Tag Archives: Norwich Arts Centre

Things to see and hear: Norwich Sound & Vision 2013 Preview

9 Oct


It’s the most wonderful time of the year. No not Christmas, we’re talking about those three magical days in October when our fine city of Norwich is inundated with amazing bands and musicians for the annual Norwich Sound and Vision Festival. Last year we gave you all a little preview of the festival, highlighting some of the amazing acts that played and we thought, you know what, let’s do it again.

Before we get to that, here’s some official festival blurb from the people that write those kinds of things;

“NS&V works with inner-city venues, filling the days with thought-provoking conferences and cramming the nights with all your favourite bands (but you just don’t know them yet). NS&V is a place for companies, individuals, bands/musicians, record labels, filmmakers, gamemakers, writers – anyone with an interest in the music, film and multimedia industries – to network, reach new markets, forge new partnerships, learn, be inspired and have a great time in one of England’s most charming cities.

There is quite literally loads going on in the city over the next three days, we are going to focus on the gig side (which, like the festival as whole, is bigger and better than ever) but we urge you all to check out norwichsoundandvision.co.uk for full conference details, including details of a panel on copyright in music, how not to do an interview (we’ll be there to find out where we’ve been going wrong all these years), how not to make a music video and a panel on the relationship between music and football, which sounds like a must attend event to us.

Each day of the festival we will bring you a preview of the gigs that are happening that evening, what we recommend and what we are going to see. Or try to see we should say, as it is entirely likely that our plans will change as we run venue to venue like some haphazard, younger and (hopefully) cooler (and less chased by stocking-ed nurses) Benny Hill…

Or something…

From Benny Hill we become Frankie Howard as we give a little prologue (older readers should get that joke we hope) of all the gig going by stating that this looks to be the biggest and best NSV so far. There are more venues, more artists, more panels and yes, probably more running.

We’ll go into more detail each day but for now we will say that we fully intend to be seen at
The Birdcage for Abi Wade, George Ezra and Alto45; The Arts Centre for Superfood, Drenge, No Ceremony, Ghostpoet and Horse Party; the Hog and Armour for Pins and at Open for Ty.

On Saturday night of course, we are curating our own stage. Yes, you did read that right. We have our own stage at this year’s Sound and Vision and it’s an absolute cracker. At Olives (on Elm Hill for those of you who know the city) we will be hosting Curxes, Strangers and Waylayers for an austerity respecting £3 entrance fee (payable on the door) or totally free for NSV wristband wearers.

We are back each day to provide more detail as to what is happening, plus music and tracks to get you all excited. Think of it as gig foreplay. So check back tomorrow for Thursday’s preview, in the meantime you can check out more information on the Norwich Sound and Vision website.

‘V’ is for The Vestals

22 Feb

The Vestals

In ancient Roman religion, the Vestals or Vestal Virgins, were priestesses, goddesses whose College of the Vestals was regarded as fundamental to the security and success of Rome. The Vestals were freed of the usual social obligations in order to devote themselves to the study and correct observance of state rituals that were off-limits to the male colleges of priests.

We may not be in ancient Rome but the world has once again been blessed with the presence of The Vestals, albeit in the form of a five-piece indie-pop combo from South Wales. Once again though, they appear to have been freed of the usual social obligations of ceding to the constant demand for information and facts, devoting themselves instead to the music and letting that speak for the band.

So steadfast are they in this belief that singer Adam (no surname, ” you don’t need to know that, you just need to hear the songs” he says) will not yield, even during a face to face interview. ” We are not like, deliberately mysterious, but we just like to let the music do the talking” he reiterates when we sit down following a storming set at the Norwich Arts Centre. The band has been on tour with Pure Love and Turbogeist and, though you would presume they’d attract a very different kind of audience, their blend of energetic indie-pop has been going down a storm with Adam a young Morrissey/Brett Anderson hybrid at the front of the stage.

Even during a live performance they divulge no secrets to the crowd, performing in half light that makes it difficult to determine what they look like. It is the promo shot at the top of this article, with blurred faces, in real life. Aside from Adam, who will man the merch stand after the set, the band is able to walk by unnoticed. ”We are just comfortable playing with those kind of lights. We think they look nice. I don’t think it’s that important to see us; just the songs. The songs you can hear. It’s just the way we like it”.

What we do know is that the guys have been together since at least 2011 when they originally released “Perfect Pain” online, but they ”took it down after a week because it was moving a bit too fast for us”. Having come together originally just to record that song they have reworked it for release on 7” through Killing Moon Records as a double A-side with the equally wonderful “Seventeen”. We know too that the guys have been in bands before and, after a few shows last year, mostly around Wales, this is their first tour as The Vestals.

Live they perform with a controlled energy, you can’t quite tell if some of their rocking out moments have been coordinated or if they are occurring naturally but there is no question over the quality of their music. They specialise in a blend of melancholic yet rocking pop music, all infectious hooks and jump-along choruses that should be blasting out of bedrooms the length and breadth of the country.

That surely is in their future, a future they say they are happy to let come to them. “We spent last year recording a lot of music, so there is a lot of material ready to go” Adam tell us. ”We just take each step as it comes really so we are really excited for this single and then I am sure we will release more songs and play more shows, that’s the plan”. Which of course just adds to the mystery and intrigue. We don’t need to know about the future, just enjoy the music we have at the present, let’s not get ahead of ourselves.

Whatever the future holds, there certainly seems to be big things ahead for the band. Time will tell if they go down in legend like their ancient Roman namesakes.

The “Perfect Pain”/”Seventeen” AA side single is out now via Killing Moon Records and is available both digitally and on 7” vinyl.

Stalk The Vestals: Facebook / Twitter / Website / SoundCloud

Listen: Gabriel Bruce – “Cars Not Leaving”

24 Jan

11. Gabriel Bruce at Victoria Dalston 28.02.12

Should you happen to be in or around Norwich right now, do not fear should you hear a strangled cry in the distance, it is just us jumping up and down and singing (out of tune) loudly. Yes, Alphabet Towers is a-rockin right now and is all down to Gabriel Bruce who has just released “Cars Not Leaving”; a big pop-rock song that we fell head over heels for when we saw Gabriel use it to close his Norwich Arts Centre set, and one of the best we heard at all last year.

Back then he was grooving along with his backing singers like he was starring in his own private version of Footloose and it certainly evokes memories of that era. It has the overindulgence and pop swagger of “Absolute Beginners” era Bowie, and the feel-good bounce and sax of all the best John Hughes soundtracks. It’s a finger snapping, leg bopping gem of a tune.

With his deep gravel, you’d forgive Bruce for engaging in dark and foreboding melodrama but it is this big and colourful poppy, rocky, funky, soul sound that he excels at. He is a truly compelling live act and here he has captured the energy and excitement that engulfs his shows. Full of big organ, sax and piano sounds, “Cars Not Leaving” is also blessed with what promises to be one of the year’s most infectious choruses, “Hold on now, just hold on a minute. This car’s not leaving if you’re not in it”, so simple and yet so damn good.

We can’t wait for an album but this will more than keep us going in the meantime.

Photo Credit: Adam Shoesmith taken at The Victoria, Dalston, March 2012

Gig Review: Gabriel Bruce, Norwich Arts Centre 05/12/12

6 Dec

11. Gabriel Bruce at Victoria Dalston 28.02.12

Every once in a while you come across a performer or a sound that appears out of nowhere and leaves you reeling like a kick in the balls, if a kick in the balls can ever be an amazing and spectacular experience. Tonight we are experiencing the magnificence of Gabriel Bruce for the first time and both performance and sound are knocking us off our feet.

The start is an inauspicious one with a mic that seemingly doesn’t work and Gabriel left mute as his church-organ sounds drone underneath the emptiness. The problem fixed and we are given our first taste of his deep, granular baritone, like Leonard Cohen calling us in for prayer as the organ plays on then boom, from nowhere we have a big poppy sound and the first of many collective steps back in amazement are taken by the audience.

From then on it is wall to wall incredible as Gabriel and his drummer are joined on stage by a dedicated keyboard player and two backing singers, both of whom are dressed in black and who evoke memories of The Commitments as they dance out their simple but oh-so effective dance routines. Like much of Gabriel’s set, such minute details enhance the performance immeasurably.

The sound is vast. These big, brash songs that are ringing out are incredible. There is soul, there is funk, there are horns, big choruses; there is even the feeling that this could all be a John Hughes soundtrack. He sings like Bowie, Cave, Cohen and Tears for Fears all rolled into one and performs in a way that an in-his-pomp James Brown would struggle with.

An echo effect kicks in on the mic between tracks as Gabriel is regaling us, “I feel like God” he says as his earthquake of a voice reverberates around the Arts Centre. He may feel like God but at times he resembles an evangelical preacher stirring his congregation as he implores us to ‘love one an other’. It’s a wonderful sentiment but the love in the room right now is directed at him.

‘This is a disco number’ he tell us. It’s not, not really. Donna Summer wouldn’t ever have performed something like this but it is groovy and Gabriel needs no excuse to move. He is into the crowd quick-smart embarrassing the girls and boys in the audience as he sings and dances to them, before leaping back onstage and embracing his singers at waist height. Their ability to sing on while stifling laughter is commendable.

All the while we stare, dumbfounded by this magnificent beast before us, flailing and cavorting around on-stage and singing some of the most wondrous old school pop music. All too soon the set concludes with the infectious “Cars Not Leaving”, complete with Footloosey, Breakfast Cluby style dancing from Gabriel and his backing singers. The crowd wants more but it is not to be. Leave them wanting more the old adage goes, we were desperate for it.

Photo Credit: Adam Shoesmith taken at The Victoria, Dalston, March 2012

Gig Review: Delphic, Norwich Arts Centre – 25/10/12

27 Oct

Expectation can be a bitch sometimes. When heading out to see the band responsible for possibly your favourite album of the last three years, a band you’ve seen live and been blown away by before and the best small venue in the country, you expect to see something special. Without them even knowing, you are putting a truckload of pressure on the band to live up to your, probably, unrealistic expectations.

Tonight Delphic will take to the stage at the Norwich Arts Centre in front of an excited and expectant audience. It has been nearly three years since they last performed here, shortly after the release of their white-hot and near faultless indie dance debut, Acolyte. It was supposed to be just the beginning for the boys from Manchester, tipped by many (they placed third in the BBC Sound of 2010 poll and the Guardian named them on of their 10 bands to watch) but after touring the album they dropped off the radar for quite a while. After taking their time writing new material they are back and ready to share the fruits of their labours.

A hush descends on the crowd as the light dims and the band steps on stage, a few whoops and cheers burst forth as the first sort of new track, it was released in the summer as one of the official tracks of the Olympics, “Good Life” opens the set. “We Wait/We Wait/We Wait/We Wait” they sing, echoing the thoughts of the crowd, so grateful to have them back after so long. It’s a high energy opening with a track that will prove to be a bridge from the old to the new.

The band moves seamlessly on, urging us to dance with “Halcyon” before dropping the first new track proper and the first indication of their new sound. “Baiya” is a sexified funky track which, as with all the new songs, downplays the dance and brings in new elements from other genres. Here it is a bit of hip-hop and a tight, Peaches sort-of vibe. Soaring synths and uplifting choruses it may not have, but it goes hard and doesn’t feel out of place in the set.

They may have been away from us for so long, but they are sounding as tight as ever and the drum patterns are crisper than Gary Lineker’s wildest fantasy. Banter is kept to the barest of minimums, the odd thanks is about as far is it goes as they prefer to rattle on. Tracks from Acolyte are played with, blended into one another, given extended mixes or breakdowns and the crowd laps it up. The instantly recognisable introduction to “Doubt” is slowed to a near standstill, giving it a surprisingly dark, sci-fi edge, as if it were the soundtrack to Prometheus, before kicking back in and hitting maximum warp.

New tracks are dropped in at opportune moments and met warmly, each one varying in style from the last. There is more rock, more wailing guitar, more hip-hop, more urging to “move sucka, dance sucka”, more relaxation, less corporeal, less dance and less synths. The crowd nods, dances, bounces its approval. “Atlas”, appropriately, sounds huge. A vast sprawling song that lurches in a variety of directions, collecting sounds from each location and getting bigger as it goes. It’s breathtaking stuff.

The evening draws to its close as old favourites “Counterpoint” and “Acolyte” finishes the set to leave the crowd buzzing. The time away has not hurt Delphic, they may have chosen a new musical path but they have not sacrificed quality in doing so. Expectations have been met and instead we feel only excitement for the old and new and hope that we won’t need to wait quite so long for their return.

Delphic played:
“Good Life”
“Red Lights”
“This Momentary”
“Clarion Call”

Read More
Listen: Delphic – “Good Life” / Oh boy, this is good – Delphic Review