Sundays are generally not a day for gigs in Leeds City Centre. With many of the bars on Call Lane recovering from the night before, the city was eerily quiet. Walking through the fog, I spied the bright red neon lights of Oporto twinkling in the evening drizzle, not a soul in sight.
Having watched 14 year old Oliver Pinder during the Martin House Centrestage competition at the O2 Academy last year, this slightly melancholy evening seemed an appropriate setting. However, as I opened the door to the venue, I was met with a heaving and jovial atmosphere, as though the entire city had crammed into this tiny room. The venue was lit beautifully with candles, with Oliver’s seemingly vast family all chipping in and helping to run the night.
His new EP Island Rain, is out now. Having worked closely with Mickey Dale and Mike Heaton of Embrace on the release, tonight is about showcasing all he has learnt and how he has grown as a performer.
His new backing band add an exciting new and confident direction, having more recently been a solo acoustic performer. His song ‘Dear’ from the new EP is a firm favourite as he and the band launch into the set with precision and passion. His confidence has grown, but he has not lost any of his charm or vulnerability. The audience is clearly rooting for him, cheering and clapping along to his much more upbeat set.
Half way through, the band leave the stage, and Oliver performs alone. He channels artists like Tracy Chapman and Ben Howard, he has haunting and beautiful tone to his voice. He speaks from the heart, he paints pictures, and tells a story. As he stands solitary on stage, his eyes closed, we are all transfixed. He has an old soul, and it is hard to remember that Oliver is still at school and not in fact a superstar with an incredible gift.
As his set draws to a close, he invites a special guest on stage to duet with him, local singer-songwriter and internet star, Hannah Trigwell. They perform a perfect cover of Say Something, with harmonies that reduce me to a blubbing mess!
With the notes of my personal favourite ‘Darling’ ringing in my ears, he leaves all of us feeling uplifted and as though this is the start of something very special.
There has been a buzz about Oliver Pinder for several months now, not only because of his truly incredible gift for writing songs that transcend age and time, but also for his professional attitude. Be sure to check him out at this years Live At Leeds, I am certain it will be a performance to remember.
For further details on Oliver visit http://www.oliverpinder.co.uk
Gig date: March 22