Dr Clyde & Banjaxeld at The Blueberry, Dove and Boweevil at Fat Cat Brewery Tap, Junior Ras EP launch at Bedfords Crypt, Friday 23 August 2013, reviews.
Perhaps over-ambitiously I attempted to catch all the acts at three separate gigs on this evening, and very nearly succeeded. I arrived at The Blueberry just as Banjaxeld were getting ready to start their set. A hard-working and dedicated band (five gigs this weekend) we had time for a quick chat and then they started at about 8.40pm. I’ve seen them a handful of times of late and today was by far the ‘punchiest’ I have heard them, probably because it was the first time of hearing them play with a full drum kit but it was good and full, with an especially warm-sounding bass. They have a mixture of styles and influences, and now that their songs are becoming familiar to me I could even sing along (in my head) to some of the lyrics. At times bluesy, folky they always sound good, each member an extremely good musician.
I don’t know if it is the sea air or what but the number of excellent bands coming out of the towns of Lowestoft, Gorleston, Yarmouth and Caister is astonishing, and Banjaxeld (not to be confused with the other coastal band “Banjax”) are just the latest to have come to my attention and they seem to be warmly welcomed and embraced by the Norwich audiences. On a tight schedule they had to pack up quickly and head back to Lowestoft to be there for a 10:30pm gig, they are a hard-working band who love playing music, and this feeling will always communicate to an audience, but they have the songs to back this up too. The most instant and catchy of which is “No Fear”.
My hope was to make a quick dash myself, to the Tap to catch some of Dove and Boweevil’s full band set but I unfortunately arrived just as they finished the first of their two sets. It was however an opportunity to have a chat with some of the band plus a few friends in the audience, including Grapevine Steve, Blues Steve, and relentless gig-goer Dickie Hartt.
The second set started with a couple of numbers by just Mark and Lauren, before they were joined by the rest of the band. Lauren was in real energetic blues-rocking mood, belting out the favourites and raising the temperature in a hot and sweaty Tap. I watched them for about half an hour before making another dash back to the Blueberry.
The Dove and Boweevil band this week recorded some songs for the excellent “Live at Old School Studios” with Jason. Sounding superb, you can listen to it here: http://www.breakthruradio.com/#/post/?blog=61&post=4754
Unfortunately I had missed Discharge Lounge, who from their YouTube Epic RAW sessions look a highly unusual and colourful outfit. No doubt I will make their musical stage acquaintance before too long.
Dr Clyde however, had just started their set. I’ve now seen them four or five times already this month and each set has been entirely different, they are a band evolving rapidly and embracing new ideas. At Harlequin they performed a fascinating evening acoustic set on the Nomad stage which at times sounded North African and bluesy, before playing a storming set on the main stage which won them many new admirers and had the whole tent dancing and begging for more. One of the best sets I’ve seen from them. Tonight they were in electric (and eclectic) mood. Their style is hard to define – and welcome for that – but they play with great gusto and enthusiasm and are just fascinating to watch and listen to. Jasper is such a presence, both physically and charismatically that it would be easy for people to be in his shadow somewhat, but that is not the case with this band who all have the presence, self-confidence and ability to play brilliantly and add their personalities to the gloriously wild overall sound. Joe is cool, an excellent bassist and has a couple of lead vocal songs, whilst Connor is a very visual and entertaining showman, not to mention brilliant a drummer too, who always seems to be having a fantastic time playing.
I look forward to hearing some more of their recorded works as some of the tracks from their set are becoming very familiar but I keep wanting to hear again. The audience was lapping up their sound too, with lots of dancing and demands for encores, which were rewarded.
By the time I reached Bedfords’ beautiful Crypt it must have been approaching midnight, and seeing bar owner Glen outside, he told me all the bars were packed on a very busy night. He was not wrong. Going down the steps to the Crypt one was physically blasted by the sweaty heat coming up from below … and the bass, and what bass! Junior Ras, aka Mikey from Solko and The Piratones, was launching his wonderful EP (at 45mins more of an album!) here tonight and along with Nebula Sounds was playing some deep dub grooves on the sound system. The place was indeed packed and in the darkness there was a sizable crowd skanking and swaying. The Crypt is so well suited to this type of event, and tonight it had been transformed into a dub cavern with a great mood. The EP “Sounds from the Dub Cavern” is available for free download – https://soundcloud.com/junior-ras – but I could not resist buying a physical copy on CD along with a 7″ vinyl record. Mikey is so young it is simply incredible that he plays drums, sax, tours and records, and is becoming something of a dubmeister too. More power to his elbow. Talented and inspiring.
This was just my sample of a very small part of the wealth of entertainment on offer in Norwich on a Friday night.
words and photos (c) by richard shashamane 2013