Midwinter Moonshine IV at Norwich Arts Centre with The Vagaband, The Ragged String Band, and The Henry Brothers, 21 December 2013. Photos and review.
The fourth annual Vagaband Midwinter Moonshine returned to the Arts Centre this year and was the hottest ticket in town, it could quite possibly have sold out twice over such was the demand. It was not hard to see why, it was again a marvellous occasion with much work having gone into the themed decor, the Bo girls once again doing a stunning job.
In the Bar area we had music provided by Hank Jd Sleek of Hank’s Hillbilly Hayride with Henry Walker of the Loose Leaf Drifters, which seemed to be packed each time I was there, with plenty of great dancing going on too.
Starting the live music in the auditorium was the wonderful Henry Brothers. I have written about them a couple of times before and always enjoy their sets. Playing covers from dustbowl, depression-era America of murder ballads and death songs, some of which Nick Cave would balk at but these two brothers deliver them in a wonderfully upbeat and smiley manner. They are both great musicians too, Mark playing a steel bodied resonator guitar and Graham a warm and deep upright bass.
After a short break Colchester’s Ragged String Band took to the stage. They were brilliant! Having never heard them before I was really taken with their songs, musicianship and vocal harmonies. They threw a few covers into their set too, including The Beatles and ending with Viva Las Vegas and Walk Like an Egyptian. It’s clear to see this band have a busking background but super to hear them on a proper stage. An inspired and welcome choice for the Midwinter Moonshine bill.
At about 10pm The Henrys returned for another short set and with the audience fuller and loosened up in the auditorium they had many people dancing to songs of death, fire and murder!
So to the headliners, the mighty Vagaband, all extremely talented and versatile musicians with a gifted songwriter, lyricist and fine vocalist. The levels of excitement and anticipation in the audience were palpable with a real sense of occasion. I love seeing The Vagaband on proper stages, it is where they deserve to be and I spoke to many people during the evening who just cannot understand why this band is not massive. In Norwich however, they are massive, as borne out by the mass singing along to every song and the audience dancing and swaying along as one. A beautiful and quite moving sight actually.
The band had its full line up tonight and the set was really well chosen too with the likes of Lend Me Your Ears, Aye Aye Aye, Itchy Fingers, El Molino, Black Sheep, Stone Me, Lifted, The Whistling Song all making welcome appearances. The old and new blending together perfectly. It was interesting to hear the development of Ocean which has really been slowed down in tempo and works very well. It was another set of mainly original material with just a couple of nods towards Townes, and Old Crow Medicine Show so that birthday boy Tris could take lead vocal for Wagon Wheel, and the audience sang Happy Birthday to him in return.
An amazing set from The Vagaband, and in the NAC Bar the fun continued for another hour or so with much dancing to Hank’s Hillbilly Hayride. Fantastic night and fabulous atmosphere. Many thanks to all.
All photos (c) all rights reserved by richard shashamane 2013