Wooden Arms, Real Life Charm, Birds of Hell at Epic Studios, Norwich, 30 November 2014
A very appealing line up as support for Wooden Arms’ last UK gig of the year with the always brilliant Birds of Hell and my first chance to hear Real Life Charm.
As the room filled up Kraftwerk were being played through the PA butstarting the live music at 8pm to a healthy sized Sunday audience was Birds of Hell aka Pete from Sargasso Trio, with full face paint and barefooted he played a great selection of his songs about family, dogging, boa constrictors, and an underwater Los Yarmouth. The way he dealt with a technical mishap during Boa was brilliant, instead of the ping-pong sample we had a blast of Jessie J who had ended up on his phone courtesy of his daughter, so Pete just went with it, danced and threw some shapes, superb!
His songs all sounded great with a variety of moods. Despite the intrusion of Jessie J, when that was sorted out Boa was amazing, it has become such a powerful dark beast from the children’s song it once was with the jolly tune of a couple of years ago. Birds of Hell continues to grow, develop, experiment and morph. A real local favourite of mine. The almost spoken word song Dogs was inspired by the TV documentary on dogging and sampled in the song is a recording of Pete’s late grandfather on piano, which necessitated a difficult family email asking for blessing to include it in such a song!
My first awareness of Real Life Charm was when Alex mentioned them whilst being interviewed by Lauren Laverne on BBC6 Music recently, and BBC Introducing in Norfolk and although they have some recordings out there this was actually their very first gig together. Following on from some more Kraftwerk they took the stage, all seven of them dressed in black, big beards aplenty. Again the sound was excellent and if they felt any nerves it certainly did not show, they played confidently and have something about them. The stage was a little crowded but it seemed they had two drummers, plus guitars, keys and samplers. They were very well received and I think they enjoyed themselves too.
After another break for some more Kraftwerk and the stage to be set up it was time for the ever wonderful Wooden Arms, with full line up. Their first song plagued by technical glitches, mainly the mic stand deciding to faint in slow motion as Alex starting to sing, unable to do anything about it as he was also playing piano so had to multi task singing, playing and doing a forwards limbo dance to reach the mic with sound engineer hilariously trying to fix this during the performance. It was very funny but also handled well and really created a fun mood. They too played a song about Yarmouth, debuted along with a few others tonight, and with a mix of old and new favourites Noah, Separate the Verb, False Start, December, and the outstanding Burial with its powerful refrained finale. At various points during the set Milly played two guitars, and also a bass for the first time … again nobody would have guessed she had never played it until the previous day.
This was an interesting and enjoyable gig, the studio may not be the most soulful room in the city but the sound tonight was excellent and everyone came across really well. The line up was varied and complementary, working well together. A nice touch was that Real Life Charm had signed a pile of postcards for everyone to take as a souvenir of their first gig.
Many thanks to Wooden Arms, Birds of Hell, Real Life Charm, Kraftwerk, and Epic
words and photos, richard shashamane 2014