Norwich & District Trades Union Council Presents May Day in Chapelfield. The Bunkadoos at The Plasterers Arms, Norwich. 4 May 2014
The annual Trades Council May Day fayre in Chapelfield Gardens was, as last year, eventually blessed with some warm sunshine, good crowds and a fine line up, from the likes of The Vagaband, The Woodland Creatures, The Ougadougous, Floorboy, Matt Watson, The Red Flags, and The Dirigibles, plus swing dance lessons from Earl Harlem, guest speakers and plenty of food, stalls and activities.
The Ougadougous played an uplifting set of African, Jamaican, and world rhythms that got people dancing and smiling, setting them up perfectly for some fine swing dance lessons from Earl Harlem and Stef.
The Woodland Creatures started their set with a brilliant new song, and followed on with some older favourites such as Mountain. Their sound was perfect for the occasion, beautiful harmonies, guitar and banjo wafting over the gardens and as organiser Jan said, “It’s so beautifully calming”
The Vagaband were without Joe and Greg today but sounded superb as alwaus. A nice mix of old and new songs, one or two requests, and of course my favourite, the mighty Whistling Song. As Ali was here today she took whistling duties and was awesome, with a driving pedal steel from Patrick it sounded like an engine. The band are sounding really powerful these days and contain the power well, unleashing it at well chosen moments. The bass and pedal steel on this song go together so well, and each time I hear it the song is in my head for days afterwards.
During Matt’s set there was a lovely moment where he tried to get people to join in on the “Let’s all do something crazy” refrain, and the most noticeable of those who did was Adrian Howes, circling the bandstand on his bicycle with face painted as a tiger it was a somewhat surreal and amusingly appropriate moment, and just about my last of the fair as after this I popped into the Temple Bar to try and will Norwich onto victory at Stamford Bridge. Alas, it was not to be, but they did win a noble point.
After the football it was a dash down to The Plasterers to catch the Bunkadoos. When I got there the place was absolutely rammed, I could not even get in so chatted with friends outside for a while. I did make it inside, eventually, and the atmosphere was tremendous, with people singing along to covers like Starman, but it was raised even higher for the second set which was sensational. It was a long time before anyone would let them stop playing, not that it looked like they wished to anyway, their smiles matched those of the people in the pub dancing and singing along to every single song. It’s rare that I will go to a gig that is entirely cover versions but the Bunkadoos do them all brilliantly and credibly, and what is more, they are not the obvious choices. They are well chosen and extremely varied. We had songs by Prince (Kiss), Blur (Tender), Orange Juice (Rip it Up), The Beatles (Helter Skelter – amazing!), The Clash (Should I Stay or Should I Go) New Order (Blue Monday) and countless others which were all excellent. An outstanding night in a superb pub with great ales and some of the most appetising home made pizzas, friendly staff and wonderful regulars. The atmosphere always seems to be good here but this was matched only by the Vagaband’s recent performances. Stunning. How great it is to have the Plasterers and The Blueberry on the same street, serving excellent ales, music, and having such friendly staff. Wonderful.
words and photos © all rights reserved, richard shashamane 2014