OosWolf presents Hot Raisin, Phoebe Troup, Lucy Gooch, Andrea King, Eloise Shaw, Robyn Astrid, Chai Man, The Olinksi Onsomble at Cactus Cafe Bar, Norwich, 6 February 2016
The Cactus Cafe Bar on Magdalen Street is a venue I have become very fond of, as the name suggests it combines the best of both worlds being a cafe throughout the day and also into the evening, and bar at night with the audience tonight able to have a light meal, or drink coffees or ales from the bar. The incomparable Shane O’Linski curates regular music nights here, this one showcasing an incredible eight acts.
The music started with a Dylan-esque set by Chai Man who was followed by the delightful Lucy Gooch. I’ve seen the lovely and incredibly modest Lucy several times, mostly playing instrumental sets but I was delighted to hear her sing tonight in her short and sweet set. We need to hear her sing more often, her voice compliments her atmospheric guitar so well in a Cocteau Twins kind of way.
Eloise Shaw followed, carrying on where she left off at Jurnets recently, yet another with a wonderful voice. I did a video of her playing Wicked Game at Jurnets, I was pleased to hear it again tonight, alongside Fleetwood Mac’s Dreams. She in turn was followed by Phoebe Troup. I saw her play at The Birdcage a couple of years back and tonight was even better. She has a quiet and understated confidence and a lovely sense of humour. Once again a superbly expressive voice and a range of styles, including some Appalachian. I enjoyed her set immensely and was captivated throughout – must make the effort to see her play more frequently.
Robyn Astrid seemed to be putting her heart and soul into her performance of interesting folk songs delivered with heartfelt conviction. I saw her the previous night at NAC’s “Let’s Dance!” and it was good to see she had again come out with Bowie facepaint.
The ever wonderful and charming Hot Raisin went down a storm with their melodic songs and stories, animals featuring heavily in the titles of Little Tiger, Like a Bear, Wolf in Me Skin, and Sloth but they closed their set – or intended to, switching it to the penultimate song on the fly, with a cover of Hit Me Baby One More Time, as much fun as that was I was actually hoping for an extra cover with another outing for Space Oddity but maybe that was a one-off tribute. Lovely band, lovely people, try and catch them if you haven’t seen them before … if you have, you will obviously want to hear them again.
I was massively impressed by Andrea King who played a memorable set which was something of a highlight in a hugely enjoyable evening of great music. She mentioned that she only took up guitar two years ago but one would never have guessed, she’s an absolute natural. Her playing is extremely pleasing and natural and she has a gorgeously expressive voice, almost Joan Baez-like at times. I enjoyed this a lot, she covered Jolene, slowly and beautifully but it was her own compositions that hit me strongest of all. A real talent. I’d love to hear her again, I think she’d also be well suited to something like Grapevine @ Bedfords, OST, or The Bicycle Shop. There was a little bit of chatter in the back bar at this stage of the evening but even with the gentle style of Andrea’s delivery I was barely aware of anything else, being as I was so transfixed in this musical world of hers.
The evening closed with quite an avant-garde set of Shane originals with the Olinski Onsemble [sic.] with a host of the musicians in attendance joining in, notably Robyn on balloon! A set which was as enjoyable as it was interesting, as always with Shane. He seemed in MES mode tonight with some Fall-esque moments and some hilariously expressive political commentary.
A real fun night in a wonderful venue, perhaps not the most obviously suited to live music with an inconveniently situated wall, and a just a little bit of lighting pointed at the stage wouldn’t go amiss but it doesn’t seem to matter, things work and the place is extremely relaxed and friendly and I like what the owners are doing there. The place was deservedly packed.
The previous night saw Let’s Dance II at Norwich Arts Centre to try and accommodate the extraordinary demand for tickets and was once again sold out, whilst Sunday was Funday at The Plasterers, again, loads of musicians present including Lauren Dove celebrating her birthday whilst Space Eagle played the blues session, joined by Tom Wilson on bass and accordion. Great fun and talent as always with Space Eagle, and some unique blues interpretations of even the reggae No, No, No!
Many thanks to Shane, Cactus Cafe and all who played at OosWolf, Rosie, Will and everyone at NAC, The Plasterers and Space Eagle.
(c) shashamane 2016