For the third week in succession I was at Norwich Arts Centre on an early week schoolnight, one of the more traditionally quiet ones at that, this being a Tuesday but it was a belter of a gig. After the sublime performance by Courtney Marie Andrews a couple of weeks back (definitely one of my gigs of the year), and last Wednesday’s revelatory discovery of the wonderful Shannon Lay, supporting The Weather Station, this week it was the turn of PowerSolo with strong support from our own Ravenous Hounds.
Punk Rock Blues have put on some incredible gigs over the past few years but the last time PowerSolo visited the city it was at Bedfords Crypt but there was yet another Norwich Tuesday night gig clash because Marty O’Reilly was also in town then, playing a solo set in The Handlebar which is where I was. So this was my first time seeing PowerSolo and arriving just before 8pm I noticed some earplugs put out on the front desk. Always a good sign!
Opening was Ravenous Hounds, I was at their debut gig last autumn at the Rumsey Underbelly when they supported Twin Guns in another great night music. They’ve had some deservedly high profile supports since then, including Creepshow at The Waterfront, and Reverend Beat Man at Epic and they fill the venues with their glorious garage punk rock.
They were the ideal band to open the night, strong, loud, garage rock and roll with a huge dose of punk spirit and energy. Featuring two members of Beast with a Gun on guitars, this four-piece also feature drums, synth, and a sax. Cracking songs too. The next chance to see them in the city will be when Gluttonous Mutt put on James and the Ultrasounds on October 27th with Ravenous Hounds supporting at the Louis Marchesi undercroft.
Nothing could have fully prepared me for PowerSolo, however. Led by Denmark’s Kim Kix and playing as an absolute powerhouse of a three-piece. Their Facebook banner has a quote which reads: “If Salvador Dali had a rockabilly band … it would be PowerSolo”, that may be so but doesn’t even begin to touch on how wonderfully bonkers and deranged this set was. There are certainly rockabilly, psychobilly, garage and punk elements in this melting pot but a whole lot of strangeness too. Kix even looks like he could be Lux Interior’s weird uncle and some of the songs have some Cramps-esque opening riffs but they are a band quite unlike anyone else I have seen. Most of the audience spent a lot of the evening wondering what the hell was going on.
Danish Toréador of Trash Kim Kix first conceived PowerSOLO while on an extended weekend of solitary recluse at the Waikiki of Denmark. It was One man, One guitar, One kick drum, One microphone and Two bottles of absinthe. but once back in the big, bad, Jutlandian metropolis of Aarhus Kix added more guitars, drums, organs and his old secret weapon: The triple bass.
Now, like a juggernaut through the big, black narcotic night, Kim Kix and his assembled merry band are setting sail towards the clubs, festivals, dives, concert halls, your mother’s house, bars, ball rooms and other entertainment establishments.
PowerSOLO defy description: highly toxic but strangely addictive.
Ravenous Hounds play high energy psych-punk-rocknroll with baritone & electric guitars and stomping drum grooves soaked with saxophone and analogue synthesisers, with a range of esoteric influences. Featuring former and current members of Savage Island / Juke & the All-Drunk Orchestra and Beast with a Gun.
Kim Kix kept threatening to end the set but all that was ending were “parts”, of which there were nine in total and they played for a good two hours as well. Kix would sometimes wander off stage only to reappear among the audience and climb back on from the front. At one point he did actually bring his guitar with him onto the floor, put it down and asked to try on someone’s necktie before wandering off again.
It was strange, nuts, loud and brilliant … and quite compelling. Not a single bass guitar was seen onstage all night either. I don’t think anyone could quite process what had happened and so the bar was unusually busy post-gig (a Tuesday too, don’t forget) as everyone tried to make sense of it all, which of course was not entirely possible and to add the the surrealism of the evening Kix was still wandering about the venue and wordlessly signing anything presented to him. I still wanted to hang out with friends when the Arts Centre closed so relocated to a pub only for the PowerSolo guitarist to come in and join us. A lovely guy but I couldn’t help wonder if Kim Kix was still wandering around the by now rainy streets of Norwich. An amazing night and as peculiar a gig as I can recall in recent months … and I’m used to OosWolf nights!
Talking of which, I was at Cactus on Saturday for Shane’s latest, which featured a one-off appearance by Joe Quinn and the Family Plan (all nine of them), Bobby Sherwood, a beautiful set by Al Southgate, a very fine solo set by a totally on it Shane O’Linski, and my first time hearing Jason Parr, playing guitar and slide with some spoken word between songs with local references. I was impressed. He kindly gave me a copy of his album afterwards and I look forward to giving that a listen. Both he and Shane had passers-by come up to the window as they heard them, and then come into the Cactus to check the music out. To close was a rare appearance by Shane’s Bavarian Rocket Groop. No two sets are ever the same from this band but it’s always fun the only thing predictable about them is that it will be unpredictable. At various points during the set I saw two of them walking along the street outside through the window and Shane holding the mic for an impromtu guest spot from Ollie Hanney. I do love OosWolf gigs at Cactus.