Kiran Leonard, Portland Arms, Cambridge, 6 April 2016

An evening of musicians pushing the boundaries of expectations. Due to time constraints two of the supporting acts decided to share the stage. Local guitar maestro C Joynes interwoven with the dark spoken words of Pete Um was a one-off collaboration that fitted logically with the rest of the show.

Irma Vep attired in cape and shades made his presence felt as he fronted Kiran Leonard’s band (including the man himself on second guitar) and blended underground rock with cryptic words, mostly indecipherable through distortion effects. Violin added texture and by the end of the set it had all become a bit addictive.

When Kiran Leonard stepped up and opened with sixteen minutes of ‘Pink Fruit’, the pivotal track and single(!) from new album ‘Grapefruit’ the attentiveness of the audience went up to the level at a classical music concert. Standing sideways to the audience so as to interact to the maximum with his band Kiran Leonard played guitar and sung with melancholic light and shade through the huge disparity of musical genres, and that was just the first track. There is lyrical complexity and imagery that adds another layer too.

Much has been written about his prodigious talent and creativity, and on the evidence of this performance I would agree. The music splits into unpredictable sections, there is prog rock virtuosity, gentle folk, all-out rock and much in between. Some of the shorter songs such as ‘Secret Police’ follow conventional routes before breaking apart in desperation. They ended with a blistering ‘Geraldo’s Farm’, brilliantly complex and energetic drums from Andrew Cheetham propelling the song on seemingly for ever.

We left the Portland Arms quietly, feeling the world had shifted slightly on its musical axis, the performance was that good.

http://kiranleonard.bandcamp.com/

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