Wooden Arms, with support from Tom Adams, and Harry Edwards, at Norwich Arts Centre, 30 January 2015
This was my third visit to Norwich Arts Centre in January 2015, and Britain’s Best Small Venue was sold out on each occasion. On this particular evening Wooden Arms were playing a high profile homecoming gig for Independent Music Venue Week after a string of very successful dates in Germany, they also featured strong support from recent Next Big Thing winner Harry Edwards, and a truly stunning set from the mesmeric Tom Adams. I’d never heard Tom before but am so glad he made the trip up from Cambridge to play for us. Alternating between a magnificent grand piano and a Moog with lots of processing (all live) the soundscapes he created had a film soundtrack quality to them and on top of this was his incredible and breathtaking voice. This set was a real treat and a lovely discovery.
I feel very proud of Wooden Arms, a band who have continued to grow and develop rapidly in their short career of little more than two years thus far. The line up seems complete and settled and the inclusion of drums works far better than I could have imagined, Mac providing the perfect level of subtlety and finesse as well as the power on the likes of the finale to the amazing new song Burial (my current favourite). Of course things centre around Alex with his piano and vocals – his voice in my opinion seeming to have a new power, strength and confidence. Beautiful strings from Jess and Fynn and sumptuous harmonies and vocals from Milly and Jeff, both occasionally on guitars too, whilst Jeff plays trumpet on a couple of numbers too. There’s a well-balanced feel and quiet confidence to the band now, they could go far and certainly deserve to.
There was a real sense of occasion about this gig, Wooden Arms made a statement tonight and raised the bar. The set was hugely enjoyable, highly professional and great fun. Alex strikes the right note of humour between songs and forever seems to be engaged in long running battles with loose microphone stands and shoes but he is such a genuinely funny and lovely man that this all just endears the audience even more.
Some beautiful visuals projected onto the back of the stage also made this a highly engaging visual experience. The band got a rousing round of applause at the end of the set and were begged back onstage for an encore of Separate the Verb. The older songs still sounding strong but the new ones showcased tonight sounded absolutely beautiful. The audience loved it, and interestingly I saw many, many faces I did not recognise, clearly word is getting out there about this fabulous band as well as the venue hosting them.
Sadly for us, this was Alex’s last weekend living in Norwich before he moves to London but that does not mean the end of the band who will be busy recording ahead of a new EP and dates in the spring, and happily he will also continue to co-ordinate the BFR nights from London. I wish him all the success in the world, a hugely talented, likeable, and hard-working man who has done so much for music in Norwich.
This was a beautiful Norwich evening, the only downside being an unfortunate gig clash between this and several other city gigs (a common problem these days) but most notably that taking place at the gorgeous Octagon Chapel and featuring Echoes on the Well and James Frost. I’d have loved to have been able to be at both but it says much about Norwich’s gig-goers that I believe both venues sold out. Norwich is just great, the evening started with fish and chips from The Grosvenor Fish Bar in The Birdcage, also taking in The Plough for a pre-gig drink and ending up at The Garnet to toast Mr Carson ahead of his new chapter in London. What a Fine City.
Many thanks to Wooden Arms and Norwich Arts Centre.
photos (c) all rights reserved Shashamane, 2015