Courtney Barnett @ Rock City, Nottingham 1 July 2022

Recent weeks have started to feel happily ‘old normal’ with international acts touring and visiting the country again, I have been delighted to see some of my favourites in the past couple of months, Kurt Vile, Courtney Marie Andrews, and Starcrawler (twice!). During the pandemic years the artist I listened to most at home – by some considerable margin – was Courtney Barnett, Nottingham being the nearest city to Norwich on her tour I did not hesitate in getting tickets for her show at Rock City on Friday 1st July 2022.

I had some nerves about the rail travel as the day approached (due to uncertainties about their running) but got to Nottingham without problems and the first person I saw was my friend Taryn, on the platform, who unbeknownst to me was sitting on the same coach on the same train. Nice synchronicity.

A few hours were spent looking around Nottingham but all I could really think about was the countdown to the evening’s show. Rather like our own Waterfront, Fridays and Saturdays at Rock City are early starts to accommodate their later club nights, so doors were at 6:30pm with set time for support act audiobooks at 7:15pm. Rock City proudly claims to be ‘The UK’s best live venue and club’, which on my first visit I believe to be quite justified. The layout was good and the sound for both acts absolutely superb, it also has good sightlines and vantage points with an upstairs balcony and it had plentiful bars but I was only focussed on securing a good spot near the front with no intention of moving away from it until the show was over. I certainly was gripped and happy to enjoy the highly original indie-dance set by audiobooks who were just wonderful. This duo, signed to Heavenly Records, had interesting and varied songs and charmed us all, fans of Bjork, Dry Cleaning and perhaps even Let’s Eat Grandma and Sink Ya Teeth fans will love them. I am a new convert. There is nothing generic about audiobooks, at various points they hit certain genres and subgenres musically but always sound utterly unique and unusual. They are a delightful discovery for me.

audiobooks at Rock City, Nottingham (photo by shashamane)

As we got closer to Courtney Barnett’s 8:15pm set time I had rarely been more excited waiting for a set to start and was not alone in that. The atmosphere was rather special, these were not casual, curious gig-goers, it was devotees all the way and more of a congregation, almost like the Smiths gigs of the 1980s, the awkward introverts liberated by the common bond and love of an artist that speaks to them. One fan asked me “Are you excited?“. Of course I replied in the affirmative and she then added that she’d travelled from Norwich for this gig! What are the odds that the person stood next to me had made the same journey for the same reason?! It was only after a further few minutes chatting that we realised we knew each other but hadn’t twigged at first because of the unlikely context, and yet this sort of coincidence/synchronicity does happen so often at gigs.

Courtney Barnett at Rock City, Nottingham (photo by shashamane)

Bang on cue Courtney, Bones, Dave and Stella took to the stage to a loud and warm greeting as they went straight into Rae Street, Sunfair Sundown (the opening two tracks from excellent new album Things Take Time, Take Time), and for third song of the set, Avant Gardener, it felt like the whole room was singing along. I was welling up with emotion by this point, this feeling like a bucket-list gig for me and it was not only living up to all my hopes and expectations but exceeding them all. I’d read that this run of gigs was brilliant, a few days earlier Courtney and the band had played a triumphant set at Glastonbury (one of only a couple of occasions I have been frustrated at not having any TV access so have not had the pleasure of watching it), followed by successful gigs in Cardiff and Liverpool. The day after this one she was to support The Rolling Stones (“the irony”!) at Hyde Park, no less!

The sound was fantastic and everyone in the audience appeared to know every word to every song. I was pleased at the inclusion in the set of Turning Green – also one from the latest album – which starts with a cowbell and ends with some incredible guitar shredding from Courtney. It felt like one of the highlights among many highlights and then she followed it with one of my absolute favourites – Depreston – and this was very special, everyone singing along loudly which even seemed to take Courtney aback and she thanked us for the lovely singing afterwards.

Courtney Barnett at Rock City (photo by shashamane)

There were so many great moments in this magnificent set, which was varied and all albums were represented, Pedestrian at Best taking the moshing to new levels of exuberance from the younger and more mobile in the crowd. The biggest danger was from dehydration but the Rock City security were on the case dispensing cups of water from the barrier at the front.

Closing the 18-song set with Write a List of Things to Look Forward to the audience then absolutely demanded an encore and the band duly obliged, Courtney thanking us and saying this was the loudest UK audience they had ever played to. I think we were going to get a couple of songs but fell foul of the looming early curfew, probably missing out on the sublime Before You Gotta Go from the latest LP but we were treated to Oh the Night, from the same album and were all buzzing from an exceptional gig.

It was a great, great night which will live long in my memory, this was precisely the sort of gig I was dreaming of and wishing for during the depths of those wretched, prolonged lockdowns and I was trying to fully live in the moment and experience every second of it. One of my all time favourite gigs by an all-time fave artist in an excellent venue. The sound quality in Rock City was first rate too. My new benchmark for my best gigs is if I stop noticing the pains in my leg and back for the duration of a set. Courtney ticked that box! Thank you for a wonderful night and unforgettable show.

(Promo photo – photographer not known)

One other observation, post-gig, and the only thing remotely close to any kind of gripe was that at the venue run merch stall at which I couldn’t resist a t-shirt and had the right money all ready in my hand but was told that they couldn’t accept cash, only to then have several minutes trying and failing to negotiate with a temperamental card reader struggling for a signal, I very nearly gave up after the third or fourth failed attempt. The bars at Rock City accepted cash but more and more venues and their bars are not and I’m not at all comfortable with this, the sooner we all push back against this ‘cashless’ direction the better. I’ve no problem about the contactless option being available alongside cash but resent being forced into the cashless way. I resist this as much as possible, cash is still legal tender the last I heard and many of us have very good and valid reasons for preferring it (one being my account was almost empty), and surely that pandemic myth about cash being somehow a transmission risk has been wholly debunked.

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PiL + Brix Smith @ Nick Rayns LCR, UEA 20 June 2022

I debated a while if I would be able to go to this one due to the price and expensive times but of course I was going to be there. It’s John Lydon and Public Image Ltd. Even better I discovered when booking a ticket was that support was from Brix Smith.

The UEA seems to have become a sensory minefield of signs, rules, barriers, cashless payments (cashless downstairs but not upstairs?!) and changed systems but there was an extremely helpful security chap who in answer to my question as I was arriving was able to tell me when Brix was due onstage. It was half an hour away so time for a quick drink beforehand, where it was great to bump into some old friends and have a quick catch up before we heard the sounds of Brix starting her set right on cue so we were straight up there in moments as I didn’t want to miss this. Many others had the same idea and there was a good sized crowd for her set. Brix was in good form, chatty and engaging, energetic and looking the picture of health, she was extremely enthusiastic about her band. A band member down due to illness but the line up still included two members of My Bloody Valentine! This was not Brix and the Extricated from her last Norwich visit but a completely new project which she is clearly exited and passionate about although she and the band did also perform a wonderful Totally Wired after she said she remembered playing the LCR a couple of times back in those 1980s Fall days. I remember too and was also at those gigs. She closed the set with a lockdown collaboration with Killing Joke’s Youth which she felt captured all the feelings, worries, isolation and uncertainties of those crazy couple of years.

Brix Smith

With the Extricated currently on hiatus, she’s now taking a fresh solo direction, releasing an album of brand new recordings as Brix Smith, the LP’s vibe described as ‘dystopian California’, working with Killing Joke bass player and production legend Youth, writing and recording in Spain and remotely – from her bedroom in Shoreditch, East London, amid pandemic lockdowns – on a set of new songs she says, ‘I’m really proud of’.

“This is the record I wanted to make before The Adult Net, and serves as the perfect follow-up, more than 30 years later. With Youth I’m able to realise what I always heard in my head but was never previously able to put down on tape. It’s taken a lifetime of listening, learning and grafting for everything to fall into place.”

There will be live shows too, Brix promises, revealing …
“I’ve put together an all-woman band for this project. It’s time for me to standup and put my head above the parapet, put my money where my mouth is,having been a strong woman in the music industry for however many years.I’m gonna make the mother**** of all-girl bands … with Youth as a guest star!”
 * – From https://www.brixsmith.com/about

I did actually see Brix in the audience during the interval and told her how much I enjoyed the set, happily she signed my ticket.

The LCR seemed to fill up even more ahead of PiL’s set and the place felt full without being uncomfortably packed out, much to my relief as the LCR can feel over-full when it is at capacity and the heat would have been unbearable. Anyway, John and the incredible musicians who form the stable Public Image Ltd. line-up (Bruce Smith, Lu Edmonds, Scott Firth) were loudly cheered and greeted onstage and then they opened the set with the mighty Religion, what a start with this pounding, ever heavier bass. John seemed trim, in good spirits and in very fine form, engaging with the audience between songs (including his thoughts on the Pistols series) and including The Body, Warrior, Death Disco, Bags, Chant, Disappointed, This is Not a Love Song, the final few songs in particular having everyone singing along and joining John’s call and response, the crowd going particularly nuts when the set closed with Public Image. We weren’t done yet though and had a strong three-song encore of Shoom, then the collaboration with Leftfield on the extraordinary Open Up and the wonderful feel of the parting Rise. A great way to end the 17 song set. As he was leaving John revealed that he once lived in Norwich for a short time, strengthening the bond even further with the audience who hold him in such high regard. A much respected and genuine living legend. I’ve been to all of PiL’s Norwich visits stretching back 39 years and we’ve been blessed with several returns since 2015 – I honestly think each time has somehow managed to surpass the last (and that’s saying something – I have loved them all!). This was a truly superb performance and gig, everyone was buzzing afterwards. As if the night could get any better I even managed to get John’s signature on my ticket too, alongside that of Brix. I’m so thankful for this.

I’m not so keen on this move towards the cashless digital world but thank goodness I printed off my “e-ticket” (why do we have to pay 10% handling charges/booking fees for automated emails?) because you can’t get an app signed. Huge thanks to John and Public Image Ltd. and Brix for an outstandingly good night, and to the friends I happened to see as well, this one will live long in the memory. One of those really special music nights when everything felt right. Sometimes I go to a gig that is so good that I don’t actually want to see any other gig too soon afterwards as I just want to occupy that headspace, inhabit and re-live the fresh memories of it for as long as possible. Yes, this was one of those special ones.

Public Image Ltd.

http://www.pilofficial.com/

http://www.brixsmith.com/

http://www.setlist.fm/setlist/public-image-ltd/2022/nick-rayns-lcr-uea-norwich-england-bb44156.html

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Courtney Marie Andrews + Lola Kirke @ NAC 17 June 2022

A gig I had been looking forward to for some considerable time, this was Courtney Marie Andrews’ first UK date after a string of European shows on her current tour and her first time back at Norwich Arts Centre in almost four years. When it finally came around it coincided with our hottest day of the year so far. When an artist who hails from Arizona says it’s hot you can be sure it is.

I had planned on spending most of the afternoon in the city but there was no way I was cycling in the midday heat and so left it until late afternoon before heading to the city. Recalling the wonderful synchronicity of bumping into Arrow and Henri of Starcrawler within minutes of getting off the train at Liverpool Street Station a few weeks back I thought I’d carry a couple of photos with me again, from Courtney’s last visit, ‘just in case’ on the off-chance that I might get them signed should I happen to bump into her or if she was at the merch table when the show was over. As luck and chance would have it, while I was locking up my bike having just reached the city who should I see but Courtney herself greeting her friend Lola Kirke who was just arriving and was support for the evening. Overcoming some of my shyness – if not my awkwardness – I did say hello just before Courtney headed back into the venue and she very kindly chatted briefly and signed my photos. I told her how much I’d enjoyed and appreciated her Patreon livestreams during the depths of what felt like interminable lockdowns over those often bleak two years. I also mentioned that I’d already pre-ordered my copy of the recently announced new album Loose Future (due out in October). A single from it has already been released with a seemingly re-born Courtney in the video to Satellite, after some of the sadness and heartache which was the theme of the beautiful melancholy that formed the tracks on the GRAMMY-nominated Old Flowers. She added that she would be doing several songs from the forthcoming record tonight.

It was actually my first time carrying my DSLR this year, incredibly. The weight of the bag on my back was not something I had missed but I had missed photographing my favourite artists and it was a pleasure to do so again, although I did feel considerable rustiness. I can see why musicians practice so frequently. Still very warm at 7pm I cooled down with a cold beer in the NAC garden and had a nice chat with a fellow music blogger/photographer, Amy who writes for Click Roll Boom. I’d missed these chance meetings and conversations with fellow music fans, as we all observed, we’re already sharing common ground at gigs with the love of music and conversations are natural in such settings. It was also nice to see again other familiar faces such as David, Dickie, Nic and fellow big CMA fans Craig Hill and his daughter Alex.

Lola Kirke at Norwich Arts Centre 2022

Just after 8pm we all headed indoors to a sparse but very warm hall before actress and musician Lola Kirke took to the stage. This was my first experience of live music in the room with natural light flooding into it, with the covers which had blacked them out for decades having been removed during the recent restoration and updating work. It felt a little odd and unusual at first, to see the whole room so clearly like this. Lola was very good with a lovely, friendly stage presence. It turns out that on Wednesday she had played at the Third Man’s Blue Basement in London so she’ll have been as familiar with these hot venues as I am from my own recent visit there to see Starcrawler. With just her voice and acoustic guitar her songs had a strong country flavour which went down very well with everyone present, as far as I could tell. Very enjoyable.

The song in which she collaborated with Courtney, Broken Families, was in the set and beautiful. Monster is another superb song. We were all won over by her storytelling songs and warm energy.

The window blinds buzzed as they closed just before Courtney’s set, making things feel more familiar. Backed with fellow excellent musicians on guitar, bass and drums I realised it had been quite a while since I’d seen CMA touring with the ‘Bandrews’ as my most recent CMA gigs have been solo ones. The Loose Future, Old Flowers, May Your Kindness Remain and Honest Life albums were all represented tonight with the inclusion of some of my favourites: Table for One (I have Courtney’s handwritten lyrics to this one framed and on my wall at home), Burlap String, It Must Be Someone Else’s Fault, Old Flowers, May Your Kindness Remain as well as Satellite, Loose Future and a few other new ones. Courtney seemed in good spirits and chatted amiably with the crowd, complimenting us on our attentive listening and appreciation as well as the city of Norwich itself (despite referring to it as a ‘town’, I could feel people wanting to point out our city status!)

Courtney Marie Andrews at Norwich Arts Centre, June 2022

The heat was quite stifling and I think it was draining everyone a bit though the music kept us all going, the heat was certainly affecting the guitars though causing some re-tuning, Courtney joking that her guitar was suffering and complaining about the temperature.

CMA at NAC

In introducing Summertime Feeling to us the band jokingly played the opening notes of Summer Lovin’ from Grease and to her immense credit and the delight of the audience Courtney gave it a go, joining in with a few impromptu lines from that song as well as much laughter. She asked us to pretend that had not happened so forgive me for documenting it here, Courtney, but we all loved it! A very charming moment in the evening.

A relaxed feel to this set with everyone onstage comfortable with one another and smiles aplenty. Towards the end of the set we had a few unfamiliar songs (to our ears at least), tracks from the new album and possibly one or two even newer than that. It was a good music audience who listened very attentively to these new ones and the positive, loud reactions at the end of each suggests they were all given a convincing thumbs up. We had a magnificent, soaring Near You, played and sung to perfection. Responding to the loud cheers and applause at the end of the set (Table for One), we were rewarded with an encore of Ships in the Night to close a set of almost twenty songs. Not for the first time I found myself at the end buying one of Courtney’s albums that I already own simply so that I could have a signed version of it. I suppose I could have just brought my own copy with me but I don’t regret this at all and was happy to support one of my favourite artists with a purchase from the merch stand (I also bought a t-shirt which in my excitement to get the record signed I somehow dropped from under my arm, so big thanks to the NAC staff who correctly guessed it was mine.) Next stop for CMA and the band is the Black Deer Festival on Saturday (today). Big thanks to Courtney for a beautiful gig in stifling heat and for being lovely enough to sign my things. Very kind.

http://www.facebook.com/CourtneyMarieAndrews

http://www.lolakirkemusic.com/

http://www.facebook.com/LolaKirke/

A couple of weeks earlier the Playhouse Bar had the first of their post-restrictions live music nights, with Maya Law, Phoebe Troup, and janani.fx all playing. Janani – whom many will know from Gladboy – performed a stunning set in her new solo venture, the array of influences and inspiration which she has creatively processed to express herself musically was as impressive as it was breathtaking. Great stuff.

janani.fx

Phoebe Troup was on electric guitar and playing in a duo format. Lots of new songs and a couple of old favourites too. I love everything Phoebe does.

Phoebe Troup

It has felt like ages since I have seen Maya Law and indeed I think it is some considerable time since she has played but this was a fun one, and wonderful to see her performing with Freya, both of them really impressive.

Maya Law (accompanied here by Freya Roy on guitar)

I very much enjoyed all three sets and also having nice catch-up chats too, such a relaxed and friendly musical vibe that we had been deprived of for such a long time. It was also fun to be at a gig with my camera again, I had stopped doing that for ages too. Afterwards I went to the Walnut Tree Shades to catch the end of Peter T’s weekly open mic night. Not as packed as usual, what with it being Red Rooster weekend but enjoyable nevertheless.

Peter T

The Cherry Tree in Costessey is somewhere I had not been to in years but it is under new management and has resumed live music. It was packed in there with a great atmosphere for The Glamtastics and a few weeks earlier, The Flying Sabres.

The Glamtastics
Posted in courtney marie andrews, freya roy, janani.fx, live music and dance, Maya Law, Norwich Arts Centre, Peter T, Phoebe Troup, The Flying Sabres, The Glamtastics | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Starcrawler @ Colours, Hoxton, London 26 May 2022

Starcrawler are one of the bands I had missed most over the pandemic, quite possibly the band I missed most, having not seen them since late-2019 which is why, in the absence of a Norwich date, I was not going to pass up the opportunity to see them. I felt very lucky indeed to be seeing them twice actually, having only days earlier been in that audience in that unforgettable Third Man Records Blue Basement gig.

After stepping off the afternoon train when it arrived in Liverpool Street I thought I’d check out the location of the venue to know how long to allow myself for the walk back for the train back at the end of the evening. Heading in the direction of Shoreditch and into Hoxton Square I soon had my suspicions confirmed that Colours was indeed a venue I had visited before, under a different name when it hosted a gig by Marissa Nadler and Mary Lattimore that I attended in 2016 but as a result of some beautiful serendipity what I noticed first of all was Arrow and Henri chatting outside the venue itself, literally about 15 minutes after I’d stepped off that train. I was delighted to have a few nervous (on my part) words and get a couple of photos signed. They actually remembered me from Norwich and said they’d wanted to play the city but were unable to get a date that worked for all. There was much more I would have liked to tell them but there was a shyness hurdle on my part.

After walking around for a couple of hours I made my way back to Hoxton Square and made the mistake of having a pre-gig pint in the Red Dog Saloon opposite. I was told the pint I ordered was ‘not available’ and when I went to pay for my alternative was told they had ‘no change available’ (!), which must be their way of refusing to handle cash which is still very much my preferred form of tender, especially as my account was nearly empty but the card was just able to cover the very expensive £7.31 for a pale ale, outrageous even for London. This wasn’t a place to linger so after this I went straight to the Colours venue and found the staff and security super friendly. Also, beer was much cheaper than at the Red Dog and they happily accepted cash. I should have just come straight here, it was quite welcoming.

It wasn’t just the staff who were relaxed and friendly it was also a lovely crowd of chatty Starcrawler fans which made the time waiting for the show to begin fly by. I also chanced to see Arrow’s mom Autumn de Wilde again and this time felt brave enough to speak, adding that Starcrawler have the ability to make me forget everything negative for the duration of their shows. She agreed.

Support band were a new name on me – Island of Love – and they were good fun, loud and powerful and very well-received. They also have connections to Third Man Records, I believe. Colours apparently holds 300 which seemed almost implausible when it was nearly empty but when it was full it was very believable. One of those curious venues that look smaller when empty than when full.

Everyone was waiting for the main act though and keen to secure a good spot. The gig was another sellout and there was a palpable air of excitement and anticipation among the mixed crowd with a wide, healthy range of ages. The band all entered the stage from the same door this time and Arrow’s arrival was loudly greeted with approval from the by now packed floor. There was such a sense of occasion about this gig and Arrow especially has tremendous stage presence, it’s impossible to take one’s eyes off her. The setlist was, I think, much the same as it was at Third Man, it was such a big sound too with the two guitars, and the drums sounded massive. Arrow’s vocals were a tad low in the mix from where I was stood but that didn’t detract from a hugely enjoyable gig where the years fell away for the older audience members and we were all as one, a heaving mass of bouncing, moshing bodies – something I wondered at various points during the pandemic if we would see again. As the set closed with Bet My Brains Arrow climbed into the audience and was carried aloft before being lifted back onto the stage before running out through the stage door. The crowd were demanding an encore though and not taking no for an answer, eventually the request was granted and we were treated to an intense Chicken Woman, at the end of which Arrow was once again being carried by the adoring crowd. I’ve seen Starcrawler many times now and I think this is the first time I recall an actual encore. They leave everything onstage such is the energy of the performances that it almost seems greedy to ask for more but this was a hungry audience because Starcrawler shows so good that enough never seems enough.

The band had come to this gig from Dublin as they are currently supporting My Chemical Romance and all their days off from that tour they are filling with their own headline shows, almost running two tours concurrently. By rights this band should be huge but they are all big stars in my eyes and for everyone here, I loved hearing the stories from the other fans and how inspirational they are to many in the audience.

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Starcrawler @ The Blue Basement, Third Man Records, London 21 May 2022

It starts to feel reassuringly ‘old normal’ when favourite overseas bands and artists start announcing dates in the UK. I have missed Starcrawler gigs as much as anyone’s during the pandemic lockdown years and was pleased to see their announcement of a string of dates supporting My Chemical Romance – what I was not expecting at all though was the short notice announcement of a headline show in the tiny, tiny Blue Basement of Jack White’s Third Man Records in the heart of London’s Soho district. I was very pleased to secure a ticket as this basement really is just a small box of a venue (not a criticism, the sound was great and so was the atmosphere) with the audience capped at just 40. I never imagined I’d get another opportunity to experience Starcrawler in such an intimate, close-up venue as at that Norwich Bedford’s Crypt gig but how wrong I was, filled now with anticipation at seeing them in a venue less than half that size.

The doors finally opened about an hour later than stated and it was already hot milling around upstairs in the record shop before we were allowed downstairs shortly after 8pm. There was no messing around down there though and the band were already on the tiny stage as the first of us reached the floor, striking up the opening chords of Goodtime Girl. I was still trying to secure my position and vantage point when I felt someone pushing by to get even closer to the front. Of course it was Arrow!

It was loud and exhilarating. The opening song segued into new single Roadkill and was followed by I Love L.A. and then some greetings from Henri Cash, by which time everyone was boiling in this sweatbox, not that there were any complaints about that, we were just all thrilled to be there and there’s something extra-special – I feel – about going some steps for a loud rock gig. This was also my first time seeing the new line-up, with Seth Carolina taking over drumming duties from Austin Smith and the line up augmented by brother of Henri, Bill Cash on pedal steel and further guitar, and of course bassist Tim Franco completes the line up with Henri and the spellbinding force of nature that is Arrow de Wilde on vocals. The powerful drumming and second guitar fills the sound further and the pedal steel and another dimension. I’m a big fan of this hint of a country tinge to Starcrawler that shows itself from time to time on the less frenetic songs.

The set seemed to be passing at breakneck speed and as I stood there smiling and nodding away I realised just how much this sort of thing was precisely what I have missed so much. A loud and exciting rock and roll act, a tight musical unit with strong songs enjoying themselves and also with the compelling, visual, theatrical and unpredictable aspect. The set featured plenty of old favourites (No More Pennies and Bet My Brains being particular favourites of mine).

Arrow disappeared into the crowd during the final song and Henri was also in the crowd with his guitar and then it was all over. Obviously there were calls for “One more song!” but how could this be followed. It was brilliant and I think I was beaming from ear to ear and had waited two and a half years for the Starcrawler experience again.

A notable presence among the audience was Arrow’s mum esteemed photographer Autumn de Wilde. I’d have loved to have met her and the band to say thanks/hello but even though it was only 9pm we were ushered upstairs by the staff and in truth we probably did all need some of that cooler fresh air. I stepped outside to find it was still light, that doesn’t often happen after a gig and I made my way to Oxford Circus tube station, I’d kind of forgotten it was a Saturday and the West End. It felt like high summer. Everywhere was very lively and the night was just beginning for many, there were also Sunderland fans everywhere in good voice, I guessed they won their Wembley play-off final against Wycombe.

The tube was as rammed as I can ever remember it, just to reinforce the feeling that things are very much back to normal, for the moment at least. The early finish meant I was able to catch an earlier train back than usual and the Saturday night vibe was still very strong and in full flow in the city when I arrived back in Norwich and carefully negotiated Prince of Wales Road towards the city centre for a much needed pint at the pub before the long walk home. I knew I was going to pay for this night with tiredness the following day but it was totally worth it, plus of course I kept thinking of Starcrawler themselves, somewhat envious of their youthful energy, arriving from California, playing this energetic show the following day and Milton Keynes with My Chemical Romance the day after that with barely a day without a gig during the whole tour. They are young and have energy but they are so hard working and deserve all the success and recognition that comes their way, they are keeping the spirit of rock ‘n’ roll alive and exciting, especially live.

I rarely seem to carry my camera around with me these days but I’m glad I did for this one, even if all I had with me was a compact, this band never fail to inspire me. Below are a few photos from some of the recent gigs where I did get a photo.

The Scaners, from France, playing a most wonderful set at the Louis Marchesi Crypt, supported by the new line-up and always excellent Beat With a Gun, for Gluttonous Mutt.
What great signings!
The welcome return of Dry Cleaning to NAC
Kurt Vile at Rough Trade East, London. This was something quite special and lovely.
The Levellers at the UEA LCR
Amazing Amy mural in London
The Beatles bench in London
Phoebe Troup
Red Hot Riot’s return to The Reindeer.
Yve Mary B absolutely silencing a noisy Louis Marchesi into rapt attention for a stunning acapella Peddar’s Way.
Bo Ningen at NAC
Posted in Beast With a Gun, Gluttonous Mutt, Phoebe Troup, starcrawler, Yve Mary B | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

The Scaners + Beast With a Gun @ Louis Marchesi Crypt 28 April 2022

A gig I had a ticket for well in advance and was looking forward to tremendously. Gluttonous Mutt putting on one of their basement punky, garage blues trash nights in the Louis Marchesi Crypt. I love these nights and this one did not disappoint. It’s a good feeling walking down some steps for an underground punk rock and roll night and a feeling I had missed, as well as some of the familiar faces I’d not seen in a while, or at least since the last Ravenous Hounds/Beast With a Gun gigs.

The Scaners
The Scaners

Support for the evening was from the wonderful Beast With a Gun, kicking things off in fine style and also with a first outing for their newly adjusted line-up. As charismatic, entertaining and brilliant as ever, I loved every moment of it.

Beast With a Gun

I knew very little of The Scaners, the French sci-fi punks from Lyon, I was here because I trust the promoters’ taste, which match my own quite closely. The Scaners had me hooked from the off. Loud guitars, and keys, the pace was frenetic. They look like The Clash but their sound often put me in mind more of The Ramones, Devo, Pere Ubu and even a little bit of B-52s as well. How could you not love a band with titles such as Levitation Train 2077, Mars Attacks, X-Ray Glasses. On! Space X-ploration, Alien Boy, Don’t Run, We’re Your Friends, Please Abduct Me, etc. You can see the theme.

I had so much fun at this gig and couldn’t resist buying an album, my only dilemma was choosing which record as I only had enough money for one. Lovely people too and just look at these signatures.

https://www.facebook.com/thescaners

https://thescaners.bandcamp.com/

https://www.facebook.com/beastwithagun

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Kurt Vile @ Rough Trade East, London 15 April 2022

A big gig in a small venue as far as I was concerned. Kurt Vile is someone I have really wanted to see live and I was very pleased to secure a ticket for this intimate solo set at London’s Rough Trade East before it inevitably sold out.

I made my way towards the old Truman Brewery site in Brick Lane well ahead of the advertised doors opening time and was slightly surprised to see a significant queue had already formed at least half an hour in advance. As so often with such gigs the doors opened some time later than advertised and I could not even see the end of the queue by that time. It didn’t matter, the weather was great and everyone was friendly and in good spirits, my only slight anxiety was that I don’t have a smartphone and everything seems to be moving horribly towards apps and digital e-tickets these days but all was ok and my printed ticket booking confirmation was recognised at the door. Of course entry to this came with the pre-ordered signed vinyl copy of Kurt’s excellent new album (watch my moves).

Rough Trade East is a great place for such gigs, it even has its own small bar and once the records racks are moved out of the way it holds and impressive 300 capacity audience and has a proper stage and dedicated PA system.

There was a bit of a good-natured wait for the show to start which only heightened the sense of occasion and excitement. Kurt was welcomed loudly and warmly and played a beautiful set which was a true privilege to experience. It was clear that he is very special to many people who respect and appreciate him to the utmost degree. The atmosphere was lovely, the playing exquisite and the energy quite beautiful with charming interactions between Kurt and the crowd. An hour and a quarter or so passed by all too quickly but I loved every minute of it. A wonderful gig which I was re-living in my head for many days afterwards.

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Red Rooster announces 2022 line-up & joins Festival of Suffolk lighting beacon for Queen’s Platinum Jubilee on June 2nd

RED ROOSTER FESTIVAL ANNOUNCES LINE-UP FOR 2022

and

JOINS OF FESTIVAL OF SUFFOLK LIGHTING BEACON TO OPEN CELEBRATIONS FOR

QUEEN’S PLATINUM JUBILEE ON JUNE 2ND

To celebrate Her Majesty the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee on June 2nd Red Rooster festival is pleased to announce it will be opening these historic celebrations by lighting the beacon in Euston Park on its opening day.

Red Rooster will also be joining the Festival of Suffolk, which aims to build a £5m Festival Fund by 2024, administered in partnership with the Suffolk Community Foundation. This fund will support grant funding to charities, community groups and social enterprises in Suffolk who share festival values, and act in one or more of the six core areas:  Culture & Tourism, Opportunity & Education, Enterprise, Community, Environments and Health & Wellbeing. 

 Harry, Duke of Grafton says:

“We are all hugely excited to be hosting Red Rooster 2022 over the platinum jubilee bank holiday weekend.

Red Rooster 2022 is shaping up to become a hugely memorable weekend with a fantastic music line-up, delicious BBQ from the new Red Roaster zone and a huge array of activities for all the family. The Red Rooster team cannot wait to see you in June.”

Red Rooster welcomes Seasick Steve as the headliner of Red Rooster 2022 on Friday night. Steve has come a very long way in the 15 years since he burst into the public consciousness with his amazingly raw, powerful and emotional performances on Jools Holland becoming a household name overnight. It is those astonishing and engaging live performances that have turned Steve and drummer Dan Magnusson into such a powerful force both Iive and on record (selling over 1m albums) and selling out venues all over the world in the process.

Born and raised in California, Ex UEA student Nick Waterhouse tops the main stage’s Saturday billing, bringing his intoxicating Rhythm and Blues to Euston Hall. His latest album ‘Promenade Blue’ represents rebirth and reinvigoration as well as a clarity of purpose, vivid and magnetic.

Memphis man Sugarray Rayford is a real catch for Red Rooster; his new album ‘In Too Deep,’ the follow up to his 2020 Grammy nominated ‘Somebody Save Me,’ an album which also earned Rayford two major Blues Music Awards for B.B. King Entertainer and Soul Blues Male Artist of the Year (over 2 consecutive years!). Combining classic soul melodies with funky R&B groove. Raw blues power mashed up with contemporary sounds.

Joshua Hedley has been on Red Rooster’s wish list since his amazing Third Man album ‘Mr Jukebox’ was release by Jack White’s label in 2018. Joshua has been making a name for himself as Nashville’s righthand guy. Known as the “mayor of lower Broadway” by collaborators and comrades, Hedley is a fixture at Robert’s Western World, where he plays for tips with his band the Hedliners. The multi-talented singer-songwriter has played fiddle with Justin Townes Earle, Robert Ellis and Jonny Fritz. Now, Music City’s favourite son is breaking out on his own and he’s heading to Red Rooster.

Another Third Man act are Smoke Fairies, who were the first UK band to release a record on the Nashville based label.  Their latest album ‘Darkness Brings the Wonders Home’ reached #1 in the UK Rock chart and went top 10 in the Indie Album charts.

A twice winner of the British Blues Award for Best Acoustic Performer and Best Songwriter, Marcus Bonfanti signs up to Red Rooster, Bristol’s Beth Rowley brings her Americana inspired lullabies, and the very welcome return of slide guitar maestro, Martin Harley, who will blow our minds once again.

Danish/Brazilian duo The Courettes make their Red Rooster debut, whilst William The Conqueror return with their fuzzy roots rock n’ chops.

He Was In Heaven Before He Died: A Tribute to John Prine, will feature Robert Chaney, The Magic Numbers, Beth Rowley, Felix Holt, Louis Brennan, Josh Flowers, Laura Tenchert, Pat Ralla & Joe Harvey Whyte. After a stellar show at Red Rooster 2021 with their homage to legendary music doc ‘Heartworn Highways’, this unique collective of musicians & songwriters are back once again to pay tribute to one of the most influential songwriters of a generation.  

Also newly announced are:

Awkward Family Portraits, The Schizophonics, Lady Nade, Alan Tyler & The Tapadoband, PM Warson, Red Hot Riot, Old Baby Mackerel, Chastity Brown, Mudlow, East Lonesome Drifters, The Dashwood String Band, Professor Baba & His Invisible Band, Ags Connolly, Jake Morrell, Sister Suzie, Lucy Grub, The McGuilty Brothers, East Angles Brass Band and Loose Leaf Drifters. With DJ sets from Eddie Pillar, Iraina Mancini, Ross Allen + Rocky, Wendy May, DJ Diddy Wah, Dean Thatcher, Dean Chalkley + Neil Barker, Oh Gunquit, Crispy Cowboy, Hank JD Sleek, Shola Aleje, and Andrew Hackett.

This fantastic line-up will join the previously announced:

North Mississippi Allstars, Cedric Burnside, Robert Finley, The Sheepdogs, Chuck Prophet & The Mission Express, Elles Bailey, Danny George Wilson, and Dom Pipkin & The Ikos.

Red Rooster has consistently sold out the last 4 years and expect to sell out quicker in 2022. We’re one of the best value festivals out there at just £109.50 + Booking fee for the whole weekend, which includes 3 nights of camping and parking FREE. Kids under 12 are free as always and we’ve also introduced a teen weekend ticket for just £50 + Booking fee.

Get your ticket before it’s too late – we don’t want you to miss this one! JOIN US HERE

http://www.redrooster.org.uk/

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FIRST WAVE OF ARTISTS ANNOUNCED FOR RED ROOSTER FESTIVAL 2022

After a sold out, and enormously enjoyable Red Rooster 2021, organisers are pleased to reveal the first wave of artists confirmed for 2022.

Red Rooster is delighted to welcome four-time Grammy award nominated North Mississippi Allstars to perform next year. Formed in 1996, by brothers Luther and Cody Dickinson, they’re now bringing their Hill country Blues four piece with new album “Set Sail” set for release next year.

Joining them will be Mississippi Hill Country blues guitarist, singer, and songwriter Cedric Burnside, widely heralded as an exemplar of the genre. Grandson of RL Burnside and Son of blues drummer Calvin Jackson – it’s in the blood – and we can’t wait to welcome Cedric back after the success of his Grammy nominated album “Be Trying.”

Louisiana bluesman Robert Finley joins the party, bringing a masterclass in Rhythm and Blues, his voice a shining centrepiece. His critically acclaimed album “Sharecroppers Son” was produced by Dan Aubach of The Black Keys and released on Dan’s label “Easy Eye.”

Straight out of Saskatoon, Canada, The Sheepdogs make their Rooster debut with their distinctive Southern Boogie sound as dynamic on stage as they are on record.

San Francisco’s Chuck Prophet and The Mission Express play the main stage in 2022, bringing a mix of modern lo-fi sensibilities with and storytelling songs with swampy roots influences. Chuck Prophet is an Americana legend going back to his days with Green on Red to his latest release, “The Land That Time Forgot.”

The smoky tones of the UK Americana Awards, “Song of the Year,” and No.1 Amazon blues charts, chanteuse Elles Bailey join the bill, alongside Danny George Wilson, Sister Suzie, Dom Pipkin & The Ikos, as well as the renowned Eddie Pillar on the decks, founder of legendary fanzine and label, Extraordinary Sensations and co-founder of the Acid Jazz label.

Red Rooster has consistently sold out its last four events 4 years with tickets flying out at a record speed. 2022 will no doubt follow suit. It is one of the best value festivals out there at just £109.50 + Booking fee for the whole weekend, which includes 3 nights of camping and parking FREE. Kids under 12 are free as always and we’ve also introduced a teen weekend tickets for just £50 + Booking fee. The weekend ticket price will also be capped for the next 2 years!

Get your ticket before it’s too late – we don’t want you to miss this one! JOIN US HERE

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Dry Cleaning @ NAC 2 December 2021

The last significant gig I attended before the pandemic was Dry Cleaning, in Shoreditch March 2020. So it was good to see them as one of my early significant gigs at the NAC (although I have been to many smaller pub gigs in the interim, as well as Bo Ningen here too, either side of a frustrating gig-free bout of Delta Covid. Things were already changing weirdly back then in March 2020, with rather over the top handwashing advice and instructions. I think most of us new things were going to change quite dramatically though I doubt many knew for quite how long it would continue, on that occasion it was most noticeable by the long queues for the gents, or more accurately the washbasins and hand-dryers as everyone was so diligently washing and cleaning their hands for the minimum 20 seconds! I wanted one final blowout of an away day gig in London and Dry Cleaning were the obvious choice, I felt they stole the show when they supported Bodega at NAC (not that there was anything wrong with Bodega but Dry Cleaning interested me far more) so I was lucky enough to secure a ticket at the 500 capacity Village Underground for the Dry Cleaning headliner before the gig sold out.

Dry Cleaning are a band who actually managed to enhance their reputation even further during the lockdown years. They seemed on the cusp of big things just before the pandemic hit but some storming sets for KEXP and a magnificent album – New Long Leg – on 4AD produced by John Parrish only enhanced their reputation so they hit the ground running when live gigs resumed.

It was great to see them headline in Norwich at the Arts Centre, fresh from a run of shows in the States, they also sold out the NAC. I detected that things did not yet feel quite entirely normal for everyone in the audience with some understandable nervousness but we are getting there and on the whole people had picked up where they left off, the music certainly helps.

Dry Cleaning at Norwich Arts Centre, December 2021
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