By Chris Patmore, Rock At Night London Correspondent
VENUE: Leopold and His Fiction at The Old Blue Last, London on 26 September 2016
I love serendipity (which, incidentally, comes from the old name of Sri Lanka). I had been planning on having a quiet week, with only one gig in the diary, when a fellow photographer, who wasn’t feeling well, needed someone to cover a show. I didn’t know the band, but nothing unusual there as most of the bands I shoot tend to be relatively unknown (at the time). So, off I trundle to The Old Blue Last in Shoreditch for another of their endless stream of free gigs. Unsurprisingly, for a Monday night, the room was all but empty when I arrived. As opening act Humm, hit the stage people started to drift in, hopefully drawn in by the hard rocking that was going down, a sound that would definitely appeal to the likes of Rage Against The Machine fans.
[diversion ahead] OK, here’s the thing, and I was having this conversation with a musician the other day, there are so many genres and sub-genres, and crossover genres of music these days that it is becoming almost impossible to classify bands any more (which is a good thing). Do we really need to give everything a label, or compare to something else? If you say you are going to a metal gig/festival, you know what you’re going to get, but the aficionados will be sub-dividing it, and debating those subdivisions. Surely original music defies labels. Or is it becoming like the wine connoisseurs, who go on about “blueberry hints, with notes of rose petals” to describe what is essentially rotten grapes? But I digress.
When the headline act, Texas-based Leopold and His Fiction, hit the stage there was a far more respectable audience (in terms of numbers, and not necessarily behaviour). No matter how good a band sounds on record, when performing live they need stage presence, and this band had enough to fill their home state. Frontman and guitarist Daniel cuts an impressive figure with his shock of blonde hair and swarthy Mediterranean looks, dressed in a fine suit, and with a Gibson flying V hanging from his shoulder. From the first few bars, you knew this was going to be something special. It is unmistakably Texan rock, but with an added harder edge of Daniel’s Detroit roots, and a splash of California sunshine. Think White Denim (the band that is) with a bit of Little Feat. And that is exactly what I was talking about previously, the unnecessary need to categorise and compare. Music just needs to be seen and heard, to be absorbed by the senses, not written about and discussed (especially while it is being performed).
There is so much fantastic live music being played every night of the week in London, and everywhere else, and a lot of it for free, so there is no excuse for not finding exciting new music. It’s just really sad when a photo of the gig gets more likes on Instagram than the number of people that actually showed up to the (free) gig. Bands don’t need opinionated reviews, just recommendations, so listen to them on Soundcloud (other streaming services are available), and if you like what you hear, follow them on social media and go see them live, because it is invariably a better experience than a recording, and buy the recordings directly from the artists to cut out the middlemen. So in that spirit, go see these two bands because they are frakking awesome.
Leopold and His Fiction
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Leopold and His Fiction
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