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Hey! I'm Sophie, I'm 22 and live in Leicester.

You can usually find me at a gig in the photo pit or shopping for another new outfit which definitely won't fit in my wardrobe.

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Gigs In The Gardens at De Montfort Hall, Leicester | AD

De Montfort Hall hosted something called Gigs In The Gardens this year and have timed it to fit in with the City Fest that the Leicester City Council run which showcases the best entertainment across Leicester. The 7 day festival has seen bands, artists, DJ's and orchestra's visit Leicester to put on a spectacular for anyone who wants a good show. Battling with the timing of Reading and Leeds this last weekend, the festival still managed to have sold a good amount of tickets and the sheer amount of people that did turn up, who weren't partying it over at Reading or Leeds, created a phenomenal atmosphere.

I only attended Gigs In The Gardens on the 25th August and managed to catch Nina Nesbitt, Jax Jones and Years and Years perform. Over the course of the week, names such as Busted, Scouting For Girls, The Vaccines Kaiser Chiefs and Pete Tong have performed as well as a day dedicated to BBC Introducing and also the Bardi Symphony Orchestra. The first day of Gigs In The Gardens was cancelled due to the weather which meant that Bugzy Malone, Wretch 32 and YXNGBANE will be visiting DeMontfort in the near future so that you didn't miss out if you bought tickets for that night.

On arrival, I sat down and ate some chips while my dad had a pulled pork burger. There was also a tea and coffee truck, a pizza, burger and fries stand where you could get food from. The ice cream truck came in handy later on in the evening when we were dancing, I needed an ice lolly too cool down - especially in this heat! Burleigh's Gin also had a truck and who am I to turn down a G&T? At the back of the venue was also a bar ran by De Montfort, they had also opened up their one inside the hall too.

Nina Nesbitt was on first and I met up with my friend Narzra who is writing for the Leicester Mercury. I've been a fan of Nina for a couple of years and have always wanted to see her live so she was definitely the artist I was looking forward to most. She opened the night brilliantly, there was a small crowd at the front of the barrier who were dancing and singing their hearts out. Everyone else sat down and enjoyed her vocals which were incredible. Nina Nesbitt has one hell of a voice on her! She gave us small anecdotes before songs which got everybody laughing and cheering. One song that stood out to me in particular was a cover of Britney Spears, Toxic. I'm off to see if I can find the recorded version because it was better than the original!

Between Nina and Jax Jones, more people filled the area. The venue as a whole was great, the stage was placed at the bottom of a slop which meant that wherever you stood, you would always have a brilliant view of the stage, with no heads in the way (maybe the top of someone's head if they were abnormally tall). It was the perfect festival venue for someone small like me!

I met up with a photographer, Andy, that I knew in the break between Nina Nesbitt and Jax Jones who has been to every night and was shooting for the Leicester Mercury. We both went into the photo pit for the beginning of Jax Jones's set and got a surprise when he blasted the CO2 Jet Kits, thankfully none of us in the photo pit were too close! At one point, there were even fireworks.

Jax Jones's set was an hour long and packed with some of his own music and also mash ups of some songs from the 90s and other popular songs like Billie Eilish's Bad Guy. At one point, everyone was jumping up and down and the music abruptly stopped and changed to the Lion King. Jax Jones stepped off of his platform and bought out a Simba plush toy that he lifted into the air before getting back onto his platform to start mixing songs again. For the whole hour I don't think one person stood still. His set was insane. I'm not the biggest fan of seeing this kind of music live but Jax Jones has truly changed my perception of it.

Between Jax Jones and Years and Years set, I met up with my friends Georgia and Sean from Power Radio and we had a good catch up before I headed back into the photo pit for Years and Years.

The difference in all three stage layouts is amazing, for Nina Nesbitt there was a relatively clear stage, the focus was on here and it was definitely more of a stripped back set in all areas in comparison to Jax Jones and Years and Years. For Jax Jone's set he had two dancers and two bit blow up condiment bottles from his single artworks, Instruction and Housework. As for Years and Years, they bought in massive platforms, lighting relevant to their branding and also some stairs. Each artist/band made the stage into their own mini concert stage set up, it was amazing!

Years and Years blew me away, Olly is a natural performer. He brought out all of the dance moves for Leicester and got the crowd cheering. A few people at the front had even made banners and somebody threw a pride flag and crown on stage which he wore towards the end. He made sure to point out his band members, Mikey and Emre as well as the drummer and backup singers that were supporting them. This performance was like no others. All three performances were so different but so amazingly put together and well executed.

As the night went on, it felt like we weren't in Leicester anymore. I've lived in Leicester my whole life and I've never felt like it's been a place where bit named artists come to visit and perform, over the past year or so this has really changed since singers and bands are now visiting the smaller venues like De Montfort Hall (one step down from an arena) and it's changing the game for Leicester. A bit thank you to the council and the team who were working at De Montfort for putting this all together, Gigs in the Gardens has been successful and I hope to see it gain even more attention next year!

Below you can watch Years and Years perform Shine from the photo pit - I recorded this when I was taking some photos so the camera is a little shaky at times but I love the intimacy of it!

You can see some of my best shots from the night, below:

Until next time...

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