Bo Nanafana Takes You to the Twilight Zone, New Year’s Eve Party, with Derriere!, The Thinking Men, BK & Dad, 31 December 2013 at The Talk, Norwich.
I can remember the last time I went out anywhere to celebrate new year, it was at the end of 2007 in beautiful Tbilisi. Tonight was to be an entirely different kind of event but claimed as a wonderful celebration by the unique Bo Nanafana Social Club of Norwich, tonight returning in a sense to its spiritual home of The Talk and listed as tenth in the 40 Truly Amazing Things to do on New Year’s Eve 2013-14 in the chillisauce page. Themed as The Twilight Zone there were some extraordinary sights as the audience – as always – went to great lengths to dress up. Also extraordinary was the line up. Derriere are a band from Brighton who I enjoyed immensely last year when they appeared on both Bo Nanafana stages at the Lord Mayor’s weekend and the Lanes Fayre. Singer Sarah has an incredible voice and sassy personality. Singing with ease and a smile she and the brilliant band are just perfect for a Bo celebration. What did surprise me was the inclusion of the brilliant but far from obvious for a BoNanafana night BK & Dad! Welcome to the Twilight Zone! Whoever came up with the idea of inviting them is blessed with genius inspiration, I adore this noisy duo but never imagined in my wildest dreams that I would see them play at such a night. Completing the live music line up were recent Next Big Thing winners The Thinking Men. Of course it was not just about the bands though as we also had music selected in the main hall by Greg Butler of the Shellac Collective, and the Drink ‘n’ Jive DJs in the club room, plus some cabaret and other surprises.
The evening started in the main hall with a half hour dance class, led by Earl Harlem. A large number of the ever-enthusiastic Bo crowd took to the dance floor for some swing dancing lessons. When that was completed they showed off their moves to the Shellac Collective tunes before Derriere took to the stage.
Derriere belted out a couple of sets with Sarah at one stage asking Bo legend Colin onstage for a little dancing.
Meanwhile in the club room there was music provided by Dan and Earl Harlem for Drink ‘n’ Jive with some more cabaret acts with a build up towards a short set by the mighty BK & Dad shortly after 11pm. I was really intrigued to see how this would pan out, Leo and Pip playing in the most unexpected of venues, without their usual projections. They were, of course, extremely loud and held the audience totally mesmerised and definitely won some new fans, some of whom it is probably fair to say might never otherwise have come across them. There is so much more to them than sheer volume though, they have the most astonishing power and intensity, surging like some kind of massive, sonic engine, at other times sounding like how I might imagine metal fatigue in an apocalypse would sound. Their sound is so immense it is astonishing and the bombardment of the senses stays with one for days afterwards. Starting the set with a few notes from the Twilight Zone theme which led into recent single Mundy, they played with lots of energy and intensity and I loved it! I can only congratulate Helen and Tris for coming up with this idea, and applaud BK&Dad for agreeing to do it. Inspired and brilliant, it was a massive success and my highlight of the night, although I enjoyed everything.
A chaotic few minutes shortly before midnight with people trying to decide which room to be in, most it seems went to the larger room for the raffle and the countdown which led to the downfall of hundreds of balloons from the ceiling at 12 and taking an already brilliant atmosphere to another higher level yet. Greg playing perfect choices one after another to keep the dancefloor packed and moving.
A bit later The Thinking Men were due onstage next door. With a good number of their supporters present they delivered their usual highly energetic set with growled vocals somewhere between Tom Waits and Nick Cave, bringing the roof down for Pied Piper. It’ll be interesting to see what 2014 has in store for TTM, hot on the heels of their Next Big Thing title they have many opportunities ahead of them and with their strong image and identifiable sound they are highly marketable and must be a publicist’s dream.
Once again the audience literally drank the place dry and the bar staff must have been exhausted, though I hope they were able to enjoy the amazing, friendly atmosphere where the overriding drive is to dress up, enjoy, have fun and celebrate, which absolutely everyone seemed to do. We are so lucky in Norwich to have Bo Nanafana and these incomparable, special nights. Superb value for money with so much on offer, and as usual, although I felt I saw so much I still felt I missed some bits and pieces, but as well as all the live music acts I did also see El Carton del Muerte and the incredible contortions of Emma Serjeant. My sincerest thanks to all the Bo crew for the very hard work they put in to bring us these events, and for being marvellous people too!
A great way to end a special night where I have attended more gigs in a year than ever before, by far. Well over 200 with the vast majority of them being superb. Good times we live in for music and entertainment if we are willing to seek them out. I hope you have enjoyed reading some of my experiences of 2013, they are not meant as critical reviews but more to document some of the exceptional talent and creativity in our fine city.
words and photos © all rights reserved, richard shashamane 2014