Brother and Bones, The Vagaband, and Koi Paraga at OPEN, Matt Watson, Jessie Jetski at The Gardeners Arms Open Mic, Norwich, 29th November 2013. Review and photos
This was another chance to see Koi Paraga, first on the bill tonight in the smaller OPEN club room, which I think suited their sound and subtlety more than the main hall did for their recent appearance at the Next Big Thing final.
There was a healthy number in the audience for this gig, although far fewer familiar faces than at most recent gigs I’ve attended, and so I suspect most people tonight were here to see Brother and Bones but that is not to say that Koi Paraga and The Vagaband didn’t have their own followers in attendance too as they clearly did, with many new admirers as well.
Koi Paraga are an interesting and inventive band with quite a subtle sound and drew people in with the audience really close for the duration of their 30 minute set. There always seems to be a decent atmosphere in the Club Room and tonight was no exception.
They were followed by the Vagaband who unfortunately had been deprived of the opportunity to soundcheck and so had to quickly soundcheck in front of the audience but the true professionals that they are they did not let this affect their stride whatsoever, and even though Jose was suffering with flu and lack of sleep I thought they delivered a really good performance. The band tonight was a five-piece consisting of Jose, Tris, Joe, Ali, and Dan. This set, if memory serves me well, was entirely their own compositions, featuring the likes of Itchy Fingers, Aye Aye Aye, Black Sheep, The Ballad of El Molino. They also included a couple of newer numbers, one of which was Lifted, a track I’ve heard them perform several times now and it sounds better and better each time as it becomes more familiar to me. The stand-out song for me tonight though was the work-in-progress The Whistling Song. This one fascinates me. As its name suggests it features some whistling (courtesy of Ali) and has a gentle sort of cowboy horse ‘clippity-clop’ tempo which I loved!
The headliners tonight were an act I had neither heard nor heard of before this gig, Brother and Bones, though descriptions I heard had comparisons which ranged from Pearl Jam to Mumford & Sons! Their first song was a powerful, almost tribal sounding track with dual drummers, the rest of the set varying in style and tempo.
Substance over style. Art over celebrity. Creativity over popularity. Genius over mediocrity.
These are mantras that form the basis of who Brother & Bones are and what they do. More importantly, these are mantras that we should all live by. Even more importantly, Brother & Bones are a band that we should all embrace.
These are five men that write songs with artistry of Folk troubadours, the energy of punks, the swagger of rock stars and the self-belief of stadium headliners. A quintet so versatile that they can switch from soul searching laments to chest beating triumphalism with the flick of a wrist and the blink of a steely eye.
The recorded aspect of Brother & Bones is impressive enough as the band have developed a sound that takes in aspects of folk, indie, rock, blues, jazz, funk and soul as will moments of pure tribal rhythms and chanting. But it’s in the live arena that this beast truly comes to life with their already legendary stage shows having seen them slay venues from small bars to festivals taking in a support tour with Brit Award winner Ben Howard along the way. Brother & Bones are not a band that create a barrier between themselves and the audience, for these guys the audience is the show. The band play with passion, determination, poise and with only one goal in mind; to entertain. Musicians end up in the crowd, the crowd storm the stage and before the end of the night they are one pulsing, throbbing mass of elation and belief in the deity of music.
Brother & Bones are on the way to achieving legendary status and they are doing it the right way. The only decision you have to make is whether you get on board now or wait to be swept along in their wake. The irony is, they have enough style to match their substance, the art to bypass celebrity, the creativity to achieve popularity and the genius to ensure that mediocrity will never be an option.
Richard Thomas – Vocals & Acoustic Guitar
Si Robinson – Bass & Backing Vocals
James Willard – Guitar & Backing Vocals
Yiannis Sachinis – Drums
Robin Howell – Percussion
MUSIC NEWS “Brother & Bones are the best live act you will see this year. They have the whole package and deserve to have longevity in this industry.” http://www.music-news.com/showreview.asp?nReviewID=7895
ACOUSTIC MAGAZINE “Five musicians who are pushing the boundaries. Comparing Brother and Bones to anyone is an erroneous feat, what they’re doing is guided only by their ambition and ferocity to make their own kind of music” http://www.acousticmagazine.com/2013/02/18/brother-and-bones/
Before heading home I quickly nipped into The Gardeners Arms (or The Murderers, as I’ve always known it) to catch the end of the open-mic session taking place there. I was just in time to hear Matt Watson’s final number and his rather successful attempts to get the audience to join in with the “Don’t you worry about it baby, let’s all do something crazy” refrain, despite performing in front of a sign asking the audience to remain quiet during artists’ performances – quite a feat! It seemed it must have been a good and successful set from Matt, and nice sound and a good vibe coming back from the audience. I chatted to him briefly afterwards and several people came up to congratulate him in that time.
Matt has re-released his seasonal “What’s Happened to Christmas?” with sentiments I totally go along with. It can be downloaded (for free!) on his Bandcamp Page : http://mattwatsonmusic.bandcamp.com/track/whats-happened-to-christmas-i-swear-i-just-heard-noddy-holder
Next on was another act new to me, Jessie Jetski, dramatically dressed and with powerful, grungy rock chords on her acoustic guitar she certainly seems a most confident performer.
Unfortunately I missed Jodie Richardson (The Rumours) who had also performed at the Open Mic earlier in the evening.
words and photos © all rights reserved, richard shashamane 2013