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)

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)