Norwich Arts Centre hosted another gem of a midweek gig for the visit of The Weather Station and Shannon Lay who were stopping off in the fine city as just one of a handful of UK dates, much like Courtney Marie Andrews last week. It pleases me that Norwich is on the live music map to get such dates on flying visits by international artists.
Feeling the seasons beginning to change it was the first time since spring that I headed out to a gig requiring a jacket and the bike lights on but it was still pleasant enough to sit outside in the Arts Centre garden before the music started, which happened a little after 8pm with a half hour set by Shannon Lay. I’m afraid I was largely ignorant of her music before learning of this gig but I am most certainly rectifying that now! Shannon, another incredible visitor from LA (following recent visits by Starcrawler, Kolars, The Regrettes et al.) played a strikingly beautiful and hauntingly gentle set with gorgeous atmospheric vocals and nods towards Nick Drake and Karen Dalton. Flawlessly played to a modest but rapt crowd, pin-drop silence during the songs and vocal appreciation after them. She has a really likeable stage presence too, with an easy-manner and humour, stopping one song after a couple of seconds ” … because I changed my set-list at the last moment, to make the set flow better. So that worked. Pretend you didn’t see that!” Utterly charming and her company, I later discovered, is a total delight offstage too. It was worth coming out purely for Shannon (who also plays in Feels) but we were lucky enough to still have a set from The Weather Station to come too.
At 9pm Toronto’s Tamara Lindeman of The Weather Station and her band, all dressed in black, came onstage and also played flawlessly, with a midpoint where Tamara played a couple of songs solo. There wasn’t too much talk between songs but what there was was charming as she told of her walks around our city earlier and how beautiful she found it, making mental reference points of churches and cathedrals so as not to get lost but there are so many of them it quickly became confusing. The audience were a little on the quiet side but very attentive and respectful leading her to question if we were as much in awe of the marvelous venue as she was. Just showing reverence to the music is, I think, the answer to that.
For the encore Tamara came back out alone and asked if we had any requests, someone called for Shy Women and she duly obliged before being rejoined by the band and closing with Power, and Thirty, which is a total earworm but also an example of her incredible songwriting. Check out the lyrics, they are quite brilliant.
You and I (On the Other Side of the World)
Kept it All to Myself
Now (Dion cover)
Way it is, Way it Could Be
I’ll be checking out the back catalogues of both artists after this most lovely evening at the Arts Centre and as excellent as both sets were, and I did love them both very much, it will be Shannon Lay that made the biggest impression on me for the great discovery that was hearing her music for the first time and the impact she made on me. Right up my musical street.
On her fourth (and tellingly self-titled) album as The Weather Station, Tamara Lindeman reinvents, and more deeply roots, her extraordinary, acclaimed songcraft, framing her precisely detailed, exquisitely wrought prose-poem narratives in bolder and more cinematic musical settings. The result is her most sonically direct and emotionally candid statement to date, a work of profound urgency and artistic generosity.
“Timeless… Measured, perceptive storytelling. A singer with an unmistakable & communicative voice, able to convey hope & hurt with equal clarity.” – Pitchfork
“She writes literate songs with unusual precision & sings them in an understated, open-hearted way that lends good poetry the directness of conversation.” – Uncut
“Bob Dylan aside, the singer-songwriter I’ve listened to most over the past year, & to whom I expect to be paying attention for many more to come, is Tamara Lindeman, who, under the name the Weather Station, performs songs notable for a conversational fluency, a diarist’s powers of observation, & a quiet refusal of emotional simplicities.” – Richard Williams, The Guardian
On Sunday I arrived home from my third festival in consecutive weekends but was too tired to get to the Reindeer for the start of the Bands Showcase all-dayer, arriving shortly before Stromm finished their set but catching stunning sets from a five-piece The Wash (featuring two bassists!) with Shane O’Linski in great form on vocals, even throwing in some spontaneous lines from The Tide is High. Similiarly, Yellowhammers were wonderful, and the surprise headliners only went and turned out to be a five-piece Gladboy! What a treat! It was only a shame that there was a 9pm curfew curtailing the music long before anyone wanted it to end, least of all Gladboy themselves but this was probably my favourite Reindeer music session thus far. More like this, please!
A week or two earlier Shane put on one of his full and varied WolfsVolk nights at Cactus Cafe Bar on Magdalen Street and featured astrong lineup that included Milly Hirst, Mari Joyce, Birds of Hell (doing an Aretha Franklin tribute of Say a Little Prayer), Monkiboy, Chai, Jonathan Cocker, Jack Solomon and Shane’s own Olinski Onsemble. His next is on Saturday 1 September and includes a rare Bavarian Rocket Group set, plus Joe Quinn, Bobby Sherwood, Al Southgate, Jason Parr, Ollie Hanney, from 8pm.
Big thanks to NAC, Shannon Lay, and The Weather Station.