What a night this was! The much-anticipated Hubs Presents, at Open did not disappoint. Ash Woolnough and Solko are doing so much to support the Norwich music scene, but also bringing some very fine and (to me) previously unknown bands from other parts of the country, whom I was more than happy to be introduced to.
A few months ago I decided to investigate the music of an artist whose name I kept seeing. This artist is Freya Roy, who writes, plays and sings beautifully. Just 16 she has a calm and assured stage presence and confidence. I saw her some weeks ago at Jack Pout’s Lovely Promotions event at the Ten Bells and was looking forward to seeing her again but this time on a bigger stage. She makes this transition seamlessly, displaying no nerves and using her guitar and loops to great effect on her atmospheric and mature songs. Starting with the track “Wait in the Water” from the EP of the same name, she played a lovely if all-too-brief set. I am sure we will be hearing much more of this talented singer from Halesworth.
The venue certainly seemed to have suddenly filled with a constant stream of people arriving. I wonder how many people knew of Manchester band Age of Glass. To myself they were a complete unknown quantity, other than what Ash was telling me some moments earlier, adding that the singer was highly charismatic, and how right he was. In fact the whole band are. A trio of bearded men playing unique and impossible to pigeonhole music. The songs are driven by a very highly impressive bass guitar sound from Stanislav Lipnitski, whilst the singer, Rory Charles, in a colourful jacket the like of which I have never seen before, huge beard, acoustic guitar slung over his back at several times put me in mind of an English Eugene Hutz of Gogol Bordello. Such was his stage presence and manic, enthusiastic delivery, eyes bulging one moment intense guitar playing, then singing, playing keyboards and breaking into a sudden heavy dub skank. The other more electric sounds were provided by Nick Froud. Truly unique and extraordinary, and unlike any band I have seen or heard before, such originality is to be admired and treasured. Totally eccentric, making me in turn think back to Gogol Bordello, dub, electro-dance, 80s pop and even Jungle Book scat! They were clearly having as much fun as the audience too, remarking that they had never seen such a sea of smiling faces. Well, Age of Glass, you played a huge part in making these faces smile, including mine, I look forward to hearing and seeing more of this band too. I was very pleased to get myself a copy of their EP so I can enjoy hearing them again at home.
Whenever Solko play live in Norwich these days it is always a real event. Having seen them play a brilliant set at this venue last year, and tremendous gig for their Love & Blood EP launch at Epic in November (Take the Blood being a highlight), I am aware how well these musicians play, what fun and enthusiasm they are delivered with, and what a sizable and loyal following they have. They seemed to have reached a higher level in recent months, performing with a relaxed ease which belies the complexity of some of the songs. An eight piece with horn section, percussionists with a very fine drummer in Mikey, and guitars, nothing is swamped and the sound as a whole is a delight. Veering mainly towards a funked dub, at times jazzy sound or even Ethio-funk, the audience lapped it up and the 45 minute set seemed to pass all too quickly.
At about 11pm the Resonators took to the stage. A nine piece from Brighton who I was looking forward to. When this event was listed I checked this band out on Spotify and liked very much what I heard, but what a live experience they provide. Another superb horn and rhythm section, with a driving dub bass and two energetic female singers, they really connected with the audience, it seemed like the venue was just about full and from front to back people were dancing and skanking. Fine voices and fine musicianship with hypnotic basslines. It was heart-warming to see everyone in the venue, audience and band, as one and loving every minute. I joined a very sizable queue at the front of the stage to buy their album, which I am listening to now, and particularly enjoying “Wandering”.
Once again, I was lucky enough to be in attendance for a truly special gig in Norwich, I think my over-riding memory of this one, as well as the music, will be of the vibe, smiles, and terrific atmosphere. Everybody seemed to be of the same opinion and smiles were in abundance 🙂 It was also good to hear the bands saying complimentary things about the sound in the venue, which is quite deserved. I also find the audience has always had a great time there. There was a letter in the EN last week about Norwich venues and strangely Open was dismissed for being in the wrong location! I find this inexplicable as it is a good sized venue on Castle Meadow, which is pretty much the city centre.
Words and photographs by shashamane 2013
Photographs (c) all rights reserved shashamane
More photos from the gig here: https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.534744759911811.1073741827.466518890067732&type=1&l=796d086d5d
videos by turpinz : https://www.youtube.com/user/turpinz?feature=watch
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