Exhibition hits high notes of Leeds’ music history

Kaiser Chiefs Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Kaiser Chiefs join the likes of the Pigeon Detectives and Corinne Bailey Rae in hailing from Leeds

A journey through history capturing Leeds’s love affair with music has inspired a new exhibition.

It celebrates the bands, gigs and venues that have hit the high notes in putting the city on the musical map.

Showcased are recent local stars such as the Kaiser Chiefs but also a toe piano player of the Music Hall era.

An eclectic mix of memorabilia and instruments will also be also on display – including a glass harp that resembles a collection of wine glasses.

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Media captionKitty Ross plays the glass harp
Image caption Madonna mania hit the city when the material girl performed at Roundhay Park in 1987

Superstar names to have visited the city are featured including The Beatles, The Rolling Stones and The Who, a band that recorded its famous first live album at the University Refectory.

But the exhibition also explores the quaint traditions of Victorian England. Attracting a crowd was the function of a music hall and who better to draw in the audiences than Leeds-born Mark William Dearlove, more famously known as the “Marvellous Toe Piano Player”?

Under his stage name the Great Padtoeski, he was a variety performer who combined musical, theatrical and gymnastic talents by playing the piano with his toes, freeing up his hands to play the accordion and cornet.

Image caption Padtoeski hailed from the Dearlove family – instrument makers in Leeds who also made this double bass in the 1850s that has been restored for the exhibition
Image caption Dozens of pin badges from one Leeds Madness fan illustrate the importance of music in people’s lives

Curator Kitty Ross said: “He was obviously quite a spectacle to behold but unfortunately there are no recordings of his music so quite what he sounded like is a mystery.”

Sheet music, programmes and a tuning fork are a few of the dozens of items to illustrate the musical heritage of Leeds Town Hall.

Queen Victoria herself agreed to perform the opening ceremony of the Leeds Triennial Musical Festival in 1858, marking her one and only trip to the city.

Image caption A bear-shaped hat and an empty Tequila bottle belonging to Guns’N’Roses are some of the mementos from Leeds Festival
Image caption The popularity of record shops in Leeds spans from the early 20th Century to the present day with the existence of Jumbo Records and Crash Records

The exhibition would not be complete without a section dedicated to Leeds West Indian Carnival and Leeds Festival.

It also includes an impressive array of old record sleeves from music shops in Leeds and a section paying homage to the city’s club scene – well known venues such as Majestyck, the Cockpit and Gatecrasher.

Image caption These Air Jordan trainers were worn by Leeds Hip Hop artist Lee Arnold

Sounds of Our City can be seen at Abbey House Museum in Leeds until 31 December.



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