BBC Radio 3 came to Norwich Arts Centre on this bitterly cold and icy Tuesday evening for a Late Junction special in which the programme is showcasing experimental musical talent around the UK. For the Norwich edition, which was a free ticketed event but nevertheless a sellout, the selected acts were improvisational three-piece Hymn, led by trumpeter Chris Dowding who was joined by David Ross and Oliver Pagne. The music was experimental, atmospheric and beautiful. Interestingly, when interviewed onstage by Late Junction presenter Verity Sharp it was David Ross who said that he had moved to Norwich from East London and found our musical city for more creatively open and liberating with more opportunities for live performance of this kind of experimental music with the likes of Plink Plonk and The York Tavern for meetings. Verity Sharp had also clearly picked up upon the creative and musical vibrancy of the city’s musical community.
I cannot hide the fact that it was particularly thrilling to see that Shane O’Linski was getting some well-deserved national recognition for his unique talents. Nobody in the musical circles of Norwich can have failed to come across this prolific talent at some point, and for the many musicians in the city there’s every chance he may have given them their first opportunity to perform live onstage, as rightly pointed out in his interview by Chad Mason, who added he was proud to be performing these songs onstage with Shane. Certainly many of my favourite Norwich artists I first saw perform at one of his nights. Olinski has been putting on gigs in Norwich for many, many years, as well as being one of the core group of curators of the Music House Acoustic-ish Sessions at Jurnets he is also involved with Howlback Hum, Current Undercurrent, OosWolf, WolfsVolk, as well as being highly prolific with his own music. A highlight of the night was when a bemused Verity asked him how many songs he had and in a delightfully mischievous play on words moment Shane said it was such a joy to have his one son in the audience tonight. This was pure Shane and filled the hall with warm laughter, only Verity, who had not come across the like of Shane before, did not immediately understand the joke. That’s because he’s a one-off and we all adore him for that. The actual answer was “Over 1500. But I’m re-doing them all.”
Let’s not forget the music though, which was sensational. With a well-rehearsed band of talented Ornithologists especially assembled for the occasion and featuring Chad Mason (electric guitar), Oskari Kuusela (bass), Henry Walker (drums) and Laurence Bennett (keys) it was the perfect vehicle to highlight his wonderful songwriting. There were a number of people around me hearing this local legend play for the first time, and the unanimous verdict was that it was “amazing”! One chap near me went so far as to say “I have just found my new musical hero!”
It was so good, and Shane was on such fine form that I felt quite emotional, a weird sense of pride but also joy that he was getting the recognition he so richly deserves. We need to see him on stages like this more often, he thrived at Exposure, not only in his delivery but also in his interviews where he came across every bit at charming and charismatic as we all know he is. His humour, love of nature and uniqueness all coming through clearly. There was a lot of love in the room and this set as well as being superb had a pleasing feelgood factor to it as well. He’s done so much for so many it was heartening to see him get this opportunity to play to new ears as well as long-time admirers of his music. I’ve seen him in the past do entire sets based around colours, today it was nature and in particular birds (The Ornithologists), “Robin Goodfellow” etc. with birds on his shirts and even in the introduction to each band member.
Big thanks to Tontena Music and NAC for the part in making this special night happen. Tontena were also selling his album “Getting Closer” with vinyl at a special on-the-night bargain price of £10. But if you missed out it can still be purchased online at: http://www.tontenamusic.com/store
I’m afraid I was buzzing so much from this performance that I didn’t catch more than a few minutes of Laura Cannell and André Bosman but that isn’t to say they were not excellent, they were. A duo on violins, using “overbow” they kept the large audience captivated.
This was a very successful evening and I can’t wait to hear the edited recordings due to be broadcast on Late Junction, Radio 3 at 11pm on 28 December 2017. Oh how I hope they include the full interviews with Shane too! Shane did us and himself proud. We love him.
The whole evening was first rate and I think many of us were introduced to something we hadn’t heard before, which is always a good thing.
One of those nights so special and warm that it felt considerably milder heading home than it did heading out earlier … it may well have been from the collective glow from our warmed hearts after this gig that thawed all the ice within a wide radius of the NAC.
Many thanks to NAC and John at Tontena Music … a great supporter of Norwich musical creativity and a true gentleman.
all rights reserved (c) shashamane 2017