The Vagaband – Medicine for the Soul, album launch at The Blueberry. Mari Joyce – The Tent EP launch at Octagon Chapel, Norwich. 28 November 2014
Mari Joyce and her band released the long awaited EP The Tent in a gorgeous gig at the equally beautiful Octagon Chapel for Dreams Music on Friday night, with support from Ruth Gordon, of Cakes and Ale.
Ruth opened the evening playing alongside Tom Conway and John Mudd. It was an atmospheric and evocative set, played with a running projection of visuals by Triple Jeopardy. The music was perfect as a support to Mari Joyce, and in this venue. A particular highlight for me was the inventive use of hymn books as very effective percussive claps on one of the songs, I really loved that.
I’ve been a fan of Mari Joyce since I first heard her play, it may possibly have been as support to Cakes and Ale a few years ago actually, and her sound and confidence has grown and developed. The songs are tender, delicately beautiful and her band (Alex, Iestyn, and Alex) play with spot-on subtlety with of course Mari’s so gentle and pleasing voice over the strings and cajon. It’s no surprise that the band have had airplay on BBC6 Music and the time was certainly right to release an EP to finally get these songs recorded so that we can enjoy them in all their beauty at home. The Tent EP, named after her song set to the words of the Rumi poem is a limited edition CD with handprinted cover at £5 and also as a download. The performance of The Tent, Open Your Eyes, and set opener Carry Me Home were absolutely exquisite, melancholic at times but always beautiful. A lovely, lovely gig and the ideal setting.
Being quite an early start at the Octagon Chapel it enabled me to head off to the Blueberry later on for the Vagaband’s official Norwich launch for the splendid album Medicine for the Soul. It has been available locally for a couple of months or so but this week saw its official release where it is now available on Amazon, iTunes etc.
When I arrived, just before they started, I was aware of just how rammed and hot the pub was – and a shock to the system after the Octagon Chapel – it was about three deep at the bar so I headed straight for the stage. It was an unusual set-up to accommodate the full 8-piece line-up, forming a kind of L-shape. Greg, Tris, Ali and Hugh (who arrived just in time straight from a Moxy gig at the Murderers) along one wall, with Dan, Jose, Joe, Patrick, and sound man Stewart along the other. I don’t think I have ever been in such a busy and packed pub before, such is the pull of the Vagaband these days, and it was a delight to see so many good friends here. In fact Greg and Hilary came all the way from Cambridge for this one. It had a real celebratory, party atmosphere.
The band were sensational and as I have hoped for all along, The Whistling Song is becoming the number with the singalong, reflective chorus, it felt like the whole room were singing along. Another set highlight for me was hearing Different Drum played live. This new album is something really special and sounds stronger and stronger with every listen, and the songs transfer very well indeed live.
Many thanks to Dreams Music, Mari Joyce, and The Vagaband
The evening ended with a brief but lively visit to the amazing hidden secret (Sssssshhhh!) that is Bar Tapas…
words and photos, richard shashamane 2014
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