When Mike Leslie asked me to cover his show, I immediately said yes because although I have a copy of his cd and love his sound, one of the things I enjoy most is seeing a live performance by an artist I have never seen before. Going into the show, I wondered what the comparison would be between the cd and the live performance as the cd is really stripped down. You can tell when listening that it is definitely all about the quality of the sound vs. just putting some music together to fill tracks. While that is great when you are in your car, if it does not sound decent live, what is the point? I was also curious as to how it would be for Mike to be on the other side of the fence since he currently writes for National Rock Review. When I asked him about it, he said that it was a bit confusing at first and like we all have had to learn, it’s usually not the time to pull out the requisite souvenirs acquired over the years for the artists to sign.
I walked into St. Andrews just as the first song was beginning and I was pleasantly surprised at the amount of people who came out to see him. I looked up on stage and saw that Mike was playing with only two other people that night, Bryan Reilly on drums and The Infatuations’ resident bad ass bass player, Wolf. I am somewhat partial to three- piece bands, as they seem to have more on their plate as far as putting out a great sound. Mike told me he landed the opening spot for this show after sending in his song “Weather Vane”
Leslie, who cites Jimi Hendrix, John Lennon, Alice in Chains, and Elton John as some of his influences told me that he really started playing guitar around 14 or 15 when he transferred to Rochester Adams High School. He says that the cliquey atmosphere wasn’t for him so he spent upwards of 8 hours a day just playing and honing his skills. It wasn't until he had been in a few bands in his mid to late teens that he began singing. Although partial to Eric Clapton, when asked who he would most like to open for, Mike said without more than a few seconds to think about it, Pearl Jam.
To say that this trio was entertaining would be a complete understatement. The way Mike moves around on stage engages the crowd in a way that is both fun and also makes you wonder what he is going to do next. I was totally blown away by the fact that not only is Mike a wonderfully talented musician, but he is completely self- taught. In addition to jumping off stage to interact a little closer to his fans, at one point, he strapped a Go Pro camera to his head to capture the crowd’s reaction. It was funny to see the people looking around to find out where he went and see him standing right in your face.
It seemed to be over way too soon but I thoroughly enjoyed myself. While I enjoyed the cd and have become a fan, to see him perform in person just made me like him so much more. I always try to support the local talent and love to watch them move up to the next level and I have a feeling that Mike Leslie is definitely on his way. If you haven't had a chance to see him yet, I would recommend you do so while he still in town because great things are in store.
Next up for Mike Leslie is the annual Stars & Stripes festival at Freedom Hill the weekend of June 27th as well as competing with a number of bands to earn a spot on the Lynyrd Skynyrd Simple Man Cruise occurring in November. The cruisers will get to vote on 16 bands and 8 of those will be chosen to share the stage the legendary Lynyrd Skynyrd as well as Blackberry Smoke, Foghat, Lucas Nelson, The Delta Saints, who I love by the way, and a ton of other great bands. He will be starting his social media campaign soon so please stay tuned for that so we can help him win. He will also be recording a live EP in Auburn Hills in July.
For some amazing photos of this show shot by Marc Nader, please visit http://www.seethemuzic.com/mike-leslie-band-at-the-fillmore/
Keep up to date on all things Mike Leslie by liking his Facebook page www.facebook.com/mikeleslieband