Starcrawler + Plague Vendor, for PRB Presents @ NAC 30 June 2019

Just what more can be said about Starcrawler?  Their Norwich gigs just never cease to amaze me. I was overjoyed when I learned that PRB Presents was bringing them back to Norwich as part of a six-date UK leg of their European tour (that took in Glastonbury the previous day), however, before I learned of the Norwich booking I had already bought a ticket for their London show thinking that might be my only chance to see them. Not to worry though, I was more than happy to see them twice in a week! This time I was also in my Outline capacity so will link that later.


As thrilling and amazing as that gig at The Dome in Tufnell Park was, there is just something extra special about seeing a favourite band in your favourite venue in your home city, plus something magical seems to happen when Starcrawler play here. London was great but as Echo and the Bunnymen apparently used to say (as their yardstick for amazing gigs) “It was good but it wasn’t a Norwich!”  My own gig barometer these days is if it is exceptional it makes me forget about my aching legs, and this one certainly did that.


Support was again from Plague Vendor, hailing from the outskirts of LA. They rather blew me away at The Dome so I wanted to make sure I caught their set in Norwich too.  The crowd went even more wild for them here than they did in London, crazy scenes and the most explosive, impressive support slot I can remember for a long time.

Plague Vendor

There was such a strong sense of excitement and anticipation ahead of the appearance onstage of Starcrawler. The sold out NAC had the hall already full and with loads of people claiming a spot at the front against the barrier well ahead of set time.  I noticed a lot of new faces here with a noticably younger crowd bringing down the average age considerably.

When the band, and moments later Arrow appeared the crowd roared a welcome. Starcrawler were, as always, in blistering form and without a day off on this UK leg they were tight.  There were little things one could notice that were really impressive too. Being near to the front I could see that midway through the set there was an issue with the cymbals on the drum-kit and to cover the field repairs Arrow continued to lay dramatically prone on the stage before leaping up and hitting herself on the head as she paced around with the mic causing loud “pop” sounds. Henri bashed out false intros until he considered we were lively enough and when the kit was fixed they launched into an anthemic I Love LA which appeared to have the entire hall singing along. I think the band may have loved us a little bit more for this, it was a special moment and highlight. These antics served to distract from the technical repairs and keep the show rolling on without disrupting the mood and energy of the set, great improvisation.


This was a show so immersive and spellbinding that I totally forgot everything outside of the gig, it was incredible. They connected strongly with an audience who were going bonkers for them, moshing and singing back the words. Recent singles Hollywood Ending and She Gets Around are welcome additions to the set as a handful of newer songs I do not yet know the titles of. Starcrawler are seemingly constantly touring so it’s good to know they are also finding the time for new songs and perhaps a new album is not far off. The production on She Gets Around in particular is the closest yet to capturing their live energy and sound. Of course regular set favourites such as Ants, Pussy Tower, Train and Chicken Woman remain too and made for a blistering set of an hour or so that will live long in the memory. At the end Arrow disappeared via the audience’s hands and Henri plucked an audience member to finish the set with his guitar.


I saw an Outline colleague after the show and was keen to see if they had won him over. His expression concerned me for the briefest moment until he revealed he’d just bought a t-shirt!

At the end of the gig there was a lot of interest in the merch table, when the band themselves appeared there was a queue for merch, handshakes, selfies and signatures that one rarely sees.  I’d bought all my record sleeves with me to be signed and they happily signed all of them. Henri jokingly asked if I was putting them on ebay but actually the truth is more like the opposite as having thought I’d bagged one of the extremely limited edition runs of the album on pre-order some time ago I was horrified when it got lost in the post. Rough Trade readily replaced it but of course the limited edition copies had all gone by then so I had to source one on discogs for considerably more than I’d already paid. It turned into by far the most expensive album purchase I have ever made but I don’t begrudge it, I really wanted to have a copy as I love this band so much.


It was so good to chat with them all and basically just thank them for some of my all-time favourite gigs … and to plead with them to come back here again, obviously. I think they enjoyed themselves and remarked on the special energy of the place. A lot of that is down to them too of course but Norwich and Starcrawler do seem to really connect.


Outline review here.


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Starcrawler + Plague Vendor @ The Dome, Tufnell Park, London 26 June 2019

I couldn’t resist the opportunity to catch an extra helping of Starcrawler, one of my favourite bands, and so it was another away-day gig, this time to The Dome in London’s Tufnell Park. When looking for a bite to eat I actually bumped into the band beforehand and Henri was singing the praises of support band Plague Vendor, now I may have another new band to cherish.  I quickly understood why Henri was raving about them when they opened the evening. These fellow Californians have something of a Dead Kennedys and even Rage Against the Machine vibe and energy going on, at least it seemed so in the chaos down at the front. The crowd loved them. Really looking forward to seeing them in Norwich when they support Starcrawler again for PRB Presents on Sunday.


plague vendor

Plague Vendor

plague vendor

Plague Vendor

The Dome has a capacity of about 500 or so, a nice size and with a decent atmosphere. The stage is reasonably high which means the sightlines are good and it also meant my ears were in line with Henri’s amps and got the full effect of these massive guitar chords. There was a good, mixed crowd here singing along to the likes of I Love L.A. and things soon went nuts down the front for Starcrawler, London really let loose this time and it was more like those legendary Norwich gigs with the lively crowds.



The first few songs were like explosions, the band peppering us with fast musical bullets, it was probably five songs into the set before we had a song even nearing two minutes in length but they came too.  Arrow, in a red-stained white gown, Carrie-esque, was as compelling to watch as ever and the band sounded huge. Lots of new songs in the set which is longer than before … we even had an encore! Starcrawler always put on a show, great songs, energy, power and a bit of that rare commodity, unpredictability. Starcrawler shows are exhilarating and they appeal to a huge range of ages.

Can’t wait to see them back at Norwich Arts Centre on Sunday, before that though they play Manchester, Leeds and Glastonbury (as warm-ups?!)  Don’t miss Plague Vendor if you’re going, they are well worth catching and will also liven up a Sunday night.


Starcrawler are a truly original young band from the city of Los Angeles. Led by their nineteen year old frontwoman Arrow de Wilde, their take on dark and heavy rock & roll both recorded and through their chaotic live shows, brings such music into the 21st century as an almost transgressive form of pop.


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The Wash + Phoebe Troup @ Warwick St Live! 22 June 2019

Warwick St Live! at the Warwick St Social in the heart of the city’s Golden Triangle seems to go from strength to strength as a music venue with sessions happening every Saturday afternoon as well as some bank holiday specials and weekenders with an outside stage for use when the weather is good. I was flattered to be invited once again to curate a Saturday session and once again felt so honored and humbled when two of my favourites both kindly agreed to play for me.

It was about a year ago when Phoebe Troup played Sofar Sounds in what was to be her last Norwich gig for quite a while as she did some travelling. Recently however, to my joy she reappeared and as soon as I saw her I invited her to be one of my recommendations for my Warwick St “Shashamane Recommends” session. I’d been looking forward to this in the couple of months since. She has been playing a few sets recently too, some with her friend Billy Lubach (including both here and at Shane’s Shenanigans on the same day). There was talk he might be joining her with his violin but it seems he was unavailable. Phoebe has a beautiful playing style and a lovely, expressive voice, both of which I love, but from the first moment I heard her I was powerfully struck by her exceptional songwriting. Her storytelling and honest lyrics really drew me in following the stories closely and this happens again with every new one of hers I hear. Current favourite of mine Sitting on the Doorstep was joined by another new one previewed here. I’m always captivated when listening to Phoebe. It was no big surprise to learn some years back that she was on the Creative Writing course as it shows in her writing which is vividly descriptive, clever, poetic and often very witty too. I’m very excited that Phoebe is currently recording her first album and eventually I’ll be able to hear these songs whenever I wish.

Phoebe Troup

Phoebe Troup

The Wash are a fascinating band. I’ve seen them numerous times but no two sets have been anywhere near the same, in fact even the line-up changes dramatically from gig to gig. It’s impossible to know what to expect or even who to expect and that is a part of their appeal. I had little inkling who would be joining Dave Indge, Shane O’Linski, Tom Conway and Oskari Kuusela for this one. As it turned out they had several surprise guest vocalists including Elena, the other-wordly singing style of Sam (it almost sounded like he was singing backwards at times), and Akemi, as well as fellow Yellowhammer Morris who was playing drum machine and various wizardry and Akemi also provided percussion. It was a towering performance of a set which was beautifully hypnotic, spellbinding and unique. It was quite a treat to experience. On one stage was a band featuring members of Bavarien Rocket Groop, Yellowhammers, Vicars of Stiffkey, Maximalist Banquet, Olinski Onsomble as well as musicians often heard solo, such as Tom Conway, Elena Traina and Sam. A magical performance, made all the more special as it’s most unlikely it will ever happen again, their next show will be something different once more. An underground supergroup and we all enjoyed being in the overground daylight for once!

the wash

the wash

the washthe washthe wash

the wash

the wash

Photograph by Jo.

the wash

Photograph by Jo.

the wash

Photograph by Jo.

Thanks to Phoebe Troup and The Wash, you cannot imagine how good it felt to have you play these sets.

Phoebe Troup

Thanks to Jo for the photo.

the wash

Thanks to Jo for the photo.

S.O. Steve is currently on festival duties but he’ll be back in a couple of weeks, meanwhile the Warwick St Live Saturday sessions continue as normal but this coming weekend there is a summer party with live bands from 3-8pm on both Saturday and Sunday. It’s a nice bright and airy venue with an outdoor stage, or a space inside for the music if the weather is not so good. Just please can that TV screen be switched off when bands are performing? It’s a bit distracting.

warwick st live

“Phoebe is one of my absolute faves and her songwriting is simply outstanding. Think heartfelt, emotional and expressive songs that you could easily imagine overhearing coming from some record on an Appalachian mountainside turntable, songs that could inspire the Carter Family. Yes, that good! I have loved her music for years and am extremely proud that she has agreed to play for me on her return to the city. Phoebe is a gem!

The Wash are never the same at any two gigs and that is part of what I love about them. Some of the city’s finest and best underground musicians (only “underground” because not enough people have yet found them) forming an alternative Norwich supergroup. This is a very rare chance to catch them all in full-band format. Sometimes they sound like early-1980s Cure in “Carnage Visors” soundtrack mode, other times they are all-acoustic and something altogether different. I am happy to let them decide what they’ll bring to the Warwick St Social. Open your mind and your ears and expect the unexpected. I fell in love with their soundtrack-y atmosphere the first time I heard them and they have changed and evolved on each subsequent hearing. This will be quite a treat.

Thank you to Phoebe Troup and The Wash, it is an honor to have you play my session, you are both big favourites of mine and I am so proud and grateful.”


The previous evening I was at the Rumsey Wells who were hosting an acoustic set by Yve Mary B. It felt like a while since I’d seen Yve so I was keen to see her and chose this one for the Solstice gig meeting place. Alas, being a Friday there was a rather raucous group of diners close by who were seemingly oblivious that one of the county’s best was playing in the corner. In order to hear her we all had to edge closer and then all was OK.  About half way through the evening a few more friends walked in, one of whom was Noel Dashwood and Yve invited him to play or song or two, which he did, playing a couple of Dumbfoundus set favourites. “I’m in a folk group now, I don’t often get to play these songs!” before delivering a wonderful Mad World.

The noisy diners now departed this was turning into a magical evening with a number of the Norwich musical community gravitating here. As the sky slowly got darker at the end of the longest day I suddenly realised that it was edging towards midnight. By the time she had finished Yve had been playing for over three and a half hours!  It certainly didn’t feel like that though, it was a beautiful pleasure to hear her perform. Oh, and thank you, Yve, for playing Tulsa Queen for me.

Yve Mary B


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Clare Grogan’s Altered Images + Pin Ups @ Epic Studios 22 June 2019

It was in May of 1982 that having recently turned 18 cycled to the UEA and first saw Altered Images. Now, after a whopping 37 year gap I’m cycling to Epic and seeing them again, albeit with only Clare remaining from the original band and now working under the moniker of Clare Grogan’s Altered Images (though she is married to one of the members of that first line-up). I loved them to bits (and so did John Peel), they were the first band I met after an LCR gig and I was struck at the time at how friendly they all were. Clare especially was incredibly generous with her time and cheerfully signed everthing I had with me. Once again I was hoping there would be an opportunity to say hello here at Epic Studios and so I hopefully brought with me all the record sleeves of those classic Epic label recordings.

altered images uea gig ticket

My ticket from Altered Images’ 1982 LCR gig.

To open the evening though we had Pin Ups, a Norwich-London trio who seemed to come out of nowhere last year and are creating a bit of a buzz. They’re tight, bold, confident and powerful with strong songs and great energy. They revelled on the big stage at Epic, the sound was superb and they gained a lot of new admirers. Their next gig is a Norwich Arts Centre Regeneration fundraiser alongside Hex Friends and Wreck on 28 June, obviously at the NAC.

Pin Ups

Pin Ups

Pin Ups

Pin Ups

Pin Ups were almost certainly the youngest people in the studio and looking around I could not help feeling I was the exact average audience member in terms of age, this was, on the whole, a very specific demographic and there is absolutely nothing wrong in that. The crowd loved Pin Ups but were now excitedly getting ready for Clare Grogan’s Altered Images, and I must admit I was looking forward to it hugely too, and had been ever since the legend that is Rick Lennox announced this gig some months ago.

Clare Grogan's Altered Images

The atmosphere at this gig was just wonderful, I was beaming throughout and Clare’s warmth just shone through. In front of an illuminated pinky-blue backdrop the set started so strongly with I Could Be Happy and we very obviously all were happy.  After a couple of songs Clare confessed to us that she had lost her father three weeks earlier and that this was her “first gig as an orphan” after a difficult few weeks and if ever there was a sense of a huge, collective and spontaneous, heartfelt audience hug for a performer this was it. The sincere love and affection was palpable and Clare gratefully received it as this seemed to give her even more strength.

Clare Grogan's Altered Images

The hits kept on coming with Don’t Talk to Me About Love, See Those Eyes, Bring Me Closer and of course the song that Altered Images will always be identified with, the bouncy Happy Birthday (“The song that keeps on giving!” I get the sense she has fallen back in love with this song as she recognises how much it has helped her with its movie appearances over the years) and was such a celebratory way to end the set. The crowd were not going to let the night end yet of course and the set really did close beautifully with an encore of Love to Stay.

Clare Grogan's Altered Images

The band are excellent, extremely good, and there is an obvious cameraderie between them all. This was just such an enjoyable gig. Clare was engaging, funny, warm and every bit as charming and lovely as I remembered her from that 1982 Norwich gig. We’ve all gotten older and so we had stories of life and its trials but always done with humour and charm … and even some expletives, Clare and the audience clearly have a bond but she strengthened it every time she spoke with her openness, honesty, wit and warmth as she charmed and delighted us.

As well as the classic hits we also had the sometimes overlooked later songs from Bite and it is easy to forget how good they are but this was a timely reminder. They sounded superb here, given a bit of a funky disco treatment on Bring Me Closer but my undoubted highlights were a couple of early personal favourites. Insects and Dead Pop Stars, which was accompanied by a little film on the screens.  There was always a little bit of darkness just beneath the surface of Altered Images, deliciously so, and nothing demonstrates that better than these two songs. The punkiest songs of the set and the closest to the Banshees, though my friend Shane O’Linski did observe after Happy Birthday that it could be a cousin of Siouxsie’s Hong Kong Garden. I’d never thought of that before but he is absolutely right. There were some newer songs too plus a couple of unexpected covers. Taylor Swift’s Shake It Off – “Don’t anyone groan at the mention of her name, my daughter played this and I thought it quite punky in attitude” – and The Ting Tings’ That’s Not My Name.

Clare Grogan's Altered Images

Clare Grogan's Altered Images

Shortly after the gig ended Clare was back out again to sign merch. I already own all the records but bought them with me just in case. I was so pleased to be able to say hello to her again and she happily signed all six record covers for me. Many thanks Clare! And thank you so much to Rick Lennox too who was even kind enough to snap a photo of us together.

clare grogan

Clare Grogan is one of those people that we feel we have grown up with, she shared our love of Siouxsie and the Banshees, delighted us with Altered Images and of course she also has a successful acting career with roles in Gregory’s Girl, as Kristine Kochanski in Red Dwarf plus further roles in Blott on the Landscape, Father Ted, EastEnders et al. She’s in big demand on the 80s festival circuit but it was a treat indeed to see her in her own headline show with an extended set that went further than the most famous singles and included many lesser-known favourites and a new song. She and the band put on an impressive, various and enjoyable show. Post-punk, disco and pop, this had me smiling throughout.

Clare Grogan's Altered Images


This was such a fun gig, genuinely uplifting musical escapism and I want to do it all again. My reflections on it might be a bit wordy when it could all really be summed up perfectly well with just one simple word. JOYOUS!

“The Singer and Actress CLARE GROGAN started her 30 year long career as a schoolgirl Popstar in her band ALTERED IMAGES.
By day she was studying for her A Levels and at night she was touring with SIOUXSIE AND THE BANSHEES, playing festivals alongside ECHO AND THE BUNNYMEN, THE HUMAN LEAGUE, U2 and recording sessions for legendary DJ, JOHN PEEL.

The band were signed to Epic Records in 1981 the same year CLARE appeared in the BAFTA winning comedy GREGORY’S GIRL. CLARE never got to finish her exams –
she wasn’t too upset!

ALTERED IMAGES quickly had worldwide success, selling millions of records, which topped the charts in several countries. They recorded 3 Top 10 Albums – HAPPY BIRTHDAY, PINKY BLUE and BITE. They had 6 Top Ten Singles working with world famous producers – MARTIN RUSHENT, TONY VISCONTI and MIKE CHAPMAN. They were voted BEST NEW GROUP at the NME awards the same year they were invited to play at THE ROYAL COMMAND PERFORMANCE.

After an eighteen-year gap in performing with ALTERED IMAGES, Clare has been persuaded to sing their hits again and continues to play in front of huge and enthusiastic

ALTERED IMAGES have an array of artistes who happily describe themselves as fans, from FLORENCE AND THE MACHINE to THE FOO FIGHTERS. Their hit song HAPPY BIRTHDAY has been covered by COURTNEY LOVE, THE TING TINGS, THE WEDDING PRESENT to name but a few. Their songs constantly turn up in the soundtracks to movies and adverts and Clare recently performed on stage with hit band of the moment, THE DRUMS, who described her as ‘their favourite pop idol’.
For the past 30 years Clare has worked extensively in Film, Television, Theatre and Radio and Radio Drama. Appearing as a presenter on BBC6 MUSIC, BBC London Radio, BBC SCOTLAND, STV, SKY 1, VH1, THE ONE SHOW, SCOTLAND’S GREATEST ALBUM and more. She was a finalist in this year’s LET’S DANCE for Comic Relief. She has had roles in some of the UK’s best-loved TV shows, EASTENDERS, RED DWARF, FATHER TED, TAGGART, SEA OF SOULS. Her film credits include, GREGORY’S GIRL, COMFORT AND JOY, JILTING JO, THE PENALTY KING, THE SMALLEST GAME IN TOWN. The Award winning playwrite RUSSELL BARR wrote the part of Scrachett with her in mind in his play VANTASTIC which she performed last year in London. Over the years she has contributed to various Magazines including The Word, Red and Preview. And her debut novel TALLULAH AND THE TEENSTARS reached No 2 in the Waterstone Children’s Book Chart.
Clare is enormously proud of her role as patron of the British Association of Adoption and Fostering (BAAF) and speaks regularly on the subject to help high light the plight of children in care who are desperate for parents.
Clare can be seen next on TV as the wayward mum of lead character Mimi in Channel 4’s new series of SKINS. She is currently filming, The Wee Man, a film that tells the true story of Glasgow Gangster Paul Ferris. Following that, she will be at the Kings Theatre in Glasgow in the UK’s biggest and most traditional Panto playing Carabosse in Sleeping Beauty. And of course, once again she will be putting her band together in the New Year to play ALTERED IMAGES Greatest Hits.”


Big thanks to Clare, Rick and Epic.


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Meat Puppets + Munky + Bleedin’ Noses @ NAC 19 June 2019

Those who headed out to the Arts Centre on a grimly damp June evening were repaid handsomely with a gig that scaled the heights of greatness from headliners Meat Puppets on what, I believe, was there first appearance in Norwich.


It was only a few minutes past 8pm when I arrived but already Bleedin’ Noses appeared to be closing what I hope and assume was their first number. There was a lot of music to be crammed in tonight. I’d heard them described as “speed banjo” which didn’t exactly fill me with hope but they are so much more than that and their set on the NAC was superb and a lot more electric than I’d been expecting. Great passion, energy and connection with the audience, whom they quickly won over. This most enjoyable set passed by quickly in a blur of great guitars, keys and drums. This band from south Wales play a blend of folk and country with a big dose of punk rock. Playing as a five piece they are usually apparently a six-piece so it would be interesting to hear them again with their bassist. A wonderful surprise and a bonus discovery, I enjoyed them a lot and heard many complimentary comments about them too.

bleedin' noses

The turnaround for the next band was barely ten minutes and I’m not sure I was ready for Dublin’s Munky which probably explains why I was not really enjoying their indie-funk and the snare was doing my head in. Not my thing or not in the mood so soon, I wanted a breather  before the main event of the evening and so joined friends who were smoking outside in the drizzle.


With already two sets played before Arizona’s Meat Puppets were due onstage at 9:40pm after another quick turnaround the hall was nicely full without feeling too rammed. My favourite NAC scenario. It was interesting chatting to a few people as we excitedly awaited them, this was very evidently one of those gigs that really meant something to a lot of people. It meant a lot. Sure, some present may have been introduced to them via Nirvana’s Unplugged session where the two bands performed Meat Puppets originals Oh Me, Lake of Fire and Plateau together (and they played all three of those here tonight) but most of the fans were clearly diehard and passionate Meatheads familiar with the back catalogue.

Over the course of 100 mighty minutes or more Meat Puppets played a powerful and very varied set spanning their near 40 year (on and off) career taking in rock, grunge, country, psych, prog, punk, with some Neil Young and even jazz influences. It was a delicious melting pot every bit as impressive as it was enjoyable.

meat puppets

I only have a couple of Meat Puppets albums in my collection but this gig struck home just what I have been missing, they were, quite simply, phenomenal. In a set of well over an hour and half the quality didn’t dip for a second. A few jokes aside there was not much chat, just a stage full of amazing musicians performing outstanding songs, letting the music do the talking, and quite clearly enjoying themselves doing it. The audience were spellbound throughout in what felt an extremely special show.

meat puppets

Towards the end of the set they played an epic ten minute, immense version of Lake of Fire, midway through the song tearing it apart and exploding into a psych-out jam which was quite something to experience.

meat puppets

Several times I heard people say “I can’t believe I’m seeing the Meat Puppets! And in Norwich!” People who were in this same venue to see Nirvana some thirty years ago rightly still talk about that gig. Those here for Meat Puppets will also remember this one for a long, long time. One of the truly outstanding gigs in Norwich Arts Centre’s rich history that will surely go down as a classic. I’ve seen some gems this year but this is undoubtedly the best so far (setting the bar very high ahead of Starcrawler‘s visit next week!) Quite appropriate that this was in a church were the very mixed audience congregated audience and were quietly and respectfully worshipping some absolute masters and musical wizards. It was a wonderful and almost spiritual experience, all the more so for it being at NAC. Sterling work from the sound crew too.


Over the past few days I’ve been listening a lot to their latest album, Dusty Notes, which is a fine record with some excellent songs on, especially Warranty and the title track itself.

“We are super psyched to announce that for the first time in over 20 years…..

The original line up of the legendary Meat Puppets are back together and playing at Norwich Artscentre on the 19th June 2019.

Legendary Arizona alt-rockers Meat Puppets returned with their first new album since 2013, and their first featuring their original lineup intact since 1995. Though brothers Curt and Cris Kirkwood reunited in 2006 and have toured and recorded together since then, the band’s original drummer, Derrick Bostrom, has not recorded with the band since 1995’s No Joke! The original Meat Puppets first reunited for a performance at the Arizona Music & Entertainment Hall of Fame in 2017, and subsequently began work on a new full-length. Now Dusty Notes, their 15th studio album, is due out March 8 on Megaforce Records. Also joined by Keyboardist Ron Stabinsky and Curt’s son Elmo (guitar).”


On Thursday, with ears still ringing and not being able to see much due to eye drops at an NNUH Eye Clinic visit for a morning appointment, my senses temporarily blurred I immersed myself in the memories of this special evening. Big thanks to Norwich Arts Centre for this precious gig.  The 40/40 Regeneration campaign continues and there will be a music quiz fundraiser from Tilting Sky on Monday.


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PRB Presents: Guadalupe Plata + Beast With a Gun @ NAC 15 June 2019

The third consecutive gig night of the week meant I was feeling a tad weary but also excited to see Guadalupe Plata back in Norwich again. They played an unforgettable gig for Punk Rock Blues in a Jug Jaw’s Beat Club night at Bedfords Crypt about three years back (Boy do we miss those nights!)  They also played Red Rooster a couple of years ago but seeing a favourite band at the NAC is always special, especially when it was announced that the mighty Beast With a Gun were supporting.

Beast With a Gun

At first it didn’t seem like it was going to be a particularly large gathering but suddenly, from out of nowhere, the place just suddenly filled up. I think it’s these light evenings that are throwing our gig clocks out of whack.

Beast With a Gun

However, walking into a very dark hall just as Beast With a Gun took the stage was quite exciting, I’m used to seeing them in tiny underground spaces but wherever they play they always deliver. Here they were loud, fresh, funny and very much on form. I enjoyed the set immensely. You can get hold of their recent EP here.

At about 9:30pm it was time for Guadalupe Plata but it was still light outside! No worries, they soon brought the darkness.  Red stage lighting isn’t usually my favourite but in the case of trio Guadalupe Plata I don’t think anything else would do to accompany their demonic form of brooding gothabilly which has a cinematic quality to it at times.  The guitar, drums and bass (washtub bass and cigar-box bass!) create a powerful and ominous sound which is quite hypnotic and compelling.  Some of these songs would be perfect in soundtracks.

Guadalupe Plata

Watching them was fascinating, just three of them with the drum kit right up front. The bassist Paco started on washtub whilst sat on a flight case … he almost looked like he was fishing into the very depths of Hell itself. Then later moving onto the cigar box bass and getting the most incredible tones before mid-song perfectly catching a maraca tossed over from the drummer Carlos and shaking it vigorously into the mic as singer-guitarist Perico continued his vocals. I think most of us absolutely loved them. The audience was an interesting mix with just about everyone who was at that Jug Jaw’s gig in the Crypt also back again, plus those who heard through word of mouth, Beast With a Gun fans, and those simply curious from the descriptions, and who wouldn’t be? Washtub bass, electric guitar, drums, cowbells, maracas in some dark and demonic rockabilly, psychobilly punk blues but also with the essence of Spain itself. Fascinating stuff.

Guadalupe Plata

Guadalupe PlataGuadalupe Plata

Wonderful band and absolutely lovely people too. I came away with yet another vinyl album I can ill-afford but I don’t regret it after one of my most enjoyable gigs of the year. Seeing me with the vinyl, Perico came over and shook my hand, we had a brief chat and he explained the previous day they had “lost” a guitar and had to hastily find a replacement but he just shrugged and said: “Hey, that’s rock ‘n’ roll!” Rock ‘n’ roll indeed, this was a great night.

Guadalupe Plata + Beast with a Gun

Saturday 15 June 2019


“Guadalupe Plata” (2018/19) is, in the group’s own words, “a new attempt to go further and beyond, in our crusade for regression and the idea of creating our own personal “Gris Gris”” – the record that dominated the tour van on their last tour of the UK. “Our idea was to get closer to the ceremonial, the sacred and the ritual sounds of our country from one end to the other, the different folk musics, the music that is made in backyards with whatever instruments come to hand, or to accompany the various ritual “fiestas” that take place all over Spain” – some deriving from or referring to Catholic rite, many clearly pre-christian, or unchristian. “So we chose to delve into the sound of the wash tub as the main bass sound, a drum amplified by the minimum number of mics so that it would sound as natural as possible and an electric guitar plugged directly into an amplifier, no intermediaries that would disturb the peace in the monastery. We dared to add some new instruments to the mix in some songs, such as a bottle of anise, a beat-up bandurria and some sounds made by old doors, in order to add a little bit of flavour of deep Spain”. All these rustic elements, an old harmony guitar, stinking of incense, bottles of anise, the omnipresent bass wash tub, the spectral sounding drums, are in stark contrast with the huge plasma screen tv where they plugged the Nintendo Switch during the recording recesses.

The record was written, recorded and mixed through 3 weeks and a half between April and July of 2018 in La Mina (Sevilla), unusually for Guadalupe Plata. Compared with the previous 4 albums, which just required 3 or 4 recording days, this new album took weeks. Mostly because it was written there, on the hoof, getting carried along in the moment. But also, the possibility of adding sounds, as the grinding doors, made the recording longer than expected. I remember, during the third week of recording, calling Mark Kitcatt, chief of Everlasting Records, to tell him that everything was going great but that we needed a couple of extra days. He asked “if we thought we were My Bloody Valentine”. I didn’t quite understand but I laughed nervously. Just as well, on the 25th of July I got a text from the producer, Raúl Pérez, saying: “I’ve neutered the last 10 arrangements Perico (guitars, voice) wanted to add. we just finished the album”.

The final result is 12 songs where you can find the classic Guadalupe Plata sound but also their immersion into other wastelands such as corraleras, clueca, waltz and secret rhythms. there are also two remarkable homages: one to their patron saint, Screamin’ Jay Hawkins (“Oigo Voces”), and the other to an old friend from Úbeda, “Corral”, to whom at last they fulfill their promise of dedicating a song with the lyrics he suggested: “Corral, corral, why do you scare girls? Don’t know, don’t know”.

If we were to compare this new record with their previous album, at first sight, we could find a couple of common denominators: again, we recorded it at La Mina studios, even though we warned Raúl that we never record twice in the same studio; we ended up nostalgic for his swimming pool and the Cuban food served at the cantina where the studio is placed. Also, we returned to our connection with Chile, through Sebas Orellana from La Big Rabia leading an immersion into his country’s folklore in “Lo mataron”, adaptation of a traditional song (“El afuerino”), that Roberto Parra (1921-1995, Violeta Parra’s brother) made popular.

The cover, made by Paloma Almagro and Pedro De Dios, is an acrylic painting whose style is inspired in Mexican votive offerings (“ofrendas votivas”). In it, the band recall a visit to the “Pantano del Tranco”, the Tranco Swamp, in Jaén, to eat, celebrate the end of the recording and mastering sessions, and pass the afternoon of September the 12th with some friends, and the decisive help given by the patron Saint of Úbeda, the virgin Guadalupe, in preventing the theft of their instruments by some demons while the members of the band were out in the middle of the swamp, on a pedal boat excursion (the video accompanying the first single “Corraleras de veneno”, by the Mexican design studio Pneuma, goes deeper into this remarkable event).

I’d like to finish with the first conversation I had with Paco Luis Martos (bass, guitars) when we just got to La Mina, as typical of Guadalupe Plata as the other elements already detailed. “So, Toni, Why have you come to the studio?”, he asked. “So you wouldn’t ask me why I haven’t”, I told him.

Toni Anguiano, Guadalupe Plata’s manager”



Posted in Beast With a Gun, Best gigs, live music and dance, Norwich Arts Centre, punk rock blues | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Hempolics @ NAC 14 June + Shane’s Shenanigans @ The Reindeer 13 June 2019

Thursday night was this month’s Shane’s Musical Shenanigans at The Reindeer, one of my favourite regular events in the city. This month was doubling up as the album launch for Yellowhammers who were headlining.

Shane had already just started when I arrived, performing with a number of his friends as the Olinski Ornitholigist Onsomble, he and the band were on fine form.

olinski onsombleolinski onsomble

Next on were another of the new names on the Norwich musical scene playing just their second gig but my first time seeing Floral Image.  I was quickly won over and convinced that they are onto something with a lovely, dreamy psychedelic sound inhabiting a world somewhere inbetween The Doors and Air. Very impressive, assured and promising set from these guys who I shall definitely look out for again, they are ones to watch.

floral imageFloral Image

Next was a relatively rare gig from Lucille and the Seals, although they did recently play a support slot at the Birdcage that unfortunately clashed with my heading to Cambridge to see the amazing Aldous Harding, an artist I was not at all surprised to discover is also a favourite of Lizzy’s, during a brief chat after the set. It was lovely stuff as always from Lucille and the Seals and I enjoyed seeing them again.

Yellowhammers delivered a strong and interesting set once again and I had no hesitation in picking up a copy of the new album, getting mine on cassette no less.



Shane’s monthly shenanigans featuring Yellowhammers album launch. A psych-art-rock explosion of avian proportions with support from:
Floral Image: inordinately accomplished psych-indie newcomers who have already garnered BBC Radio 1 airplay with their debut single and are set to besot Norwich over the coming months.
Lucille and the Seals: ethereal dream pop with an alt-country edge featuring former Organisms Lizzy Burt and Joe Quinn.
Olinski Onsomble: Shane O’Linski‘s unfathomable genius in action.

A marvelous event not to be missed.


Shane O'Linski

The Hempolics are a great band with strong Norwich connections and sold out their last date at the NAC and also played a terrific set at the Forum last summer which went down a storm so it was a bit of a surprise to find the hall on Friday was not exactly full but that must be down to the massive number of gigs taking place on the same night. Nevertheless, there were plenty enough here to make an atmosphere and they all danced throughout. One of those lovely gigs which one could (and did) totally lose yourself in. I love this band and the deliciously laid-back vibe they create, everyone else here very obviously felt the same way.

The Hempolics

There’s a new album on the way, which I am pleased about as I had just about all the records on their merch table already. From the previews they gave us onstage it’s going to be a good ‘un.

“The Hempolics are the best band in the UK–but nobody knows it yet…’ – Maxi Jazz (Faithless)

‘Real vintage lofi reggae inspired soul music for the 21st century city scape people’ – DJ Vadim

‘Great summer vibes. Puts a smile on my face. And amazing live too!’ – Eliza Doolittle

‘The best thing I’ve heard in ages. Best new reggae band on the planet’ – Chris Hawkins, BBC6

The Hempolics are out to put those organic rootsy vibes back into music; with their fat radio-friendly hooks, bumping sound system bass and a wander lusty, ineffably real sound all of their own…

Over years of recording top international talent The Hempolics enigmatic leader, Grippa Laybourne, has been carefully honing his own masterpiece and selecting a gang armed and dangerous enough to execute it. Their debut single Serious on the Reggae Roast label caused an instant stir, hitting number one in the 2010 UK reggae charts and was playlisted on Massive Attack’s BBC takeover. Their latest releases have maintained success with a sync to the worldwide trailer for new Coen Brothers and George Clooney film ‘Hail, Caesar!’ and latest single Me Love To Sing has been playlisted by BBC6 Music with support from Steve Lamacq, Lauren Laverne, Rodigan & Don Letts.

With their amazingly eclectic forthcoming album sounding swelled by guest appearances from various international talents such as Maxi Jazz and Paolo Nutini – to name a few – The Hempolics have been brewing up a musical storm. The album entitled ‘Kiss, Cuddle & Torture Vol. 1’ has been recorded in back to basics fashion throughout the bedrooms and home studios of the band producing an infectious mash-up of Reggae, Electro, Hip-Hop, Dancehall, Rock and Pop. Although the weather out might be dull London-side it’s strictly sunshine vibes, resplendent with huge hooks and festival-friendly choruses.

Take your eye off The Hempolics at your peril. Ital business!”


It was a chilled out and healing end to an emotional day when our gig-amigo and good friend Adam had his funeral but this was the sort of gig he’d have enjoyed too. Rest easy, Adam.



Posted in Floral Image, Lucille, Lucille and the Seals, Norwich Arts Centre, O'Linski, Shane O' Linski, Shane's Shenanigans, Yellowhammers | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment