Lewis & Leigh, Raevennan Husbandes, The Black Feathers from Blue House Music at Norwich Arts Centre, 5 March 2015
I decided to go to this gig when I noticed it was being put on by the excellent James of Blue House Music and included a band I had hoped to see -The Black Feathers – at the Bicycle Shop last year but seem to recall the gig being cancelled though their name stayed in my head so I was glad to notice this gig in the NAC listings. Also noticing that Raevennan Husbandes was on the bill too was an absolute clincher. She was in the city with a date at OPEN the following night (Friday) supporting The Unthanks and is someone I always love to hear. I didn’t know much at all about Lewis & Leigh but they came very highly recommended by James. I was to find out why.
It was the very charming husband and wife duo of The Black Feathers who opened the evening, playing with obvious chemistry and huge talent. Their voices and harmonies perfect for the tales of the songs. With a host of gigs in the city on this evening the Arts Centre wasn’t as full as it could have been but the seated audience lapped up the music on offer and listened with great appreciation. The Black Feathers also entertained us between songs, asking which songs should make the cut for the album and also talked about Sealed With a Kiss, the February recording from their project of making a cover a month. I think they were aghast to discover the song was not written by Jason Donovan for Kylie Minogue as they’d long believed but on their version they have made it their own in the video I watched when I got home. Tonight though they played a beautiful version of Spirit in the Sky (which they also made their own) … The Addams Family ending being a stroke of genius. Lovely people and hugely talented, I had no hesitation in buying their EP and it has been played several times in my house today.
As Raevennan was setting up it was clear she had a couple of guests with her tonight, one being cellist Simon Lewis, the other the legendary BJ Cole. This was a tremendous treat on an already wonderful evening. The set the three of them played was absolutely exquisite. Raevennan can charm the birds down from the trees with her delightful and easy, gentle manner but coupled with her superb playing and gorgeous voice alongside these two brilliant musicians … well, it was an absolute privilege and honour to be present for this. BJ Cole (who also plays on the EP by Kewis and Leigh) plays pedal steel with a sublime and sumptuous purity, I really could have listened to this all night. It is amazing to see and hear him play and together the three of them created something of rare beauty. I was absolutely buzzing from this set.
More music was still to come though, with the duo Lewis and Leigh. Another very fine pair of musicians, Lewis on guitar and vocals, from Wales, whilst Leigh is from Mississippi, and she has a stunning voice. I also bought their EP (Raevennan’s I already have, from a previous gig) and have been listening to it all day too. I can see why James loves them so much, they perform naturally and beautifully and looked genuinely humbled to be begged back on for an encore. Their songs, stories and delivery made quite an impression on me, and I suspect, quite a few others.
This was a gem of a gig, one of the best of the year so far for me, and I’m so glad I didn’t miss it. A shame there were not a few more people for it but the place did not lack for warmth, atmosphere and appreciation and everyone present is sure to be spreading the word about all the talented performers tonight. The songs were truly lovely and there wasn’t a wrong note all night. I am very much looking forward to more recordings to add to those wonderful ones I already have by all of these artists. Beautiful night.
Many thanks to Lewis & Leigh, Raevennan Husbandes, The Black Feathers, James of Blue House Music, and Norwich Arts Centre.
words and photos, richard shashamane 2015