Wooden Arms @ The Birdcage. This is Senegal @ NAC 23 October 2015 Yve Mary B @ The Plasterers, Fine City Blues 25 October 2015

This was the first gig back in Norwich for several months for the highly productive Wooden Arms, a band surely destined for great things. Their development and growth has been as fascinating as it has been enjoyable … wider recognition and attention coming their way all the time.

Alex Carson of Wooden Arms (c) shashamane 2015

Alex Carson of Wooden Arms
(c) shashamane 2015

Tonight’s gig was to showcase a wealth of new material written for the new album and being given a live airing alongside some older favourites, suitably in a place strongly linked with Alex Carson in his Norwich days – The Birdcage. Needless to say, everyone wanted a word with him and the place was a rammed sellout.

Wooden Arms (c) shashamane 2015

Wooden Arms
(c) shashamane 2015

It was immediately obvious that there has evidently been a change in personnel, most likely as a result of Alex’s relocation to London with Fifi now on cello, and Arzeti on violin though all the recent and present Arms were either onstage or in the audience enjoying the gig with everyone else.

Wooden Arms (c) shashamane 2015

Wooden Arms
(c) shashamane 2015

The songwriting appears to have been split amongst the members and to the band’s strength as it invariably adds variety with the riches of songwriting talent they possess. The quality of all numbers is hugely impressive and they sounded great. The set opened with a relatively recent piece, Burial, which I’ve heard at least twice before, at the Octagon Chapel and Norwich Arts Centre. My current favourite Wooden Arms song.

Wooden Arms (c) shashamane 2015

Wooden Arms
(c) shashamane 2015

This was a beautiful gig, albeit an incredibly hot and busy one. I hope they play in the fine city again soon, and that when they do it’ll need to be a venue larger than the Birdcage who had to turn people away at the door so full, hot and sweaty was it inside but it was a nice touch to play here … a sort of homecoming. The new material is strong and already I am looking forward to the next album.

Wooden Arms (c) shashamane 2015

Wooden Arms
(c) shashamane 2015

Wooden Arms (c) shashamane 2015

Wooden Arms
(c) shashamane 2015

The night was opened by Joe Osborne, actually a duo, and with a hint of Heart of a Dog about their storytelling in this, their debut gig.

Wooden Arms are a contemporary quintet from the UK who draw from Trip-hop, Classical, and Alternative music. They’ll be performing a selection of songs from their as of yet untitled sophomore album due out in spring 2016.

After the huge success of debut album Tide, including a host festival appearances and a live 6 music session under their belt, the band are back with new material. Expect a captivating and intimate evening of music.

“Wooden Arms have emerged with a brooding and delicate classical-folk song that is smothered in subtlety, tension and lush reverb.” – The 405

A most beautiful piece of music… Somewhat reminiscent of a Winged Victory for the Sullen with that sort of emotion and tone to it… Absolutely bewitching.” – Simon Raymonde (Bella Union)


Once again Norwich was extraordinarily busy with gigs, Jurnets was holding its usual Friday night live music, the huge draw of Gentleman’s Dub Club and their legendary Norwich gigs was happening at Epic, Micawbers was heaving to The He-Hews, and Dreams Music Presents had a Senegalese night at Norwich Arts Centre, of which I was lucky enough to catch some of. I didn’t see Sefo Kanuteh’s set but did see him when all the acts played a couple of numbers onstage together at the end. The venue wasn’t full, due to all the other events happening, but those here were having a blast and there was super dancing, and as Modou Ndiaye Cissokho of The Golden Kora Band said “the lovely energy from the crowd”. The koras were sublime and went well with the superb drumming. The guitarist Abdoulaye Samb also made a welcome appearance back on the stage for the encores.

Many thanks to Wooden Arms, Dreams Music Presents, and Norwich Arts Centre.

Dreams Music presents This is Senegal featuring Modou Ndiaye Cissokho & The Golden Kora Band + Abdoulaye Samb + Sefo Kanuteh

Master drummer and kora player Modou N’Diaye Cissokho is a member of the internationally reknown Cissokho family of griot musicians from the Casamance region of Southern Senegal. As a virtuoso drummer and percussionist with a superb repetoire of rhythms, he plays a variety of instruments ranging from djembe, sabar and talking drum to his leading instrument, the 22 string kora (West African harp).

Before the time of pen and paper in West Africa, it was the role of the Cissokho Griot family to preserve the region’s history by passing on stories of creation and culture through song. Entrusted by the Royal Mandingue Empire as advisers since the 14th century, Modou’s family are still notorious for producing the most highly -skilled musicians in Senegal’s southern region.

These traditional influences continue to inspire his music today whilst allowing him to collaborate with modern ensemble’s of electric bass and drumkit producing the updated Senegalese sound.

Sunday being “Sunday Funday” at The Plasterers I couldn’t resist heading over there to treat myself to a Voodoo Daddy’s pizza and to see Yve Mary B, this beautiful soul with a voice to match was playing a couple of solo sets (she is also the lead vocalist in Morganway, who I highly recommend) and delighted those listening with superbly delivered country blues classics and didn’t bat an eyelid at the noisy group in the other corner but carried on playing with a smile and good humour, even ordering a delicious Voodoo Daddy’s pizza to share with the whole pub – between sets she walked around offering slices to the Plasterers customers. She’s wonderful!

Yve Mary B (c) shashamane 2015

Yve Mary B
(c) shashamane 2015

Playing close to three hours and starting with the excellent If I Were a Carpenter, she even played one for me and also obliged my request during the interval – She played the Townes song If I Needed You. It’s not part of her regular sets and she said she might need help with the words … but she didn’t, she sang it beautifully and I thank her for playing it. There was also Jolene, which really pleased everyone, and a sumptuous and moving Woodstock and the set closer was one of its highlights – Down in the River to Pray. This was fantastic, played acapella she encouraged the audience to join in, even charmingly inviting the noisy corner 😉 Foot-stomping gospel, she cast a spell with this and I woke the next day with this moment still playing in my head. She even cured my temporary deafness in one ear that had been bugging me for days, such is her magic.

As soon as her set finished, having not realised how long she’d been playing for I dashed over to The Murderers to catch the finale of the Fine City Blues Explosion week. I unfortunately once again missed the Mojo Preachers but caught just about the full set from The Delta Groovers. A trio of bluesmen with a fine pedigree and history, they closed the festival in grand style, with Travis ‘Moonchild’ Haddix watching approvingly, Travis having played The Refectory a few days earlier. It was lovely to see Yve also made the same trip from The Plasterers to The Murderers for this after packing up.

Many thanks to Yve and The Plasterers.












This entry was posted in live music and dance, Norwich Arts Centre, Yve Mary B / Morganway and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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