Jonny & The Baptists – Leicester Cookie – Wednesday 7th February 2018

February – a month in which the beers are flowing in Leicester. Comedians head to the city to check if their half-baked ideas might have any mileage before launching them onto Edinburgh in August. It’s not all work in progress at the Comedy festival though and for the last few years I’ve seen some great acts whilst reviewing for the local daily paper, the Mercury. 

 

I think this review of mine from the Jonny & The Baptists show I saw on Wednesday night was in Friday’s printed paper. But I can’t find it online anywhere so I’ll publish here…

 (Click on page 2 to read the review)

Sophia Marshall – Fire

Part of my reason for wanting to see Blue Rose Code at Leicester’s Cookie last week was that the support acts were so top-notch. 

I forgot that gigs start (and finish) a tad earlier at the Cookie than they do at other venues in town (step forward The Musician) so managed to miss half of the set from Sophia Marshall. But in the four tunes that I did see I knew that a Sonic Breakfast post was long overdue. 

Back in the days when I first moved to Leicester, The HaveNots were the talk of the town. Liam and Sophie were Leicester’s great Americana hope. Friends and I listened avidly to Bob Harris’ Radio 2 show in the hope that their classy cuts of love-swept Alt-country got an airing. It was hard to miss them around the city, especially if, like me, you were a regular gig goer down at the Musician.

I saw the HaveNots play outside of Leicester as well. Ollie, my son, was seven when we headed down to Larmer Tree in North Dorset for his first ever festival. We both watched, sat in a packed-out tent, as Liam and Sophie charmed all gathered. Liam made reference to Ollie from the stage, how it was his first festival and how exciting it must have been for a young lad of seven. Ollie’s now touching twenty-one. The years have flown. 

(Click on page 2 to be bought bang up to date)

Blue Rose Code – Ebb And Flow

A cold, grey wintry Monday morning and it’s hard to think that ‘everything is alright’. It’d no doubt be easier to hibernate under the bed covers until the next tint of blue creeps through my curtains. It’s so easy to say that I can’t be bothered with today.

But that’s hardly adopting the principle of ‘Carpe Diem’. I can grumble as much as I like but the truth is I’ve got a fair bit to live for at the moment – the progression towards redundancy; getting the house ready for rental and the year of living in Spain. It’s not looking at things through rose tinted specs to say that today is full of opportunity.

And as I grasp these thoughts I pull back my curtains and see some blue sky.

I’m drawn to this uplifting tune and new video from Blue Rose Code.

Blue Rose Code, aka acclaimed singer-songwriter Ross Wilson, released his latest album, The Water Of Leith, in Autumn 2017. It met with some top-notch reviews from Folk, Acoustic and Americana magazines all declaring that this was Wilson’s best release to date. The previous ones had hardly been flops. 

(See what Sonic Breakfast thinks by clicking on page 2)

Meilyr Jones – The Cookie – October 7th 2016

It’s something of a travesty that Meilyr Jones has not been the featured artist on Sonic Breakfast before. I can’t exactly work out why that is.

I first saw him play live at the fab Port Eliot festival in 2015. My eFestivals review of that can be found here. Essentially, I note that “I sit in the front row of two as Meilyr, slightly nervously, marks out his star quality for all to see. It’s just him behind a keyboard for this set and it’s another Port Eliot musical moment of which there are many.”

Later in that same summer, I see the gentle giant at Festival No. 6 (review here). Within that review, I say that, “Huw Stephens could probably have redeemed himself if he had mentioned Meilyr Jones after Catfish and the Bottlemen. I’d previously seen Meilyr do a solo set at another festival and so realised that his songs and intensity of performance mark him out as one for the future. With a full band, the impact is even greater. Sitting somewhere between Pulp and Orange Juice, Meilyr captivates all who watch him at the Estuary stage. There’s a swimming/paddling pool in this small arena that looks out to sea. It’ll be hard to keep up with this Jones.

This year, I saw him again at Port Eliot. My comments then dispatch even more praise – “Last year, the wonderful Meilyr Jones played a solo set in front of four punters (I was one) and the girls from Stealing Sheep. This year, the ‘Caught By The River’ tent is packed out for a full band performance. It’s joyful, uplifting and theatrical, delivered by a frontman with astonishing grace and style.

So – the point I’m making is that I’m quite impressed by Meilyr. Throw in the fact that his debut album, 2013, will certainly be in my top three for this year and it’s quite an omission to have not written about him to date on Sonic Breakfast. 

On Friday night, I saw him play in Leicester at the Cookie. I was expecting this to be a packed out show but double bookings led to some confusion as to whether he was playing or not. The room might have only been half full but Meilyr and band didn’t seem at all phased. In fact, they used it to their advantage.

There’s something angelic and choral about Meilyr when he stands tall, hands behind his back and produces the sweetest of sound. When he ditches the microphone and stands amidst the crowd to sing, there’s a hushed awe in the room. This is astonishing stuff. Every time that I’ve seen him live something new is added into the mix. Effortlessly, he’s able to work with his surrounds to make the greatest of impressions. 

The tour continues. You really should get a glimpse of this gentleman whilst you still can. 

 

 

 

The Big Moon & Virgin Kids – Nottingham Bodega Social Club – 30th March 2016

In a couple of weeks, I plan to nip along to The Cookie,one of my favourite venues in Leicester, to see The Big Moon. I’ll pull together 350 words or so about the night that’ll hopefully be published within the Leicester Mercury. In terms of content, it’ll be more concise than this waffling piece.

On Wednesday night, I had opportunity for a dry run; on the first night of their first ever headline tour, the London based four piece are playing in Nottingham at the fab Bodega Social. By chance, I’m here with my day job so a sneak preview beckons. It’d be rude not to. 

First impressions of a fuzzed-up Bangles fade slightly as the set progresses. It feels lame to draw comparisons with another all female band but I think the likeness just about holds. And at least I haven’t mentioned Throwing Muses, Belly or L7 as yet. As it is, this is a band not afraid to throw a Madonna cover into their mix (an exuberant Brilliant Stranger) so I’m sure they’re aware of their antecedents. 

I’m a bit fed up of seeing up and coming touring bands who play so hard at being ‘cool’ that they seem unable to enjoy the experience. Such accusation cannot be levelled at The Big Moon. Indeed, bassist Celia Archer, who does much of the between song jabber, is positively skipping with happiness. This adds to the charm. Tight and blissful, summer-fuelled harmonies tingle and shimmer through your core. Here we have a thoroughly modern Motown girl troupe, bounced through a scuzzed-up indie blender.

There’s a smell of wet dog in the air amidst the crowd. Lads with pudding bowl haircuts stare on with such awkward, spectrum-rubbing focus that I wonder if deodorant has been forgotten from their routine. It’s either that or somebody has wet themselves. I move towards the front just in time to catch the opening strains of new single, Cupid.

It’s undeniably one of the set highlights. The quality of this and a song (potentially called Pull The Other One) so new that this Nottingham crowd are the first to hear it suggests that there’s some longevity in The Big Moon story. They’re clearly growing in stature and confidence with each song they write. 

The same might also be true for the main support of the night, Virgin Kids, although so tall and gangly is their hair bun-wearing bass player that he definitely doesn’t need any more height on him. Unaware of his personal space, he auditions for a role in the ‘guild of incredibly tall men who make it their business to stand right in front of you thus blocking your view’. 

Minor quibbles aside, they do the business on stage with workmanlike skill. They give us a dynamic and punkish London thing. At times, the three piece almost veer towards the pre-punk, sweaty bar-room blues rock of Dr Feelgood but then project us forward into a more Libertine-like swagger. I mark them as ones I’ll see again and, given that they’re supporting The Big Moon throughout this tour, that chance will come again soon. 

Wishing both bands the best for the next couple of weeks and I’ll definitely look forward to hearing about the touring adventures when they arrive in Leicester on the 8th April. You should catch them on this tour if you can. 

 

 

Guy Jones – Leicester Cookie – Thursday March 3rd 2016

I’ve been submitting lots of reviews to the Leicester Mercury recently. Mostly, they seem to appreciate my efforts and to publish my thoughts within the paper. Sometimes, they’ll post my reviews on line as well. I’m doing this with one main aim in mind. I think that supporting live music, especially gigs that are happening locally, is a really important thing to do. If people are more aware of the quality and vibrancy that occurs every night in our fair city, perhaps they’ll be more inclined to venture out themselves. 

Last week, I reviewed an old friend of Sonic Breakfast, Guy Jones, at the Cookie. The Mercury might have printed this but I didn’t spot it so I’ll copy here instead. 

 Guy Jones, the travelling troubadour, has made the relatively short trip from Halesowen, to charm us at the Cookie on a Thursday night. His special brand of Americana-fuelled songwriting is amplified and electrified by a tight and talented quad of musicians. Guy grew up in West Brom so this is Country music formed in the Black Country streets. We respond by lapping it up, albeit politely.

It’s by and large a gentle affair. The room, laid out in a cabaret seating style, allows us to relax as the weekend approaches. Guy has a laidback, natural manner and does his best to draw us in with pleasant singalongs and simple handclaps. Guy sings about real love; he has  a song about friends who grew up bullied; a song about people he’s met whilst touring the States and a song about how he’s grown from a spurned, chubby teenager to a young man able to capture his girl’s heart. 

These tunes (and others) will all be found on Guy’s forthcoming album that’s due for release in May. It’s a sign of the high regard that Guy’s fans hold him in that this was fully funded through a Pledge campaign. Recorded in New York, it’s going to be crammed full of the melodies and harmonies that Whispering Bob Harris and other Radio 2 sorts are likely to praise highly.

Credit for the harmonies at this gig needs to go to Guy’s keyboard player, Kerry Smyth. Their voices weld together with such robustness that it’s very easy to get drawn into this world. Earlier in the evening, Kerry had given us a set of her own songs and covers. She’s a younger Beverley Craven but entertaining enough. Local lad, Reuben Wisner, opened the show with considerable craft and skill. Acoustic pickings, polite audience singalongs and occasional tracks with loops and layering are Reuben’s thing. It sets the mood for the evening well. 

But the night belongs to Guy. Confident without being cocky, this is optimistic and cleansing. Affable and tender, good-natured and nice, we drift away into the night hoping that Guy made enough on the Merch desk to get home to Halesowen. 

 

Fickle Friends & Clean Cut Kid – O2 Academy Leicester – February 7th & other stuff

It’s been quite a week. Some regular readers of Sonic Breakfast will know that the lack of blog posts over the past week has not been due to laziness on my part. 

Dave’s Leicester Comedy Festival is running and I’ve committed to a pretty hefty amount of show reviews for the Leicester Mercury. To date, 5 of my comedy reviews have gone to print.  There’s links to them here.. 

(1) George Egg at the Western

(2) Bruce Edhouse at the Cookie

(3) Ian Hall at the Cookie

(4) Ed Aczel at the Criterion

(5) Sarah Kendall at the Cookie

On Sunday night, I took a break from the laughs to go and see Fickle Friends and Clean Cut Kid at the O2 academy (Mercury review here). I last saw Fickle Friends at Liverpool Sound City a couple of years back. That was towards the end of a long, crazy day of live music and I might have been a bit jaded then. They were better on Sunday.

Clean Cut Kid clearly have quite a bit of backing behind them. I think I could see why. But my motivation for wanting to see them was a bit different. My younger brother, James, told me recently that him and his wife, Saf, had once had members of Clean Cut Kid around to their house for dinner. James and Saf are fine, sensible people and the thought of them having a rock n’roll band around for dinner felt a little odd.

 

It still does feels odd. Clean Cut Kid swore on stage, had masses of facial hair and wanted us to dance like our lives depended upon it. 

Sometimes though (and this is a theme that’s been repeated time and time again in the comedy shows I’ve seen), things aren’t always worth trying to understand too much.