leisure-society   – THE DEAF INSTITUTE, MANCHESTER –

The Leisure Society are an often overlooked, UK folk-indie outfit.  Formed in 2009 and twice Ivor Novello nominated, the band count Brian Eno and Guy Garvey as big followers (not present tonight). The line-up includes the super talented Nick Hemming and band-mates that include members from stellar indie act such as The Miserable Rich and Lightspeed Champion.

As tonight’s support, the Keston Cobblers Club hit the Deaf Institute stage, the venue’s already packed with a very excited gig goers.  This new, young 5-piece from Kent, who cite Bob Harris and  Steve Lamacq as fans, have got the crowd into a frenzy; with their catchy blend of old worldly folk, cutesy vocals, oom pah, pah-ness and toe-tapping silliness topped off with a retro hipster, tweed loving, vintage-vibe. The audience go ballistic at the end of the Keston’s rip-roaring set.

The Leisure Society take to the tiny stage and frontman Hemming, looking dashingly younger than his 40 years, declares that “We’ve been looking forward to this one”.

The band delve straight into a very cheerful ‘Another Sunday Psalm’, tonight’s first airing of the band’s new release Alone Aboard The Ark. The track wonderfully sets the president for this evening’s show of beautifully crafted and performed music.

‘Save It for Someone Who Cares’, from their debut album The Sleeper, shows-off the band’s perfect live display of vocal harmonies, synched with Helen, the flute maestro. The barn dance finale is a firm favourite with the audience, who are giddy as kippers at just two songs into the set.

Alone Aboard The Ark’s showcase continues with ‘All I Have Seen’, followed by the new single and incredibly catchy ‘Fight For Everyone’. The band look like they’re having the time of their lives and so does the crowd.

From their latest track, to their very first single ‘The Last of The Melting Snow’ that earned them their original nod from Mr. Novello, takes the tempo down a little. ‘Love’s Enormous Wings’ stays with the sentimental, simplistic twee-ness; the sound that drives of The Sleeper album. It’s perfect Sunday listening, from a bloody lovely bunch of people.

‘Everyone Understands’ brings the tempo back up, as the band show-off their knack for composing a catchy, jaunty pop song, with balcony dwellers mouthing every word. It’s the type of warm and charming music that makes me want to sack the day job off and frolic in a meadow, without a care in the world.

‘Dust on the Dancefloor’ hears our first dip Into The Murky Water (2011) tonight and shows that the band are not just a quaint, one-trick, folk pony. The whole audience are either bobbing up and down or wearing big, silly grins on their faces.

The only lull tonight is the band’s easily forgettable version of Belle & Sebastian’s ‘I Don’t Love Anyone’. I would have liked to see them attempt to cover a band that’s a little more far removed from their own genre. Have a listen to their Product of The Ego Drain EP; they do a lovely version of Gary Numan’s ‘Cars’.

More tracks from Alone Aboard The Ark follow. ‘Tearing the Arches Down’ brings an unexpected heavier indie sound to the venue. Whilst ‘Forever We Shall Wait’ offers an example of why the band’s often noted as the UK’s answer to The Decemberists. We hear Hemming’s wonderful story-telling narrative, combined with their trademark melody-driven harmonies. The track’s grand finale sees the band members hammer the shit out of their instruments for one last rendition of the chorus.

The encore is one of the warmest “welcome backs” I’ve ever heard from an audience; the atmosphere is incredible, these guys have created a music hall of love.
They’re not just an “An overnight non-sensation” (quoted The Guardian in 2009, after their initial Ivor recognition).  There are lots of loyal fans of the band here tonight. For those that haven’t come as admirers, they’re definitely going to leave as one.

Encore track ‘One Man and His Fug’,  sees the Keston Cobblers Club re-join the Leisure Society on stage for a mass sing-a-long, party performance.
The final and 17th track of the night let’s this Manchester crowd join in on a ‘Leisure Society gig tradition’. All band members make some room in the middle of the audience, for a stripped-down version of ‘The Pancake Song’. Camera phones are held up high and some audience members clamber on the bar to watch this, special acoustic spectacle taking place in the middle of the floor.

We all need a bit of joy in our lives (and if not, why the hell not, you cold-hearted arsehole?). The Leisure Society has filled me and the audience full of the stuff tonight. Their lovely blend of charming banter and dreamy folk-pop makes The Leisure Society a leading light of UK’s indie music scene.


Co-founder, Producer and Presenter of the weekly Silent Radio show. Part of the Silent family since 2010.Over 10 years experience of working with national, award-winning youth charities and in the creative industries. She’s the former Deputy Director of NOISEfestival.com, Europe’s leading promoter of emerging creative talent. Here she helped secure new creatives secure massive media exposure (BBC R1, 1Xtra…), showcases at mega impressive locations (Downing Street, V&A...) and kudos from the best in the business (Brian Eno, Boiler Room, Peter Saville…).She also flies the flag for women in the media as Director of Manchester’s independent music website Silent Radio and co-Founder, Exec Producer and Presenter of the Silent Radio show on MCR.Live; Further radio includes BBC 5Live, BBC Radio Manchester, plus the odd bit of TV Production Management with international broadcast credits (BBC, ZDF / Arte, Smithsonian…), she also dabbles with playing records to people and her first podcast is currently in pre-production.Bestest gigs: Pulp, Sheffield Arena, ’12 | Micah P Hinson, Sheffield Lantern Theatre, ’12 | Dream Themes, Manchester Star & Garter, ’14 | Patrick Watson, Manchester Gorilla, ’15 | Less Than Jake, Nottingham Rock City, ‘01 | Frightened Rabbit, Manchester Deaf Institute, ’12 | The Decemberists, Manchester Academy, ‘11 | Passion Pit, Manchester Academy 2, ‘09 | Iron and Wine, The Ritz, Manchester, ‘08 | The Verve (with Beck), Wigan Haigh Hall, ‘98 | Take That, Manchester Eastlands Stadium, ‘11 |Worst gig: Fall Out Boy, Manchester Roadhouse ’05 (subject to change)