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)

 

Sweet Baboo – Tuesday February 2nd – Leicester Musician

I’m pretty sure that I’d never want to be a gig promoter. It’s all a bit easy sitting behind this keypad saying that ‘I love X’ and ‘I want to be Y’ but these promoter types are the sort that really put their livelihoods on the line. 

The best promoter that we have in Leicester is Ian Magic Teapot. I’m not entirely sure how he still does it. For the ten years plus that I’ve been in this ‘top of the league’ city, Ian has worked incredibly hard to bring some of the best to our venues. 

Sometimes, he has a win. I think that all who know Ian don’t begrudge him those paydays when he sells enough tickets to break even.. Because, so often, for a reason I don’t really understand, we try our damnedest to avoid supporting live music. 

Tonight Magic Teapot put on a show by Sweet Baboo. Here’s an act that I’ve barely been able to see in some festival tents, such is the push and the popularity. Tonight, it was hard to keep a low profile at the Musician. The room was perhaps half full. If this was a gig in Nottingham, thirty miles up the road, I doubt that I would have been able to swing my cat whilst I danced yet here I could. 

Stephen Black is his usual self-deprecating self. This is the first night of the tour and he plays with us that his band might be a tad under-rehearsed. Epic and long, indulgent prog-rock endings to bouncy pop tunes are threatened but hardly materialise. Instead, this show stays on the right side of sweet. Sometimes, there are dips further back into the Sweet Baboo catalogue and sometimes we’re thrust bang up to date with notes from the recent ‘Dennis’ EP but mostly this is a setlist made up with tunes from last years fabulous Boombox Ballads record. 

Charles from Slow Club plays guitar tonight in Stephen’s band. The last time that Slow Club were in Leicester I wrote about it here. It’s fair to say that was a much busier gig. 

But, in terms of quality, both were on a par. Both were excellent nights out. I wish you were there to see this one for yourself. 

But not half as much as Ian Magic Teapot probably does. 

 

 

Heyrocco – The Cookie Leicester – 6th October

“This song’s about premature ejaculation”, drawls Heyrocco’s lead singer, Nate Merli, as this much vaunted trio from South Carolina launch into their opening song, Melt (previewed here). It’s not packed at the Cookie in Leicester but it’s fair to say that those in attendance have had their attentions fondled.

Such blunt introductions to their songs continue to characterise this gig as we get to know the interests and attitude of these Nirvana influenced pop-punk kids who balance self-deprecation with an assured swagger. “This song’s about being a loser”, states Nate but we don’t believe he really believes that. Two swooning Japanese fan girls mouth along to the words and you sense that Nate will soon become a winner.

He’s certainly quite a captivating frontman. Shambolically dressed in odd converse boots (does wearing one black one and one white one make them inverse boots?), Nate jumps and flails around the stage. He’s playing at being a tortured soul, a bit too charming and polite to ever completely descend into madness but when he stands up straight and rolls his eyes into the back of his head, you wonder if he’s about to fit. The stage at the Cookie is only raised a few inches higher than the audience but at one point, Merli brings his microphone stand and guitar amongst us to really break down any sense of them and us.

Bass player Christopher Cool, acts as his name suggests and stays calm throughout concentrating on creating a tight rhythm section with Taco Cooper on drums. There are times when these two freak out but those are few and far between. The final song of this 40 minute set arrives which signals the right time for Taco to leap from his bass drum, rugby tackling Nate to the ground. It’s a play fight, a high school rumble but perfectly in keeping with the laddish euphoria these mates are trying to create. It’s also a pretty fine climax for a gig that started with a song about premature ejaculation.

You have to give special credit to the excellent promoter for this gig and many others that happen in Leicester. Ian Magic Teapot has been putting on gigs for years and I’m sure he must lose a small fortune when potential punters decide to stay in their warm houses instead of venturing out into cold Autumn nights. The shame of it all is that tonight at the Cookie for a mere fiver, people would have seen a band that are still learning their live craft but are already displaying the signs that any return visit to these parts will demand larger venues and more of a ticket scramble.

 

Ward Thomas – Footnotes (Happy Ending)

 

Yee-haw.

I’d had a hard day in London. I probably should have headed straight home on the train. But there was an ‘industry’ showcase to go to, wine to drink and nibbles to munch on. There might even be some music to enjoy but that would simply be a bonus. 

This was a showcase for Ward Thomas, 19 year old, Country singing, twin sisters from Hampshire. I was ushered down into a cosy basement of an Italian restaurant. I realised that I’m not really a fan of these showcases. But it was buzzing, the red wine was flowing and the pizza was good. 

You couldn’t get away from the fact that there was money at play here. Catherine and Lizzie are probably out of the public school system and you sense that there’s dosh behind them. But, it’s not as if their opportunity is based upon zilch talent so who am I to begrudge them their privilege?

The twins took to the stage. They had a small band with them. This showcase was a short set but, aided by more wine, my enjoyment heightened. This was firmly in Radio 2 territory but the close harmonies, vocal flexes and charming delivery just about converted me. Smiles go a long way and Catherine and Lizzie are full of them.

I picked up an advanced copy of their ‘Footnotes’ EP. It mightn’t be cool to confess to a love of country but I find it’s good driving music for the car. 

On getting back to Leicester, I spied Ian Magic Teapot having a beer in the Criterion. Ian Magic Teapot is quite possibly the best promoter of live music in Leicester. For years now, he’s bought a range of quality acts to this city. He deserves a medal. It was good to see Ian because he’d recently had a nasty bike accident. Still buzzing from the wine, I spoke about the charms of Ward Thomas. Ian took my CD. I have others in my car.

I note that Ward Thomas are now listed as support for The Webb Sisters at a Teapot gig on July 10th. That’s shaping up to be quite a show.

Anyway, since that evening in London, the ‘Footnotes’ EP has had a physical release. Ward Thomas seem to be doing lots of radio interviews in the US. And this week, one of the tunes from the EP, The good and the right, was Radio 2’s track of the day. Here’s the title track from their EP.

And here’s the video, released this week, for The good and the right.