BFR Presents ‘Fresh Blood’ at The Birdcage with Hot Raisin, Milly Hirst, Abigail Blake, Lucy Gooch. Chad Mason, Shane O’Linski for Howlback Hum at Cactus Cafe Bar 18 February 2016
Bare Feet Records’ Fresh Blood night made its very welcome return to The Birdcage this evening, we now have a total of three weekly BFR nights in the the city. We can never have too much live music (and these gigs are all free!) but personally I think the Birdcage is the spiritual home of BFR and works by far the best of the three, being much more suited to live music. Almost certainly as a result of this Lucy Gooch sounded the best I have heard her, with reverb set almost to maximum “1980 U2” levels her guitar and extraordinary voice floating beautifully around the room to rich applause.
Although a “Fresh Blood” night the only act I was hearing for the first time was Abigail Blake who performed half her set with a stringed harp, and the second half with acoustic guitar. She played a few covers but Lazuli Skies and a self-penned song about her university days were the ones that made the strongest impression on me.
And so to the much longed for return of Milly Hirst to the gig circuit after a break of six months or so, other than a beautiful score with harmonium at the Octagon Chapel for Norwich Sound & Vision. I’ve really missed hearing Milly sing and so tonight was a real treat, in fact I soon realised just how much I’d missed her. Interspersed among some familiar favourites like I Still and A Book or a Film were some new compositions including a short version of the aforementioned score but obviously on guitar, and a beautiful song about social anxiety, something of a recurring theme throughout the evening. All too quickly the set passed but closed with a glorious Mary. Welcome back Milly, your return has made me very happy!
Hot Raisin were hearing Milly for the first time and were clearly impressed but I think the feeling was mutual. Of the numerous times I have seen them in recent months I believe this was their best performance. Charming and delightful between songs with beautiful playing and singing during them. Tory’s voice lovely and clear and Mary’s stunning guitar playing. She even spoke a few words into the mic on this occasion, I think they enjoyed themselves. This was a lovely gig with a lovely audience and super sound by Robbie. Birdcage audiences always seem respectful, knowledgeable and appreciative.
After Fresh Blood I crossed the city hoping to catch Chad Mason at Howlback Hum in Cactus Cafe Bar. Luckily I succeeded and he was in typically fine form. There was even time for a brief set from Shane O’Linski to close the night.
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