My Saturday evening started off in fine style with Norwich winning 1-0 away at Middlesbrough in front of the TV cameras in the late afternoon kick-off to extend their lead at the top of the Championship table. A detail worth mentioning, as becomes apparent shortly. Afterwards I dashed from UEA to the NAC for my third big gig of the week, in just in the mood for some loud rock and roll. I was not to be disappointed.
Somehow the fact that Pin Ups had been added to the bill was a detail that had escaped me entirely so it was a nice surprise and bonus to find them kicking off the evening at 8:10pm. Their name is one I have seen about a lot and although I think they have played Odd Box recently this was my first time seeing them. A Norwich-London trio they play melodic and catchy, powerful indie pop which went down well with those I spoke to but we all agreed their only slight blip was a funny moment when the London-based singer-guitarist, an Arsenal fan, had a gentle dig about Norwich City on our own patch, dedicating single “Do You Hate Yourself Yet” to the Canaries! It was obviously a jovial pop at bandmates rather than us though and was laughed off. We’re a good-natured bunch and they dodged that potential banana skin. They’re good fun and certainly have something about them.
#SonicYouthsFam duo KULK are wonderful. I was so looking forward to seeing them again and having missed a few of their recent gigs I knew it was going to be special seeing them on the Arts Centre stage. KULK bring art-rock noise, energy and a welcome degree of wild unpredictability. Starting slowly I think some in the audience thought they were just warming and tuning up but then they exploded and got everyone’s full attention. Thunderous drums from Jade, whilst Thom hurled his guitar into the air, caught it and without breaking stride was bashing out crashing chords. This was exhilarating stuff but whilst there is seeming chaos, wildness and spontaneity I also love their attention to detail. The stage looks good, the duo look right together with great chemistry, the flowers on the drumkit and amps, the lighting of the drumkit, and even the white Vox coiled guitar cable. They’re incredibly animated making KULK one of my favourites to photograph. They obviously love what they are doing and could really be ones to watch.
It was still twenty minutes before the Pony Up headline act and we were already feeling we’d seen a damn fine gig!
By the time the bell in the bar rang to announce it was two minutes before YAK came onstage it was obvious there was quite a sizeable crowd gathered with the hall being almost full.
YAK are a London-based trio with guitar and vocals by the charismatic frontman Oliver Henry Burslem, originally from Wolverhampton and with a passing resemblance to a very youthful Jagger. With Vincent Davies and Elliott Rawson also both excellent on bass and drums respectively. Now signed to Jack White’s Third Man Records through Virgin they have just released their second album Pursuit of Momentary Happiness which sounds like it has quite a story behind it and must have used every bit of emotional energy as well as every last penny to bring to fruition but the results sound worth it if the live set is anything to go by. With a phenomenal sound, power and great songs, their set is outstanding. In fact they Tweeted after this gig: “thought about throwing in the towel a few times over the last 2 years but so happy we didn’t, these last gigs have been off the hook…..”
Dressed all in white, barefoot and with great stage presence, Oli seems the embodiment of rock and roll spirit, dropping in musical song references randonly (including the chorus of Wreckless Eric’s Whole Wide World on Fried), animated and dripping in sweat. Watching him and hearing the band play makes one feel sixteen again and I can imagine they inspire people to pick up a guitar and play rock and roll, they even made me feel a bit like that!!
There’s nothing generic about them at all either, there’s garage rock, psych, classic rock, grunge, even a hint of Indian elements. Some moments bring to mind The Stooges, The Doors, BRMC, the Bunnymen but YAK always sound themselves, original and fresh, familiar yet different but overall absolutely thrilling and exciting. There’s an unscripted part that brings an edge to the show, an electric air a bit like we had at that infamous Starcrawler gig, some chaos but all held together by brilliant musicianship and melody. YAK are precisely what I needed. In a week where I had seen three notable gigs that were all amazing in their own way, THIS was the best one of all with the biggest Wow factor for me.
Print to the People produced a striking and vibrant psychedelic poster to commemorate this gig with proceeds going to NAC’s 40/40 fundraising campaign so of course I got one and had it signed by both KULK and YAK, all of whom are lovely people and I enjoyed chatting to Oli who seems a really interesting and friendly chap. More power to him, YAK are fantastic and this was one of those special gigs, everyone felt it. Do not miss them if you get a chance to catch them perform live.
It was nice chatting afterwards, YAK seemed every bit as happy and euphoric about a super gig as we were, and it was a truly great gig. YAK live are a gloriously wild rock and roll revelation, I loved it. A very mixed crowd too.
More photos to follow…
Our wonderful and special NAC currently has a 40/40 fundraising campaign to raise £40,000 to unlock a £499,000 grant 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 in one of its collection jars, or by clicking here. Or even buying a 40/40 ale at the NAC bar at a gig where £1 will go to the fundraising.
Norwich: Music City, UK. A Norwich playlist of well over 30 hours of local music on Spotify: