Music fans, we’re here with your weekly Leicester music guide featuring news and interviews from across the local scene.
This weekly music update is brought to you in partnership with PPL PRS Ltd. Big thanks for their ongoing support of local acts and venues.
Laura Marling – De Montfort Hall
Friday 15 October
Having emphatically set the bar for what can be achieved with a superlative livestream performance back in the early Summer of 2020 from London’s Union Chapel, Laura is thrilled to finally be able to take her acclaimed Song For Our Daughter album out on the road. Tickets on sale on Friday.
The Skints – O2 Academy
Monday 11 October
An incredible East London Ska and reggae band, The Skints earned their formidable reputation for their live performances. Expect pop hooks, grimey raps, filthy basslines and a punk rock work ethic to create a sound familiar to newcomers, yet unique below the surface. TICKETS.
Ben Ottewell – The Soundhouse
Friday 6 August
Ben Ottewell is best known as a member of Gomez, a British rock act whose debut album, Bring It On, won the Mercury Music Prize in 1998. TICKETS.
Aziz Ibrahim – The Soundhouse
Saturday 21 August
Wake up promotions present an intimate show with ex-Stone Roses guitarist, Aziz Ibrahim. TICKETS.
INTERVIEW: NIK SHARPE – WIDE EYED FESTIVAL
As one of the city’s busiest promoters, Nik spends his days booking shows at The Cookie, O2 Academy and more. He’s brought some huge acts to the city and this September sees the debut of his new festival, Wide Eyed. With tickets selling fast, we caught up with him to find out about what ticket holders can expect.
Tell us a little bit about what people can expect from Wide Eyed?
For a lot of people this will potentially be their first experience of live music in over a year, so we’re hoping that people can expect a day full of amazing bands and great vibes. We’ve carefully handpicked the line-up so we have familiar names with the likes of The Orielles who put on a really groovy show and have played Leicester a few times now as well fresh and upcoming bands like The Lounge Society and even some Leicester talent in The People Assembly and Spudge. We’re confident that people will leave Wide Eyed with a new favourite band!
As one of the main organisers of Handmade Festival, is Wide Eyed a similar type of event?
Whilst the event is very different it will be very similar experience on the day. The event will take place across 3 rooms and the garden in the O2 Academy and we will use the outdoor spaces for food traders and a place to hang out. You will see lots of familiar faces working the event and we hope it’s the same friendly environment we created there in previous years for Handmade.
Who are some of the must see acts on the line-up?
I always hate picking out artists as i think they are all great but i’m excited to see BEAK> again, I saw them at Kentish Town Forum supporting The Oh Sees and they are so good live. I’m such a fan of Geoff Barrow it’s a real honour to have to him play. For me that Portishead album is still one of the greatest records ever made.
How has it been organising a festival in a pandemic?
It’s certainly been a once in a lifetime experience! What has been great to see is the demand for a new event and how ticket holders haven’t asked for refunds and have kept hold of their tickets despite 2 rescheduled dates. It’s been testing to move the line up each time but luckily we’ve only lost 2 acts along the way. As someone who promotes so many gigs across the year it’s made it all a little easier as my life has just been rescheduling gigs for the past 12 months and I’ve got it down to a fine art. We now have some light at the end of the tunnel and I just want to deliver all these amazing shows to Leicester. I’m feeling optimistic but at the same time i’m not trying to get carried away.
Just how much of an impact has the last year had on you as a promoter and the venues/artists you work with?
I’m not going to lie, it’s been incredibly tough.
My last show was over 12 months ago with Trail of the Dead at O2 Academy2 and I have had no income since, so It’s been hard to keep motivated and i’ve certainly contemplated whether it was time to walk away from it all. The roadmap has certainly helped give everyone some focus and a glimmer of light and all we can do it try and put together the strongest programme of events we can for us all to look forward when we come out of this.
Is Wide Eyed set to be an annual event?
Initially I thought it would be a one off but the reaction has been so good that it will become an annual event and in 2022 i will run a Spring and Autumn edition as we’ve been offered so many exciting acts. I’m really excited about how this idea can develop and I’ve been having some great interesting conversations about how we can build something much bigger.
If you could change one thing, or add one thing to Leicester’s music scene, what would it be?
The lack of medium sized venues. We have some great spaces under 250 capacity but lack that next step around 300-500 capacity. We used Dryden Street Social as a pop up space for 18 months and we managed to do some incredible shows there such as Mahalia, Temperance Movement, British Sea Power and Easy Life. Unfortunately that space has since closed, so we could really do with another spot.
Who would you choose for your first gig back after lockdown?
The 24 bands that are playing Wide Eyed!
No, to be honest I just want to be outside in a field, drinking warm beer from a plastic cup watching any band that can hold a tune. I moan about the industry A LOT and when putting on gigs is your job you can fall out of love with it, but I can’t wait for it all to start up again.
Tell us a few of your favourite local acts, and those that people should be listening out for?
I think everyone is aware of our journey with Mahalia and Easy Life and they have now completely blow up.
Local acts that i’m really excited about now are CJ Pandit, Kamakaze, Mouth Culture, The People Assembly and a new act called Tommy.
All those are really going to kick on over the next 12 months.
What else do you have coming up?
As The Cookie Presents I still have over 100 shows coming up for the remainder of 2021 and 2022 including Billy Nomates, The Skints, Twin Atlantic, The Lathums, While She Sleeps and loads of awesome shows that will be announced very soon.
Enjoy this week’s playlist is made up of Nik’s selection of favourite local acts and a few picks from the upcoming Wide Eyed line-up.
Have a listen and get in touch to tell us which tracks you’re loving.