DIRTY STOP OUTS II at The Murderers, Norwich, with Milly Hirst, Natalie Lake, Phoebe Robinson, Laura Goldthorp, 22 January 2015
Dirty Stop Outs hosted another gig at the recently and impressively refurbished Murderers/Gardener’s Arms with an impressive line up of local singer-songwriters. All girls tonight, the music was opened by Laura Goldthorp, a young singer I had not come across before. She explained that she has only recently relocated to Norwich as a student, and it’s good to see UEA musicians connect with the city as I feel the two have become a little detached musically in recent years although that could just be my impression. Laura has a very fine voice that stopped everyone in their tracks, her set was largely self-penned with just a couple of covers thrown in, one being her interpretation of House of the Rising Son. Her performances were sounding strong and confident but she was a little nervous between songs – quite naturally – and apologised several times for the mood of her songs. Next up was Phoebe Robinson who made a point of saying one should never apologise for singing a depressing song. She is quite right, especially on a night like this where everyone has come specifically to hear singers express beautifully melancholic and reflective feelings in song. This was my third time seeing Phoebe play and her growth in confidence in a very short time is quite noticeable, she’s another with a lovely voice full of purity.
To my great surprise and pleasure Natalie Lake announced mid-set that she was going to play one of my favourites for me. Leave Me Be, which I have been pleading with her to record. Currently working on recordings this beautiful song did not make the cut for a proposed EP but now that it seems to be evolving into a full length album I am hoping there will be room for it. Amongst many very fine songs this is the one that really made me stop and take notice at what a talent she is. It is immediate, gorgeous, and shows the quality of her voice that I love so much to full but subtle effect. Such was the quality of music on offer that I think everyone was raising each others’ game and Natalie performed an especially excellent set. She’s another who has in the past apologised during introductions about “depressing songs” and jokingly said she took Phoebe’s comment personally. It was all good natured though and point made she did not apologise for any song, I was very pleased about that. Her interaction with audiences has come on leaps and bounds in the past year or so, if she has any nerves she doesn’t show them at all. A splendid set from Natalie, I cannot wait for that album!
The night was closed with the absolute gem that is Milly Hirst with what seems like a rare treat of hearing her perform live solo. Her beautiful voice was also sounding especially assured and confident, her guitar playing was spot on too. I have said so many times what a talent she is, have seen her countless on countless occasions but every single time she mesmerises me. It must be odd for a performer such as any that played tonight to be singing songs that bare their souls to a room full of people, that draw the audience members into their world, making us all feel that we know them better but I often wonder if that one-way feeling is a strange one for a singer but I hope it also makes them feel more connected to the audience too, especially when they are held in rapt attention throughout until the end when they erupt in applause and genuine admiration and appreciation. Milly tonight closed her set with an exquisite playing of “Mary”, one of my favourites, which always makes the hair on my neck stand up. The story, the chord changes, her voice … I think it’s up there with her best pieces of songwriting to date. Of course the voice is also pure, expressive and beautiful, with great power and range but as I have said a thousand times, she uses it with subtlety and restraint and it is all the more powerful for that. Brilliant as always.
Many thanks to Milly, Natalie, Phoebe, Laura, and Dirty Stop Outs
The previous weekend I heard lots of South American and Cuban music at the Norwich Arts Centre for CopaCubana which was actually a sellout with many people unable to get in on the night. Starting off with the fabulous Orchestra Bombo, looking great and sporting loads of percussion, drums and bongos with a tight horn section and a Cuban dancer who got down with the audience and led some fantastic dancing.
There was a break of half an hour or so where the band themselves led a conga on the dancefloor before making way for some fascinating Capoeira.
To close the evening was a set that sounded full and lively from something like fourteen members. Samba filling the NAC. Towards the end a magnificent white suit was sported, and we also had an onstage dancer, though I felt it would have made even more of an impression had the band been more dressed up than with their Rabo de Foguete t-shirts. It was super music though, not my usual type of gig but I did enjoy it and it was fascinating to see the spectrum of the Norwich dancers and gig-goers. I think there was four people I knew there in a sell out audience, Norwich really does support live music! A brilliant atmosphere too, a sort of micro-festival vibe.
To close an enormously successful night there was more Latin music at the Lounge for the CopaCubana after party.
Following on from some photos on Tuesday evening I popped in briefly to The Plasterers and caught the last few songs of the set from Grant Ley (who had the whole pub singing along with him on his final number) and a set from folk trio Falling From Trees who impressed me at the inaugural Jug Jaw’s Country Club at Bedfords, and Oxjam. There’s certainly some talent in this band and despite a month-long illness Rebecca’s voice still shone even with an unrequired apology ahead of their cover of Hit the Road Jack, her voice survived.
photos (c) all rights reserved Shashamane, 2015