The Bo Nanafana Social Club presents Imelda May, The Black Kat Boppers, The Henry Brothers, The Shellac Collective, Miniscule of Sound, Secret Secret Cabaret … [et al.] live at OPEN, Norwich, 2013. Review and photos.
Norwich’s legendary Bo Nanafana Social Club served up another big contender for my favourite gig of the year with this magnificent event in the beautifully decorated venue of OPEN, utilising both the main hall (looking absolutely sumptuous with Bo decor) and also the smaller club room.
I’d been looking forward to this one for weeks, I love Imelda May but to have the opportunity to see her in my city, at a Bo event – it just seemed the perfect match.
Anyone who has attended Bo Nanafana knows what an event it always is, with beauty, glamour and smiles everywhere, stunning dance moves and the most perfect musical and aesthetic backdrops. Once again Greg and dj78 were spinning the wheels of wood as the Shellac Collective and there were also a number of cabaret acts, almost too numerous to mention.
Girls were having their hair beautifully transformed by Hairsmiths of Norwich but my first port of call was to see The Henry Brothers in the club room. Having seen them for the first time and enjoyed them tremendously at Bestival I knew what to expect and was looking forward to hearing them again. Their style of murder ballads with a smile is delicious but they are also both superb musicians. They will be back in their home city again for the annual Vagaband midwinter moonshine at the Arts Centre on December 21st.
The venue appeared to be packed, with everyone looking absolutely amazing, I seemed to be bumping into friends every couple of steps, and the positive vibe was fantastic. The fun of these occasions is what makes them so special, people dress up, feel good, are friendly, and make sure they have a damn good time.
It was soon time to get a bit closer to the stage in the main room for the imminent arrival of the wonderful Imelda May and her stunning band in what was the be their only live show this year. Looking amazing Imelda appeared to be enjoying this as much as the audience, telling them “Norwich, I was told you would be looking good, but that was wrong, you look amazing and Hot, Hot, Hot!” to obvious delight.
Her set included a perfect mix of old favourites and new songs (the new ones sounding excellent!) getting their first airing ahead of an album launch and tour in the spring of next year. The atmosphere was so wonderful, happy and alive. Wonderful stuff. The audience demanded an encore and she duly obliged, starting it off with a unique take on Blondie’s Dreaming.
The fun wasn’t over by a long chalk yet though. In the club room in a short while the Black Kat Boppers were due on, another Bestival revelation. These guys are amazing, performing rock, rockabilly and swing with highly infectious enthusiasm. The singer is a really charismatic front man with all the moves, a great voice and a winning smile, whilst the rest of the band are superb musicians. The connection and rapport between band and audience was probably as good as anything I’ve been to this year, up there with that amazing night with the Rainbow Girls at the Ten Bells. The band loved it and jokingly announced that they love Norwich so much they want to come and live here, and also asking if the audience always dress like this. Well, actually yes, the Bo crowd are always dressed to impress. The Black Kat Boppers have been known to collaborate with Paul Simonon – what an endorsement! They play with a great sound, killer tunes and an infectious energy. A brilliant gig, I loved every moment.
More music followed from the Shellac Collective until the wee small hours and the memories of this night kept me smiling and buzzing for days! 🙂
Massive thanks to all the acts, artists and performers, Helen and Tris and all the Bo Nanafana crew, Brita Young, Rick Lennox, all the staff at OPEN and everyone involved in a very special and marvellous occasion. I love Bo Nanafana!!
We’re back! Bo Nanafana proudly presents Imelda May for one blisterin’ night of Rockabilly Mayhem at Open on Saturday 16th November. With Black Kat Boppers and The Henry Brothers in the Barrelhouse, oral ping-pong cabaret from the delightfully deranged Rod Laver,and Jitterbuggin’ Dance Class, The Shellac DJs and Miniscule of Sound DJs and (Ssssh) Secret Secret Cabaret featuring Paul Preston Mills, Natalya Umanska and up close and personal with Mr Bob Percy – and surprises. All beautifully compered by our very own, very loud Mr Pete Dobbing.
words and photos © all rights reserved, richard shashamane 2013