The Night Owl is a Soul and retro club based in the heart of Digbeth, Birmingham and this great city`s only Northern Soul venue. Indeed, the name was gained from a classic Northern Soul record ‘The Night Owl’ by Bobby Paris. So, when I heard that Iglu music were promoting a night for live original predominately local acts, i thought I’ve Gotta try and support that, especially as so many live music venues in Birmingham are falling by the way. Also, there was an artist called Vijay Kishore playing, whom I’ve seen a few times and hadn`t seen live for several years.
The event was eclectic in its choice of music, which varied from soul/jazz, hip hop, folk to progressive rock. The night included three local performers Vijay, Monique-Danielle, Lady Sanity and a three-piece called Hey Jester from Worcestershire. Monique-Danielle is a soul/jazz singer/songwriter and surrounded herself with a band that included keyboards, bass, guitar, drums and two backing singers, this short set was a cracking introduction to a lady who has such a rich sweet voice. Although the sound was a little low and there were sadly, quite a few that just wanted to chat than listen, we were treated to some tracks off an EP called `Thoughts On You` that is available and is well worth checking out. I`m sure `To Make You Feel Happy`, `No-One Else` and the stunning `Oxygen` were amongst cuts shared. If you think Skye Edwards from Morcheeba has a great voice, be sure to check out Monique.
Lady Sanity is a rap artist and it`s fair to say she`s had quite a bit of publicity and seems to be a regular performer at Glastonbury. She also represented her hometown and mine Birmingham in front of an estimated 1 billion people for the closing ceremony of the Commonwealth Games 2018, held in the Australian Gold Coast. I can`t say I’m a massive fan of rap/hip hop but I did enjoy this lady`s set. She draws on a broad spectrum of musical influences including rap, R&B, grime and rock and is inspired by artists such as Missy Elliott, Lauryn Hill, J Cole and Kendrick Lamar. This was an enthusiastic performance and she had the appreciative audience singing and chanting along. I will certainly be checking out her EP release called `For Figures.”
VijayKishore arrives on stage and kicks us off with an up tempo version of `Come On Over` before gifting us a new track called `Bones` with it`s compelling lyric of “Tell me it`s over” The set progresses with some familiar tunes and what is very noticeable is the reverence and respect the audience has as it is so quiet you could literally hear a pin drop. I have seen Vijay a few times and have to say he is quite a mesmerising artist. Towards the end of his set he decides to ditch the electric guitar he has in favour of his acoustic model and enthrals us with a couple of tunes, ending with the quite stunning `Hold Me Tight.` This being a track off his album “13 Rounds” which I was quite shocked to discover was released nine years ago, this very week, an album I do dip in and out of quite frequently. If there was one criticism of tonight is that it was poorly organised with acts arriving on stage, sometimes up to ninety minutes after they were roughly scheduled.
Sadly, for me, this meant that I only caught a couple of numbers from prog rockers Hey Jester before having to head home. Still what I did see managed to whet my appetite to check them out when they next play locally. So, the positive being able to support and enjoy a few local bands in a venue that`s committed to supporting live music but on the downside, the organisers need to get a little slicker at turning the acts around as four hours to see four bands is unforgivable.