The Lovely Eggs – Soundhouse Leicester – October 28th

My great friend, Paul Champion, knows his eggs from his onions. I was away in Lincoln this weekend just gone at the wonderful 2Q festival. Sadly, it clashed with the return of Lancaster’s finest, The Lovely Eggs, to Leicester. They’re a band that I’ve been keen to feature on Sonic Breakfaat for some time. Paul’s also a fan (and a fine writer) so he went along to review for me.

(Click on page 2 for the review)

 

Gladness – The Ultimate Madness tribute act

When I was a younger man, I had a well-considered aversion to the phenomenon of ‘tribute’ acts. As the rage grew for copycat behaviour, I was left cold by the prospect. I wanted the new, the exciting and the unique. I didn’t want my treasured ‘memories’ when first hearing a piece of music to be somehow diminished or sullied by John Lennon or Freddie Mercury wannabes.

I tried to get over myself and went to the very first Glastonbudget, a festival in these parts that’s largely dedicated to the tribute. I couldn’t get on with it despite a grudging acknowledgement that T-Rextasy were great (and I’d never get to see Marc Bolan do his thing for real). I chuckled when Coolplay played Coldplay’s new single three days after it was released. It was the first time I’d heard it – and that felt all sorts of topsy-turvy. 

It’s fair to say that my aversion has calmed (a bit) with age. A couple of years back, I went to see a Queen tribute (endorsed for quality by Roger Taylor). And I found myself carried along with the crowd’s enthusiasm. Similarly at this year’s Bestival (my eFestivals review here), I was most charitable about The Smiths Ltd. Their Morrissey and Marr combo was accurate and suitably miserable. 

It was with some trepidation that I headed along to Leicester’s Music Cafe on Friday night to see Gladness, the ultimate Madness tribute act. A great friend of mine over a number of years, Jon O’Neill, sings with the band and I know a few of the other members as well. It could have been awkward if I’d had to make my excuses and leave early with a nasty dose of tributitis. 

(Click on page 2 to see my Gladness review)

Meadowlark – Sunlight

I’m really looking forward to Wednesday night. This summer of festivals has meant that I’ve not been able to spend nearly enough time going out to gigs in Leicester, my hometown city. When I discovered that Meadowlark, an act that I featured in Sonic Breakfast’s dim and distant past (here), were playing at the Shed, it felt like an obvious thing to do to get myself a ticket. 

(Click on page 2 to read more about Meadowlark and The Shed)

Idle Empire – The Donkey – March 31st 2017

Last Friday evening, I went along to the Donkey in Leicester to watch Idle Empire. I first saw them as an acoustic duo back in the days when I was involved in compering OBS showcases. A friend, Laura, who I’d not seen for some time got in touch with me out of the blue and asked if I’d go along – for she’s now managing them.

 

The Leicester Mercury appears to be publishing more of my reviews again (albeit for bigger shows like Rick Astley at De Montfort Hall) so I thought I’d send a write-up of this gig into the paper. To my knowledge it’s not been used. Phil Bull took some great photos from the evening that are also gathering dust. Waste not, want not.. It’s not my best writing ever but let’s add it to a Sonic Breakfast. 

(Click on page 2 for the review and more pics from Phil)

Oliver Sean – New York

I’m not as knowledgeable as many about the Leicester music scene – but it is the city I live in and, as such, you do tend to hear about the locally based acts with an international profile. It’s really hard to get my head around the fact that somebody played on VH1 and with MTV awards might be ‘anonymously’ living in our midst.

So, it was something of a surprise when the new music of Oliver Sean was thrust under my nose via musicsubmit, a U.S. based promotions company. They often send me tunes to listen to and then link me up directly with the artists I like. Oliver Sean is a chap from Oadby, Leicestershire.

And he has a name that would lodge in my head. It’s not something I’d easily forget. My nineteen year old son is called Oliver and his middle name is Sean. Coincidence can account for so much but this seemed beyond that. I wondered if somebody was winding me up.

(Click on page 2 to find out if it is a wind-up)

Nikki Pope – A preview

I’m back from Eurosonic in Groningen. Now the hard work begins as I piece together the jigsaw of events in an attempt to make a coherent review for eFestivals. Suffice to say, I’ll be singing the praises of a fantastic event.

 Forgive me if the blog goes quiet for a few days whilst I’m working on that. The day job remains busy and I don’t have a massive amount of spare time. I did want to publish this piece first though.

 Jono has been a friend for a number of years. He’s a man to know in Leicester with his finger in many pies. I don’t know much about studios but friends with more expertise than I’ve got tell me that his studio (Yellowbean) is one of the best-equipped and supportive across the Midlands. Jono sings in a Madness tribute band, Gladness; he has the trust and ear of Dean Jackson, the excellent BBC Introducing DJ for the East Midlands (who I once blogged about here). Every year, he organises a fab skiing trip for mates (I went one year and, in truth, struggled on the slopes). Jono’s an avid Leicester City FC fan and a very friendly and sociable guy. In truth, he’s one of the good people on this planet and I ought to drink beer with him more than I do.

 So, when a stranger gets in touch with you saying that they’re a friend of Jono’s and he’s sent them your way, you sit up and listen.

(To find out more about that stranger click on page 2)

Curse Of Lono – Saturday Night

On balance, it was probably a good thing that the gig I was due to go to on Monday night was cancelled. It’s been a hectic sort of non-stop week, one in which sleep has been at a premium, so another late night watching headliners, Uncle Lucius, and support, Curse Of Lono, might have been pushing these weary bones too far. 

But, there’s no getting away from the disappointment. I was sent a promo copy of the Curse Of Lono EP, Saturday Night, a couple of weeks ago and the four tunes on it have rapidly become favourites when driving in my car. On a recent trip to Liverpool, I listened over and over again to this distinct mix of Americana, siphoned through a seedy London backstreet. Passengers in the car chuckled over the perversities voiced within the title track whilst I was drawn to the skewed sadness and sentiment of ‘He Takes My Place’.

I had some vague knowledge of Hey Negrita, the previous band that the founder of Curse Of Lono, Felix Bechtolsheimer, had spent years being involved with. Back in the day, before I wrote about music, I’d seen them at festivals and gigs. At De Montfort Hall and The Big Session Festival, I’d watched them perform before heading back to the beer tent and nearly missing my own compere duties.

Here was a blog post waiting to happen.

But I held back a bit. I was aware that each of the EP tracks were also being used within a short, accompanying film. The trailer for ‘Saturday Night’, directed by Alex Walker, looked gripping. Cinematic, dramatic and loaded with debauched crime, the indications were that this was going to be a fine vehicle to elevate already great songs to another level.

On staggered release across some fine blogs, each of the videos have now been uploaded to Youtube. Watch carefully and visual clues help you to follow the ongoing plot. Despite the lack of dialogue, you can follow the characters through to a satisfying denouement in the final video. The path mightn’t be linear and the story not always obvious but, for me, that sense of crippling confusion and slow-motion thoughtfulness makes the music crisper.

It’s a bold statement doing things this way. There are no half measures here. Pull up a chair, sit back and open the popcorn. 

I’m sure that, after watching this, you’ll be like me in checking future Curse Of Lono tour dates and desperately hoping they reschedule that gig.