Such a strong line-up at Norwich Arts Centre on a Monday night in February with a return visit from The Nightingales supported by two confident and talented Norwich bands, GRACELAND (“One word. All capitals”), and Violet Kicks who opened the evening. Only in existence a few months and with not yet half a dozen gigs under their belt this is already Violet Kicks’ second time on the NAC stage, having also played The Waterfront and The Murderers for Odd Box, they are so new they don’t even have an online presence yet.
They get the night off to a blistering start, especially with their powerful set-opener. I’ve seen Jessie’s development as a charismatic singer through the likes of The Jacks, and a couple of bands I loved and saw many times in recent years: Jessie and the Earthquakes, and Changelings. Always compelling she has a theatrical and animated stage presence and a soaring voice used to great effect. The boys are tight and loud and as a band they have that special ingredient and could go far. Jessie commands attention and tonight is in a 60s pink and sequinned flares and jacket. Exciting, with a strong and ambitious drive, Violet Kicks are one of the city’s many current “must sees”.
GRACELAND too have confidence and attitude in buckets, with the songs to back it all up, it was good to see them all in fine fettle, the last few times I have seen them at least one of them was on crutches! Check them out if you haven’t yet, they are getting some national airplay, gigs in London and Brighton and have a fine new single (Fleetwood) and accompanying video. I always enjoy seeing these girls play, they have a terrific sound with a great chemistry and attitude, oozing confidence and talent. In contrast most of us in the audience were too shy to shout “Sigourney Weaver! ” in reply to the Ripley t-shirt question from Rosie, Sigourney’s face adoring one of the band’s new shirt designs.
I grew up listening to John Peel’s radio show just about every night in the late 1970s and early 1980s so have long been familiar with a band he championed, tonight’s headliners The Nightingales, and yet this evening was inexplicably my first time to see them live. I’m so glad I have finally rectified that as they are mighty beast onstage which I enjoyed immensely. Robert Lloyd is a compelling cuts a slightly intimidating figure with a very powerful band behind him including our own Fliss Kitson, a brilliant dervish and a blur of hair on drums. Bashing a completely beaten symbol and kit providing some frenetic vocals too. The show is intense, gloriously powerful and brooding with unusual songs. There is no verse-chorus formula here, you just live in the moment of the song and it’s utterly captivating. And loud. The Nightingales feel and sound so relevant to these times and are a perfect soundtrack. They are a working and productive band still writing and releasing new material and providing superb live shows. Apparently their set was an hour but I lost all sense of time during it, always a good sign.
Tonight I am back at the Arts Centre to see The Handsome Family once again in a sold out show, with support from an artist I love so much that this is almost a double-header for me. Courtney Marie Andrews.
all rights reserved (c) shashamane 2017