Gig Review and Photography by Mark Loraine

Moulettes

As venues go, The Leopard in Doncaster is pretty small, pretty dark and often, historically, the site of some great performances. Tonight’s gig bore that history out, from the local support The Penny Lovers, to repeat visitors the Moulettes, the night was laid back, subtle and bang on the nail.

The Penny Lovers

First up for the night was the ever present and simply fabulous The Penny Lovers. From their inception many, many moons ago, The Penny Lovers have become a stalwart presence in the Doncaster music scene. Playing really great Americana with a solid Yorkshire twist (yes it exists) this set of blokes from Donny and its surrounds really know how to provide a set that gets toes tapping and even invokes a little bit of dancing from their truly faithful fans before the end of their oh too short set.

The Penny Lovers

The highlight of said set, for me at least, is the track that they will be issuing soon (I’m assured) on an EP is “Paper Boat”. A catchier ear-worm of a track the likes of which you are never likely to hear again shows just how classy and tuned in to their art these guys really are.

Moulettes

Following the homegrown support of The Penny Lovers was Moulettes touring support, Liz Green. I wasn’t sure about Ms Green as she stepped out of the audience (she was stood next to me) and set her gear up on stage – and when I say gear, I mean a guitar and a keyboard – but when she began her set I immediately warmed to her. Liz possesses a voice that in turn could be described as both ethereal and cutting. Short sharp passages interspersed with real moments of musical picture painting that mean the listener becomes wrapped in the song without really knowing it. I am assuming, hopefully correctly, that much of the set is available on her latest album “O’ devotion” as the complexity and depth of her musical talent really deserves a second and third listen. I shall tell you when I get my copy.

Moulettes

Finally tonight, the main act took the stage and as with the last time I saw them they seemed to be the most unlikely band ever. Centre stage is a cello player, supported by a double bass and a drummer that plays guitar – yes, often at the same time, all topped off with a violinist to boot. My only regret was the bassoon player wasn’t there tonight – I’m a sucker for a bassoon player in a band – because there are of course loads of bands with bassoon players! As you might have imagined, Moulettes are not, by any stretch of the imagination, what you would class as mainstream; for heaven’s sake they count a tea towel as one of their merchandise items, but what they are is truly magnificent.

Moulettes

When a band attracts the moniker Alt-Folk or Nu-Folk, you expect, perhaps rightly, a chart attracting, big sounding experience akin to the Mumfords of this world, but with Moulettes what you get is a set of really striking musicians that can play their instruments to an incredibly high level pared back to a pure beauty that is rare in music today. To take them from the aforementioned alt-folk scene would be wrong – they do after all count Ted Dwane from the aforementioned Mumfords as an alumni (he produced their first album too) but they deserve to be placed on a different shelf, a shelf all of their own.

Moulettes

Tonight Moulettes are touring their latest album, The Bear’s Revenge, and from the very start they are both captivating and thought provoking. They produce music like I have never experienced before, with sweeping strings from the Cello and violin backed by steady mournful bass tones from the man at the back, I found myself fully absorbed and truly carried away by the experience – something that I have to admit, rarely happens these days. I had seen them before at this venue and although small, it is a venue ideal for this type of band. The intimacy of their music really lends itself to the audience being close and when the vocalist and cellist, Hannah Miller, invites the audience to move closer to the stage, no one person needed a second asking and it become a cosy gathering of a few close friends.

Moulettes

If you get the chance to catch any of the bands mentioned here you really should grab the opportunity. The attendance tonight at The Leopard was pretty low but in no way reflected on the quality of the music and the performers that really made the evening special. To be truthful, those that were there thoroughly enjoyed the show and those that didn’t manage to make it missed an absolute treat. I didn’t manage to buy a tea towel from the merchandise stand this time around, but I promise I will the next time I see Moulettes – I suggest you do the same.

Leave a Reply