Formed in Leicester a year ago, The Bobcats, fronted by bearded giant Stu Crown, have swiftly become a big part of the music scene here. The trio play an exciting, loud and blues-driven genre of rock, which is perfectly accompanied by Crown’s thunderous voice. They recently announced that their debut studio EP (entitled An Introduction) will be released later this summer, and have preceded it with this bootleg recording of one of their shows at Leicester’s Shed, a hotspot of up-and-coming music and a venue The Bobcats frequent.
Recordings of shows aren’t always the best: they might not sound great, and they may have producers itching to tinker and enhance, but when they do come out well, they can be better than any studio effort. Few bands have shows that the audience really want to listen to again, and even fewer actually get those performances recorded to a high enough standard to honour the show. The Rolling Stones have done it. Nirvana has done it. Green Day did it. And so have The Bobcats.
The first track ‘An Introduction’ is exactly that – the first lines (sang in Crown’s pseudo-American accent) set out The Bobcats’ manifesto for the show: “Well, The Bobcats came to make some noise/ Take your heart and you ain’t got a choice/ We’re gonna make ya fuckin’ blow your mind/ Gonna show you a real good time”. The song continues with the high energy and attitude that it starts with, introducing (as the title would suggest) each of the three members. It then segues into the next track on the EP, ‘Blunt to Sharp’, more of a ‘proper’ song with the same high-octane ZZ Top-esque (think ‘Sharp Dressed Man’) riff as ‘An Introduction’.
Parts of any musician’s repertoire are other musicians’ songs. In the show at The Shed, The Bobcats produced – quite simply – one of the best covers of The Jimi Hendrix Experience’s ‘Foxy Lady’. It is raw and somewhat more animalistic through the combination of shouted harmonies and the growl that Stu Crown produces.
Any show, no matter how short, needs some audience interaction in order to transcend dogmatic performance of a set list. It is clear that Crown will develop an excellent rapport with any audience, as evidenced here with jokes and instructions to move.
We move into another blues track, ‘Don’t Want Nobody Talkin’ To You’, which would not sound at all out of place in the late 60s British Blues boom, as it sounds like an angrier Peter Green’s Fleetwood Mac. This is very much a menacing song created by the aggressive lyrics, the slower, ominous beat, and Crown’s signature roar (not in the vein of Katy Perry).
Crown proceeds to inform the audience that, after the slowness of the previous song, The Bobcats will “punch you in the fuckin’ face” with ‘Whole Lotta Crazy’. They certainly do that. Many songs with this much aggression packed into six minutes become unlistenable noise, but The Bobcats manage it to perfection, and leave room for a calmer ‘eye of the storm’ interlude.
The Bobcats finish with ‘String You Up’, a song very much alike to its predecessor, but two thirds of the time. Arguably the weakest track on the EP, but nevertheless a great feat of blues-rock.
Ultimately, the worst thing about this CD is its brevity. The band is tight throughout, with great individual performances culminating in a final product that is much greater than even the sum of its parts.
Stu Crown and The Bobcats are continually performing all over Leicester, so check out their Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/thebobcatsbluesband) to see where to find them next. This EP, Live at The Shed, is available from The Bobcats’ Bandcamp site: http://stucrownandthebobcats.bandcamp.com.