Kiran Leonard


Tonight, we are part of a chosen few who are lucky enough to hear songs from Kiran Leonard’s new album Grapefruit, coming later this year, for the first time. There is no better audience to unleash a set of new songs at like a hometown audience and that is exactly what Saddleworth-born Kiran is doing tonight. In fact, even his family have made the journey to respond enthusiastically to every new and, as yet, unheard song.

His last album, Bowler Hat Soup, was as eclectic as its title twisting and turning at every corner, yet managing to remain catchy and listenable throughout. From what we hear tonight, his new album, which has a title just as confounding as his debut, is set to have just as many twists and turns but with a heavier, direct sound. This frontal approach is set to see Kiran gain as many fans, as he is set to lose.

Tonight’s audience, which features none other than Marc Riley who follows every song with a wolf-whistle, is set to remain loyal to their prodigy. Of course, we are all unaware of the song names, which makes my job harder, but each ends with an explosive conclusion before rolling straight into another heavy song. It is relentless.

Tonight’s performance starts off well, with even the fiddle, fittingly enough for St Patrick’s Day, managing to make itself heard above the explosion of noise on stage. However, soon there is a loss of direction as Kiran’s voice becomes undecipherable below a song lacking any sort of rhythm.

However, as the notes from debut album opener ‘Dear Lincoln’ ring out we are willing to forgive such mishaps. The performance of this song is note-perfect and it feels like the road into Kiran’s wonderland has now truly been laid out. What follows is a catchy song which manages to keep the crowd going, but as a heavier song soon emerges it becomes clear that we never truly know where it is going tonight.

The next song switches between heavy and catchy but as it ends, you can’t help but wonder if every song has to finish with an explosion of noise from the stage. These endings really do earn him no awards and break up what is often a tempered and exquisite performance. The ups and downs of tonight are then affirmed when a song which is just too heavy blows us all away to a place we don’t really want to be. Then the rhythm is found again as the organ chimes its first notes for ‘Port-Aine’, putting the audience on the up again for one of the moments of the night.

Kiran has now gone past the 11PM curfew normally applied throughout Manchester and seemingly does not seem to care. However, the checking of watches suddenly becomes common throughout the crowd, with one man reminding his mate that he has work tomorrow. I’m sure  tonight’s closing song, ‘Geraldo’s Farm’, a Kraftwerk-esque number, is worth more than one or two eye rubs in the morning. It has a cracking bassline and acts as the perfect closing credits to what has been an enticing and at times, a confounding performance.

His new album is definitely going to split opinion, something I’m sure Kiran is no stranger to doing. Tonight he has imitated many, sounding at times like Jeff Buckley, at times like Hookworms and at times like Kraftwerk. It has been one hell of a journey but as I leave it is the songs from his first album which play in my head the most as I make my way down Oldham Street.

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Paddy Kinsella

Hi all, my name is Paddy and I have a love for everything from African music to indie to house (basically anything other than heavy metal). Gigging and listening to albums are genuinely the things I most value and love doing.