Just seven months ago Starcrawler played a legendary gig at Bedford’s Crypt which even they in a recent interview have cited as their favourite in Europe. It’s one of the best gigs I have ever experienced, enjoyed with about 80 other people in a small medieval underground space. On their return to Norwich they sold out the Arts Centre, and on the following afternoon they will be playing to many, many thousands at The Olympic Stadium in London supporting the Foo Fighters. I’m not sure when I last felt such nervous excitement before a gig as I did for this one.
To make things even better we had the brilliant choice of Gladboy as support. No sign of nerves from the stage as they delivered a confident and hugely enjoyable set their best one thus far in my humble opinion. Sounding fantastic and big through the Arts Centre PA and Starcrawler’s amps I was well impressed by them, super harmonies and an appealing energy. Occasionally they’ll make me think of early Buzzcocks or Magazine and then perhaps Blur but they have very much their own sound and style and are a lot of fun, keeping their set flowing and continuous. Yet another of the growing list of must-see Norwich bands, and they’ve only been together about a year! They are growing and developing rapidly, I only saw them a few weeks ago at Norm’s and they seemed to have noticably progressed even in that short space of time. Definitely look out for them and catch a show.
What more can I say about Starcrawler? They blew me away at Bedfords Crypt so much that I went and saw them again a couple of months later at Omeara in London but it’s the Norwich shows that are particularly special, on both occasions the Norwich crowd was much livelier than in London. You don’t often see good old-fashioned moshpits at gigs these days but at the Crypt and on a larger scale here at NAC that’s just what we had, with quite an age range too. I thought the crowd were getting lively from the off when the three boys in the band took to the stage and then I felt someone behind me pushing their way to the front. It’s only when she climbed over me and jumped onto the stage that I twigged that this was the entrance of Arrow de Wilde.
They played a blistering set of glam punk rock and roll, massive riffs, a superb rhythm section making for a really tight band, and the vocals and theatre of Arrow. Henri is animated in guitar poses but Arrow is something else. She prowls the stage, glares at the audience, drips and spits blood and is totally captivating at all times. It’s unpredictable, sometimes scary, and very exciting. Meanwhile rhythm section Tim and Austin are steady, strong and dependable on bass and drums, the perfect foil to the antics of Arrow and Henri and balancing the group perfectly. They have the songs and the sound too, much heavier live than on the album this is the best way to experience Starcrawler. It’s probably a near impossible task to capture their energy on recordings though the singles do come close, and the album has a great analogue sound it doesn’t always succeed in capturing that but it’s still a great record and they were satisfyingly loud here with bass and drums way higher in the mix than on record. The audience were at the same time transfixed and dancing wildly, when Henri jokingly and ironically teased us with a quip about retirement homes that was the kick up the arse for things to get really lively. The set is longer now, closer towards an hour though I reckon close to a quarter of it was a mega, epic version of Chicken Woman which was absolutely stunning closing of the set. The tension in the mid-song pause was palpable before Arrow flew off the stage, dripping in fake blood, and was carried aloft by a sea of audience hands and eventually brought back in the direction of the stage. It was at this point that I ended up with a very blood-spattered beard! 🙂 She then disappeared but Henri was now in the crowd, on his back playing guitar before strapping it around the neck of Gladboy’s George who, also in the audience, jammed along for a further few minutes with Austin and Tim who were still playing onstage. It was incredible stuff, thankfully no encore and by that I mean that as brilliant as they were nothing could really follow that and an encore would just feel wrong. They gave us everything in a high-impact and memorable set.
LA seems to have an incredible music scene, I keep disovering many great bands who are based there. After the recent wonderful set from KOLARS I mentioned this to them afterwards, and cited Starcrawler as one such example and they said they loved them too and were mates.
I wish some of the Q writers would venture out of London to experience something like this and then maybe they would not be so quick to lazily label Norwich as “unfashionable”, not that we care particularly because we’re having a great time and so are the incredible bands who love coming back to play here.
A simply amazing night of music here. Electric, unpredictable, visceral and sometimes confrontational and unsettling. I feel like every second of the set was vital and exciting and is now ingrained in the memory. Starcrawler may not be everyone’s bag but nor would you expect or want them to be. To me and a great many others though they are a breath of fresh air bringing an element of danger, excitement, attitude and visual theatrics making it a complete show because they sound pretty fantastic too. Making rock music really energising again with their glorious spirit, they do what they want and I suspect they don’t give a damn if some people don’t like it but love connecting with the ones that do get and dig it. That’s freedom and integrity. I’m sure they have aims and ambitions but they do what they want on their own terms without the neediness of being loved by everyone, almost without a care what anyone may think and that, as much as anything, is what really draws me to them, their attitude. They didn’t even have their album for sale on the merch table though I did buy a t-shirt and got my copy of their album signed. You may hear elements that might remind you of other great acts but I have never seen a band quite like this and how often can one say that these days? Starcrawler are fantastic, I bloody love them … and still have the (fake) blood stains to prove it.
Can’t go wrong with a Punk Rock Blues night, this was another gem. My third NAC gig in four days and they were all belters. I’m thinking of having the stamp tattooed on my hand as “Norwich Arts Centre” is almost a permanent fixture on it anyway! 🙂 A fuller review for Outline appears here.
In many ways I had found much of the daytime hours preceeding the gig a bit difficult but Starcrawler and Gladboy and Norwich Arts Centre had me re-energised and buzzing. Isn’t music at its exciting best just wonderful?!
Many thanks to Starcrawler, Gladboy, Norwich Arts Centre, and Outline Magazine.
all rights reserved (c) shashamane 2018