BFR Presents Wooden Arms, Milly Hirst, Hurne, Leonard Keith at The Birdcage, and The Sweetbeats at OPEN, Norwich, 15 March 2014. Review and photos
Weekends in Norwich are increasingly times of dilemmas as to how to see all the things we want to see and hear. This Saturday I spent a beautiful few hours at The Birdcage to hear some BFR (Bare Feet Records) acts. After a short northern tour Wooden Arms were playing their second set of the day but to start the evening off was Leonard Keith, one half of the much-loved but recently disbanded Heart of a Dog. His short but fascinating and enjoyable set was really pared down, just himself and his guitar, and for a couple of numbers he was joined by Milly Hirst, for songs that were perfect for her voice. It will be interesting to follow this new path in his musical career. I think the songs these two did together were the set highlight for me, gorgeous.
I don’t believe I had ever seen Hurne before today and was immediately grabbed by his voice, the fragility and emotion of the songs, and especially how the last one held me in a spell which when it ended brought me sharply back. Beautiful.
Milly Hirst tonight played one of my absolute favourites of her gigs. The sound in The Birdcage was excellent, her voice in very fine form, her playing delicate and beautiful and the audience in hushed attention in candlelight. The biggest bonus for me was hearing a couple of new tracks, both wonderful but one in particular actually had me on the verge of tears in its melancholic beauty. I shall not attempt to describe it too much as it’s such an articulate piece that following her incredibly moving introduction tells the story in all its sadness. It’s a masterpiece of sensitive and loving writing, delivery and as a song breathtakingly gorgeous and moving. I do not say this lightly, I have rarely – if ever – been as affected by a live performance as I was with this one. This is magnificent, trust me.
Onstage for the third time this evening, after a break for us all to take in what we had just heard and witnessed, Milly was back on with Wooden Arms, tonight as a six-piece with Mac on drums. Wooden Arms also played a couple of new ones, wonderfully performed with Alex on The Birdcage piano and Jeffrey taking occasional vocal leads with his voice like honey. He also was superb on trumpet tonight. Such a talented and magical band, and between songs Alex is such a good talker and an extremely witty man. It’s a good balance with the darker songs, and some may be tempted to be solemn between songs. I am glad Alex is exactly as he always is and provided a lot of laughs to go with the emotional and tender songs. “Red Alert” moments where he encouraged us to shout that out as a prompt where Jeffrey would have to take a sip of a drink he wasn’t enjoying indeed! On the tour they’d been given some energy drinks to help with the long drive home. Occasionally Red Alert was shouted between songs and Jeff had to drink. Fantastic stuff.
As soon as their set finished I dashed off to OPEN to catch an hour or so of The Sweetbeats – I’d have loved to have seen The Piratones too, who were also on the bill,but that wasn’t to be, sadly and one cannot see everything in Norwich these days. I did however walk into a joyous and celebratory atmosphere in the OPEN club room. As usual the stage was colourfully decorated, the band animated and lively, as were the audience. Singalongs of I Feel Love, Barbecue and many more had the place jumping and smiling to infectious ska and rocksteady. Sounding tight and looking good. Brilliant vibes once again in OPEN to cap off another full and lovely Norwich evening, after an exhaustingly full week and brilliant local musical talent.
BFR are proud to host one heck of a hootenanny here at the Birdcage.
Wooden Arms will be returning from their March tour with some special guests:
Wooden Arms – http://www.woodenarms.co.uk/
Wooden Arms are a Norwich-based, 7 piece, alternative / classical / indie band.
With 5-part vocal harmonies and a distinctive yet delicate blend of classical instrumentation meets modern melody, Wooden Arms released their debut, self-titled EP with us in the summer of 2013. ‘False Start’ taken from the aforementioned EP was the ‘headphone moment’ on Lauren Larverne’s BBC radio 6 programme.
“Wooden Arms have emerged with a brooding and delicate classical-folk song that is smothered in subtlety, tension and lush reverb.” – The 405
…all soft and classical, producing beautiful music with a group of talented musicians who come in and out of the band with each performance, making for a continually evolving sound.” – BBC Introducing
Milly Hirst – http://millyhirst.co.uk/
Becoming a prominent figure in the thriving and Norwich folk scene, Milly Hirst’s music has enchanted wherever she has plied her trade. Her voice alone has regularly proven capable of transforming “drunken chatter” into “rapt attention”. An inheritor of a musical tradition that includes Joan Baez, Joni Mitchell and, more latterly, the likes of Alelia Diane and Dawn Landes, Milly’s pastoral songs of love, vulnerability, femininity and longing betray a soul and maturity far beyond her years.
HURNE – https://soundcloud.com/hurne
Solo singer /songwriter Hurne cuts and ethereal line between Bon Iver and Keaton Henson with an ease and subtlety that belies his years.
Heart of a Dog frontman Leonard Keith performs very very new and very very old songs in his first performance since the untimely demise of the Norwich two-piece
DJ’s – SOHLA till late!
photos (c) richard shashamane 2014