Chuman, Alex & Christina, Mari Joyce, for Stacked Promotions at The Bicycle Shop, Norwich, photos and review.
Stacked this month brought us quite an eclectic line up, with tonight Mari Joyce playing without her band but on electric guitar, Alex and Christina on fiddle, mandolin, and guitar, with headliner Chuman on electric guitar along with a drum machine.
Ahead of her appearance with the full band at The Birdcage on Saturday Mari Joyce played solo, and to my knowledge for the first time on electric guitar. She was trying out some new songs but also played a couple of more familiar ones. The songs are still bedding in and so hot and humid was the Handlebar that she had a couple of moments where the heat affected the guitar’s tuning but she was undeterred and it did not detract from the songs. As Chuman said later on when something went wrong “I’m never sure if these things enhance or detract from the live experience”. For me it definitely enhances, I am not at a gig to hear a CD performance but for the shared human experience, with improvisations, mistakes and engagement and all. It’s how an artist deals with this that is the main thing and audiences are usually a pretty forgiving bunch who will focus on the positives. Certainly in Norwich anyway 🙂 I must say, I did enjoy hearing these songs in this new dimension of being stripped back and the guitar gave them a haunting quality. I also love the band versions but it’s just interesting to hear things from a new angle. She has a lovely voice and a beautiful playing style with some highly evocative lyrics. It’s always a pleasure to see and hear her play.
Catch her with full band, alongside Will Varley and Gerard & the Watchmen at The Birdcage, Saturday 25 January.
Sandwiched between acts were Alex & Christina, who played a gorgeous set of originals, covers and reels. Sounding powerful, assured and brilliant. Christina (of the Woodland Creatures) was on vocals and guitar, whilst Alex (of Twisted Routes, Mari Joyce band, and 100s of others!) was on fiddle and mandolin. On one song in particular his fiddle playing was extraordinary. The crowd loved them!
Headlining was Chuman, an artist discovered by Stacked! via Coyote Moon on last summer’s festival circuit. Armed with a paint-spattered guitar, a drum machine and some barbed, incisive lyrics he played an extraordinary set. We had a nice chat beforehand, and he was explaining that although it is stated he is from Bristol he actually hails from Manchester and this is quite apparent in his accent and also in some of his delivery.
Using a drum machine and some loops, he was also besieged with some technical problems but it mattered not a jot. In fact during one song where during a pause with brilliant, almost comic timing he said “I think I’ve wiped the loop!!” the audience loved it. He just re-recorded it and off we went back into the set again.
Some at times brilliant lyrics and an astonishing cover of MC Hammer’s “Can’t Touch This” in deadpan Manc delivery, he somehow got the entire Bicycle Shop singing the loop for him, this was extraordinary and really fun.
His own compositions were great too, particularly memorable was “Young Kids with Smartphones”. A night of really mixed styles but a very successful evening and thanks to Stacked for ‘discovering’ Chuman and bringing him to Norwich.
words and photos, richard shashamane 2014