This month we visit Leicester, in the good company of Gigslutz Girls Radio co-host Tash Moran…

We may be in the middle, but we are in no way the centre of attention. If it wasn’t for Kasabian’s stellar year in 2014 (Victoria Park and Glastonbury), I dare say us East Midland-ers would still just be a passing place on the music map of fame. Leicester doesn’t boast the biggest of arenas or legendary artists, but we are slowly making a name for ourselves away from our cheesy predecessors Mark Morrison and Showaddywaddy (cringe!)…

When it comes to venues, we have a charismatic selection that ranges from great to grotty. Our largest, aside from Victoria Park, is De Montfort Hall. This classy concert hall has hosted spectacular names including: The Beatles in ‘64, The Rolling Stones in ‘76, David Bowie in ‘73 and ACDC in ’79. Judging by those dates alone, it’s been a while since any music giants visited the curry county.

Our annual ‘Summer Sundae’ gives us the festival vibe right on our doorstep. The Zutons, Bon Iver, Mumford And Sons and The Future Heads have all graced the grass of Victoria (‘Vicky’) Park, as well as local bands and comedians who all share a piece of their talent until the early hours… though after Kasabian’s Summer Solstice performance, there can’t have been much grass left. Homecoming Carnage! Regardless of the weather, people come from far and wide to enjoy the cosy atmosphere that this Leicester fest offers.

Leicester also has a handful of more intimate venues and, like many commercial city centres, there is the O2 Academy. It is reasonably priced, has solid acoustics and the occasional big name, plus you are guaranteed to see the artist wherever you stand (unless you’re a short arse, like me). Having freshers’ withdrawal symptoms? For a cheap night out, the Leicester Uni crowds are an affable bunch to get merry with, even if your student ID is past its sell by date: another reason to love this student-friendly venue.

The Musician, tucked away on Crafton Street West is this cracking little venue. Its location isn’t its best asset, so passing trade is not always that regular. But once you experience this place, you are guaranteed to return with friends in tow. Word-of-mouth is their signature means of promotion and with live music every night from all genres, a decent pint and clean toilets (definitely a plus), you are sure to have a great night any day of the week. The walls are lined with posters and flyers of the well-known artists who have graced their stage, though they dedicate themselves to smaller artists by promoting the local talent with ‘battle of the band’ nights and local festival auditions – the winner grabbing a spot in one of the up-and-coming tents at a local field shindig.

Leicester 02

7-Day Guide to going out in Leicester
Monday- The Globe is considered your ‘old man’s’ pub and has all the traits of being so. A good ale, worn-out furniture and your regular boozer who sits in his favorite spot. Stereotypes aside, it is centrally located without the hassle of neighboring clubbers spewing up on your doormat. The menu offers home-made, freshly prepared and locally sourced grub; another incentive to stop here for a beer and a burger.

Tuesday- If you’re after a bit of celeb spotting on a Tuesday night then head down to Tom Meighan’s local, The Cradock Arms. It backs on to Leicester’s trendy Clarendon Park Road, so if you wanted to carry on drinking until the early hours then there are loads of quirky bars to frequent on your pub crawl. And say you did happen to bump in to Mr. Meighan, I’m sure he would willingly go with you.

Wednesday- The Cosy Club is every bit cosy, and just as exclusive. Relatively new to Leicester, this unique watering hole is great any night of the week. The staff are as quirky as the interior and though their menu is limited, they do their grub well. From tapas to cheesy chips, beer to cocktails, it is the new place to hang out in Leicester. Only trouble is you might not get a seat, it’s just too popular!

Thursday- If you’re after a mid-week pick-me-up, then The Terrace is three stories of DJ, dancing and drinks. There is no specific age group that attends, so you could bump into your mum, but hey, everyone needs to let off some steam! Music wise, their in house DJ bears a striking resemblance to Calvin Harris and plays a mix of old RnB classics. Not your chart-topping pop crap. On occasions they have a live band, which really brings in a crowd. Though this is more of a seasonal thing, great for your work Christmas parties.

Friday- Start your weekend in style with the classy Exchange in the heart of the cultural quarter. Backing directly on to Manhattan 34, both of these bars ooze sophistication and up-market clientele. They have a great selection of wine and cocktails plus you can hire out both of the basements for creative workshops, live music and private parties. Exchange is one of the smaller venues that showcase some of the lesser-known comedians during Leicester’s annual comedy festival and has gained itself an avid reputation from this, adding their name to the list of alternative nights out in the city. For another spin on your bog standard evening in town, why not learn some skills from Manhattan’s finest barmen and see exactly how to create that perfect cocktail. Taste testing is a must.

Saturday- If you’re keen to keep up the cocktails, then get yourself down to Hakamou where the drinks menu is as long as the night is young. You can get a ‘Bears Bollocks’ served in a coconut, a pitcher of ‘Sex With Pete’ (cheeky) and even a taste of ‘Your Mum’… honestly, I’m not kidding. You may feel out of place without your Hawaiian shirt on, even in the depths of winter, so make this a wardrobe staple if you plan on swinging by the nearest thing Leicester has to a beach bar in Ayia Napa.

Sunday- Wind it down with a Sunday bevy at The Lansdowne. The end of the week is the nicest time to go, away from the weekend’s racket. Their playlist always has a class mix of songs that can pull you away from any conversation, plus the food platters are great here too, unless of course you prefer your Sunday roast.

The Cosy Club Leicester

Leicester has The Highcross shopping centre where you can find almost anything in the everyday branded stores, but it is the windy back streets and arcades that hold the real gems when it comes to retail therapy. Boutiques and sole traders occupy the cobbled side streets making your shopping experience that little bit more interesting.

Watch This Space offers tons of home grown loveliness, all hand crafted by local artists. From jewellery made out of spoons to lampshades made from old cassette tapes, you are guaranteed to find a great gift for anyone, all the time supporting these creative creatures in funding their future projects.

And then there’s The Very Bazaar selling everything hippy: incense, bongs and dream catchers. This is the kind of place that you smell before you see; incense smoking out through the open door. I spend a lot of time (and money) in here, and come out reeking of nag champa.

Rockaboom is the place for vinyl and sometimes even gig tickets. The independent music specialists sell old and new vinyl and cds from as low as 50p! Now there is no excuse to neglect your dwindling collection, and if they haven’t got it, then they will gladly get it for you.

Finally, we have a three-story vintage haven, bursting with period trinkets and yesterday’s fashion faux pas. Like Marty and Doc, Dolly Mix/Pink Pigeon takes you back in time. Vintage leather jackets, roller skates and even wedding dresses are buried amongst the mountainous wonder. And best of all, everything is a bargain which is good because you can never leave empty handed!

Rockaboom Leicester

When you come to Leicester, expect to called “me old duck” or “arr kid”. And don’t be offended if we call you an “old cock”, it means friend. Our lingo is lazy and we tend not to bother pronouncing the full word. Instead we trail off with ‘ahhs’ and ‘ehhs’, instead of ‘ers’ and ‘y-s’. Avyagorrit? Kasabian’s Sergio Pizzorno loves his home town that much, he has promoted our dodgy dialect with his ‘les-ta’ and ‘eez-eh’ tour t-shirts, though I think we could definitely do with some vocal coaching. Altogether now… “how-now-brown-cow”. Okay, maybe not.

Did you know?
According to Lonely Planet, Leicester is one of the top ten places to visit in the world! And all because we found a king in a car park. It also holds the second biggest Diwali celebration outside of India, on Belgrave Road/’The golden Mile’, so you can guarantee we do a damn good curry. The many cultures that inhabit our city share the same sense of local pride and, despite this mix of ethnicity and religion, little tension is experienced within the city. We are home to national treasures, Richard and David Attenborough who grew up in here, along with Queen Bassist, John Deacon, who is estimated to be worth a modest £74 million. We are also home to Joseph Merrick, the Elephant man and boast the highest prison walls in England. I have been a ‘Leicesterian’ my whole life so I am bound to be slightly biased, but Leicester really is a one-off city with tons to offer.

Natasha Moran

Kasabian Leicester

Tash Moran

Tash Moran

Leicester based writer and photographer