Jolie Holland, Danni Nicholls at Norwich Arts Centre, 13 July 2015
A curious gig of two halves for me, opened by regular visitor to Norwich’s monthly Grapevine night, the wonderfully talented Danni Nicholls. With what felt like an early 8pm set start on a very humid, balmy evening Danni soon drew people forward and won over everyone hearing her for the first time. Each song was greeted with louder cheers and whoops and she also got people singing and humming along, especially on Blue Train from the forthcoming album the crowd-funded Mockingbird Lane, some pre-release copies of which were on sale tonight. I’ve seen Danni quite a number of times now and think this was her most assured and confident performance of them all with her flawless delivery and brilliantly clear and strong voice. She definitely has that certain something and looks and sounds the part perfectly.
I knew very little about Jolie Holland coming into this gig other than her Be Good Tanyas connection, although I absolutely adore her song Old Fashioned Morphine which just happened to be playing when I learned of this gig and took that as a sure sign I should come along. I perhaps should have checked more of her back catalogue before the gig as in hindsight I think a familiarity with the songs was necessary to properly appreciate the set. I wasn’t hugely taken with the delivery, particularly the unintelligible singing style which left me feeling detached from the songs as I struggled to find the desired connection with the performance, even on Old Fashioned Morphine I was left feeling somewhat disappointed. Maybe I had the wrong expectations and it just simply wasn’t my thing but it did feel very downbeat and I felt uncharacteristically removed from the set. A strange one. Such a contrast from my last visit here for Marty O’Reilly on Thursday. There was some charming chat though, with Jolie saying how beautiful Norwich is but that during a walk around the city she noticed there appeared to be a church on every corner and actually returned to the wrong one, mistaking it for the Arts Centre. I don’t think that’s the first nor the last time that has happened! This was certainly a gig well worth coming along for though, for Danni Nicholls who I personally felt was the star of the show this evening and whom I felt made a very strong and positive impression on all.
words and photos (c) richard shashamane 2015