Norwich Fringe Festival – Stromm – live in the Undercroft 11 October 2014. Review and photos by Richard Shashamane, photos not to be used without permission.
Sometimes I wonder if any of those people who refer to Norwich as some kind of sleepy backwater have actually been here recently. This particular weekend there were countless gigs, exhibitions, events and no less than five festivals happening concurrently – notably, Norwich Sound & Vision, Black History Month, The Craft Beer Festival, the Magdalen Celebrations, and the Norwich Fringe Festival, of which this gig in the undercroft beneath the Memorial Gardens was a part.
I spent a lovely afternoon in and around Magdalen Street for the annual celebrations and although there was not a stage in Anglia Square or St Saviour’s this year I actually found probably the most enjoyable aspect was the way this honest and down to earth little festival brings people out and brings them together and I spent almost the entire time walking around and bumping into friends for a chat. As one friend rightly pointed out, this is very much a day for the people and it has a real sense of community and in an age of communities being destroyed or broken apart by economics and government policies this can only be a good thing. The weather was once again kind and the Magdalen Street flyover underpass was a celebration of colour and music whilst the Blueberry and Plasterers hosted live music too with talks and walks and open houses this event is becoming a really nice date on the calendar, I only wish the street itself could be closed to traffic for just a few hours one day a year.
Popping into a busy and popular Grosvenor Fish Bar on the way back into the city centre for a bite to eat I then headed to the undercroft for the Fringe Festival. Against a backdrop of white walls and Gena Ivanov’s artworks amongst others I arrived as Edwin Pope from Liverpool was mid set. Inventive, loud and interesting he received very appreciative applause from a respectable audience as his set closed shortly before 6pm
Having themselves played a short set earlier in the day for the Magdalen Celebrations, Stromm played an excellent and interesting, varied set too. Initially playing as core duo of Ross and Claire, acoustic and unplugged for four or five songs they then walked across to another stage area opposite to join the rest of the band – Stuart and Kate – to play half an hour or so electric and through the PA as full band. A lovely idea this, moving mid song from soft and acoustic to electric and punchy against some striking and vivid, colourful paintings. It’s only Kate’s second gig as bassist with Stromm but they sounded extremely tight and well-rehearsed. Aptly, at one stage during a quiet moment in a song there was a terrific thunderclap which for some seconds I marvelled at just how Stuart managed that sound on his drum kit. Ross also asked the same question.
I’ve seen them many times over the past couple of years and always feel Stromm have such well structured songs, melodic, great lyrics and harmonies and a band without any weak links. Ross has tremendous vocal range too and hits the note every time, and was also quite rock n roll today, playing foot on monitor, leather trousers, and lightning overhead!
It was nice to see this undercroft used in this way, I know the Neutrinos played here last year and the Fringe will be hosting more music here for the duration of the Festival.
Words and photos, richard shashamane 2014 all rights reserved. Photos not to be used without permission.