Wooden Arms, with Milly Hirst, at Rumsey Wells, Norwich, 13 June 2013 review
Ahead of a date in Nottingham on the 14th June, Wooden Arms played a low-key gig in Norwich’s Rumsey Wells, with Milly Hirst on backing vocals and also performing a short solo set. First of all though was guitarist and backing vocalist Jeffrey (An Early Aeronaut) of Wooden Arms playing solo for about four numbers. Playing acoustic guitar, his songs are melodic and quite beautiful with his soft vocals, and guitar so subtle and delicate I was visualising butterflies! I think I saw him play at the Birdcage early this year, but this was the first time I had heard him solo since then and would like to hear more.
Currently guesting as backing vocalist for Wooden Arms, Milly also performed a short set of five or six numbers, including a brand new one, as yet untitled, being aired for the first time. It was as beautiful as would be expected, delicate and haunting and one I much look forward to hearing again. I think Milly has rediscovered her songwriting mojo, if indeed it ever went away, as she referred to a spell of writer’s block earlier in the year. She has written some fine new songs lately, and they are just the ones I have been lucky enough to hear. Alongside this new song we also had some familiar favourites, such as set opener I Still, Kampala Roads, and Book or a Film.
To end the night, all five artists took to the stage as Wooden Arms. This was actually the first time I was to hear Milly doing a full set of backing vocals for Wooden Arms, and I am pleased but not surprised to discover that she is absolutely perfect in the role, even if she did have to refer to the lyrics on her mobile for the new track Wooden Arms also aired! Delicate and haunting, floating atmospherically, Milly and Lydia are the only two local singers I can think of who would be able to carry this off, and personally, Wooden Arms as a five-piece is my favourite permutation of the band, but they have always performed superbly in whatever format I have seen them, which are numerous this year. A young but rapidly developing and distinctive band with great potential. As well as the new track they played the recent single, and another favourite. False Start. Wooden Arms have a new EP coming out later this summer which will be launched at The Octagon Chapel in Norwich, an event I am very much looking forward to.
words and photos richard shashamane 2013