With no shows taking place we’ve had to switch around our weekly music news just a little bit. However we will still be here every Tuesday with a Leicester music update for you in partnership with PPL PRS Ltd.
Re-scheduled events and new show from The Lathums
It’s easy to lose track with all of the re-arranged events that have happened over the last few months. Whilst some shows have been cancelled, many are still very much going ahead and buying tickets now for future shows can really help venues to survive over these months. The Cookie has a dedicated page showing all of the re-arranged events at The Cookie and the O2 Academy, which includes Mystery Jets, British Sea Power, Twin Atlantic and more, plus a brand new show from The Lathums. Visit the website for full listings.
INTERVIEW: MICHAEL HARRIS-WAKELAM
The Y Theatre is Leicester’s oldest theatre, having stood in the city centre since 1883. The coronavirus pandemic has hit it hard and the theatre has now launched a fundraising campaign to help secure its future. The venue has seen some great live music acts over the years, with Leicester’s rising stars Easy Life playing 2 sold out shows here only a few months ago. A popular spot amongst local music acts as well as a huge Comedy Festival favourite, we caught up with the venue manager, Michael Harris-Wakelam to find out more on how the venue and staff are getting on.
How have the last few weeks been for you and the wider team at the Y?
We’ve launched our fundraiser in response to the ongoing lockdown and the inability to generate any income as a result of this. The support we’ve received so far has really blown us away, so thank you to everyone who has already donated directly or bought a t shirt from Leicester Merch Aid. We’ve been slowly digesting the government guidance around public performances and putting together a plan for hopefully opening safely as soon as we think it is ok to do so.
If there’s anyone reading this who has never been to the Y, how would you describe the venue?
Intimate, unique and independent. We’re Leicester’s oldest surviving theatre located inside the Leicester YMCA building since 1900 meaning we are uniquely entwined with the welfare of over 100 homeless young people across Leicester. We present over 120 shows a year (under normal circumstances!) working with community groups, commercial visiting shows and regular promoters. Our eclectic programme includes music, comedy, theatre, dance, personalities, new work and family shows. All proceeds from these shows and events go towards the vital project work we do to support the homeless young people we work with.
How important is it for the local community to get behind the venue during these times?
We closed our doors in March and are facing the challenges shared across the arts sector. With no grant or government funding and no income since March it’s been difficult to stay positive. We’ll always be here for our young people, but we are at high risk of losing our theatre. Not only will this impact our organisation but it would be a huge loss to the community if we were not able to operate as a theatre again and create more lasting memories and first time experiences of theatre. All of our future events are still on sale and available to book online, we will offer free exchanges on tickets or refunds if a date is altered during this period of time, so please book for shows where you can.
The venue hosts all sorts of performances but is a wonderful space for music events. What have been some of the best you’ve been to/worked on or heard about at the Y?
I’ve enjoyed two years of overseeing the programme of shows here at The Y with some massive highlights on the music front. I think I’d find it hard to narrow it down but we’ve got Grace Petrie’s “Queer as Folk” sold out home town show and everyone joining in to Black Tie; then there was January’s Junk Food EP Launch with Easy Life and their fantastic hot dog outfits and general party vibes; we were one of the stages for last year’s Handmade Festival curated by long time supporters of The Y the Robot Needs Home Collective; and there was also time to squeeze in a visit from British rock royalty when Ginger Wildheart visited last year alongside Lauren Tate and Nick Parker.
The Y has always been a supporter of local talent too, who are some of your favourite musicians and bands in Leicester?
Other than the Leicester acts I’ve already mentioned above, I’m a big fan of Last Edition’s high energy ska punk. I caught them as a support act a few years ago and have kept tabs on them since. I also find myself returning to the King Brasstards a lot as well – you might sense a bit of a theme here to my musical leanings!
What music have you been listening to during lockdown?
I’ve had the Cool As weekly Playlists on the go when working at weekends as well as Robot Need Home’s Homage à Trois offerings of ABBA and Katy Perry to keep me company in the office, other than that it’s been [Spunge], Save Ferris an The Interrupters.
What’s your favourite thing about Leicester as a creative city?
I’m always drawn to the way venues, promoters, acts, artists and creatives work collaboratively across Leicester. There’s an excellent live music scene from grassroots music venues like The Cookie, The Soundhouse, The Musician and Firebug offering new and emerging acts real support as they are progressing through to venues like The Y and in to the o2 Academy and other similar size spaces across the UK. The promoters and venues who work tirelessly behind the scenes on projects to showcase these acts really know what they’re looking for and Leicester has produced some amazing talent in recent years as a result of these showcase events.
What does the future hold for the Y when venues are able to re-open and begin hosting shows?
We’re looking to continue our efforts in supporting local artists and new emerging work, it seems only fair that we give back to the community that has supported us so well in these challenging times. We’re sure that there will be even more music memories to add to my list before long!
Enjoy this week’s best of Leicester playlist! Each week we’ll be pulling together some of our favourites as well as recommendations to highlight some top local talent. This week’s playlist features some of Michael’s favourites from his interview plus some of the local acts to perform at The Y Theatre recently.
Have a listen and get in touch to tell us which tracks you’re loving.