Kiran Leonard

Kiran Leonard


Kiran Leonard is Greater Manchester born and bred, but he is far removed from the brit-pop indie stereotype that many Mancunian musicians have followed. Perhaps it’s because he was too young to have grown up engulfed by the likes of The Stone Roses and Oasis, his style is nothing further from the ‘typical’ Manchester sound that people may have come to expect. His latest album release Grapefruit (2016) is particularly exploratory, a glory of experimental, unique sounds and it’s causing quite a stir.

On this typically rainy evening Kiran is heading the bill at Deaf Institute in the heart of student Manchester, this venue on Oxford Road has played host to many successful, enigmatic acts and artists over the years and remains a cherished spot for gig goers.

Tonight Kiran is being supported by DUDS and Secret Admirer; DUDS open the night, performing with a presence and aura of The Hives – jerky, sharp and punky, yet, with an underlying 50s rock n’ roll rhythm, which disallows the crowd to remain still throughout. Shortly after DUDs leave us, Secret Admirer take to the stage, fronted by Nick Ainsworth, (previously – Former Bullies), Nick and his band, including the remarkably talented drummer Andrew Cheetham, look a bit awkward and tense on stage, maybe that’s the pressure of a home crowd? However, they don’t let it affect their music, it’s smooth, polished and warm, their songs give you that fuzzy feeling as if you’re being held and swayed in contented arms on a Sunday morning. I’ve never seen this band live before, yet I instantly feel like their songs are old friends and it’s pretty lovely. “Perfect Specimen” and “Hateful” are stand out tracks of their performance, and I like that they seem like genuine nice guys too, making odd jokes and telling us that they’ve printed their own album covers at work, unbeknown to Stockport Council. As they finish their set, I spot Kiran Leonard in the crowd and he’s the first to applaud and cheer them as their time on stage for the night comes to a close.

When Kiran propels into his set with my favourite and ambitious single “Pink Fruit”, it’s disjointed but seamless, off-beat but catchy, the song is full of juxtapositions, and it takes you on a journey of assorted sounds; as soon as you feel the beat of one rhythm, the whole thing is shaken up again. As the set progresses there continues to be minimal interaction with the audience and very few breaks between songs (except for a few issues with speakers) and for the uninitiated of the crowd it’s probably hard to identify when one song ends and the next begins. Although Kiran is showcasing the strengths of the latest album with songs, such as “Don’t Make Friends With Good People” and “Ondor Gongor”, the strongest points are still delivered as he performs “Dear Lincoln” and “Port-Aine” from his 2013 album Bowler Hat Soup. The energy he exudes is overwhelming, he’s possessed by the music, it’s frantic, it’s engaging and as he bounces around the stage shoeless in his striped socks, we feel out of breath with him.

As the set climaxes he apologises for not being able to do an encore, notably he’s suffering with a hoarse throat and needs to rest it for the rest of the tour, we may feel a little dejected, but, we haven’t missed out. Having watched in wonder of this restless, chaotically wonderful young Jeff Buckley-like musician, everyone is collectively thinking ‘Hallelujah’.

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Sarah Starkey

I am a Freelance Writer who is a bit music obsessive. Previously written for the likes of Music Vita and Planet Ivy. Life highlights include winning £2.50 on the Euro-millions.