Genesis tribute band The Musical Box set to play at De Montfort Hall in Leicester

By Courtney Stevens

The Musical Box performing at one of their shows (Image: publicity picture)

Genesis tribute band The Musical Box are set to play at De Montfort Hall in Leicester on Wednesday, February 8, as part of their global tour The Lamb lies down on Broadway.

The band will be playing all over the UK in February, starting off in York on February 2 and finishing off in Portsmouth on February 18.

The Musical Box are a Canadian tribute band for English Rock band Genesis, re-enacting their performances from the 1970s.

The current line-up includes singer Denis Gagne, guitarist Francois Gagnon, bassist Sebastien Lamothe, keyboardist Ian Benhamou, and drummer Marc Laflamme.

This tour will be re-creating the original band’s 1974 – 1975 show And the light lies down on Broadway, and will be complete with costumes, instruments and lighting.

The band promises a set that will take fans right back to Genesis’ 1970s peak with everything down to the setlists being identical to those played by the original band.

Since The Musical Box’s creation in 1993, they have performed shows across Canada, the US, Europe, and South America.

The band are also the only Genesis band to have received active support and permission from the original group, with members of the band being part of the audience or even appearing on stage with them.

Tickets are available now from https://www.ents24.com/uk/tour-dates/the-musical-box

Review: The Wizard of Oz at Curve, Leicester. ‘Over the Rainbow, and above my expectations’

By John Perry

The Wizard of Oz has seen many iterations since its conception into a novel by L. Frank Baum, most notably the 1939 Hollywood classic starring the late Judy Garland. Moving forward the best part of a century, Andrew Lloyd Webber redefined the classic into a stage production in 2011. Now in 2022, Curve Theatre has once again redefined what The Wizard of Oz is with their contemporary take on the tale involving deviations in characters and story to create an important version involving environmentalism.

Stepping into the Curve is an experience of its own, a modern building near the heart of Leicester, but I was still not expecting the sheer scale of production, talent, and technological achievement once I took my seat to view this fantastical performance.

The Wizard of Oz creative director Nikolai Foster brought his vision to the Curve theatre and it’s simply breathtaking. Inspired by Route 66 and the American dream, this is a new rendition of a classic that is a must-see. We all are aware of Dorothy’s adventure through Oz, her meeting characters representing her family, friends and learning to understand the importance of home through a magical experience. Here, we still get that core story but with modern twists, comedy, and heart.

You are not merely transported there; you are part of Oz for the next two hours.

The boldest surprise to me was that in the blink of an eye, set pieces meld into the stage with brilliant light shows and 3D effects. Flashes of light, dazzling special effects and environments on stage evolving. You are not pulled into the world; you are immersed into it. You are not merely transported there; you are part of Oz and Dorothy’s adventure for the next two hours.

The cast of the Wizard of Oz at Curve, Leicester. Photograph by Marc Brenner

The acting and vocal talent of the entire cast is brilliant but particularly in Dorothy (Georgina Onuorah), Scarecrow (Jonny Fines) and Glinda (Christina Bianco), phenomenal voices reverberate around the theatre space. They truly know how to pick artists here; the production team is a character of their own too. As is the band hidden beneath the stage – a live orchestra that many wouldn’t even believe was there. To the naked eye it’s simply a musical track playing unless you have the opportunity during the interval or a lucky seat at the front to peer below the stage into a pit of experienced musicians bringing Oz to life.

West End quality without the need for a trip to London is how best to describe it what is witnessed here. It features genuinely funny moments. Hearing a cast member saying “I’m a friend of Dorothy” – we all know the connotations – made the adults erupt in laughter, while Scarecrow simply leaping, falling, and rolling around the set during his introduction had the kids giggling like a pack of hyenas. An addition I did not expect was a puppet version of Toto that was handled entirely by a single crew member on stage, practical to avoid a real dog.

Aesthetically, it deviates heavily from the original to be in line more with its environmentalist take and contemporary vision, which includes Munchkin land being an industrial and dilapidated town, Emerald City representing a New York landscape and the witches of Oz riding motorcycles instead of brooms. It could have done more in terms of altering the narrative to fit this, but I expect it was a creative choice to stay truer to the original in its script.

Ben Thompson (Toto) and Georgina Onuorah (Dorothy). Photograph by Marc Brenner
Charlotte Jaconelli (The Wicked Witch of the West). Photograph by Marc Brenner

As the second half began it truly showcased more of the time and money that went into this daring new take on the classic. The production value and realism they went for was breathtaking: Emerald City having small Easter eggs on the large LED screen at the back, parodies of McDonald’s, Starbucks and even a nod to Garland herself in a Times Square-like billboard. The little things were not ignored.

The pinnacle of the entire performance must be Onuorah’s rendition of Over the Rainbow as Dorothy. A bright, positive, and soulful take on the theme to the original movie. It gave us goosebumps, and earned a standing ovation from many of the audience.

It’s for everyone. A modern take on a classical tale. A fantastic musical, with amazing vocal talent, technical expertise, music that just engulfs the audience in the moment. It was also wholesome to see a sign language interpreter present on stage for accessibility of disabled audience members. Inclusivity is important to Curve.

This production is incredible. After a pandemic delay, to find its feet like this and still be a powerhouse of entertainment. It is special. A true five-star experience and a must see for all the family this Christmas. It certainly went over the rainbow and above my expectations.

The Wizard of Oz runs at the Curve Theatre in Leicester until January 8.

Come as you were: Nirvana UK bring back the grunge age

By Sof Clarke

It’s been a ghost town on the live music scene the last few years due to covid, but Nirvana UK are resurrecting the spirit of a true grunge icon.

The tribute band have announced their 2023 tour dates, and Leicester is on the map.

“We are really looking forward to coming back to Leicester after last year’s great show!” said frontman Jez, who performs as Kurt Cobain. “You can expect more of the same from us, but more of a set themed around the ‘In Utero’ tour shows of 1993/94.”

After almost 10 years together, the band know everything about the trio they emulate. They even include genuine 1990s equipment and outfits to amplify the authenticity of an original Nirvana show.

“From vintage Tama drums, preamps, power amps, effect pedals, cabinets, speakers all the way down to microphones. We use all the same equipment as Nirvana would have used,” he said.

The tragic death of Kurt Cobain in 1994 denied a new generation of Nirvana fans the chance of ever seeing the band play live. “We really do all we can to provide the audience with the best possible representation of Nirvana live,” said Jez.

When asked about the type of people we can expect to see at the show, Jez said: “We see an entire spectrum. From nine-year-olds with their parents to the older generation who would have been into Nirvana when they were around.”

When questioned on the work-to-life ratio in the band, Jez replied, “It’s been very hard work at times but also very rewarding. I mean, not many people get to pretend they are Nirvana, right?”

Nirvana UK play the O2 Academy, Leicester on April 8, 2023. Click here for tickets.

Rock band Spear of Destiny set to play Nuneaton gig with release of new album

By Courtney Stevens

Spear of Destiny set to play Queens Hall during UK tour (Image: Publicity picture)

By Courtney Stevens

Spear of Destiny are set to play at Queens Hall in Nuneaton on Sunday, December 4, as part of their UK tour.

The tour is to mark the release of their new album Ghost Population which was released on November 18.

The 23-date live tour kicks off in Leeds today (NOV22), includes Nottingham Rescue Rooms on December 13 and finishes in Manchester on December 17.

Ghost Population will be the band’s 15th studio album and it covers a range of themes from personal to political plus it covers the evolution of the band from past to present.

The tour will give audiences a chance to hear songs from the new album live for the first time.

Since reforming in the late 1990s, ringleader Kirk Brandon has supervised a major reissue campaign of the band’s back catalogue, playing sell out shows at venues such as London’s 100 club and Manchester’s Ritz, joining festival line ups and relentlessly writing new music.

Next year will mark 40 years since the formation of the band in 1983 and since then their punk-influenced power rock has gained a following in the UK.

Spear of Destiny have had a changing line up through the years, but this tour will feature their longest serving line up to date, including Adrian Portas (New Model Army/Sex Gang Children), Craig Adams (Sisters of Mercy/The Cult/The Mission) and Phil Martini (Jim Jones and the Righteous Mind), as well as Clive Osborne on saxophone and Steve Allen-Jones on keys.

Tickets are available here: https://kirkbrandon.com/shows

UK tour dates for Spear of Destiny 2022

Woman celebrates her 100th gig by seeing the band Blossoms at the Corn Exchange in Cambridge

By Shreeya Vaja

An avid gig-goer celebrated her 100th concert by seeing the band Blossoms at the Corn Exchange in Cambridge on Tuesday(NOV15).

Happy: Daphne at the Blossoms gig

Daphne Fields, 25, saw her landmark 100th concert in her home town of Cambridge, after her adoration for music, mainly Indie-rock, had encouraged her to travel throughout the UK and attend at least one gig every two weeks.

She said her love for live music came from when she saw UB40 at the age of 11, and since then she has loved every form of live entertainment.

Daphne sees going to watch live music as a way of self-care. She said: “Some people go to therapy but I go to gigs.”

Blossoms will be Daphne’s last concert of 2022, which she attended with a group of five friends, after going to over 30 gigs this year alone.

The pandemic put a halt to her live music hobby,. She said: “The pandemic made it difficult to not be able to do what made me happy for over a year but the first gig back was the best experience.”

Since the pandemic, Daphne has tried to attend every indie-rock live music event she can find. She sets aside money at the start of every month into what she calls her ‘gig fund’ and uses this money to get tickets for any artist or band no matter their popularity.

Blossoms started playing at 9pm and stayed on stage until 10.30pm.

Afterwards, Daphne said: “I couldn’t have asked for a better 100th gig, the vibes were amazing.”