Whilst chatting with friends the other day the subject of some of the highlights from 2014 came up. Several gigs sprang immediately to mind and so I thought it worth looking back at what I attended and so many memories came flooding back. Whilst I cannot list everything great that I attended, here are some of the ones that were especially memorable and special to me.
In January after a fine evening listening to the wonderful Will Varley, and Mari Joyce I caught an hour or so of the amazing Anna Mudeka Band in The Lounge. I could not believe the energy coming out of the place and it was so full it was quite difficult to get in. The windows were steamed up and the floor was bouncing to a throng of smiling faces and happy feet dancing to the irresistible Zimbabwean beat.
A few days later it was the first Jug Jaw’s Beat Club of the year and every one of these nights were memorable to me, the power and energy of Lank Smith & the Pythons playing through vintage PA equipment never fails to thrill me.
Gentleman’s Dub Club played two extraordinary gigs at OPEN for TTL, both unforgettable and prompting them to ask “What the f— is it about Norwich?” as the crowd relentlessly danced, cheered and begged for more.
In March I saw two terrific sets on the same bill, from the recently re-formed Four Days in May, and my first time of hearing Tied to the Mast who were stunning. I also was lucky enough to see Milly Hirst play several gorgeous gigs. Supporting the also amazing Wooden Arms she played for the first time Mary, a song which moved me as much as any other I have ever heard at a gig. I pleaded with her to perform it again for my birthday which she kindly obliged me with. This was of course for my “Shash Bash”, my most enjoyable gig of all, with Milly, a three-piece Vagaband, Natalie Lake, Matt Watson, Jess Wilson, and Sefo Kanuteh. Thank you all.
In April there was a gorgeous OST with the brilliant Daisy Victoria, Jess Wilson and the Sound of Sight, as well as a heartwarming Norwich coming together for the Adrian Howes guitar fundraiser at The Blueberry. Grapevine continued its high standard with a truly brilliant In the Round session featuring Jose McGill, Steve Arlene, Natalie Lake, and Matt Watson, in a format I really hope Steve shall consider repeating at some point.
May being Norfolk and Norwich Festival month there were countless gigs taking place, a massive highlight of which was The Neutrinos’ Klang Haus Midnight Feast at Norwich Arts Centre. Impeccable. There was also Bo Nanafana in the Spiegeltent, Sofar Sounds
June saw the first Red Rooster Festival which was great fun and featured mighty sets from The Jim Jones Revue, and The Vagaband.
July was blessed with a beautiful Musical Keys Fundraiser with spellbinding sets from Milly, Echoes in the Well, and Jacob Solstice. The month also featured the annual visit of the lovely Rainbow Girls, who played a storming and emotional, fun, uplifting gig with Marty O’Reilly, and The Vagaband at the Arts Centre in a terrific atmosphere. I also had a little involvement with a stage at St Margaret’s for the Lord Mayor’s weekend which was fun, and really pleasing to see a full lawn during the delightful Piratones set.
I thoroughly enjoyed the August festivals at Southburgh and Harlequin, where Feral Mouth played a blistering set ahead of their album launch. The end of the month also saw one of the gigs of the year, with the incredible Tinariwen playing a sold out Norwich Arts Centre.
As well as being Norwich Sound & Vision, October was also Oxjam month and featured fantastic sets by all, with the launch night ahead of the gigs at Bedfords, Karma, Murderers, Birdcage and Owl Sanctuary.
The great gigs continued coming thick and fast for the rest of the year with more highlights being BK & Dad at NAC, The Arlenes at Jurnets, The Piratones EP launch, a proper launch for their magnificent album by The Vagaband for Midwinter Moonshine V, and Bo Nanafana finish the year in glorious fashion with VertiBo!
There are surely dozens more gigs I could mention – I went to 226! – including some super sets at The Plasterers but these are just some of the ones that provided me with special memories. It must be mentioned there were loads of fine releases, albums, EPs and singles by The Vagaband, Feral Mouth, The Piratones, Matt Watson (officially released today!), Mammal Hands, Grazing Saints, Mari Joyce, Wooden Arms, Daisy Victoria, Dr Clyde, BK & Dad, Girl in a Thunderbolt, The Sound of Sight, and many more. With 2015 already providing Grazing Saints and Addison’s Uncle albums I am looking forward to more in 2015. I have fingers crossed for releases by Milly Hirst, Natalie Lake, Emily Winng, Birds of Hell, Dove and Boweevil, Andy Kirkham and others.
words and photos, richard shashamane 2014