Mari Joyce band, and Bessie Turner at OST, Cinema City Bar, Norwich, 11 March 2014. Review and photos.
Two acts on the bill at OST today, with Bessie Smith from Ipswich opening. She instantly grabbed me on her first song, with gentle notes and lovely sparseness on acoustic guitar and a very appealing and interesting voice. She occasionally reminded me of Emiliana Torrini, or Harriet from the Sundays in places. I know very little about this singer but have heard of the name before, if not the songs. Her voice is quite something and she certainly has an enchanting stage delivery. She has an endearing child-like quality at times and indeed one of her songs was about longing for lost childhood. I’d like to hear some of her recordings to become more familiar with the songs, I’m keen to see how she develops, these are nice songs but I’d like to hear her stretch herself a bit further and really diversify, which is not to say I did not enjoy her set, I did, very much and she had my total attention throughout – at times it was quite magical, with a totally attentive hushed audience too, and I’d certainly make the effort to hear her again. She’ll be back in Norwich soon, at The Birdcage.
Having heard Mari Joyce and her band at Festival Asylum at the weekend, I was looking forward to hearing the band in the altogether different, more intimate and quiet setting of the Cinema City bar. I particularly wanted to hear the acoustics of the strings in this venue with all the wood around. It did not disappoint and complimented them perfectly, Iain always does a great job on sound so opening with Train Song the vocals of Mari were clear and dreamy, Iestyn’s percussion perfect at just the right level, and the strings simply gorgeous. There was a pleasing calming, almost soporific quality to the set tonight and the hushed audience really appreciated it. At one point Mari, very delightfully, said how tired she was, due to being kept awake by a kitten nibbling her toes! The sometimes reflective lyrics are never depressing, there is just this gentle tenderness in the voice with a comforting effect too and I always feel quietly uplifted and peaceful after hearing Mari Joyce, I think it’s also due to the ‘woody’ organic feel of the overall sound. Open Your Eyes was probably the best I have heard it and the cello at the end of the set was deep and warm and quite moving, the whole set in fact had a really dreamy, floaty, peaceful feel to it, and I loved it. I have a lot of time and respect for this band and their development is wonderful. I cannot easily think of anyone else doing what they are doing. Now, we just need that EP! 🙂
Big thanks to all the artists and to Iain Lowery.