You could say that Leicestershire is lucky to have a vibrant "Creative Arts" scene. After all, the rollcall of people who are recognised as being in the Creative Arts are as varied as Sue Townsend, Kasabian, Showaddywaddy, one member of Queen, and the winners of "The X-Factor" and "Great British Bakeoff". Leicestershire also has a few companies which produce Creative Artwork which you might not expect.
Leicestershire also has quite a few venues dotted around the city and county. Unfortunately not all of them are "Disabled-Friendly". One which fits under the heading of "Disabled-Friendly" - if not easily accessible on foot in the dark - is The Musician. This is a music venue/bar/pub which is squirrelled away down one end of Clyde Street, near Leicester City Centre. It also happens to be an intimate venue which encourages lots of interaction with audiences.
The gig I went to was billed as a "Double-header" between one singer with one guitarist, and one band. What we actually got (as will become apparent) seemed more like one singer, one guitarist, and several bands all at once.
Kristyna Myles opened the evening - ably assisted as usual by her guitarist, Ben Williams.
The set included a couple of tracks from her debut album "Pinch Me Quick", along with "Fooling" from her EP "Wanna Wear Black". However, most of her set was made up of tracks from her forthcoming album "Paint A Brighter Day" (yes - I have mentioned a Pledge Music Campaign elsewhere on this blog to raise funds for the recording of the album).
I am not going to name all the songs she sang - I am just going to tell you about the ones which stood out to me for one reason or another.
The one which stuck in my mind long after the last chord and the last word faded into silence was "Garment of Shame" - this was pure emotion and pure, unadulterated, Kristyna at her best.
You know when you are just sitting quietly, listening to music, and an idea comes into your head, dragged in kicking and screaming by the memories the music provokes??? That is exactly what happened when I heard "Halfway". I had been tring to find a way of writing something based on my side of an argument. "Halfway" not only brought the memories flooding back but I think they may have unlocked the way to start the writing.
On the subject of writing - "Drop Me A Line" is a song with a pretty good twist in its tail. It starts of sounding like someone wants you to write them a letter telling them about your problems (and that person tells you they know what you are going through). However, it is only right at the end of the song when you find out who wants you to tell them your problems (the major clue is the word "Prayer" right near the end of the song).
On the subject of "Heavenly Beings" - the next song is one "Heaven Knows" I am still not sure about. It is the only one of Kristyna's songs which I actually had to see performed in a certain setting for it to make total sense to me. Before I saw it on "Songs of Praise" my brain was still stuck on the usual throwaway kind of line "Heaven knows why she did that" with accompanying sarcastic tone of voice.
In the middle of Kristyna's set she let her guitarist - Ben Williams - play a couple of his songs.
One of these "Hold Your Fire" was slightly more laid back than the title may suggest. The whole mood of the song is best summed up by Ben singing "come back when you've calmed down" in a way that suggests he has got a headache, is fed up, and just wants some peace and quiet.
The second track is slightly more frenetic sounding - "Balloon String" is the only song I have ever come across which talks about someone "selling my body parts on Ebay". This is closely followed by the lyric "She is a dangerous woman. She's made grown men cry". (To be quite honest I am not surprised she makes them cry.) This sounds like a random collection of overheard bits of conversation set to music but it is brilliant because of it.
The second set was played by a group called Miss 600.
Kristyna had introduced them by saying their music was a mix of Jazz and Soul. By the time they had finished I had mentally added Ska (Reggae) and a rocky sort of Blues to the list.
I have to be honest and admit that I had my doubts when I say the Trumpet player walk onto the stage. His jacket and tie just suggested "Madness" to me. No - I am not being rude about someone I have never spoken to before - I mean "Madness" as in the band from the 1970's/1980's who had a lead singer who answered to "Suggs". (I was quite surprised when the Trumpet player stayed standing next to the Saxophonist instead of running into the middle of the stage.)
When the female lead singers came on stage I was hooked. I say "female lead singers" plural for one very good reason. Although there was only one female lead singer and one female backing singer - the lead singer started off sounding like Judy Garland, then sounded like Lisa Stansfield, then sounded like Marilyn Monroe, and she kept switching between them.
There is one easy way for me to tell you how good I thought Miss 600 were - I bought their second album based on hearing the song "Ladies Do (What Ladies Do)". Usually I have to hear at least two tracks I like before I buy a CD by a band I have never heard of before.
For their finale Miss 600 gave me a treat (I don't know whether the rest of the audience felt the same way as I did about what the band did but I loved it) - they let every instrument player play an extended solo in their last but one song (they also did an encore). How to convince an audience that the people in the band can play their instruments in one easy move (the bass guitar solo had to b heard to be believed).
There was only one thing which I was slightly disappointed about. I would have loved to have heard Kristyna singing with the ladies of Miss 600. (Now I am going to add that to my personal wishlist just behind Kristyna duetting with Richie Sambora on a cover of "Undiscovered Soul".)
I know I can sound like a broken record at this point in a review of a gig by Kristyna Myles but please go and see her sing live for an out of this world experience. Please also go and see Miss 600 live. Even better would be to see Kristyna Myles and Miss 600 on the same bill. It would be worth it.
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