Norwich Sound and Vision 2015: Day 3 Roundup

By on Friday, 16th October 2015 at 2:00 pm
 

Following on from the first and second nights at Norwich Sound and Vision 2015, I felt sad when I awoke Saturday morning, knowing that in 24 hours’ time I would be on my way home. To try and take the edge off my impending return to the States, I had a nice brunch / afternoon tea at the Iron House, where a pot of tea and a very large and very nice gluten free slice of chocolate cake set me up well for the day. (I’m a massive foodie and in addition to my predilection for British bands and taking photos of them, you can check out the food and drink I’ve consumed on my travels on my Instagram.) With a full belly and needing to get up and walk so to not fall into a food-induced coma, it was time to head on down to a library of all places to partake in an afternoon of free shows. See if you can Spot the Chang in the photo below…


Cove Hithe, Dove and Boweevil and Emily Winng @ Norfolk and Norwich Millennium Library

Maybe it’s just me being a great observer of life, but it’s not uncommon for me to scan a crowd, my eyes settling on a person who reminds me of someone who is or has been in my life. When I arrived at the Millennium Library at the Forum to check out the local bands to perform, there was a beardy chap who looked oddly familiar to me…yes, he looked just like Edd Gibson of Friendly Fires, what are the odds? Fortuitiously, the man turned out to be the frontman and primary songwriter for Cove Hithe, a Suffolk folk band who were just about to start playing. The band, named after a now abandoned seaside town on the East Coast of South East England, have already received plaudits from BBC 6 Music’s resident folkies Mark Radcliffe and Tom Robinson, which makes me think they’ll be appearing at the annual summer Cambridge Folk Festival in short order.

Cove Hithe live at Norwich Sound and Vision 2015 2

The harmonies achieved between Ducker and multi-instrumentalist Till Pendered, playing drums and clapping his hands on this occasion, were divine, recalling Simon and Garfunkel at their folkiest, and the songs reminiscent of those by The Lilac Time. For most folk-focussed bands, it would be really easy (not to mention lazy) to assume that they have pretty narrow horizons. But listening to ‘The Great Deceiver’, which appears on Cove Hithe’s latest live EP, shows their talent to tapping into a darker, bluesier vein, which will prove interesting when they start working on a debut album. Ducker explained early on that their female violinist was unable to join them for this gig, so I expect that with her contribution, they’d sound even more amazing live. Keep an eye on this band.

Cove Hithe live at Norwich Sound and Vision 2015

Going on from folk tinged with occasional blues was a far more bluesier, roots rock act called Dove & Boweevil. Normally, a five-piece band, they chose to strip down to just two band members – vocalist Lauren Dove and guitarist Mark ‘Boweevil’ Howes – for the occasion. As an American born and bred, I find it both confusing and endearing how beloved blues is by people outside the United States. Growing up far from the Midwest and South and far from any true cowboy country, from where I come from in DC, wearing cowboy boots makes you, well, different.

Dove and Boweevil live at Norwich Sound and Vision 2015

For sure, Dove and Boweevil have gotten the roots rock thing down pat: if you weren’t aware that they were from this part of England and didn’t hear Dove speaking in between the songs, you’d think based on ‘Food for Love’ and ‘Lady Lavoo’, two standouts from their new album ‘This Life’, that they were actually from the Mississippi Delta. While their two-person operation at the library made for a more intimate show, I’m imagining an incredible spectacle on a grand scale when the full band makes a festival appearance.

Emily Winng, formerly of Norwich’s Sargasso Trio who graced the pages of Clash and NME back in the day, concluded the free afternoon of music at the Millennium Library. I had been warned that Ms. Winng was a bit saucy and used colourful language. I thought, hmm, this should be interesting, given how many children are in attendance at the moment! Then it was pointed out to me that Winng’s own daughter was somewhere in the crush of screaming, running around sprogs in front of me. Ha. Wearing a straw hat and all black, Winng struck a balance between country and western and blues.

Emily Winng live at Norwich Sound and Vision 2015

Winng shone brightest when she chose to stretch her potent voice, going beyond what one might expect for a woman playing an acoustic guitar. The most notable thing about her set this afternoon? Somehow, the Norwich Samba group had been called in to ‘duet’ (if you can call it that) with Winng and her band on their final number, ‘Love Song’. I can say for certain I’ve never seen a samba group and all their percussion join in with an indie artist live, and for the colourful spectacle that it was, it’s not an experience I will soon forget. (You can watch the performance below that was filmed by the bloke who was stood with his video camera directly beside me during Winng’s set.)

Daisy Victoria, Fossa and SuperGlu @ The Mash Tun

A short time later, it was time to get back and stuck into the more ‘traditional’ side of Norwich Sound and Vision 2015 programming. While I considered seeing Claws first at Norwich Arts Centre, after reading that they were yet another surf-y indie band and having seen so many like them in Norwich in the past 2 days already, I wanted a change of pace. German band The Picturebooks had to pull out of the festival due to an undisclosed medical emergency (looks like the drummer was in a motorcycle accident from this Facebook post), moving all the artists on the Mash Tun’s evening bill around.

That meant Daisy Victoria went on at 9 instead of 8:15, which I’m guessing helped in filling in the venue space. Daisy, from nearby countryside town Diss, first came onto our radar this summer during the promotion of her single ‘Pain of Dancers’, a great little glittery pop number. Although I think the comparisons of her to Kate Bush and PJ Harvey were inevitable, especially to the former based on Daisy’s love of vintage dresses and putting her hair up when she performs, it was quite intriguing to me that neither strong female artist of recent history had been a major influence to her.

Daisy Victoria live at Norwich Sound and Vision 2015

She’s got a song named ‘Heart Full of Beef’. Yes, you read that right. Daisy Victoria isn’t just a pretty face, she – along with her songwriting and performance partner and brother Sam – is out to do something novel, using her powerful voice, catchy melodies, and sometimes wonky yet imaginative guitar lines to create a truly unique sound. With BBC Introducing Norwich already behind her and her band, she’s such a refreshing discovery in a world populated with too many predictable female singers without any substance.

The music of London band Fossa is difficult to describe. I suppose you can call them soundscape-y like Mogwai, as they’re not straight indie, as they’re not pop in the conventional sense, but I wouldn’t class them as prog either. If you listen to their EP ‘Sea of Skies’, some of the instrumentation sounds like it’s been lifted from ’70s psychedelia (except less chill, such as on ‘Five Days’) or Talking Heads (‘Butterfly’). Sandwiched in between artists totally unlike them put Fossa in a difficult position, as they were neither as poppy as Daisy Victoria or had the spunk and craziness of Superglu, and their music presented a more difficult listen, definitely more than I think the average punter wanted on a Saturday night.

Fossa live at Norwich Sound and Vision 2015

Funnily enough, I had been tipped off about SuperGlu (note there is no ‘e’ on the end of their name) by a nice waitress who served me and an American friend at my favourite pub in Brighton when I was there in May for the Great Escape. I didn’t think too much of it, figuring that despite liking what I heard on SoundCloud, I’d never actually get a chance to see this band live. Yet by some divine providence, SuperGlu were given one of, if not the best slot of the whole festival in Norwich.

The four-piece from another neighbouring town Manningtree closed out the Mash Tun, and boy, did they end the festival on a high note. In extreme contrast to Fossa’s cerebral music, Superglu’s is all about having fun with your mates, shouting at the top of your lungs with their singalongs and bopping to the rhythms. Although I wasn’t familiar with their songs by name, it became quickly evident by the glee of the punters, dancing to the music and raising their hands and fists in solidarity, that this band had made a lasting impression on them. They lined up in droves after to buy merch, which is always a good barometer of success to come.

SuperGlu live at Norwich Sound and Vision 2015

After I returned to the States, something else weird happened: I got an invite from a promoter friend of mine in London who was putting on a show starring SuperGlu in November. Who’s not going to believe fate now? I might be wrong of course, but given all the ducks that lined up in a row, I think it’s more likely that 1) I was supposed to be in Norwich to see this band, and 2) they’re going to do very, very well.

And as if in a blink of an eye, that was it. My first experience with Norwich Sound and Vision was over. Though I walked home in the cold and was aware that after one more sleep in Norwich I would be going home, as I passed drunk, partying uni students reveling in their temporary freedom as uni students, I also felt an unusual sense of freedom, an enthusiastic one in myself. Having a great experience in Norwich, feeling the great creativity that exists in this part of the country, could only have a positive effect on my writing and my life going forward.

Thank you Norwich, and thank you friends old and new. You’re all wonderful. I hope I won’t be a stranger to you.

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