Wooden Arms EP launch night at the Octagon Chapel in Norwich, 12 July, 2013 review
This was my first visit to the beautiful Octagon Chapel in Norwich, a most striking building with lovely warm acoustics, therefore the perfect venue to launch the EP by Wooden Arms, with support from Heart of a Dog and a slot for Halls.
I literally took my place on a pew and soon saw Milly and had the great pleasure of chatting with her and her equally lovely family, before Heart of a Dog took to the stage to open the night. Sam starting the set with the words “Dearly beloved, we are gathered here today … ” They sounded superb in here, Jon’s subtle drumming, vocals and uke playing, Ian’s soft bass and Sam’s expressive voice and guitar. They showcased a few new songs tonight, and they all sounded wonderful, their playing definitely moving onto the next level. For a gorgeous rendition of Berlin they were joined by Milly, a singer who I would love to see and hear play in this venue, I think it would be a perfect match. Throughout the set they were accompanied again by Will of Port Isla on piano, which sounded sublime here.
Next on were Wooden Arms themselves for their big day. It is by far the best I have heard them play. Alex’s voice sounding the strongest I have heard it, the piano perfect, and Jess’ violin gorgeous. Perhaps the nature of the acoustics meant some of the cello’s lower notes were a bit lost but this did not detract from the overall sound or experience at all. Jeff’s delicate guitar and Milly’s amazing, haunting vocals all making this an especially beautiful Wooden Arms performance. They are playing again tonight in Cambridge and I think I may just possibly go along to this one too.
The final act were Halls. They played a very atmospheric set, full of emotion, subtlety and sparseness. It’s impossible not to make a mention of a resemblance to quieter mood Radiohead but they also have their own identity. I had a little trouble making out some of the lyrics, or the introductions but enjoyed their songs. They were joined a couple of times by the string section of Jess and Fyn of Wooden Arms and this really added something special. I will certainly be checking out more of their material, but tonight was about Wooden Arms in this magnificent setting and it is surely one of my most memorable nights at a local gig. Many thanks to all for the hard work that went into this event.
words and photos by richard shashamane 2013