Harry Harris, Daisy Victoria, and Ric Birtill live at Grapevine at Bedfords, Norwich, 5 March 2014. Review and photos.
This month’s Grapevine brought to us by Steve Howlett featured another opportunity to see and hear Daisy Victoria, plus two new acts to my ears, Harry Harris and Ric Birtell. The thing about Grapevine is it does not matter if one knows the acts or not, as I have total faith in Steve’s judgement and his musical taste.
Opening tonight was Ric Birtill arriving in Norwich from Preston via his current home in Lincoln. Immediately engaging, with catchy, funny, and well-observed songs which he playfully stops and starts to keep the audience on their toes, he started with “Parking space number 1” and he really did have people in peals of laughter at times but he can most certainly play and sing too.
Here is the part of the set which I luckily caught on video, it is the Vladimir Putin song (re-tweeted by Pussy Riot, no less) and makes for a good example of his style.
He has an EP available for free download, the cover of which proved very popular with all present! Download the EP at : http://ricbirtill.bandcamp.com/
Second act of the night was Daisy Victoria, who I saw last week. A very fascinating and captivating performer, she has a style which is not rooted in any one era or genre but she does have a strong visual presence which is at once haunting, powerful, beautiful and ethereal. In a long dress with feet hidden she seems to glide and float around the stage, with more than a hint of Victoriana she looks like she has just stepped out of a painting. She paints pictures with her songs too, quite dark and sinister at times, and musically backed with some great guitar chords and plenty of space to heighten the mood.
Seeing Daisy in her flowered dress, Steve observed that she looked like she should be placed in a vase. Possibly a more electric act than we are used to seeing at Grapevine, veering away from any strict labels of folk nights, this was loud, sometimes raw (Heart Full of Beef), sometimes dreamy (Tree) and always enthralling. Heart Full of Beef is especially punchy and could be a really loud and unrestrained belter of a song, which having heard a few times live now it has become something of an ear-worm and is growing ever more powerful, sounding better and better each time. Offstage she is very gentle and friendly, and was distributing beautiful cards, literally adapted from an old deck of playing cards. A lovely and different touch. She clearly won new admirers tonight.
To close the night Harry Harris had the stage to himself for an hour or so, starting with an impassioned poem he played a varied and soulful set of songs inspired by subjects ranging from Whales – a beautiful piece about the Thames Whale of a a few years ago – and television drama True Detective. He has a most pleasing voice with a good range and I enjoyed all the songs.
It was another marvellous Grapevine, with a real feelgood factor to it. It’s no coincidence that the performers seem to always make mention of the fact that they’ve enjoyed it and appreciated the attentive audience. Not only does Steve bring us these wonderful artists but the ones he does bring always seem to be thoroughly decent and lovely people too. Well done and thanks to all the performers, Steve and Jan – for doing it through love and infectious enthusiasm, Stuart on sound-desk, and all the staff at the beautiful Bedfords Bar.
words and photos, richard shashamane 2014