For those of us who have spent a number of years living in Leicester, these are strange yet wondrous times. The city’s main sporting protagonists may be about to re-write football folklore and to be quite frank, it’s all anyone is talking about. Even the seemingly unbelievable ‘King in a car park’ story has been relegated to a mere footnote as the locals eschew the humdrum of your average weekday and focus their energy and their wallets on what could be about to happen approximately a mile away from The Cookie, which is rapidly taking over as Leicester’s home of up and coming musical talent.
Quite what Holy Esque expected when they climbed on stage tonight, only they can answer but I’m guessing they weren’t anticipating a paltry crowd of eighteen punters, including the support act. For a band who are on an upward trajectory, this must have come as a massive kick in the solar plexus and they could easily be forgiven for going through the motions and heading over to Nottingham quicker than Jamie Vardy chasing a lost cause. But no, after urging us all to stand that little bit closer to the stage they launch into thirty minutes of heartfelt, passionate endeavour to the obvious delight of ‘the Leicester 18’.
I make no apologies for my admiration of Holy Esque, their debut release ‘At Hope’s Ravine‘ has breathed new life into the stagnant pond of indie guitar music just when we all starting to worry that Time Team would be called in to dig for its remains. Pat Hynes has a unique vocal style which suggests he was raised on gravel whilst being permanently tortured with a blunt instrument as guitars swoop and swirl around the empty vacuum of The Cookie basement. It’s easy to lose yourself in the semi-ethereal chaos and my friend does her best impression of a whirling dervish; proof of how their evocative melodies can grip your soul before the keyboards shake you back to something approaching normality. On record, there is a sinister undertone to their tracks. “Prism“, “Tear” and “Strange” are all unsettling in their own way whereas “Hexx” still has me reaching for the medication and my teddy at night.
Yet live, these same tracks take on a subtler hue. Whether it’s the venue, the lack of production or the fact the lyrics are being belted out by a man in a flowery shirt, I have no idea. But the effect is profound, Holy Esque have carved out some genuine beauty from the Glaswegian tenements and theirs is a talent which begs to be heard by more than a handful of paying punters on a cold, dreary night in the East Midlands. Listen, if justice decides to make a re-appearance any day now then Holy Esque will soon be playing with the big boys and laughing about that night in Leicester when the locals were too busy planning domination of the football world. For now, buy their album, see them live and add fire to their dreams because it is beholden upon us all as music aficionados to nurture such talent and not let it wither away to nothing. Leicester, consider yourself officially yellow carded.
Photo courtesy of Paul Reno