Every so often a gig comes along that is truly exceptional and you just know it is going to live long in the memory. That certainly feels the case with this one at Norwich Arts Centre, my first time experiencing a Dale Watson and the Lonestars gig, it was special on so many levels.
On a really dreary wet and windy autumnal Sunday evening it was a pleasant surprise to see so many people already at the Arts Centre when I arrived just before 8pm, plenty of stetsons about the place both in the bar and the already filling auditorium. From the moment the band came onstage about 8:30pm and struck up a rhythm for Austin’s Dale Watson himself you just knew tonight was going to be a special show, the atmosphere was fantastic. Dale was greeted with a banner held aloft by a group standing at the front proclaiming “Welcome to Norwich, England” in the colours of the Lone Star State, which he duly took a photograph of.
This was the real deal. For close to two hours he and his tremendous band the Lone Stars delighted the entire audience playing anything and everything that was shouted for at his invitation. There was a lot of love in the room from a mixed and noisy crowd, it was a rare atmosphere indeed and I could not stop smiling throughout. Almost following on from a conversation I had been having before the gig he played his Ameripolitan brand of authentic Country Americana, a defiant blend of true outlaw country honky tonk with healthy doses of swing and rockabilly. With his Telecaster adorned with coins Dale is a highly charismatic and entertaining artists and the band are tight as anything, absolutely incredible. Definitely one of my favourite gigs of this year, I only wish there was some vinyl at the stall but for the sake of my wallet it was probably just as well there wasn’t! It really is amazing that Dale Watson is not better known but those in the know realise what a legend they are in the presence of and there were queues to get CDs signed and photos taken with the great man the like of which I have not often seen at the NAC.
A gig of such consistently high standard all the way through that it is impossible to pick highlights, the whole gig was the highlight. Call Me Insane is one’s of today’s earworms however…
In a busy week of gigs I was also at the NAC on Friday for the Guy Fawkes Party featuring Olympians, Bavarian Rocket Group, and Black Shuk. Two of these bands I have seen at NAC before but despite seeing BRG a number of times I had obviously never seen then here, this being their Arts Centre debut and it was quite a thrill to do so. Shane O’Linski was in fine form and I thoroughly enjoyed it. The set might have teetered between songs a couple of times towards the end under the weight of its wobbly genius but had brilliant edge and was compelling all the way through and the songs always delivered hitting some moments of absolute brilliance.
Afterwards I dashed over to Jurnets to try and catch Goodbye Davila, a beautiful collaboration between Camille Davila and Norway’s Heidi Goodbye. I unfortunately missed the performance of “Fish” that they promised me but did manage to catch most of a truly delightful set. Gorgeous clear vocals, harmonies and enchanting, often very witty lyrics.
The previous night at The Owl Sanctuary saw Ideal Surreal hosting Hello Bear’s EP launch, “I Don’t Know, It’s Fun Though, Isn’t It?” I think it was my favourite set yet by the band played in great spirit to an enthusiastic crowd. Great fun. Support was provided by Marla and, stepping in at short notice, Das Fenster and the Alibis who were also highly entertaining.
Saturday was OosWoolf night at Cactus. There’s something I love about these eclectic, varied and occasionally chaotic nights and this one did not disappoint. Highlights for me were PreDawn, a late set from Soyuz Rats who had passers-by pressing their faces to the steamy windows to see the source of this glorious noise, and the excellent Eiyuze, on this occasion Richard being joined by Oskari on bass. At one point I was speaking to a couple who were fresh from an Epic performance next door and were on the lookout for a late night drink who told me of their delight at finding “Fantastic music and live krautrock vibes at this hour; it wouldn’t happen in London!”
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