Review by Martin Elvery
Christmas came to The Mill Arts Centre with a bang last Saturday when Leatherat once again stormed the stage for their annual Christmas party.
The band’s home town gig once again highlighted just how much the folk rockers connect with their Banbury audience.
It’s not often you see the town’s alternative culture come out into the daylight – most of the venues in town play mainstream music and, AKA apart, there are few ‘alternative’ venues to speak of.
But last Saturday the audience was filled with lead singer Pete Bailey look-a-likes with trademark pirate hair, beard and hat, goths, hippies and proto-punks. Saturday was that most unusual of occasions – Banburians showing they are proud of who they are and where they come from.
Leatherat’s underdog mentality and their political rants on the injustice of the capitalist system suit this mood perfectly with their Leveller’s inspired folk rock anthems.
The gig was a showcase for the band’s new album Snake Eyes, which didn’t disappoint. Tunes such as High friends in Low Places sum up the band’s relationship with their followers and show despite their carefree image they have theserious songwriting skill to pen more than a few hit singles. And that is the most striking thing about Leatherat. Don’t be fooled by their scruffy image – they are quality musicians. Lead singer Pete Bailey whips up the crowd with plenty of banter but still delivers note perfect renditions. Newest members James Foley (guitars) and Lee Smith (drums) are solid replacements, while Jeremy Paul Carroll’s melodic and funky bass parts drive the songs forward.
But it’s Jono Watts’ fiddle playing that really steals the show ,taking the songs to soaring high places. It was a night to be proud of who we are.