There are weeks in Leicester when your average gig goer is spoilt for choice. Bands on the up and those with a national profile descend into town with their entourage in tow. On such weeks, it’s easy to forget about the successful local acts who are working hard throughout the year for our leisure pleasure. But we forget at our peril. To do so means we might miss nights such as the one at the Donkey on Friday night.
Idle Empire are the headliners. Last year, they won the Original Bands Showcase and they continue to develop that healthy reputation. The venue’s pretty busy; everyone’s enthusiastic for this brand of energetic, hip indie folk. Alex Oxley proves himself a fine frontman, charming and smiley with a decent dose of brash. The rest of the band all play their parts (and instruments well). From frolics on the fiddle through to double bass plucking, this is a set that encourages communal singalongs and dynamic dancing. They offer a T-Shirt for the best dancer during one tune and the competition is fierce.
Idle Empire have got some excellent tunes of their own; the black comedy of The Occasional Text stands out as a highlight. But it’s in their inclusive cover versions of unlikely tracks that they excel most. Girls Aloud and The Jungle Book are pilfered from before wrapping up the trilogy with an Arctic Monkey’s classic.
Support for the evening comes from The Whiskey Rebellion and Michael Vickers. The Whiskey Rebellion are full of fiddling folk energy and made for festivals where it’s cool to dress as a pirate and sing sea shanties whilst drinking from a flagon. Michael Vickers is a singer-songwriter who is clearly well versed in the chord changes of Lennon & McCartney.
“I’ve just discovered a new favourite Leicester band”, said a punter to me on leaving the Donkey. It’s true that Idle Empire are a talented troupe and definitely ones to keep our eyes on. The whole evening has been a rip-roaring success.