Gig review: Kiran Leonard, Hug & Pint, Glasgow

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Inevitably, in the days following David Bowie’s death, questions were raised across the web as to where a new generation of musical eccentrics might be found in an increasingly saccharine mainstream pop landscape. Well, here’s one.

Kiran Leonard | Rating: **** | Hug & Pint, Glasgow

Raised in Oldham, most well-known in cult circles for his 2012 album Bowler Hat Soup, and recently the creator of a 16-minute single in last month’s Pink Fruit, Kiran Leonard sounds nothing like Bowie or anyone else, which is the point of being a maverick.

In the packed basement of the Hug & Pint, Leonard did strange and unlikely things with a typical four-piece band line-up. His music is possessed of drive and focus, but doesn’t go where you expect it to; songs like Oakland Highball and the new Don’t Make Friends with Good People (“it’s sarcastic,” reassured Leonard) rest upon discordant, seasick key changes, wailing violin interjections and Leonard’s unique vocal, bearing a hint of Jeff Buckley’s tone, but occasionally becoming an uncontainable yell.

There are occasional similarities to the considered rock voyages of Mogwai or Aereogramme, yet echoes of others don’t mean Leonard can be placed alongside them. He flitted between delicate folksiness and angry rock, then settled on urgent, Television-like post-punk on Port-Aine and a ramshackle funk groove on Geraldo’s Farm. Between songs, he tuned deliberately and at length, and conversation was possible; one guy crowdsourced directions to the toilets and another gasped, “my god Kiran, you’re an absolute genius.” The comedy “ba-doom-tish” added by Leonard’s drummer belied the fact it’s no joke.

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