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. 

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.