Live review: LeftLion Presents… Circus Extraveganza 2009

6 Oct

A shed-load of bands played all around Canning Circus for LeftLion Presents… Circus Extraveganza on Saturday 3 October 2009

Reviewed for

LeftLion's Circus Extraveganza

Every now and again I am reminded of the reasons why I decided to stick around in Nottingham when I finished uni; Saturday on Canning Circus encapsulated nigh-on all of them. Trying to cover the music at the Circus Extravaganza was honestly a little daunting, but feeling overwhelmed by the amount of talented bands and musicians that I just HAD to see is one of the happiest problems I’ve ever had!

I started with a couple of coffees in the Sir John Borlase Warren, dosing up on caffeine in anticipation for what was going to be an epic and exhausting day. The first notes to tingle my eardrums came from the guitar of Steve Pinnock, whose dexterous, jazzy finger picking was a lovely start to the day. After a suitable intake of caffeine I headed over to the Running Horse where I got to catch a set from Nina Smith and her genre-mashing band of musicians. It was an entrancing mix of acoustic guitar, electric bass, a beatboxer providing beats and a frighteningly vast array of oral sound effects and Nina’s lilting, soulful vocals that blended beautifully to create a truly unique sound.

Following Nina was acoustic folkers Northern Monkey, who dealt out a set of classically British foot-stomping folk whilst the band members’ children ran riot around the pub.

After I’d had my fill of folkey goodness I walked over to Seven hoping to catch a few songs from the lovely Lisa de’Ville, but unfortunately I missed her. From past experience, however, I can say that she would have been as emotive and engaging as ever. I did, however, get to hear a few songs from Rapunzel M.A.P.; just a girl and her guitar, singing with a dewy, honey-dipped voice and telling stories of love, loss and holograms.

To the Red Lion, and the rock ‘n’ roll stylings of Terminal 5 Experience. Classic pub rock that would make your Dad thoroughly happy!

Trying to cram Notts music staples Rebel Soul Collective into the Red Lion was something akin to Meatloaf trying to get his pins into a pair of hipster skinny jeans, but nonetheless they filled the pub to bursting point with funky rhythms and energetic, tight-as-hell sonic madness. They never fail to slap a smile on my face, and it’s always fun to notice your feet moving of their own accord halfway through a song.

Next on the agenda was The Ropewalk, and Hhymn. I was excited before they even started playing owing to the huge array of instruments that littered the stage (an electric ukulele, cello, double bass, two trumpets..), and I wasn’t disappointed. They seemed happily at home in the crowded, warm ambiance and their vaguely melancholic yet hugely powerful chamber pop resonated through the top floor.

Back to the Running Horse to catch the end of exciting youngsters Swiines’ set of quintessentially English indie rock…

…leading into a bizarre and intriguing show from Luxury Stranger, whose lead singer looks like a cross between Robert Smith and Gene Simmons and fronted the stage with a look of confidence mixed with mortal terror. Gothic sensibilities, chanted vocals and wonderfully dark tones made for a strange but enjoyable end to the live music part of my day.

Finally, I staggered into Moog for some end-of-the-night, might-as-well-make-a-twat-of-yourself dancing, to Hexadecimal’s set of breakbeat and electro goodies, and when Moog stopped serving, I decided that it might be an idea to call it a day…

On the cold, slightly wobbly walk home, after a full day and night of stunning music, real ale and many marvelous revelries I realised that what had just transpired was a rare and brilliant thing, and one that you’d be hard pressed to find anywhere else in the country. If I had my way this would happen every month, so here’s hoping the Circus comes to town again!

Full photo gallery at


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