Hip Hatchet, and Blood Bird, for Dreams Music at The Bicycle Shop, Norwich, 14 January 2014, review and photos.
Dreams Music started their calendar year with an absolute belter of a gig to help us all forget about the cold January Tuesday weather, not that many appeared deterred by that as it quickly became apparent a sizable crowd were coming along for this one. It was pretty much packed by the time Blood Bird started their set. This duo are rapidly making a name for themselves outside of their other ventures of Kill It Kid, and as house band (Lank Smith & the Pythons) at Jug Jaw’s Beat Club at Bedfords Crypt (next club show 29th January).
Playing some acoustic deep and dirty, feel it in your guts blues music, this highly talented duo had the place whooping and hollering with delight, not just at the end of songs but to Steph’s expressive vocals and Chris’ amazing blues licks on guitar. Playing their own compositions plus a few covers by the likes of Bob Dylan and Hank Williams, namechecking Memphis Minnie and The Black Keys along the way they can’t go far wrong. Think Dove and Boweevil after an overdose of Nirvana. They also played a fantastic song they wrote just a day or two earlier which I loved. I’ve seen them before and definitely want to see them again, there’s a real place for them on the Norwich scene and beyond.
There was much anticipation for Hip Hatchet (Philippe Bronchtein), all the way from Portland, Oregon. He immediately engaged warmly with the audience and had a lovely manner of speaking and relating with people. I don’t think it would be wrong to say that everyone in attendance felt they had made a new friend tonight, whether they spoke to him personally or not, such was his manner.
His rich voice is an amazing thing, resonating as deeply and powerfully as a wolf howling in a mountain pine forest, he holds a tune and delivers it to everyone in every corner of the room.
It appeared that he too was very taken with Blood Bird, as he announced there would be a place to play in the west of America and that he’d be proud to be their support act. A very unassuming and lovely man. Such was his charm that he chatted about the fish tank at the back of the stage that we all know so well, and that he was surprised the five fish did not yet have names, so between songs suggestions were invited and offered. Once one of them had been named Sebastian he dipped into a melancholy ballad, hoping it would not make Sebastian weep. Me too as this might cause the tank to overflow!
There were times during the set where I was reminded of Townes Van Zandt, but dismissed this as just having been listening to a lot of Townes lately. It wasn’t the sound, vocals, nor the delivery, but the highly vivid and evocative style of storytelling. Speaking to him a bit later the subject of Townes actually cropped up by chance in an unrelated topic of conversation, at which we both mentioned how much we admired him. Hip saying that although he doesn’t feel he is an influence on his own songs he is one of his absolute favourite artists who he feels in every word he sings. That is exactly the comparison I would agree with. It’s conveying that feeling through song which they both do brilliantly. Philippe’s songs are about things everyone can relate to – love, loss, friends and journeys. Poetic and moving stories with the most soulful delivery, the depth and breadth of the songs would make it easy to believe that he is a fair bit older than he clearly is.
After a lengthy but totally engaging and enjoyable set the crowd went wild demanding an encore. Anyone familiar with The Handlebar will know what I mean when I say it was packed right up the staircase, and each person was cheering and whooping. Visibly moved, Philippe said how much he enjoyed it, appreciated our coming and our attention, and that it was his first ever sell out gig. I find this amazing but if it is true it is just the first of many, and I am proud that the first should occur in Norwich. Someone in the audience said to him after he had stated his appreciation of Norwich, its pubs, beers, tattoos and beards that he should write a song about the city, when Philippe said “I might just do that” the guy in the audience added “And my name is Mike”. Brilliant, such a ‘Norwich’ evening and marvellous in every way. We were all so engaged in the songs that we never did get around to naming the rest of those fish!
Only two weeks into the year and the bar for splendid gigs is already set so very high.
Lovely and true tweet on Twitter this evening …
Had such a lovely evening with @HipHatchet. He took me travelling around America and then reminded me why Norwich is my home.
— Emily Buchanan (@mileychanbuna) January 14, 2014
“His lyrics are masterful and I can easily see him becoming the most important singer/songwriter of this decade” – We Listen For You
Hip Hatchet is the songwriting project of Philippe Bronchtein. Based out of Portland, OR, Hip Hatchet presents rustic, carefully orchestrated folk songs. Like the song-smiths before him, Bronchtein places the emphasis of his songs on the lyrics.
Hip Hatchet released “Joy and Better Days,” (2012) his most recent and second full length album on Gravitation records (Tallest Man on Earth, Bjorn Olsson). The sound is trademarked by open tunings, lush woodwinds, intricate finger picking, and a unique vocal delivery. The songs are most easily categorized as folk, but draw inspiration from elements of country and chamber music as well.
Blood Bird is the side project of Chris Turpin and Stephanie Jean from Kill It Kid.
Tour dates for Hip Hatchet: http://hiphatchet.tumblr.com/Shows
words and photos, richard shashamane 2014