Yet another deserved sold out gig for The Piratones in Norwich for a gig which served as a memorial and a celebration of the life and photography of Robert Powell. A champion of the Norwich music scene who sadly passed away suddenly earlier this year. In a beautiful touch his photos (plus some rare ones of the photographer himself) were projected onto the back of the stage, and I know for a fact he loved all three acts on the bill as I saw him at dozens of gigs where they were playing and we shared a mutual love of all three of them, and more.
The NAC felt full and busy and it was great to meet familiar faces at the bar, some of whom I’d not seen in a while but that didn’t matter as everyone nattered freely and shared memories of Rob. A couple of photographer friends were there (Ga and Amelia) whom I had not seen in ages but I sort of knew them both through Rob.
At 8:30pm the buzzer sounded to announce the imminent performance by Maya Law, always a treat to see her with her strong and confident voice, a likeable presence and terrific songs.
An appearance in the city by Feral Mouth is a rare treat these days as Pedz is now based in Bristol but it was nice to bump into him outside the venue on my way in, we were both looking forward to the Ferals set. I don’t know how they manage to rehearse with these geographical logistics but they sounded tight, despite a technical issue with the drumkit and I loved hearing these songs again. Among the covers of Rocky Top and White Freight Liner we had the wonderful originals of Hundred Kinds of Lonely, Everything, Old Man, and an especially poignant By the Grace of Genghis all had a welcome airing in a hugely enjoyable set which included a touching toast of raised glasses led by Pedz, I think the whole room had drinks held aloft in honor of Rob.
There was a hasty turnaround for the night’s headliners as the clock was ticking on and the room now feeling quite packed. The last time The Piratones played the NAC was a couple of years back in a farewell gig of sorts before they went on their travels and their drummer too, Zeb, also relocating to Bristol. That was almost exact;y two years ago to the day. I’ve seen them since then at Flatlands where they were superb but a hometown gig at the NAC is always particularly special and you could feel that in the heightened atmosphere with a lively, enthusiastic crowd were dancing the entire duration of their set. This really does seem to be the last gig we’ll see from The Piratones as they now pursue their individual projects but they clearly had as much fun as we did and so it was a beautiful farewell to both Rob and The Piratones. We had a nice speech from Mikey and at the end of their encore Freddie handed a bucked into the audience for a collection to realise a trust fund as his family has teamed up with OPEN Youth Trust to create a fund in his honour. It would pay for free workshops for aspiring photographers between the ages of nine and 19.
This was a very fitting send off to a fellow photographer, I always found Rob to be open, honest, friendly and very giving of his time and advice to others. A very genuine guy. We both absolutely adored the Piratones so I am so glad they put on this gig at our beloved Arts Centre with fellow favourites Feral Mouth and Maya Law. I think Rob was watching from above and smiling at them. It was good also to be able to say a proper goodbye to The Piratones, a band I love as people as much as I love them as a band, which is a lot.
Big thanks to The Piratones, Feral Mouth, Maya Law, and Norwich Arts Centre.