What a feast of incredible talent and entertainment served up by Stacked! at Open last night, I still feel drunk on all the talent and amazing performances on offer at this superb event. Massive praise and compliments to Pete Warner for his tireless efforts at creating these unique and high quality nights in Norwich, we are blessed with such gigs at the moment.
From the moment I walked into the venue, on a bitterly cold night (spring?!) I was struck by the palpable good-time, positive atmosphere emanating from all these smiling faces. I soon bumped into Jack and had a nice chat, and then Pete, who with blue eyebrows and moustache remarked on how weird I was looking this evening! The event was like a mini-indoor festival, with the mood to match. Between acts we were entertained by hoop skills from the Vortex Circus Trio, The Socialious Market consisted of five minute massages, hand-crafted items by Holly (both as “name your price”!) and Georginus Henna. There was so much going on and I felt like I wanted to experience as much of it as possible. But the first act, Roma Stanger was just starting her set. I had not seen nor heard her before but I think we have yet another talent with much promise on our hands here. With a slight resemblance to early Amy Winehouse she was sat on a stool with her guitar and delivered a confident set with covers such as Liberty X’s ‘Just a Little Bit’ pared down and slowed down, highlighting her impressive voice. I’d like to hear more by this young lady.
In a very full bill it was not long before Jack Pout & The Dirt Level took to the stage. I have a lot of time for these guys and am liking them more and more. They are enormous fun, have wonderfully spontaneous and witty between song banter and a lovely self-deprecating humour, as heard on such titles as “Support Act” but that’s not to disguise the genuine talent on display here, charismatic Jack, who I believe is just 19, is a natural performer and frontman, he has a really good voice and the songs are delivered in a sixties melodic pop style, and frequently in the chord of G! But don’t be misled by their fun presence, there are intelligent depths to the songs too, with very mature songwriting (Sleeping Pills) such as the wistful, sad and sarcastic Pardon Me, a very well written song that could have been created by Ray Davies. I very much look forward to seeing this band again, great entertainers that they are, I highly recommend their works “Perhaps I’m Sick” and “Live at Old School” which are available for download, and it seems there is something else soon to be released.
Drummer of the Dirt Level, Robbie, was in for a busy evening and was also on duty for the highly interesting Grazing Saints, who I’ve seen a few times of late and am becoming quite fascinated by their brand of dark and brooding, electric, thoughtful indie-rock. Robbie is a very good drummer, Paul is just a natural on bass and highly accomplished, and Joe’s lyrics are at times very dark, intense and powerful, whilst he has an excellent guitar style, striking chords, using echo, and an impressive use of space too, a quality I wish more would appreciate, it’s the space that was used to great effect on Marquee Moon, by Television as pointed out by a good friend of mine, a view I totally agree with and was also put in mind of. They also sometimes create a similar atmosphere that was present in some of the early work of Echo and the Bunnymen, and very early Joy Division/Warsaw. There are some dark subjects covered here, with matters such as depression, anxiety and breakdowns very obviously present and delivered with appropriate intensity and world-weariness but not overwhelming the very good songs being performed.
Raevennan Husbandes is another singer I was hearing for the first time tonight. Once again I will make sure it is not the last. Another female, solo singer-songwriter with acoustic guitar and delicious voice, captivating the audience and holding the attention in a manner reminiscent of Milly Hirst. I am going to make it my goal for the weekend to find what I can to download and listen to by this talented artist, yet another that seems to have landed fully formed. From the brief bio accompanying promotion for the event, it seems she has experienced a great deal already in her young life but last year she won “The Next Big Thing” and it is very clear to see why.
The headline act for the night was Dr Clyde. Being a fan of Cakes and Ale I was very much looking forward to hearing Jasper’s new band for the first time and very interested to find out what they would sound like, not having heard anything as yet. I was not to be disappointed, they delivered a stunning set, one which is very hard to pigeonhole or label, not that I would wish to and such a problem is always a good sign. But I will say they had a phenomenal bassist delivering an insistent bass sound, in a style that reminded me of The Fall with an effective use of repetition, and an excellent drummer. Jasper was his usual manic and wild self, a big presence and quite unique, this extraordinary set included one or two Cakes and Ales numbers and a large number of impressive new songs in this incredible set, the feeling of which is still with me as I write. I picked up their 3 track EP which I am almost reluctant to play as how can anything match a performance like that, but I doubt I will be disappointed.
Well, yet another incredible night, Norwich has a scene that has to be experienced to be believed, if the rest of the country chooses to ignore the talent pouring from the city that is their loss.
More words and pictures to follow, but tonight I am at another gig, with heart of a Dog, The Olympians, and Wooden Arms, who have stepped in at the last minute to replace the Spring Offensive who have been marooned in Oxfordshire due to the heavy March snow … how ironic is that?!
words and photos by shashamane