletones

Dan Wright

Siobhan Mazzie

Carlos Stein

the audience at the musician

Outside the Musician, people were queuing to get inside. That is not something one sees every day in Leicester's live music scene. Inside preparations were under way for the twelve acts that were to follow. With acts running from 7:30 until 12:45, this was set to be a marathon showcase of acoustic talent.

The audience began to file in and soon the room the room was full; with fans who had come to support their favourite artists, the many musicians that were performing tonight and others who were there because they had been or would be involved in the hugely successful obsUnplugged shows.

Watch this YouTube Video of the show made by Philip Vernon

Eventually all was made ready and the first singer took to the stage.

Matt Humphries, aged 13, already a singer and songwriter, began to fill the room with his robust voice. Singing well, with listenable tones in his voice, the young artist soon captured the attention of the packed house - performing with an easy confidence that many much older people found difficult to muster.

Despite his tender years, his voice was strong but the songs lacked the depth that would be found with more mature performers. He delivered some of his own songs and some covers, which he rendered well, though not with the interpretative quality that we would hear from many of those that followed him.

It was most commendable that the organisers of these shows had not set age limits, giving opportunities to young and upcoming artists as well as veteran performers. Matt Humphries was one of the youngest artists to take to the stage in this year's series of shows. It is easy to imagine that if this young artist continues along the path on which he might now be set, that, in future years, we will see the emergence of a singer and songwriter of some eminence.

With this clear articulation (which made all the words of his songs easy to follow) and his ability to deliver listenable music, he did not find it difficult to capture the attention of the growing crowd of people in the room.

His medley of songs from Oasis was enjoyable enough, but more capable singers would have imbued these well known classics with their own mark, their own stamp of artistry, making the songs their own and indeed in might well be that we will one day hear the Matt Humphries version of Wonder wall.

For now, we had to be content with a competent rendition that was fairly close to the original. This is where the shows begins to unravel what the art of song is all about - the ability to write new material the like of which has not been heard before (Siobhan Mazzei) or interpretative reworkings that throw new light on songs (Leo Kai).

See Matt Humphries on Facebook

This is a theme to which we will return as the review progresses. If we were to survey the two hundred people who came through the door that night , we would find many different reasons for being there. The over-riding goal of a musical event is to entertain those who had paid to get in. At the ticket rate of 42p per act, tonight's show was undoubtedly good value for money. I observed that most of the people stayed for most of the evening.

Some people go to music events to support their friends on the stage; some go because they are devoted to live music and want to sample what Leicester has to offer; a few, like myself, go there to work and our approach is far more analytical than most.

singer leo kai

A singer whose work I had experienced in one of the earlier shows was Leo Kai. As with his previous performance, he used his voice well, using vocal techniques that suggested he had a fair helping of skill to bring to the craft of singing.

What drew one into his performance was his feeling and passion for his music and a tangible ability for expression; if you watched him on stage you could live the emotion of the songs with him. As with his previous performance, Leo sang Payphone, explaining that "my version sounds nothing like the original."

It's like watching a film that is 'loosely based' on a book you have read, where the story is similar but where there are considerable variations in the theme, the story and its characters. Leo builds on the song and explores new ways of listening to it.

Using a variety of percussive techniques - tapping and knocking on the body of the guitar - Leo added an extra layer of sound into his working of the strings, a technique we would encounter again during Siobhan Mazzei's set.

Leo also demonstrated one further technical skill that might not be obvious to everyone - his ability to use the microphone appropriately (something we would see later when the Simpletones were on stage.) Not perhaps something that would catch everyone's attention but an element of musical artistry that would catch the eye of someone like me.

By eight o'clock the room was packed and the area in front of the stage was heaving with a dense throng of people. Leo Kai delivered his set of songs with panache, revealing his character and personality, allowing us to get to know him as a person and artist.

He had only twenty minutes to give people a flavour of his repertoire, but certainly managed it well. However, twenty minutes was not a long time for many of tonight's artists. Not long enough for them to fully reveal the full extent of their capabilities. Many hoped instead to create set lists that were sufficient for those who had not seen them before to get the idea of what they were about, so that they might resolve to see them again at a later date.

See Leo Kai on Facebook

Another thing for which congratulations are in order is the eclectic nature of the obs Unplugged events. The organisers have not just limited themselves to a slice of Leicester's musical cake; rather, they have been intent on offering audiences the whole lot. Purists might insist that such acoustic shows be confined to the established tenets of folk; not so the obs, where rappers shared the stage with barbershop quartets and alternative artists are given the freedom to push the boundaries as far as they please.

This was no X-Factor karaoke competition of pop devotees. A wide spectrum of musical styles has been encountered in our journey through these shows.

In a sharp volte-face in style, our ears were treated next to the delectable tones of Pamella Moo. Taking to the stage with her guitar accompanist, her razor sharp voice and set of deliciously smooth musical cocktails were as richly vibrant as they were colourful.

We have heard some remarkable female singers over the course of these concerts but Pamella Moo must certainly be in the Premier League of Leicester's female vocalists. A fine singer, she and her guitarist delivered a quality set. A tad lounge for some tastes perhaps, but entertaining nonetheless.

Her silky take on the Kinks' Sunny Afternoon was a high point. For most of the night the sound system was as faultless (as it had been throughout the series of shows.) However, some occasional wailing feedback here and there was a little annoying, as was the constant chattering of the crowd towards the back of the room (much more of the latter and much less of the former.)

Melanie Page began her set with a somewhat dark and funereal tone, her acoustic guitar backed by a haunting electric. Her sound, employing pedals to create atmospheric, echoing effects, was like a more solemn Fleet Foxes; whilst her voice was akin to a darker yet softer Eva Cassidy.

An interesting change of pace for the night and an original, exciting performance. The three musicians that comprised Little Dead Town consisted of a guitarist and male and female singers. Their set of fast-paced acoustic pop featured the charismatic voice of the lead singer, balanced against the softer tones of the girl vocalist. Added to their cover of Time, they presented their own songs and the second half of their set was passionate and at times powerful.

Watch this video of LDT on Facebook

A young group of musicians took to the stage next; Stop That Train was a trio comprising two acoustic guitarists and a bass player. Lead singer Geno Lynch was backed vocally by the bassist and the combination of their voices added an appealing vocal layer to the tunes.

In the bustle of the packed audience, their somewhat 'lo-fi' songs lacked punch but the compelling ska rhythms of some of their songs carried them through and won over their audience. Whilst they tended to be a little plodding at times, overall their set was appealing and they were not lacking in style.

Their last song rounded off their set very well, the audience clapping along at the start and concluding with a resounding finish. If they need to do anything to improve, it would perhaps be letting themselves go and finding a sparkier delivery. Some tightening up musically would also add to their impact.

Prior to the show I had heard some favourable comments about Moccasin Mile. They have accrued some enthusiastic fans since their first appearance and tonight they capped their previous performance with a very creditable set.

The lead vocalist also played the keyboard, there was a guitarist and a drummer to add body to the songs, exhibiting a fair amount of chemistry as they played together. Their tunes had plenty of power and impact and what they delivered proved popular with the enthusiastic audience.

The voices of the two female singers worked well together and the music had plenty of attack and vigour. Their set built up to a thrilling, stomping country-style climax that left the crowd chanting for more.

The atmosphere grew steadily more enthused as The Fallows took to the stage. The ensemble of bass, violin, two guitars and a kick pedal drum operated by the lead singer powered up a dynamic set for their up-tempo folk offering. A set that was redolent of Mumford and Sons soon had the audience fully engaged. Into this heady cocktail they stirred some soulful refrains of their own and you could see a group of musicians who really enjoyed making music.

The violin work was particularly good and the crowd was doing its best to dance along given the confines of space pressing them all together. It was easy to like their high-octane, free-spirited songs, emphasised with considerable lashings of on-stage charm. Excellent.

Watch this video of The Fallows on Facebook

With the crowd suitably well oiled and excited, the compere announced the next act, complaining that all was ready but he didn't "know where they were." A ruse quickly given away as the fans began a chorus of shhhhhh-ing. In the quietude that followed, marvellous voices began to drift into the room and then the dapperly dressed forms of The Simpletones elbowed their way through the throng and took to four microphones made ready for them.

The past twelve months have been a phenomenal success for Leicester's celebrated Barber-shop Quartet (previously a quintet before the departure of one of their number.) They now have a massive following, having worked incredibly hard not just to tune and hone their considerable vocal skills but to appear frequently in a variety of shows and concerts.

With their impeccable harmonies and four beautifully blended and distinctive voices, they drew hugely enthusiastic responses from the crowd who had been eagerly awaiting this highlight of the night. Their Barber-shop renditions of Old Kentucky Home and An Englishman in New York'were clearly already known to the fans in the room, as with me, and they soon had a lot of people acting as an impromptu backing choir.

Clever vocal basslines were woven into the chorus before they came to their final acapella concoction, made up of songs from the Jungle Book, The Lion Sleeps Tonight ( A-wimoweh)and even Toto's Africa. Singing U2's 'with or without you, and even letting a bit of beat-boxing into the mash-up, made for an impressive showcase of vocal skills.

That was a difficult act to follow. As the cheering for The Simpletones subsided, the compere focussed the crowd's attention on the next singer. Dan Wright's challenge was to hold the attention of the room after what, in the previous gig was the headline slot of the evening.

With an energetic stage presence and set of vibrant up-beat songs, Dan Wright rose to the challenge and soon had the audience fully engaged. A singer with plenty of verve and an appealing set of tunes, he won people over and kept the party going.

The night had already become an unrivalled experience in the musical life of Leicester but it was just about to take yet another step up the ladder. On stage a young woman was standing, guitar at the ready, and compere Sean gave her the cue to begin, saying "... the next act needs no introduction" and Siobhan Mazzei started her set, to the sound of enthusiastic acclaim.

singer siobhan mazzie

And what a set it was! You would think that nothing could upstage The Simpletones but this singer songwriter was something else. Few solo artists would even dream of attempting to cover a song by Slipknot; only someone of the musical stature of Siobhan Mazzei could attempt something of that difficulty; but attempt it she did and delivered a song that was an unique interpretation, the definitive Mazzei version, sprung with lashings of passion and mountains of mood. It was sensational.

The whole set was. Here is an artist with a great voice which she wields with jaw-dropping agility, a voice, that has character and a personality behind it, of considerable attractiveness. It is easy to see why she is celebrated as one of Leicester's top singer songwriters.

There is only one word to sum up a performance like that: magical.

See this Youtube Video of Siobhan performing at the show.

Waiting in the wings, since seven o'clock, enjoying the work of the other artists, but confined to watery refreshments, was the final act of tonight's epic event. Such is the mark of this dedicated artist that Carlos Stein, a stalwart of the alternative music movement, carefully prepared his kit at the front of the stage as the exhausted audience headed for the doors.

An act with some admirers, he did however retain a group of those who, like over-feasted banqueters, could still not resist a little dessert. Carlos indefatigably delivered some his cherished pieces, including Big Fat Bankers (to which some readily joined in with the well known chorus of Big Fat Bankers, Big Fat Cats - give it back).

An act with considerable idiosyncrasy, Carlos rounded off the night with his cynical and humorous take on contemporary life, ringing the cycle bell on his mic stand to summon the attention of the sound desk as he grappled with the complexities of his unusual assemblage of instruments and loop pedals.

As the echoes of Fast Food died into the night, this extraordinary night of music finally came to an end and it was time to wander into the cold and dank streets of the city centre in search of the last open pizza takeaway.

Watch Carlos Stein performing Big Fat Bankers at the show

Watch Carlos Stein performing Fast Food at the show

After five hours of sound it was a relief to clear one's head and relax the ears. If next week's finale will be anything like the one we had witnessed tonight, it will be, without doubt, an unmissable event for those unable to join us tonight.

See photos from the show, on Facebook 1

See photos from the show, on Facebook 2

See the photo album on obsUnplugged's page 1

See the photo album on obsUnplugged's page 2

Our photos from the part 1 finale show

Photos © ArtsIn Productions

See also photos from the shows on obsUnplugged's Facebook page

Part 2 - Saturday 9th February - at the Musician

Scroll down to see photos from the show

On tonight's line-up were Scarlet Fix, Theo Miller, Jonezy, A Night Underwater, Yakobo, Hannah Haley, The Native, Tacy and Chapman, Secret Stagecoach Society, Kiera Lawson, Martha Bean and Adam Dunmore.

martha bean trio on stage

The second finale show, brought to a conclusion this year's obs Unplugged programme of shows. All the concerts were held at the Musician venue and all were well attended events.

Tonight's show witnessed a full house, although not as full as the last one, this one being more comfortable than the last one, I thought. I dubbed the whole thing A festival of song; the organisers take on it was that it was "not a competition", insisting that it was a showcase of talent. My take on it was that it was a festival, an event that brings together artists and their fans to celebrate singing and acoustic music.

What ever it might be called, obs Unplugged was a success and one that contributed something valuable to Leicester's live music scene. Singing and acoustic music is now well represented in our local area; it always has been, but in recent years there was been a growth in the number of gifted artists active in this style and type of music and an increase in the number of live music events at which they can perform.

As with all musical communities, there was a playing field of talent - from very young but remarkably gifted newbies, through to the mature, established 'oldies' and Unplugged had no age barriers. We saw very very promising young teenagers taking to the stage, at the beginning of their musical careers and many will want to follow their progress over the next few years to see what happens.

There was also an open approach to genre. Unplugged is to be congratulated for opening up the concept of 'acoustic' to hip-hop, rappers performing on line-ups with more conventional approaches and there were opportunities for those from an alternative background to be heard alongside those who occupy the more mainstream areas.

Most of the critical analysis of the shows focussed on the definition of 'unplugged.'. This is a term that has its defining properties - from the traditionalists through to the more pragmatist positions and obs positioned itself more at the later end of that range.

The series of twenty or so shows ruled out fully electric bands but allowed a flexible interpretation of the unpluggedness of what was seen on stage. Some ensembles were very definitely plugged in to the array of microphones, amplifiers and electrical paraphernalia of the modern musical stage and the odd electric guitar was permitted over the more conventional acoustic version.

This was a pragmatic approach which responded well to the needs of the performers and the requirement to ensure that the music could be heard very clearly in this particular venue, with its long auditorium and full crowds, often noted for their noisiness.

In that respect, all of the shows worked well with constant congratulations to the team of sound engineers who ensured that the amplification and mixing was of the highest standards to be found in Leicester.

On a small number of occasions, a few artists demonstrated their skills by stepping away from the microphones, unplugging their guitars and showing what real unplugged is like (ala real ale.). On those occasions, we were all impressed by their bravery and happily gratified by their success. To be able to pull off a fully unplugged song is like performing in the nude (metaphorically speaking) and to succeed at this is most assuredly the mark of a very able singer.

Modern technology showed its face when people were asked to tweet their comments during the show to #obsplugged and some of the resulting transmissions were read out by the compere. We noted the percentage of audience members with smart phones in their hands and the faces that could frequently be seen, lit up by blue glows, throughout the show.

a night under water band on stage

At 7.30 p.m. the first act took to the stage. Scarlet Fix were on first. Three young ladies, seated on the stage and projecting their beautifully harmonised voices into the microphones. Like a choir of angels they filled the room with sweetness, one of them playing the guitar to add some instrumental accompaniment into the set.

Their softly melodious vocals gave a delightful start to the evening. Singing their own songs, they were also like a female version of the Simpletones, although, without the stage presence.

A very polished performance but lacking in colour and vibrancy, it tended to be somewhat lo-fi, where a more rousing start might have been better. Very pleasant.

The bar was raised when Theo Miller took to the stage. A singer who is well know in Leicester and one that this magazine has covered several times before, his performance gave the audience a very agreeable voice and set of lyrical songs that stood out.

Theo's set of songs were very Theo Miller and if you know his work it is easy to see what that means. For those seeing him for the first time, they heard a young man with a fine voice, delivering evocative lyrics. For one of his songs, Theo was joined on stage by Jessica, whose voice blended beautifully with Theo's.

Expression and feeling were in plentiful supply throughout this set, with excellent vocalisation being accompanied by equally excellent string playing.

At one point Theo left the stage and sang to the audience, fully unplugged. A difficult feat that few had been brave enough to attempt, but Theo conquered it magnificently. The hushed room was able to hear the full colour and timbre of his voice as he delivered flawless vocals without the aid of stage monitors.

It was not long before some singers in the crowd were joining in with the choruses and the end of his set was greeting with enthusiastic acclaim. A set that was, in a word, impressive.

The musical style of the evening changed completely when the next act took to the stage. As the compere said, by way of introduction, "we like to vary things here at obs".

Our ears changed gear from melodic indie to hop-hip as rapper Jonezy pumped up the volume with his set of energised beats and spits. If Jonezy has done anything , over the past two years of his amazingly busy musical career, it has been to popularise rap, especially to the overwhelmingly rock-oriented audiences of Leicester.

The Loughborough rapper had clearly done a lot of preparation for his appearance tonight - making sure that his CDs and cards were in good supply throughout the venue.

By this time the crowd had increased to its full extent. Jonezy's challenge was to win the admiration of people who would not normally listen to this style of music. With his effervescent stage craft, lively and positive material, set of compelling backing tracks and up-beat lyrics, Jonezy did this.

Tonight Jonezy treated us a brand new song - always a good sign when an artist is creating new material and willing to try it out on an important live session. Even though we were all hearing it for the first time, many were soon clapping along to the infectious beats. The crowd began chanting along with the chorus; "stronger now" is very much what the Jonezy experience is about - positive, uplifting lyrics and ideas.

It was reminiscent of a an evangelical revival where everyone is on stage with the guy at the front. The rocket-fuelled rapper soon got the house moving with his 'get funky' track. "Get Funky. Get Crazy. This is how we do it baby" he chanted. Corny perhaps but I think a good few got the vibe.

This hard working and busy artist takes his work seriously and for him any opportunity to entertain a group of people is not to be missed. Having previously appeared on the Unplugged stage, singer Aaron Stratton valiantly joined Jonezy on stage for One Nation, despite an obviously sore throat. It was a set of melodies with messages. He left the stage to enthusiastic applause. Highly enjoyable.

It was very gratifying indeed to see the return of the group A Night Underwater, one of the most exiting new bands to appear on the Leicester circuit in recent months.

The five musicians, also from Loughborough, had a clear chemistry and their front man ( David Whayman) has a strong singing voice and enough presence to deliver it with resonance.

Their energised songs work well, whether in the acoustic format or as a full electric band and their tight playing and instrumental craftsmanship made them one of the more outstanding guitar bands within their idiom.

Not much in the way of vocal layering from the rest of the musicians, which might have been a weakness, but that was well made up for by the vitality and resonance of their lead singer.

I liked this band and (judging from the reaction of the room tonight) something tells me I'm not the only one.

Well orchestrated instrumentals brought the songs alive and there was a generous dose of magnetism in what they did. Some deliciously evocative passages in their songs were counterpoised with punchy bars to deliver exhilarating tunes that tingled the spine on more than occasion. Marvellous.

I was not familiar with the work of Yakoba before tonight; based on their performance, I will definitely want to be. The quintet of keyboard player, six string bassist, lead singer/guitarist and female vocalist and drummer worked together well to provide a set of impeccable songs that set high standards for the evening.

After a mood-setting introduction, they set off at a brisk canter for their first song. Easily bearing a festival-level vibe, shot through with lashings of catchy riffs, front man James Currey lead his team in a most enjoyable musical offering.

Impeccably enjoyable.

Fourteen year Hannah Haley wowed the house; she opened with an energetic song, standing up to play her guitar and projecting her fulsome voice into the rostrum mic. She soon caught the audience up in her performance, even though she appeared to have to read some of her lyrics from a prompt sheet on a nearby stool but easily made up up for this with one of her very brisk songs where she demonstrated remarkable agility at pouring out an impression number of words in quick succession.

Her set of original songs were very contemporary in style and, on stage, she projected a confident manner and certainly looked like he was enjoying herself in front of a large crowd, even though she couldn't see most of them, in the glare of the stage lighting.

Her appealing vocal lines had something of a rap feel to them at times, counter-balancing the more melodic passages of song. Whilst a bit rough round the edges at times, her performance was buzzing with vitality and she left the stage to a considerable body of appreciation. Remarkable.

The two artists who appeared next were billed as The Native, but appeared previously as Ben Allen Music, I think. Ben Allen played guitar and Chloe Hayward an electric violin, an S-shaped instrument that made a sound like a real violin and still needed to be played with a conventional bow.

Their set of folksy songs had a bit of a country twinge now and then and, when not playing on her violin, Chloe joined Ben on vocals. Sometimes the two instrumental lines worked well together; at other times not so, according to my tame musicians.

Ben's richly appealing voice carried the set well and overall it was a pleasing 20 minutes. Interesting.

Tacey & Chapman (notice the spelling which we got wrong before) were two guys, Mathew Tacey (who preferred to be seated for his performance, clinging only to the microphone) whilst Eddie Chapman stood to play his guitar.

The duo's lively set of melodic songs was strong on vocal attack and they both had good voices and, judging from one of their remarks, they appear to have a fair history of work behind them as musical artists.

A good performance that went down well with the audience.

Follow Tacey & Chapman on Facebook

The Secret Stagecoach Society, from Leicester, comprised three chaps - Will Sarson. Jamie Pelos and Keith Witchard - who came on stage clutching their guitars. At their previous appearance there was only two of them, one being away at the time.

Some harmonica work was introduced for one of the songs, the two guitarists delivering some well harmonised string playing. Our reviewer at the previous show liked them, commenting that Mother of Pearl was arguably the best song on display all night. Quite an accolade, given the line-up for that night.

If they had a weakness, I would say it was that they didn't sing as a group much, which I would like to have heard because they all had good voices. Their appearance was well supported and appreciated, judging from the enthusiasm of the acclaim as they finished their set.

See the SSS on Facebook

Kiera Lawson was one act that I appreciated at her first Unplugged appearance; so I was gratified to see her again tonight. Kiera has an outstanding voice; if its pure singing you want, then she will supply it ... big time. Her opening song was a jaunty tune that had immediate appeal.

Her skill as a songwriter was also evident. Her crystal clear soprano voice was full of colour and character and her performances at Unplugged have validated her as a soloist of quality and distinction. Wonderful.

See Kiera Lawson on Facebook

Now, the evening was really taking off, as Martha Bean lead her fellow musicians on the stage for a set of divine songs that were difficult to rival. Having attended Martha's recent EP launch, I already knew what was to come but loved it nevertheless.

On guitar and vocals was Martha and close by her Cellist, John Bean and Viola player Mirka Arnold. Richly harmonised and blended sounds filled the room for this deliciously lovely musical treat, full of magically orchestrated instrument parts.

Martha has a voice you would never tire of listening to. The trio's set of songs were transportingly enjoyable and laced with haunting melodies, delivering what was for me one of the highlights of the evening.

The last song, taken from the recent EP, was superb.

Martha Bean on Facebook

See Martha Bean band's web site

Watch Martha Bean singing A Piece of this World.

All good things must come to a close. Sadly, by the end of the evening, the audience had thinned out but a small group stayed to support singer Adam Dunmore. I did, because I have known his work for some time and this was an opportunity to see again the performance of this highly likeable singer.

With his distinctly toned voice, he delivered a set of enjoyable songs, backed by equally good string playing on the acoustic guitar. He treated us to Victory Park, a new song with a pleasing instrumental intro and an attractive lyrical story line.

His on-stage manner is pleasant and and despite his long wait to get up to the mic-stand, he delivered his set with his usual affable style and ability to express feelings, no matter how exhausted he or his fans might have been.

Adam also treated us to a much loved song Mexico which I remember from our outing at Christmas in the city centre - Busking for Shelter - and even bowed to insistence from his fans that he tale up the Ukele and sang a song with it, much to the pleasure of those who were still there.

All presented with his usual good humour. Well done Adam Dunmore, you topped off a great evening. Very satisfying.

Adam Dunmore on Facebook

With this 'intimate' set, obs Unplugged 2013 drew to a close.

Photos from the part 2 finale show

Photos © Artsin Productions


This magazine is keen to show its appreciation to the organisers of obs Unplugged for giving music fans in Leicester a programme of well organised shows, featuring a cross section of our local artistic talent.

If we have reservations about any of it, we would confine ourselves to commenting on the two finales. Having two finales was fair enough ... there was certainly no shortage of quality performers to fill two line-ups.

Obs Unplugged has done a good job this year (as in previous years) of reflecting what' s out there - it has it's fingers firmly on the pulse of our local music scene. Putting on 12 acts in one night was not, however, something that, in our view, contributed to a satifying event.

Two much music in one night; lasting for too long without an interval, was an exhausting experience. There is no doubt that the audience enjoyed the shows and all the artists that took part in them.

The two twelfth acts that had stuck it out to the bitter end, however, played to a depleted house. It was also the case that all the acts had only 20 minutes in which to give us the benefit of their skills and in some cases it was somewhat disappointingly short and in several cases the crowd was clearly gasping for more.

Several people commented to us that the finales would have had more impact had they been more selective about which acts were booked for them and would have resulted in a more enjoyable evening had they given more time to some acts and less to others.

If it was a level playing field of timings, it didn't work. Some acts clearly deserved a longer set time than others. A half-time interval would also have helped the audience to enjoy the night more than was the case with the continual on-off programming and might have helped the crowd to be a little quieter. They could perhaps have got some of their conversations out of the way during a break, one speculates.

I don't suppose I will be forgiven for wanting to rant about the over-voluminous DJ sets that were heard between the acts in part 2 (given that the promoter is a professional DJ of some standing) but ... I remarked to a friend that my ears and my brain were wilting under the continuous onslaught of music. "Silence is golden" he rejoined, qualifying it with a judicious " ... to some extent ...", as we discussed the invariable predilection that all live music venues have for interval music.

"Wouldn't it be nice" I commented, "if we could have just the live music, with a breather between the acts to concentrate on conversations about what we have just heard."

Interesting though this topic might be, it's not going to get many salutes from a promoter who is a known DJ whose set lists are always top notch - and, yes, we listened to some of the well known classics coming out of the house speakers as much as any one else.

Rants and gripes aside, the whole series of shows was a considerable contribution to the musical life of Leicester.

obs Unplugged on Facebook

Dates of previous shows

Weds 2nd January

Nuala Bennett Wilford
Carys Gill
Jason Smith
Chris Moody
Little Dead Town
Andrew Buckley
Melanie Page

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Thu 3rd January

The Brass Bears (rescheduled)
Carlos Stein
Ruthie Coles
Matthew Bloomfield
Cernewoda (did not perform)
Matt Humphries

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There have been some changes to the listings previously published, below.

Fri 4th January

Just Paul
Find Pocket Girl
Carl Balinger
Joseph Lofthouse
Hot Frolics
The Simpletones
Skunk Boy Project

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Sat 5th January

Simon Clancy
Blue Sky Goodbye
Kiera Lawson
Michael Vickers
Rude Angel
Scarlet Fix
Nile McCgreggor
Aaron Stratton

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Sun 6th January

Crisis Music
Jake Manning
Josh Kemp
The Fallows

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Weds 9th January

Tom Kane
Ash Francis
Laurie Coultas
The Ruby Doos
Corinne Lucy
Kismet Hardy
Mocassin Mile

Thu 10th January

Becky Edwards
A Night Underwater
Without Doubt
Tony Alles
Kenneth J Nash
Dan Wright
Lee Enstone

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Wed 16th January

Brass Bears
Rebecca Woolman
Nina Rubesa
John Fryer
Rosa Leigh
Ian Bourne
Ben Allen
Rainy Day Gallery

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Thu 17th January

Theo Miller
David Parkin
Pamella Moo
Ade Payne
Martha Bean
Ashley Chittock
Siobhan Mazzei
Secret Stagecoach Society

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New date

Friday 25th January

Lee Spencer
Tacey and Chapman
Naomi Perera
The Fallows
Hannah Hayley
Lacky C
Document Closed (duo)

Details of the acts, that actually performed on the night, might have changed from the above; check Facebook events pages for the most up to date information.

History of obsUnplugged

2013 - the 3rd obsUnplugged

2012 - the second obsUnplugged

2011 - the first obsUnplugged

Other pages you might like:

Our section on singers

OBS for bands 2012

OBS for bands 2011

OBS for bands 2010

OBS for bands 2009

Thomas Sheppard at obsUnplugged 2011

Videos of artists performing at the obsUnplugged in 2011


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