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)

David Thomas Broughton – The Cookie – November 22nd 2017

My good friend Paul Champion sent me a lovely review of a gig he went to in November. 

That sentence might be understood in a couple of ways. For clarity, Paul went to a gig in November and he also sent me a review in that month. Sonic Breakfast has been disappointingly tardy in publishing Paul’s efforts. For that, I apologise.

Here’s his fine review. I get a sense that he liked the gig.

The Cookie is on High Street, Leicester. The bar is at ground floor level and the venue is down in the cellar.

David Thomas Broughton is here early, with his partner and toddler.

Adam Weikert is first on stage. He plays keyboard with effects and occasional acoustic guitar. Adam has a beard, a bun and glasses, and a nice line in self-deprecation. He has a hesitant piano style, with chanting, which sounds like church music. There are children’s voices and birdsong, too. He has a system of switching lights on and off, so that we know when a song has finished and we can applaud. He’s good. In places his songs have a whisper of The Incredible String Band. He finishes with a song about suicide, called Rope.

Next on is Peter Wyeth. There’s still only a handful of people here. He plays acoustic guitar on a loop, sometimes with a stick. It’s intense and twiddly. He probably works with computers.

David Thomas Broughton is from Yorkshire. His consonants are hard. His voice is deep and high at the same time. The sweetest voice, but at the same time reminiscent of the brilliant Jake Thackray. He challenges. He makes you feel uncomfortable. He sings beautiful acoustic folk songs and disrupts them with blasts of noise from an effects pedal. He does weird body language, pulling at his trousers in a frottage kind of way, and patting his belly. He grabs at things that aren’t there. He takes his phone out of his pocket and concentrates on it while there’s a loop playing. Is he playing his mobile phone, or is he just playing with his mobile phone? He’s joined on stage by the two support acts, and a trombone player, and they form a band. He plays a gizmo like a Theremin. There’s no chat, no applause, it’s just one continuous number. Percussion comes from tapping pens on microphones and from the screw top of his drinks container. Before you can be an artist you have to be a craftsman. He knows his craft. Art is what artists do. Art makes you see things differently. This is art. Who can you say a genius is? Isaac Newton? Picasso? Townes Van Zandt? Not Bob Dylan. Not even Peter Hammill. David Thomas Broughton is a genius. Sirens. Love. Phew! Love.

A genuine encore. For 25 people who recognise his genius.

 

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)

El Goodo & Bob Of The Pops – Duffy’s Bar, Leicester – January 12th 2018

I made the last-minute call. This was something of a coup for the Leicester gig scene and I really should be going to see the lazy Welsh wonders, El Goodo, work their magic within the confines and the pillars of Duffy’s bar.

Biff Bang Pow, the local promoter who have excelled in such things for a decade now, clearly have a robust address book for things psychedelic and sixties-twinged. It surely must be this passion for sparkly, cinematic jangle that’s persuaded the El Goodo sextet to stop off here in their 2018 mini tour of bigger cities.

The sense of anticipation duly builds during the charming opening set by Bob Of The Pops. A side project for Robyn Gibson (of The Junipers) whilst those ridiculously under-appreciated Leicester locals take what’s likely to be a permanent sojourn from the scene. Bob Of The Pops is Robyn’s chance to take a set of songs from artists he’s clearly most influenced by and give them a Gibson re-gloss. Tonight, he’s joined on the drums by Ben Marshall (also of The Junipers). Without recourse to the studio knobs that make the cover records so fine, some of the layers are lost. But Gibson is too good a guitarist and too accomplished a performer with effects pedals a-plenty to allow the sparseness to bother him too much. Delightful – and your average punter wouldn’t know who the originals were by such is the eclectic taste employed.

 

 

One wonders how El Goodo can feasibly fit onto Duffy’s stage. In truth, there’s an art in just about managing. Hardly elevated, members of the band peer out from behind pillars whilst Pixy shuffles with awkward confidence centre-front. He shyly mumbles introductions to songs as the cool and the trendy of Leicester gently jostle to get better views.

But this is one gig where obscured viewing doesn’t dampen the enjoyment. For the sound that washes over you makes everything temporarily alright with the world. Joyful and uplifting, we take a tour through last year’s wonderful album, By Order Of The Moose. Let’s hope for our own selfish sakes that the next one isn’t a decade in the making. Original tunes that might have been lifted from Spaghetti Westerns pulsate alongside numbers from further back in El Goodo’s catalogue. It looks effortless; this is a band who have clearly spent lots of time together in the studio perfecting the exquisite harmonies and solid fills. The friendships with the Super Furries are evident; this is a very Welsh sort of derivative and that is no bad thing.

At times, the mood is such that you half expect a sheriff (from Nottingham perhaps envious that we’ve got this gig?) to burst into the dark room lifting his or her gun from the holster smashing bourbon glasses by way of rebellion. But, there are no horses tied outside on Pocklingtons Walk and we’re only standing on tables to get a better view of El Goodo. 

Friday nights don’t tend to get better than this in this town. 

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)