This Pony Up event at Norwich Arts Centre was opened with a strong set from Maya Law, fresh from playing St. Pancras Old Church in London the previous night. I’ve seen Maya many times since she burst on the scene so impressively a few years back through Sonic Youths and Next Big Thing. She continues to grow and develop in fascinating ways, confident onstage as well she might be with that amazing talent. She is charming between songs too and has a commanding, powerful voice to convey the strong lyrics of her songs. Yet another super set from one of our great artists, it was interesting to note the expressions of a few in the audience who had not seen her before … they were clearly blown away.
Maya treated us to a couple of new songs, an old one, and her outstanding current single, Breeze. She’s back at the NAC again next month along with her brother DLore, and Galli. 25 April.
In the few months since I first saw Our Quiet Friends they have quickly become another one of my favourites and they’re rapidly evolving and developing too. They sounded magnificent on the Arts Centre stage, the songs blending into one another with drones and effects inbetween. It’s a loud, noisey psych-out somewhere in space midway between Barrett-era Floyd and Hawkwind. I love them and don’t want the songs to end … I await a ten minute epic from them.
Bessie Turner from Suffolk has had a lot of national acclaim and recognition since I first saw her play one of Iain Lowery’s OST nights at Cinema City way back in 2014. I haven’t seen her for a while as she understandably had to pull out of a support slot with The Moulettes here a year or so ago after being invited to play a live session on BBC Radio 2 for Jo Wiley. Tonight’s gig was actually originally due to have taken place last month but poor Bessie was taken very ill and in hospital for a while so I was delighted that she is recovered enough to reschedule this date. She certainly seemed in good form on stage and was charm itself with the audience. Engaging and witty she asked one of the younger members of the crowd what his favourite school subjects were and when he answered that he was enjoying learning the guitar she invited him up onstage and asked him to play her guitar for one song. A beautiful moment.
The music itself was dreamy, ethereal pop and with a bass sound played with a bow that sometimes reminded me of The Sundays or Cocteau Twins.
Bessie is currently recording in London with Richard Woodcraft at Warner Music.
“Bessie Turner is a singer song writer based in East Anglia. Her style is an eclectic pastiche of her musical heroes; she is influenced as much by Lauryn Hill as she is Dionne Warwick. Yet it is her own uniqueness – in both her personality as well as her music – that sets her apart as an artist and performer. Her voice rings with a soulfulness that floats like a cloud; wistful, effortless and above all charming.
Bessie released her debut single Big Sleep on her own label in April 2017 to entirely unexpected acclaim; the song was viewed/streamed more than 10,000 times in the first 12 hours of her existence as a recording artist. With support from BBC Introducing and after performing a live session for BBC Introducing in Suffolk the single wound up with plays on BBC Radio 1 and 6 Music. Six weeks into her career Bessie Turner was asked by BBC Introducing to appear at Latitude festival.
Her second single ‘Words You Say’ was released In September 2017. It received its world premier from Jo Wiley on BBC Radio 2. The song has gone on to be played extensively by Jo Wiley and Zoe Ball on BBC Radio-2, Steve Lamacq on BBC Radio 6 Music and Huw Stepehens on BBC Radio 1. In December 2017 Bessie was invited to perform a filmed live session at London’s legendary Maida Vale Studios for Jo Wiley and Radio-2. The following month she recorded a stripped back set for Steve Lamacq’s Radio 6 Music show.
Bessie Turner’s debut EP 22:22 was self released on Don’t Try in April 2018. The same month she headlined her own run of UK and EU shows well as supporting Baxter Dury on selected dates of his tour.
Bessie was invited to headline the BBC Introducing Stage at Latitude 2018 where she also performed live on Zoe Ball’s Radio 2 show to millions of listeners worldwide. In August 2018 she headlined the BBC Introducing stages at Reading and Leeds Festival.
She is currently working with Grammy winning producer Richard Woodcraft on a follow up to 22:22.”
Big thanks to Will and all at the Arts Centre.
The wonderful and special NAC currently has a 40/40 fundraising campaign to raise £40,000 to unlock £499,000 from the Arts Council for its regeneration. You can help by donating an extra £1 when buying a ticket, or at the Arts Centre itself, or by clicking here.
Norwich: Music City, UK. A Norwich playlist of well over 30 hours of local music on Spotify: