Lights Out at the Underbelly, Rumsey Wells 09 April, 2013

Thanks and respect must go once again to Peds, for another outstanding and diverse evening of musical entertainment at the Rumsey Wells.

This particular event was held in the underbelly of the Rumsey, previously used for gigs and art exhibitions. A fine sound and intimate atmosphere, as is becoming for this regular gig.

I’m afraid I cannot give a fair review of the first act, Jake Mills, as I only caught two or three of his songs due to a 15 minute-plus wait to get served at the busy upstairs bar. Anyway, downstairs we were being treated to some fine sounds in the special ambiance that “Lights Out” provides, with its acoustic and informal atmosphere. Jake delivered a pleasing blend of folk-pop, and when I departed for what I thought would be for a couple of minutes he was doing a splendid Oasis cover.

By the time I returned, Joe Quinn of the Grazing Saints was about to start his short solo set. Having spoken to him few days earlier we decided we would go to this gig and meet up. He then wrote to Peds to confirm details and was then invited to take part with a set, that’s how lovely and informal these events are!
I believe the set consisted of four songs, including a new one (“Some Things Never Change and Some Things Do”) with lyrics like these: “Do you ever stop to wonder, do you even care? What my head must feel like with her fingers in my hair? When you’re living lonely, what I say is true. When you got nobody the world is made for two“, and a stunning version of Tempest (aka “I need a companion, a woman or maybe a dog” – Sunday morning coming down and I can’t get out of bed). The solo set heightening the power and intensity of the lyrics. A super set which was very well received by all I noticed.

a shot of joe performing with the grazing saints last month

a shot of joe performing with the grazing saints last month

joe quinn

joe quinn

Next up was Tom Conway. Yet another artist I had not heard before on his own, playing exquisite solo guitar. He also plays locally with Koi Paranga, and The Familiars, who I have seen. I especially loved the set opener, a gentle meandering bluesy piece which he described as “loose” and followed up with an arrangement of a Bach piece! A highly accomplished and versatile guitarist. He finished the set with another arrangement of Nina Simone’s My Baby Just Cares for Me, which on completetion was greeted with calls for “More!” and even a few shouts of “Jazz!” and “Freeform!” Shouts, it must be said, I have never before heard at any gig I have ever attended!

tom conway (with sefo kanuteh on kora)

tom conway (with sefo kanuteh on kora)

The penultimate act was Let’s Go Nowhere, a three-piece who started with great gusto. A male singer/guitarist accompanied by two girls, one on backing vocals and the other on violin, I believe they also have another member who was not present tonight. They too went down very well with their acoustic/folk and I wish them well on their forthcoming tour.

let's go nowhere

let’s go nowhere

Tonight’s headliner was Sefo Kanuteh. An artist I was aware of but had not properly seen perform before, and my main reason for choosing to come to tonight’s gig. I have to say I was absolutely mesmerised by his set. The West African instrument of the Kora is a beautiful sound, as popularised by artists such as Toumani Diabate, both solo and with Ali Farka Toure and Afrocubism. Sefo, himself from a West African background of Gambia and Senegal is currently studying in Norwich but has been a student of the kora all his life and well it shows. The songs which he introduces and describes beautifully, taking us into their world, have an almost hypnotic effect with a griot storytelling feel, but most of all, whatever the subject being covered it felt like being wrapped in a protective musical blanket. I was struck by the sense of calm and reassurance I felt, with a lullaby effect, and Peds’ girlfriend used the perfect word to me when we were talking about this: Comforting. I must also mention that he has an equally reassuring and gentle singing voice.

Towards the end of his set he was joined by both Peds and Tom Conway, who were all on the same musical wavelength despite never having played together before, and Tom stayed for the rest of the set for a kind of impromptu jam which was both beautiful and mesmerising.

sefo kanuteh, pete warner and tom conway

sefo kanuteh, pete warner and tom conway

lights out 5

Yet another unique and extraordinary night’s music in Norwich. I am amazed at the number of nights like this happening, but also aware of the countless others I am not able to attend for reasons of time and finance that are also probably happening every night of the week in this special time in our happening city.

Words and photos by shashamane

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