Last week in The Ram Jam venue at The Grey Horse there were a couple of firsts. On Friday at the Crack Comedy event, there was not only a trombone and a squash-turned-instrument with a carrot mouthpiece played as part of a comedy set, but we had a few new faces on the scene in the form of Leo Napier and The Fever on Saturday.
The group's set covered an incredibly vast range of genres and styles, showcasing the vocal talent of Leo and versatility of all members. They performed renditions of classic songs familiar to the audience but with a modern-twist, such as Lean on Me and Use Me by Bill Withers, but also put a Blues/Funk take on more modern songs including a very clever cover of Passin' Me By by Pharsyde.
Leo's background and influences similarly cover a plethora of styles; he grew up across LA and London, eventually settling back in the US and according to his bio on leonapier.com, there was always music playing around the family home in the form of artists such as Al Green, Miles Davis, Ray Charles and Aretha Franklin. You could hear the influence his musical interests have in his original songs as well as his choice of covers, you wouldn't have expected to hear rapping in the set performed in the Ram Jam on Saturday if you didn't know Leo!
The 4 of them were one super tight unit, the band knowing exactly what Leo wanted by just a simple flick of his wrist. What really struck me was the fact that without the lyrics, the covers performed were barely recognisable because of how originally they had been arranged and in most cases, the instrumental parts re-written. It was refreshing to hear these songs performed so differently!
One of the notes I wrote for myself on the night simply says "The Grooviest" - not that I exactly needed reminding. You couldn't help but feel the music they were playing, every part complimented another and each drop to a new groove added another dimension to the song. The crowd grew throughout the set till the end when it was standing-room only, and there were compliments being thrown around the room from one person to another because they were a fantastic Saturday Night Surprise. At around 11.45 they asked how many more songs they could play and the answer was simply "as many as you like" because everyone was just loving the whole experience.
Have a listen to Leo's EP Mind Up below!