Like Ziggy Stardust, Kiran Leonard plays it left-hand. How far can he take it? Only he can say. His album Grapefruit is the follow-up to Bowler Hat Soup, released when he was 17. Precocious, then, or just keen to make the most of his time on earth?
Either way, he may have some hits soon if he’s not careful. The hour-long set featured at least two pop songs, including Secret Police. Leonard played the final two tracks solo, one of which is about a former soldier who passed away when he had his incapacity benefits taken away. He is a performer who demands your attention, whether it is his Quasimodo stance, the way vowel sounds linger around his mouth or how hyperactive he is.
Perhaps the greatest compliment you can pay Leonard, with at least one prominent BBC broadcaster watching from the back of the venue, is that John Peel would have invited him back for twenty sessions if he were still alive. Leonard also seems less abrasive than Mark E Smith of The Fall, another great Mancunian poet and rock star.
If you have the patience, The Quietus wrote an essay about Leonard using long words and comparisons with all kinds of cult musicians. We can’t do better than their description of one song as a ‘Lovecraftian sea shanty’ and another as an ‘apocryphal choral epiphany’. We’ll use long words like ‘magnificent’ and ‘sui generis’ which is Latin for ‘nobody comes close to being like him’.
Sitting centre-stage with Leonard to his left and a bassist and guitarist/fiddler to his right (and wearing two layers, it seemed, which is two too many for this type of muscular music) was Animal from the Muppets. Cowbells were prominent on a couple of tracks, or movements, because some of Leonard’s tracks stretch beyond pop song length. No wonder the view of the drum was not obstructed, for the sake of the punters who saw the octopus behind the kit and for Leonard, who must be deaf by now after all the pummelling.
In fact, If you want a long word to describe Kiran Leonard, go for ‘pummelling’. And don’t forget to catch him on the way up.