C J Pandit: at The Cardigan Arms on 11 April

Even though I’ve been in and around Leeds for the majority of my northern life, The Cardigan Arms is a place that I’ve always heard people mention in conversation but haven’t actually visited before. It’s a hot spot for students and craft beer lovers, but without the pretentiousness sometimes found in venues like this.

Thursday’s gig at Cardigan Arms was a special one for CJ Pandit for two major reasons. Reason one, it was the first night of his tour (other dates included Bristol, Leicester and London) and reason two…was because his debut album “One Lost English Boy” was released that very night on streaming services.

C J Pandit

The night consisted of three acts. First up was Cyrano, who Christened his first time playing a gig in Leeds in our stunning company. With quite the intricate set up of instruments around him, it was clear that mixing whilst performing was something Cyrano does very comfortably.

Cyrano. Photograph by Charlotte Gill

For those unfamiliar with his music, I would say it sits amongst the sounds of Bon Iver/ James Blake and Everything Everything, with very smooth mixes, gorgeous voice and a hint of electronic meets jazz. Cyrano finished his set with his song White Wine, which has now been added to my liked songs on Spotify.

The Edinburgh-based artist and producer has a plethora of very impressive writing history, amongst which are the likes of Foals, Arlo Parks and Alt-J, so if you’re looking for a new artist to put on your radar, Cyrano is one I would definitely recommend.

The grand yet cosy room at Cardigan Arms lent itself perfectly for the second act of the evening, with candle-lit tables, chandeliers and a distant, tonight gloomy Leeds being heard slightly through the old windows. The audience was ready for Neve Cariad.

Neve Cariad. Photograph by Charlotte Gill

We have to acknowledge that Neve was not feeling her best this evening. The singer-songwriter informed the audience that she really wasn’t well but still wanted to perform. What I was expecting to hear following this announcement and what we actually heard were worlds apart. If that was her with a cold/feeling under the weather then I can’t wait for the opportunity to see her at 100%.

There was such a professional level of control in her voice; it was so commanding of the audience and paired wonderfully with her instrument. The audience acted with such care and were very proactive at encouraging the singer to take their time. The room seemed focused on listening to the music and the lyrics.

The night offered a very diverse set of musicians. To go from electronic with lots of pedals/ drum pads, instruments to a singer with an acoustic guitar was clearly a perfect example of musicians who CJ Pandit surrounds himself with.

Neve’s strength was in her storytelling abilities, and including a beautiful song sung in the Welsh language about her grandparents shows she is all about authenticity in her music. After the audience had been taken through a musical journey, thanks to Cyrano and Neve Cariad, it was time for the headliner, CJ Pandit.

C J Pandit. Photograph by Emily Lomas

Originally from Leicester, C J Pandit’s music influence clearly extends beyond the Midlands. With a band at his side, his music included elements of guitar lead indie, soulful jazz, and more experimental riffs. Apart from the novelty of the intimate setting of Cardigan Arms, this artist could have filled bigger venues. With an army of dedicated fans/ hype men in the front rows, it felt like a wonderful introduction to the artist’s world.

CJ Pandit has released some huge hits in his career, one of which he graced the audience with on the night, “New York Time ” which on Spotify has over 1 million listens. His voice was stunning on this track live; it really complimented the gritty guitar riffs, paired with soft and sweet backing guitar lines. CJ Pandit has an undoubtedly good vocal range and throughout the performance, there were a lot of fans in the audience who were singing along to the tracks, which is quite unexpected in a venue of this size. At one point the sound tech was singing and dancing whilst the band played the track Lost Language.

C J Pandit. Photograph by Charlotte Gill

Another absolute hit with the audience – aside from the songs – was the general stage presence of CJ and his band. Wearing a custom-made orange knitted jumper with huge statement sleeves (that may have been a bit too warm to be worn on the night) the singer was also really raw about his experience in creating this debut album, One Lost English Boy. It was so cathartic to have an artist put it crystal clearly how emotional and time-consuming it is to create a body of work, and to hear how proud he was of his creation, and to have that reciprocated by the audience was really heartwarming and something that music fans need more of.

This was truly a really great, authentic gig experience. CJ Pandit was brilliant, his band were so well-synced with each other, the audience literally couldn’t be kept in their seats and the show ended with everyone up on their feet dancing.

Well done to all those who performed this evening.

Main image: C J Pandit. Photograph by Joe Vozza.

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