Festival Asylum Presents Electric Swing Circus, Feral Mouth, Mari Joyce Band at OPEN, Norwich, 8 March 2014. Review and photos
Festival Asylum events have become real highlights of the calendar, proven by the packed and sold out Club Room at Open, which was again wonderfully decorated and most of the audience also went to great lengths to look the part, and they really did look absolutely brilliant in roaring ’20s style.
The room seemed to fill rapidly and it was soon time for compere for the evening Paul to introduce Mari Joyce and her band. Mari too had dressed in style for the evening and she and the band looked amazing. Despite some excited early evening chatter in the room they were able to play their beautiful songs over this and they really did sound lovely. The two Alex’s on strings clearly have a good understanding and are exceptional, as is Iestyn. I’ve been following this band since the early days and their development in the past year or so is noticeable with an ever growing confidence and ease, these delicate and reflective songs work their way deep inside. I long to hear some recorded works from these lovely people.
Whilst the stage was being set up for the following acts, percussionist Iestyn too over as DJ playing some great music as DJ Yes to heighten the ever growing buzz about the room.
Feral Mouth played one of the first gigs of the year at the Arts Centre, which was a huge celebratory success, and this time I think they raised the standard even higher and this was quite possibly the best performance I’ve seen from them. The addition of Noel to the band just has to be the final piece of the jigsaw as they sound, look and feel the complete finished article now. They have their moments between songs of barely organised chaos but the proof is in the songs themselves and they totally nail them each and every time, with enough expertise, creativity and professionalism to improvise, adapt and read the mood of the gig perfectly. Opening with a frantic and glorious rendition of Nelson County they played with gusto, feeling, verve, zest and fun. Pedz looked like he was having the time of his life, Noel seemed brilliantly at ease and played superbly, Luke, Gareth and John were perfect as they always are and Jape seemed to be enjoying this as much as anyone in the room. He really deserves credit for these songs, but also his singing and guitar playing and possibly most of all, his lyrics. One of his best and most welcome lyrics were uttered for the first time tonight “We have booked some studio time. We will be making an album”! We were treated to old and new songs tonight, the crowd were deliriously happy and the band led the whole audience into a stomping intro. I really felt, watching them tonight, that their time could be imminent, they are certainly ready and able. Absolutely superb.
The evening seemed to be flying by. The entertainment was brilliant, the atmosphere everything one could hope for, and the audience just beautiful, in mood and appearance. People were dressed to the nines and in the mood for fun, Festival Asylum is an excellent companion on the calendar to Bo Nanafana.
We also had a short set from Sebastian, from Lewisham, who included his observations pieces “Don’tworryabaht” and “Witchcraft”
And so the much-anticipated headliners were introduced by Paul, Electric Swing Circus – who impressed at Maui Waui last year, repeated the feat at Open. They too started the set with a fast, catchy and singalong number, the audience were dancing and the band themselves are highly visual. The room was dancing as one, and again the set seemed to fly by in the heaving and hot club room, but they were begged back on stage and treated us to a really fun Minnie The Moocher during the encore. The band clearly had as much fun tonight as the audience did, and Norwich has a great audience for electro swing of this kind. Tremendously entertaining and very well performed, a visual and audio treat.
I started the day utterly exhausted but by the end of it felt re-energised. Big Thanks to Festival Asylum for a first rate night, and thanks also to all the artists and performers, organisers, and all the lovely staff at Open.
Special mention to the sound and lighting engineers, lovely warm sound and lovely warm stage lighting too which made it even more of a pleasure to photograph. And happy second birthday to Open itself, which as the night ticked past midnight into its anniversary was noted by Mr Lennox and what a way to celebrate it.
ELECTRIC SWING CIRCUS: