To slot Saint Leonards Horses into any one music genre would be something of a mistake as they flit between musical nods to blues, jazz and folk as they spin their cinematic tales of dreams, love and muses. After releasing their debut album “Good Luck Everybody” their work has been praised as a late runner for album of the year so with that kind of endorsement so early into their career it felt like seeing them live was to be a witness to something special, it turns out that it was just that.
The Night & Day Cafe is a venue that is held in very high regard amongst the music scene of Manchester so it felt a fitting place to hear their music live here for the first time. As the band saunter onto the stage, the ringleader, Kieran Leonard cuts a slender figure that may not have grabbed your attention by sight straight away but for sure by sound.
We begin the proceedings with track number one off their debut album “Well, Well, Well” a song that gives an early display of Kieran Leonards calming and at times fragile vocals, as the band look to be playing their set in chronological order of how the songs appear on their album we dive right into “Long John Silver” a more energetic beat powering the song as a beautifully crafted introductory piano riff makes way for a more rock guitar sound, complimenting each other as they do so.
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The spirited “Rise Up” which was the first song to be released to the world has people bopping their heads in appreciation as they are witnessing something special, Leonard himself stands attached to the microphone as if it were an extra limb, only leaving to top up his glass of whiskey. After taking a sip, he continues his performance with “Goddess of Electric Gold” which really comes to life as the vocals pierce through you at the chorus. Interesting subject matter for the next song “A Muse” that darts from Los Angeles to a stripper pole in Hull in just over four minutes, work that one out.
As the set winds down it becomes apparent that the audience are quite a distance from the band, something that Leonard would point as he beckons people to move forward to not leave him with a bruised ego but to also, remind everyone of the reason why they’re at the show in the first place, to engage in art and music. The crowd obliges by shuffling a few feet forward as the band break into the blues infused “1969 revisited” and to end the set with “Ever Open Door”.
It’s always great to see a band receive praise for their recorded work but even more satisfying when they can then back that up with the stage presence and musical talent that Saint Leonards Horses show. Kieran Leonard himself has an enigmatic charisma about him that is shown more through words rather than actions and the rest of the bands talents as musicians is plain to see as on this night they were triumphant and one would suggest there will be many more triumphs to come.