This was a free gig put together by Young Thugs Studio and Jericho Keys of BBC Radio York. It showcased just some of the vast musical talent we have in the north. Kicking it all off in a packed room it was the Feens from Scarborough. Like all the acts performing it was a five-song set, “Eyes Open” and the new track “Eternal Sunshine” were particular highlights for me. This was the third time I have witnessed the Feens playing live and if you like your rock nicely polished but with an edge, you will love them. I can hear elements of Arcade Fire, Vampire Weekend, 10cc, and New Order in their songs, but those are just minor influences, the Feens have originality and energy in abundance. Next, from the other side of the room, a very Later With Jools style set up, it was the hugely talented Kitty VR. She performed a batch of sublime new songs that she has been working on for a while, she has produced them all herself, and based on this set I can hardly wait for them to be out in the world. Kitty’s voice was pitch-perfect and dazzled the crowd. Kitty has some torch singer tropes and some gorgeous torch songs with a soft blues feel with jazzy undertones. Next, it was a monumental banging DJ set from ace DJ Rory Hoy. We were tightly packed but easily managed some constant fists-in-the-air action and even managed to do as the song instructed when House Of Pain’s “Jump Around” came on.
Now it was time for the grand piano in the corner to take centre stage as Max Dalton, formerly frontman of the rather amazing York rock band Hello Operator. This was all about Max and the piano, although he did have some guitar and percussion support. His new material is very different from what he did with Hello Operator and has a real 1930s vaudevillian jazz in a smoky gin joint vibe and bundles of 21st-century attitude. Lyrically I was reminded of early Leo Sayer, songs that tell stories. Finally, it was up to Kindelan to close proceedings. I first saw Laura Kindelan playing live almost six years ago and I have been a fan ever since. Kindelan’s EP will be released soon, with a launch gig at the Brudenell in Leeds in June. The strength of the songs that will be on that EP are truly immense. “Feast” (an unintentionally saucy tune) and “Hazel Frustration” are my current favourites. This was the first time I have seen Laura perform with a band and what a fine band it is. The sound was fabulously well-mixed and crystal clear. The chorale-style Beach Boys harmonies were ethereal and otherworldly. This is modern R&B with a smooth jazz injection. Kindelan’s songs and music is comparable to Kendrick Lamar and her vocals at times evoke Nina Simone. I love the way Laura and the band use the space between the notes and sometimes embrace the quiet.
It was great to meet so many stalwarts of the York music scene in the crowd at Young Thugs, including Marnie Glum, Nathan Luke, and members of Sun King, Pennine Suite, and the Corsairs. It was also great to have the chance to catch up with Laura Kindelan and Kitty VR at the end of the evening. An immense thank you to Jericho Keys and Young Thugs for making this happen, when is the next one?
Click here to listen to the radio broadcast of the show on BBC Radio York, it is available for 30 days and also includes some interviews with all the artists.
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