BFR Presents Birds of Hell, Milly Hirst live at Gonzo’s Tea Room, 12 September 2014
This month’s BFR gig at Gonzo’s Tea Room was (luckily for me as I was at Maui the previous weekend) postponed by a week and featured two of my favourites, Milly Hirst and Birds of Hell.
Milly’s voice seems to be sounding even more smooth, pure and beautiful of late, if that were possible, and the set at Gonzo’s was gorgeous. The venue gets very dark once the sun has set and Milly was barely visible in just the soft glow of the ambient candlelight but clearly audible which really focuses the attention on the words and voice. A short, flawless set featuring the likes of Book or a Film, Kampala, Heptonstall, and a sublime Mary – a song which gives me goose bumps every time I hear it, I can’t wait for the time when she records it and I can listen to it at home too. Always a pleasure to hear Milly, my favourite solo artist in Norwich.
Pete Murdoch aka Birds of Hell came armed with a selection of tapes this evening and enlisted the help of BFR ‘label daddy’ Alex Carson – the two of them together with their great wit was a treat in itself. Pete played a very different style of set this evening and I think also included one I didn’t really know as well as some great favourites, and was changing between guitar and keyboard. His songs are quite moving and predominantly about family with one each around his grandfather and grandmother. It is very affecting stuff and Pete hits just the right tone every time. Coming as it did straight after Milly’s own song about her grandmother it fitted in with the mood of the evening perfectly.
Earlier in the evening we had a short set from Thomas Eagle, a lad on acoustic guitar with a very strong voice, he played a few familiar covers as well as his own songs. I recognised one in turn covered by Johnny Cash, as well a an Irish song I am very fond of – The Parting Glass, although Thomas’ playing of it reminded me about an Ed Sheeran rendition I heard recently, which I am less keen on (Thomas’ was better!) It’s a song hundreds of years old that has simply been updated with each generation, and in my youth I grew up with an updated version of that time, by the likes of The Pogues and The Dubliners.
A lovely evening in a very fine and atmospheric room, the seating is informal and very comfortable with some lounging areas as well as some Chesterfields scattered around, although the stage area itself could do with a tad more lighting, one red bulb is not really quite enough. I’d love to make this more of a regular haunt but I have to say the beer prices really are a bit high for Norwich, £4 for an ale hits a psychological barrier which makes one think twice about buying a drink or visiting when music nights or favourite acts aren’t playing. Other than that, I love it but this price thing is a big stumbling block but it is a nice venue to chill in and listen to music, and even order a pizza which may bring you the attentions of the delightful character that is Gonzo himself. A place that fits in nicely with the Birdcage, Bicycle Shop, Frank’s Bar, Playhouse Bar circuit.
Many thanks as always to the hugely giving and talented Alex Carson who consistently puts on great and varied music nights, and the talented and lovely Milly Hirst, and Pete Murdoch.
Words and photos (c) all rights reserved Richard Shashamane 2014. Photos not to be used without permission