The BellRays + Los Pepes + Beast with a Gun @ NAC for Punk Rock Blues 16 March 2018

Heading out it felt like one of those March evenings where winter stretches its icy fingers trying to cling onto the cold and delivering yet more drizzly rain. It meant yet another cold and damp arrival which perhaps explained the far-from-full feel when I arrived at NAC just 15 or so minutes before the opening band. They were another ‘beast from the east’, from Great Yarmouth and they came armed. Garage blues rock trio Beast With a Gun opened proceeding with their own explosive and fun set.  I’ve seen them a number of times over the years but never here in the NAC so that in itself was a treat but they were absolute dynamite. Drums, guitar, no bass but a charismatic singer who also plays cigar-box guitar they were the absolute perfect opener for a Punk Rock Blues night. I always enjoy Beast with a Gun gigs and this one is up there among my favourites, they have a wonderful trashy rawness, a good visual balance and I’d love to see them share a billing with someone like Starcrawler.


beast with a gun



I think they gained the admiration of everyone seeing and hearing them for the first time, not surprisingly.  Totally unfazed by lost plectrums (audience member to the rescue!) and wayward drumsticks they powered their way through a set of glorious garage rock and roll blues with interspersed monkey noises to loud applause (“Should I just have done a whole set of monkey impersonations?”) and Southern drawl thanks and “True story, true story” between song interjections.



From this point in the rest of the gig was uncharted waters for me, I knew nothing whatsoever about Los Pepes, and barely anything about The BellRays but if they were put on by PRB that was enough for me!


los pepes



Los Pepes had me within seconds. “Hello. We’re Los Pepes. We play Rock and Roll!”  They sure do.  Loud, frenetic, and wearing their influences on a sweaty sleeve they were absolutely brilliant, almost like a fantasy combination of Stiff Little Fingers, The Ramones, The Clash and AC/DC, or “The Motörhead of powerpop” as they describe themselves.  Primarily though they are just bloody good energetic pop songs delivered in a guitar-driven punk rock style that had me nodding away and thinking “This is what I have been missing!  Animated, energetic and playing great rock and roll with the poses to match. They were superb!


los pepes


It was hard to imagine how these two sets could be bettered but then on came The BellRays who in their own style charmed everyone.  They are probably best summed up by a comment mid-set from my friend Paul. “It’s like if Tina Turner was in The Ramones!”  Absolutely!  This was a quintessential Punk Rock Blues set, but with some added funk and soul for good measure. So much fun. “Punk is the preacher….. Blues is the teacher” as they have in their bio. One could really get lost in their music and focus on the blues, the soul, or the infectious punk spirit and guitar. I simply could not put into words how much I enjoyed their set and although the Arts Centre hall was far from full they did that thing that great bands can do, they made it feel full and had the whole place dancing. 

the bellrays


I knew there was a pretty good chance I would love the night’s music but I still wan’t quite prepared for just how much I would enjoy it and how much fun I would have. Three hours of exhilarating music. Cycling home some time later I was still buzzing from it, which helped beat a path through some more fresh snowfall but I didn’t care about that. This was the sort of powerful music to make you move and feel good and that’s just what it did. One of the best gigs of the year so far.



Photos to follow soon..



all rights reserved (c) shashamane 2018


Norwich: Music City, UK

Posted in Beast With a Gun, Best gigs, live music and dance, Norwich Arts Centre, punk rock blues | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Gladboy + Lucille + Fever Machine @ The Owl Sanctuary, for Odd Box 10 March 2018 – Plus Gnoomes, Painted Heathers, Hot Raisin, Of the Clay, Phoebe Troup, DLore et al.

The previous week there were a number of gigs at the Owl which I’d hoped to make but a number of factors – mainly the weather – meant they were either cancelled, became low-key, or I just wasn’t able to attend, which is a shame as the Owl is due to close on the 1 April (surely, almost everyone thinks this should be taken on and run as a co-operative or collective? Its loss would be more than sad but seems so avoidable). Anyway, I made up for lost time with a number of weekend gigs and for this Odd Box Promotions event there were three bands I was seeing for the first time, including headliners Gladboy who have been causing quite a stir and buzz on the strength of their recent live shows.




First onstage were Fever Machine, playing only their second gig.  I immediately recognised Violet Kicks’ guitarist but here he was playing on bass.  They had a post-punk style and sound that appealed to me. A little quiet on the stage-presence front in comparison with what was to come later with Gladboy but very enjoyable though and I like what Fever Machine are doing and will look out for them again.


fever machine



The mysterious and darkly intriguing Lucille has risen from the ashes of Organisms, with Joe and Alex from that band, plus Lucille herself of course, on lead vocals. There’s also the addition of a few others, one of whom couldn’t make this gig and another being Iain Lowery on keys and backing vocals.  I liked this set a lot. There isn’t much information about them on social media but there is something about that I rather like too, just heightening the mystery. I very much look forward to seeing Lucile play again, these songs had a feeling, mood and atmosphere I found myself getting lost in. That’s always a good thing in my book.






George Orton of Gladboy is someone with a great musical family pedigree and someone I’ve seen at a few gigs in the city but this was my first opportunity to hear his band perform live, there has been a lot of buzz on the street about them and it didn’t take long to see why. As well as the great songs and playing they have buckloads of presence, some attitude and a refreshing, unapologetic self-belief and confidence that shows itself in the best of ways, the joy of performing the songs and involving the audience. They are charm itself actually and very likeable. George and the drummer are animated dervishes and frequently swap roles on drums and guitar (and keys too), whilst the bassist is the more grounded perfect foil.  A number of earworms in their set and they definitely have something about them. Getting the whole of the Owl upstairs room dancing and jumping about (and also getting them all to sit down on command!), with less than a dozen gigs under their belt they already have a strong local following and a strong set – with this as their first headline – though they did exhaust their entire catalogue though and for the much-demanded encore they had to go around again and play one of their songs a second time, and these songs are so good that there is absolutely nothing wrong in that. Fun, melodic, catchy garage rock. Describing themselves as a “junkadelic trio” they are another name to add to the ever-growing list of Norwich must-see bands. Now I want to see them playing on the same bill as HANK, that would be amazing!




A good choice of music for the mixtape between acts too with some reggae and dub.







Earlier in the week, with most of the snow now gone and gigs back on again I attended the Bicycle Shop’s handlebar which was absolutely rammed for what was the first of a new regular monthly acoustic showcases.  I am delighted to see the return of live music here and thank the lovely Phoebe Troup for putting it all together and making it happen.  We were treated to five hugely enjoyable sets by DLore, Billy Lubach, Softhead, Louis Cummins, and Phoebe herself. It was just lovely. It’s been a while since I heard Phoebe perform so this in itself was a big treat for me and all present. DLore will be known to many from The Piratones so check out his awesome solo work too. Billy is wonderfully talented and creative, a video is linked below too.





billy lubach


bicycle shop gig 1



Free entry but a donations box is passed around at the end to collect for the musicians.


@bicycleshopnorwich last night #norwichmusiccityuk

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On Sunday I visited one of my favourite pubs – The Stanford Arms in Lowestoft – for a couple of sets by Hot Raisin. Great fun as always and nice to hear airings of almost every Raisin song plus the covers that only get occasional plays  … These Boots are Made for Walkin’, Miss Ohio, Hit Me Baby One More Time, and Laura Marling’s The Captain and the Hourglass which is one of my favourites of hers.  Nice to hear their own Captain too which sounded really fresh. This is one of the songs that I heard when I first saw Hot Raisin that drew me into their world and was an early favourite.  For this gig they brought along their new dog, who was a total delight and barked along with the applause 🙂 A lovely afternoon with top music and top company in a great pub.


@hotraisinmusic at the #stanfordarms #lowestoft #hotraisin

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#lowestoft #sea #blackandwhitephotography

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Norfolk Big Sky #somerleyton #norfolk #sky #clouds

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Arriving back in a drizzly Norwich at about 8:30pm I was actually just in time to catch most of the Frank’s Bar set by Of the Clay. It was relaxed and quiet in there and really suited their sound. I was captivated and felt the souls of the songs, characters and the stories through their voices and playing. The Sunday evening atmosphere was perfect and the music just beautiful.


#oftheclay #norwichmusiccityuk #franksbarnorwich @franksbar

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The music still wasn’t over though and I was able to catch some of the Platform Twelve night hosted by Peter Turrell, as well as catching up with some good friends who also happened to be there. 


platform twelve


Peter will be reviving the Lights Out nights which were hosted by Pedz before he moved to Bristol. It will now be held in the Louis Marchesi Crypt and will be acoustic, unplugged and played in candlelight. Entry for this too is by donation.




The first of these was on Monday but in a quite untypical Monday nigh gig-clash I was unable to make it as I had already planned to be at the Playhouse Bar to see Painted Heathers and Gnoomes. That’s right, Gnoomes who have previously headlined the NAC and OPEN were playing for free in the Playhouse Bar on a Monday night, though again donations were encouraged to cover their travel expenses (they drove from Bristol and the next night of the tour was to take them to London). Thanks to Print For the People for putting this together.  I saw Gnoomes at that NAC gig in 2016 and had a lovely chat with them afterwards.  I was somewhat taken aback when talking this time they said they remembered me from that occasion and proved it by telling me the t-shirt I wore then!  The new album is on beautiful green vinyl and the signed cover sits proudly in my record collection.  When they played OPEN last year it clashed with Red Rooster so I unfortunately missed that one but they have a genuine warmth and fondness for Norwich (which is mutual) so I do hope they will be back again, they sounded amazing here. Now playing live as a four-piece the sound is a bit more electro and krautrock but still with superb crashing guitars and solid drums. A very professional act and truly lovely, friendly people.




Painted Heathers in support continue to impress and sound better each time I see them, with a new bassist they are now freed to have two great guitars playing at the same time. They have a post-punk, sometimes Blur-esque, sound but are getting their own identity which is becoming stronger and stronger as their confidence builds. The songs are there, they play brilliantly and are a lot of fun. Some of the gaps for tuning between songs perhaps disrupted the flow a little and it was interesting to see that the way Gnoomes handled this was for the drummer, keyboardist or the other guitarist to carry a drone or beat while someone else tuned, making the songs almost blend into each other. It may have confused the audience about when to applaud sometimes but gave the set a more immersive continuity.


#snow #trees #norwich

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#norwich #winter #snow #trees #nature

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all rights reserved (c) shashamane 2018


Norwich: Music City, UK

Posted in Billy Lubach, D'Lore, Faver Machine, Gladboy, Hot Raisin, live music and dance, Louis Cummins, Lucille, Mud Hut, odd box, Of the Clay, Painted Heathers, Phoebe Troup, Softhead | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Red Rooster 2018, more line-up announcements

red rooster 2018

Red Rooster provided a welcome winter tonic during this icy blast with a second wave of announcements for this summer’s festival, adding to some already great names we have some more which makes it the strongest line up thus far in my eyes.  We had the likes of Pokey LaFarge and the South City Three, Daddy Long Legs, Alabama 3, The Bonnevilles, The Worry Dolls, et al. but now added to that are yet more acts the calibre of Slim Cessna’s Auto Club, Ida Mae (fresh from a tour supporting Will Varley and currently recording their debut album), Yola Carter, Jerron “Blind Boy” Paxton, and many others. Along with Ida Mae Norwich is represented by 4D Jones and Lucy GrubbSlim Cessna’s Auto Club played Norwich Waterfront Studio last September that I covered for Outline in what was one of the gigs of the year for me, I hardly dared dream their name might be added to the line up and to see it confirmed is the icing on the cake for me.  I cannot wait!

daddy longlegs

Daddy Long Legs

chris and steph

Ida Mae

The festival has been running since 2014 and growing slightly in size year on year but retains a friendly, relaxed and good-sized gathering of music fans and quality acts. It champions the very best in RnB, Americana, Blues, Soul, Roots and Country, it is the go-to early summer event for those who wish to immerse themselves in a truly Deep South weekend experience of music, food and culture.  To their credit despite the vast grounds they keep the capacity at a level that means it remains small and lovely. Of course, I have such faith in the bookings that I know, as in previous years, names which might be unfamilar to me now are future favourites, as the Red Rooster experience proves time and time again.

pokey lafarge and the south city three at nac

Pokey LaFarge and the South City Three

the bonnevilles

The Bonnevilles

Maui Waui, Alabama 3

Alabama 3

jug jaw's beat club, 4d jones

4D Jones

lucy grubb

Lucy Grubb

worry dolls

The Worry Dolls

Maui Waui, Alabama 3

ida mae

Ida Mae at Red Rooster 2016, back again for 2018


Located in the beautiful surrounding park and secluded woodlands of Euston Hall in Suffolk on a 30-acre site, Red Rooster is hosted by Harry, Duke of Grafton, himself a huge fan of blues, roots and Americana. It attracts not only music devotees but families, festival goers, and tenderfoots alike, creating an enchanting, laid back, free and easy atmosphere, where kids are able to run around vast corn fields, where families can enjoy lip-smacking authentic ribs and soul food by a campfire whilst being serenaded under the stars, with all congregating to get down and dirty to the raucous sounds radiating from the woodland’s main stage venue.

Red Roosterloressit

2018 will see a huge range of BBQ, ribs & brisket, Mac n Cheese, Chillis, Gumbos and Jambalayas. Friends of the festival, Meantime Brewery will provide an array of beers and craft ales, whilst Four Roses offer the finest selection of Bourbons.


There are beautiful broadwaters with punting, woodlands, campfires, kids’ area. For those lucky enough to get hold of a dog ticket before they sold out, The House of Mutt offers a grooming service, training and dog agility courses.

Eli lo res

And, very rare to see at a festival, Red Rooster provides electrical hook ups for motorhomes, caravans and campervans.

Red Rooster is pleased to announce the powerhouse that is Eli Paperboy Reed, together with his 10-piece High and Mighty Band!, as Saturday night headliners at this early summer festival, renowned for celebrating the best of blues, roots and Americana.

Based in Brooklyn, this will be Reed’s first ever UK festival performance. His powerful vocals and stage persona are sure to impress but in conjunction with this fantastic 10-piece brass band featuring the whole works – tuba, two drummers, trombones and trumpets – now that’s the way to top a Saturday night! This adds to the other fabulous already-announced headliners Pokey LaFarge and Alabama 3 Acoustic….every night ending on an absolute high…. then, of course, there’s the late night Howlin’ Woods Stage, taking the party through to the small hours.

Headlining the Little Red Rooster stage are Norwich band Ida Mae. They come to Red Rooster fresh from recording their debut album with Ethan Johns and touring the American South through March and April. Former member of Old Crow Medicine Show – the Louisiana-born Gill Landry – will be presenting his incredible song-writing skills when he plays the Little Red Rooster stage as main support to Ida Mae. He’s been on Red Rooster’s target list for a while. Expect his music to lead us on a romantic journey through the dark and into the light.

Flying the British flag, Bristol’s Yola Carter, winner of the Americana Music Association’s UK Artist of the Year 2017, is a powerhouse of a voice. Her Country-Soul sounds, larger-than-life stage presence and superb songs prove completely irresistible.

Joining Yola on the main stage, the legendary Slim Cessna’s Auto Club, originally from Denver, Colorado, will be bringing their experimental and enthralling country genius to the party. Their appearance follows a European tour with Nathaniel Ratecliff & The Night Sweats that included three nights at Shepherd Bush Empire, whilst Jerron ‘Blind Boy” Paxton transports us back to the 1920’s – a hugely exciting star of the future –  who has already played Carnegie Hall with Buddy Guy, amongst many others.

Spain’s Los Chicos present their country-punk-rock-soul-garage-gospel machine on the main stage; the infamous Ross Allen will be spinning records late night, Jake La Botz’s gritty storytelling Americana will be shining through, whilst GospelbeacH continues to deftly honour the grand tradition of West Coast rock and roll.

Finally, Kasheen Sampson is sure to enchant with her combination of 70s folk-rock, California country and classic Laurel Canyon style. Lucy Grubb’s heartfelt lyrics and Country undertones will be serenading the Rooster crowd too, whilst Johnny Cage & The Voodoogroove offer up their dirty Cuban rock’n’roll, rockabilly & voodoo blues band.

In 2017 Red Rooster completely sold out. It is one of the best value festivals out there at just £59.50 + Booking fee for the weekend, which includes 3 nights of camping and parking FREE. Kids under 12 are gratis as always… tickets on sale HERE

From Tipis to Yurts, or your very own campervan – accommodation on site is constructed to give you the best and most authentic festival experience possible. There are electric hook ups available, a luxury that you’ll be hard pressed to find on offer anywhere else.

Have a little peep at all of the options HERE

Full announced line-up is now as follows:

Pokey LaFarge – Eli Paperboy Reed meets The High & Mighty Brass Band – Alabama 3 Acoustic

Gill Landry – Daddy Long Legs – Jonathan Toubin – New York Night Train / Soul Clap Dance Off

Yola Carter – Slim Cessna’s Auto Club – Ida Mae – The Bonnevilles

Ross Allen (DJ Set) – Jake La Botz – GospelbeacH – Brennen Leigh + Noel McKay

Kasheen Sampson – Worry Dolls – Dana Immanuel & The Stolen Band – Lucy Grubb – Johnny Cage & The Voodoogroove



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JD McPherson + Charley Crockett @ NAC 23 February 2018

If a gig is put on by Punk Rock Blues that’s a sure-fire guarantee of quality for me. These nights are superb and even if I don’t know a band I’ll still go because there’s a brand endorsement attached to the name now.


charley crockett


JD McPherson were obviously familiar to me through Red Rooster but Charley Crockett who was supporting was a new name to me.  This gig sold out literally within days of being announced last year and the NAC really felt full, with a noticable air of excitement and anticipation and queues not only to the Arts Centre itself but also for the auditorium and it seemed, pleasingly, that everyone was in there early to catch the opening set.  Charley and his band oozed charm, charisma and brilliant musicianship – and they are the real deal. One of them was playing trumpet and keys at the same time! They charmed the audience and sounded just superb with a great mix of Cajun, blues, honky tonk and Texan country blues, you can hear New Orleans in the mix to.  “People ask me, ‘Hey boy, what’s your music about?’ and I tell ’em ‘About two or three minutes'”  This was their very first gig in the UK and it was soon obvious they were having as great a time as we were, the energy between the stage and floor was wonderful. The songs were varied and beautifully played, many of them having some of the spirit of Hank Williams.  Introducing the last song they invited us to come and chat at the mech table afterwards, Charley saying: “If you like us enough you can buy a vinyl. If you don’t like us you can still give us $20 and we’ll buy ourselves some music lesssons!” Pure class. I bought the vinyl.  I’d have bought both albums if I could. If you like Pokey LaFarge you’ll love these guys too.


charley crockettcharley crockett

charley crockettcharley crockettcharley crockett



“Charley Crockett, a true descendant of Davy Crockett, was born in a poor town in deep South Texas. His early years were spent between Texas and Louisiana, raised by a blues singing single mother in Dallas, and an uncle who introduced him to the big brass sound of the French Quarter in New Orleans where he would later learn how to play guitar as a street performer. In 2009, Crockett showed up in New York City, where he made a living captivating subway car audiences for several years before being discovered and offered a record deal as part of the street group “Trainrobbers.” Deciding to take his chances in a rapidly changing music industry, Charley declined the offer and headed west to California instead. Of mixed Jewish/White/Creole dissent, he has a unique sound blending a rich and diverse heritage of both new and traditional music. Crockett has been compared to many artists from Bill Withers and Jerry Lee Lewis to Dr. John and Citizen Cope. Elusive, rebellious and self taught, Crockett is a true street made original from earlier times.”




There was a good rockabilly crowd in for this gig, people looking so good it could almost have been a Bo Nanafana night. Huge cheers and warm applause greeted JD McPherson as the band took to the stage.  For an hour and a half they played some high energy R&B, rock and rockabilly, and as a friend observed, this could have been straight out of Sun Studios.  The audience were wildly enthusiastic and once again the atmosphere was terrific with a blisteringly good band clearly having a good time too.  They are so tight and with great songs, some real singalongs and a whole lot of joy in the hall as JD McPherson played a varied set which never dipped in quality. The whole band took a collective bow at the end of their encore and received well-deserved, prolonged applause. Nice to see Charley Crockett and his band among that cheering audience too. Superb night, absolute top quality and an early ‘gig of the year’ contender.

jd mcpherson





jd mcpherson

jd mcpherson


jd mcpherson


The previous evening I saw Soyuz Rats at the Owl Sanctuary, in their new, even mightier incarnation which features the amazing Pip on drums.  There was some movement with the drum-kit slowly edging its way over the podium until some heroics from Ryan and Martin kept it in place.

soyuz rats


After this I headed briefly to a rammed Murderers where Dona Oxford from New York was playing Fine City Blues, and then to Cactus Cafe Bar for a beautifully relaxed evening of music in one of Shane O’Linski’s regular nights. Arriving just as Of the Clay were starting their set.  I’d not had an opportunity to see them for a few months so this was a real treat, plus a chance to get hold of their recently released splendid EP (Thanks Joe!), it’s an absolute pleasure to have recordings of these songs I can now listen to between their gigs!


of the clay


There were further enjoyable sets from Monkiboy, the always enjoyable Andrea King who previewed some excellent new songs, plus Shane O’Linski himself. I love these Cactus nights.


andrea king

cactus cafe bar

andrea kingshane o'linski

andrea kingshane and alvin

all rights reserved (c) shashamane 2018


Norwich: Music City, UK

Posted in Andrea King, Best gigs, live music and dance, Monkeyboy, Norwich Arts Centre, Of the Clay, OosWolf, punk rock blues, Shane O' Linski | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Flint Moore + The Visitors + Hot Raisin @ The Owl Sanctuary 17 February 2018

Flint Moore are a band I first encountered last year in a round of Battle of the Bands that also featured Hot Raisin in Flint Moore’s home town of Downham Market and again when both bands were in the final in King’s Lynn.  They certainly put on a show, had a strong local following and had a superb attitude that I admired greatly alongside the mutual respect between the bands.  This was my first time seeing them away from their West Norfolk home turf and it was a nice touch that they invited Norwich’s Hot Raisin to support them on their city date to launch their new EP ‘Reign’, as well as another Norwich band I had not actually seen before: The Visitors.




Hot Raisin were on first and played six or so songs as full electric band, as always in good spirits with natural, good-natured banter and humour to compliment their wonderful and varied songs. They are sounding so tight and comfortable these days, playing and performing with a relaxed ease and joy which transmits that same feeling to the audience. As anyone who was at the wonderful recent “The Room” will testify.


hot raisin

hot raisinhot raisinhot raisinhot raisinhot raisinhot raisinhot raisinhot raisin


The Visitors look very young, initially perhaps a tad nervous they have a pop-punk sound that reminded me at times of The Primitives, which is no bad thing in my book.  It was infectious fun and had me smiling throughout. Singer Lily-Ann does all the talking between songs and by about the third number she put on an acoustic guitar for a slower number. This gave me the chance to hear the lyrics better and the whole band seemed to visibly settle and grow in confidence from this point. Lily-Ann’s voice was much clearer and stronger and she seemed to really enjoy herself.  The boys did too by the end of the set but just as an observation, and in contrast to Hot Raisin, I couldn’t help noticing the lack of animation or interaction from the rest of the band for a while … up until that final song anyway when they all did let rip and show how much they were enjoying it. That might just be their shtick, which is perfectly cool of course but it was a lot for fun when they all bounced around at the final song.  I note from their Facebook bio however that they are usually a five-piece but I don’t know the story with their other guitarist. What I do know is that they charmed me and grew on me more and more as the set went on. Not sure how I have not crossed paths with them before but I shall look out for them in the future, a lot of fun and I think I could become quite taken by this band, would love to hear their full five-piece sound.


the visitorsthe visitorsthe visitors

the visitors

the visitors

the visitors

the visitors


Between The Visitors Flint Moore sets we had a minor interruption as the fire alarm sounded, rumours circulating that this was caused by Hot Raisin boiling a Pot Noodle in the Owl’s green room are unfounded and wide of the mark.



The top room at the Owl was quite full for Flint Moore and of course that makes it a bit hot in there.  Lead singer Francis is very much the frontman and voice of the band, doing all the talking between songs but with the confidence, personaility and charisma for it. A powerful voice and performer, while on bass Maddy is quietly charismatic too and the perfect visual foil.  They play big songs with big sound and have no lack of self-belief, which is refreshing and I can easily imagine them playing on large stages.


flint moore


I have a lot of respect too for this band’s offstage attitude, Francis and Maddy were both prominent audience figures dancing to the other acts and generally being supportive, I like that a lot.  A night of strong local, original music, and positive vibes. Cheers to Ryan on sound.


all rights reserved (c) shashamane 2018


Norwich: Music City, UK

Posted in Flint Moore, Hot Raisin, live music and dance, The Visitors | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

AMENRA + Boris + Jo Quail @ NAC 16 February 2018

My third NAC gig in consecutive days was for something a bit out of my zone of musical familiarity, I love a good, heavy and loud gig at the Arts Centre but I knew next to nothing about any of the acts performing on this bill, indeed I’d even forgotten that Jo Quail had been added to the billing at all. Within moments of my arriving the buzzer sounded for Jo’s 8pm set. Despite the early start the hall had a sizable crowd gather near the front where she played her electric cello on the floor in front of the stage – there was not a spare inch of stage space left such were the number of amps, the like of which I have never seen at NAC, and not to mention the huge gong for Boris’ set immediately after Jo’s.

jo quail


Jo Quail plays with an intensity that is absolutely captivating building deep, dark layers using pedals and loops and even bravely played a work in progress – “Imagine it’s a load of Lego bricks on the floor … something that hasn’t been assembled yet” which even in this form turned out to be breathtaking.  The half hour set flew by and concluded with probably my favourite of all these pieces, an epic Gold.  The music every bit as intense as the performance and delivery and certainly one of those “Wow!” moments.



A mere five minutes or so and it was time for Boris to take to the stage.  As mentioned, I came into this gig with little knowledge of any of the acts and no real expectations, I was just in the mood for something loud, powerful and different. This gig seemed something quite out of the ordinary and I was right on that score.  The stage was so full of amps that the monitors had to sit on piled up flight cases on the floor and the smoke machines billowed out so much smoke that they obscured the amps, and most of the band members.  I could just occasionally make out the sillhouetted double neck guitar on the right.  I have never seen anything like this at NAC, the lights, the projections, and then the volume. Hugely powerful and intense, I really couldn’t see too much of the band but it was interesting watching the audience, a sea of silently nodding heads among the drifting smoke, with the occasional horned hand puncturing the mist.  The set went on for a long time, probably ninety minutes or so, and although appreciating the incredible visual show – which was hugely impressive – it took me a while to be grabbed by the music, most of which to my untrained ears initially sounded samey and like the closing bars of an epic, thunderous song which went on and on and on … but then something did seem to click and it took me to some place else and I became more tuned into it.  There was something of a religious congregational feel about it all and it was certainly an onslaught of the senses.  I couldn’t help wondering what it would be like without the volume and “Would I listen to this at home?”, and sadly I do not think I would but in the live setting it is certainly a powerful spectacle and proved a hard act to follow.


norwich arts centre

Boris are behind this, somewhere.


Unsuprisingly the take down of this set up took a lot longer than the five minutes between Jo Quail’s and Boris’ sets but when AMENRA came on they were a little less loud but no less intense.  In a night of over three hours of such intensity and the sheer onslaught on the senses plus five gigs in three days I was flagging and feeling the sensory overload, or just not feeling it from AMENRA … it was actually my eyes rather than my ears that told me to call it a night before the end of the set. I’m still not quite sure what to make of it all. It was an extraordinary evening and I’m glad I experienced it, especially to see NAC like that (even the merch took up half of the bar!) but BORIS made a much greater impression on me than AMENRA though it is interesting how everyone I have spoken to seems to have a totally different experience of the gig. One of the things I love about music. Having been there the previous night it still seems like a minor miracle that so much could have been set up so quickly, it must have been a phenomenal amount of work. Everything felt slightly different; familiar but yet vaguely unfamiliar, which together with coming to a gig with no expecations gave quite an edge to the night’s events.


norwich arts centre



It was an interesting night, a heck of an experience and although not entirely my thing I didn’t dislike any of it but it was Jo Quail whose music most resonated with me and whom I am most likely to look out for and listen to again.


jo quail



AMENRA last month released Mass VI via Neurot Recordings, and have been performing select shows in support of the album including an unforgettable album release show at the AB in Brussels. As always with AMENRA, their art comes directly from the souls of the musicians involved. They can establish connections with their listeners more profound than almost any other band because they are direct heart to heart connections, and thissynergy is especially resonant during their live performances. This also notably marks the first full UK tour for AMENRA.

Boris meanwhile, have just returned from a mammoth tour celebrating their 25 year anniversary, and the release of their 23rd full-length album Dear (Sargent House). These latest dates will give audiences in the UK and mainland Europe a chance to experience Dear live, and catch Boris in their element. Boris embrace the excess, pushing their myriad of approaches and stylistic forays to points of intoxicating absurdity. Dear fortifies their monolithic wall of sound while also allowing the individual band members to explore the nuances and intricacies of minimalist riffs played at maximum volume.

all rights reserved (c) shashamane 2018


Norwich: Music City, UK

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HARK Presents Broads + LK @ NAC 15 February 2018




Another lovely evening at Norwich Arts Centre for this HARK Presents night, which had the added bonus of a rare set by LK who performed beautifully and dreamily for a perfect warm up in front of perfectly complementary moving images projected onto the back of the stage.  Ethereal, atmospheric and spellbinding, it was a treat to hear.





Broads too played with some stunning projections and also a host of guest appearances, including Milly Hirst, Stacey Gow, Joe Bear and Christian Hubbard.  The start of the set was quite electronic but built up as the guests came and went to include vocals, electric guitar, bass, and drums with some heavy rock-outs too. Incredibly varied and most enjoyable.


broadsbroads, milly hirst



Thursday 15th February 2018
8:00 PM
Pay What You Can Afford

Broads + LK

Broads are a Norwich-based 2-piece who merge programmed electronics, synth drones and gradually-unfolding melody into a delicate, spacious wall of sound. Their HARK show marks the launch of their fourth full-length release, Field Theory, which has been supported by Arts Council England and Norwich Arts Centre.

Bringing the band favourable comparisons to Mogwai, Boards of Canada and My Bloody Valentine, Field Theory is Broads’ most focused and carefully-executed release to date. Drawing on themes of repetition, drone and incremental builds, the 11 tracks on the album take in brooding, lazy synth swells (‘Toze’, ‘Lund’), motorik electronica (‘Tiamat’, ‘Let Me Take It From Here’) and slow-building, dynamic post-rock (‘The Lecht’) – as well as the occasional moment of driving synth/dream-pop bliss as evidenced on recent single ‘Climbs’ which features vocals by long-time collaborator Milly Hirst. Having previously shared stages with artists such as Plaid, Mercury Rev and Winter Villains, Broads cut across elegantly between genres and should not be missed by admirers of Grouper, Stereolab, Purity Ring, Max Hecker and Sylvan Esso.

For this show, Broads will be joined by Milly Hirst, Joe Bear (Alto45), Stacy Gow (Magoo) and Christian Hubbard (EPIA).

“It is music which seems to roll over you in waves, it builds slowly cocooning the listener in fuzzy warmth and claustrophobic loveliness. And whilst it does all of that it also feels like a defining moment for music. It feels as if barriers, which up until now have kept certain genres from socialising, have been crossed and trampled to dust. This feels not just an important musical step, this feels actually groundbreaking” (Dave Franklin, Dancing About Architecture) | @Broadsofnorfolk

LK weaves together atmospheric loop-based soundscapes with reality-melting vocals. Listen to her EP ‘LAND’ | @lkmakesmusic


At the end of this gig I dashed over to the Owl and was lucky enough to catch twenty minutes or so of Painted Heathers, a band who have grown on me a lot, in large part due to these two most recent gigs. The expanded line up has helped create a huge sound and style which is now their own. Very impressed.   After this there was still time to catch some blues over the road where The Split Whiskers were half way through their second set for Fine City Blues at The Murderers.


all rights reserved (c) shashamane 2018


Norwich: Music City, UK

Posted in Broads, Fine city blues, live music and dance, LK, Milly Hirst, Norwich Arts Centre, Painted Heathers | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment