Sometimes you go to a gig just to take a punt, hoping to find someone new and unfamiliar, hoping for an exciting discovery. Sometimes it works and that is magical. Seeing The Spitfires, for me, was anything but and felt tired, familiar and unexciting. Oh well.
That said, support act, the curiously named Social Room were actually pretty good. A bit ‘Britpoppy’ for my usual tastes but the six piece band were undeniably good and powerful. The prowling singer had a bit of a Manc swagger and seemed a mod hybrid of Liam Gallagher and Ian Brown as he prowled the stage but they are in fact from Sunderland, a place he described in one word. Earworm track for me was a song about their home city, SR7. Whilst not wholly my thing they were impressive and I appreciated them and their genuine appreciation of those who came into the hall to see them. They stole the show in my opinion, not that I made it to the end of the gig.
There was an odd atmosphere in the NAC which I have not really experienced before in this lovely place, a strange kind of underlying tension and although the audience numbered 100+ there wasn’t a single familiar face among them, which is unusual and only heightened my feeling of being at the wrong gig. I go to the vast majority of gigs alone and am quite happy to do so but I couldn’t totally relax and get into things on this occasion. Not sure why. I spent most of the evening regretting my choice of gig, feeling a bit awkward and uncomfortable … unconvinced by The Spitfires whom I was starting to resent for their lack of originality I enjoyed the playlist between bands more … a selection of songs by such as Jah War by The Ruts and several from Hollie Cook.
They’re from Watford, (and almost surprisingly not Woking!). A band recommended to me by my brother and we usually broadly agree on such things but after deciding to come to this gig I checked some of their stuff out and although they were a bit too close to Paul Weller for my comfort I thought there might be something of a Redskins vibe about them. There wasn’t. They seem to have taken huge and obvious influence from The Jam, The Specials, The Clash and some soul but none of the best qualities. There’s a “heard it all before and better” feeling that overwhelms me. I have to mention though that I was almost certainly the only person in the room who seemed to feel this way as they had plenty of enthusiasm from the floor. They play with undeniable energy and passion and I’ve heard they are “the voice of the youth of 2018” so why was I one of the youngest people there? I didn’t see anyone in the audience under the age of 50. But I wasn’t in the mood for any of this and barely lasted three songs before deciding to cut my losses and move on to The Golden Star where Yve Mary B, Lauren Dove, and Alex Beckhelling were playing. I think this is where my heart really had been all evening and possibly affected my non-enjoyment of the Spitfires, who may have gone on to be amazing and I’m sure their crowd loved it but having quit so early I’d only missed two songs when I squeezed into a packed Golden Star at about 9:30pm, and here there were familiar faces aplenty! 🙂
The two sets passed all too quickly (and a bit too quietly in a busy pub full of chatter) but was full of special moments. The favourites of which for me were when Yve performed a cover of The Arlenes’ beautiful Springboard. Having seen Big Steve Arlene himself a few minutes earlier I rushed to the back bar to fetch him when I heard Yve’s introduction. To close the night itself she invited him to join them on their rousing Take Me Home, Country Roads which had the entire pub singing along. Now that’s the way to salvage an evening that was earlier heading in a very disappointing direction. You win some, you lose some when you take a chance on something but the beauty of Norwich is that there’s always going to be something to suit all tastes and it was Yve, Lauren, Alex and Steve who provided my musical salvation. Thank you!