Juice New Music Christmas party with 900 Spaces, Jennifer Left, Kidda and Midfield General

One last gig before Christmas? Why not! Last night was the Juice New Music Night’s Christmas Party, their first event in their new home at The Haunt. I missed openers 900 Spaces because the annual Burning The Clocks procession was running a bit late, and arrived just a few minutes before Jennifer Left took to the stage. Jennifer has been working incredibly hard the past few months, playing a lot of gigs and spreading the word all around town, but the attention she’s been receiving isn’t just the result of a lot of hard work – there are some great songs behind everything she’s doing. Jennifer was very much in the festive spirit performing her set in a red Santa dress, although she didn’t perform any Christmas songs. A lot of reviews of Jennifer describe her sound as folky, but I’m guessing that they’re probably reviews of her solo performances rather than with the full band that she had last night, where she was accompanied by guitars, drums, double bass and a multi-instrumentalist who played everything from flugelhorn to xylophone. Things got a bit jazzier later on, with a bossa nova cover of New Order’s Temptation. Jennifer Left is definitely an act to look out for next year.

Once upon a time, Kidda was just Ste McGregor, his records, his sampler, and some passing musicians. These days he’s joined by guitarist and co-writer Lee Baker, and a couple of female vocalists, including Jennifer Left. Kidda’s music was a ray of sunshine on a grey drizzly December day like yesterday, and I know that there’s going to come a day in spring when the sun’s out, the skies are blue and the world is just coming back to life when one of their tunes comes on the radio and it’ll be just perfect. Their sound is gospel sampling summery hip hop played by a live band which is relentlessly positive. Even the songs about being sad sound happy! This was their first ever live band gig in their hometown, and if there were any nerves, they didn’t show. The got the whole of The Haunt on their feet – a cautious gap between the stage and the audience got transformed into a breakdance area, and by the end of the set everyone was dancing.

But that wasn’t the end of the night. Things were rounded off with a DJ set by Skint boss Damian Harris aka Midfield General. Once upon a time his sets would have been full of big beat classics, but keeping with the tone of Kidda’s tunes, things started off with some Snoop Dogg and carried on with more of a hip hop vibe. I’d have loved to have stayed longer, because he was playing some great tunes, but sadly the pressures of the day job meant I had to call it a night.

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