O2 Academy 3, Birmingham, 1st March 2014.
Headliners Luke Wild and the Japes brought their own distinctive brand of indie folk-pop. Flitting through elements of jazz, blues and pop-rock, Luke and co easily ran through their set of extremely well-crafted, catchy and energetic tunes that were rich with percussion and acoustic guitar, blended with a delicate taste of ukulele beautifully adding to the great atmosphere. The band have been featured on BBC Introducing where they have gained regular airplay through various BBC Introducing shows, including two live sessions for BBC Shropshire.
Performing from behind her trademark keyboard, Nina Baker showed her own distinctive vocal flair. Accompanied by her band and plenty of piano riffs, we were taken on a rollercoaster of emotional but uplifting songs, most notably the outstanding tune ‘Single Bed’ which is all about a girl finally being positive and finding confidence with living a single life. It was easy to see why Nina was picked by BBC Introducing to attend their 2013 Master Class and also came runner-up in MTV’s Brand New for 2013 unsigned competition.
The person behind LeoKai is singer/songwriter Leo Ismail with the Kai coming from the name of his guitar which was named by his best friend. With just an acoustic guitar, Leo sang a great set of quite deep and almost soulful songs. His skilful use of loop backs worked perfectly with his fine edgy voice. Ending the set on a rap style tune full of pre-recorded beats was a bit of a contrast to the rest of the set but seemed to go down ok. For the more observant in the crowd, Leo can also be found shredding guitar with Birmingham based pop rock outfit We Are Saviours.
The Rooz are an excellent young rock’n’roll band. With an age range of 14 to 17 years of age, The Rooz demonstrate an exceptional talent with lead singer Louis Coupe having made an appearance on The Voice UK on BBC One. The Rooz performed a great unique mix of melodic rock songs and boogie woogie style rock’n’roll. The exciting addition of piano/organ added a diverse element to the set and shows that The Rooz are not afraid to be innovative and experiment with their sound.
Sally Pepper opened the night with a great acoustic pop-rock set. The singer-songwriter from Stoke-on-Trent, currently studying in Liverpool, possesses an original sound which blends a hint of post-punk attitude with impressive vocals and song lyrics reflecting an openness and honesty about experiences in life.
Words and pictures by Stephen Turner.