Oxjam is a music festival like no other, happening in tows and cities all around the UK every year to raise money for Oxfam. The main event for Leicester was on Saturday 22nd October in the heart of Leicester in the city’s Cultural Quarter.
This years Oxjam Leicester Takeover boasted over 150 bands, 25 DJs and15 venues, all for just a tenner!
So what is so brilliant about Oxjam? For me it is the ease of buying a wristband then walking from venue to venue, band to band within seconds. Almost like a well entertained pub crawl. They cater for all ages and almost every kind of genre and music lover. 2010’s Leicester Oxjam was the most successful Oxjam event ever, raising over £20,000 for Oxfam. So the pressure was on to do better this year. With an expected 2,000 people attending they could easily break the record.
We hit Ale Wagon first at around quarter past one, halfway through the set someone who we never managed to catch the name of (the timings went a bit awry at the start, which is to be expected). Reminiscent of Radiohead in his twangs but light hearted, overall a good place for us to start. Washed down with a pint of cider I was now in full flow and some more Oxjam music.
Realising at this point we could stay all day in Ale Wagon, which was by far the best venue for the day, we head across the road to the newly opened Manhattan34 to catch Lynsey Murray, a husky voiced singer who creates some lovely chilled out sounds, if I’m honest the set was a bit mis-timed and not as tight as it could have been but otherwise good.
We then up sticks yet again and hang a right straight into the warm embrace of Midas who are showcasing Anti War and Uncle Peace (formally Lickin’ Marina) who are brandishing their own unique style of ska sounds to a good sized and receptive crowd.
Deciding we shouldn’t stay for a drink as our notes are becoming more and more like a Ralph Steadman illusration, we brave the cold outside in Orton Square for the outdoor stage where Carol Leeming is belting out some great tunes in an ice queen white fur coat. Leeming has a lot of stage presence and is a good watch.
With the cold starting to take it’s toll we pop in on old friend The Sound House to catch the loudest band of the day First Wave. The crowd is sparse but the ones who can stand the sheer volume are loving it. This band have a lot of energy and, although we can’t understand a word he is signing, is otherwise great!
After the coma inducing speakers we decide it is probably best to head back to Ale Wagon for a drink and a break, but no time because as we get in Elizabeth Cornish, supported by Jason Smith on bass, is getting ready to start her set. Elizabeth has a simply amazing voice, akin to Florence and the Machine, which fits perfectly with the dulcet strings from her guitar and Jason’s bass.
Before we left we got a chance to grab five minutes with organisers, who told us: “The day was a tremendous success and we’re really pleased with the turnout. We would like to thank all the bands, artists and volunteers who gave up their free time to help us put on the festival and of course the public who came and gave lots of money to charity Oxfam. We’ve been overwhelmed by positive feedback from the day, and it’s fantastic to know so many people enjoyed it.”
We also brought along our new photographer Mary Ann Varley to Oxjam this year, who got some smashing photos. See below for some of her photographic highlights.