In December, folk favourite Beans On Toast broke with tradition slightly and instead of releasing a new album on his birthday, released a collection of well received children’s stories! Well, another tradition for Beans On Toast is touring and as per his latest single, that tradition is intact with the singer now ‘Back out on the Road’!
The road this evening leads to Norwich Arts Centre, a fantastic venue in the heart of the city and tonight is all but sold out. Early attendees are treated to a delicate and delightful opening performance from Ann Liu Cannon. You could hear a pin drop as the crowd absorb the tender words of a talented young songwriter.
BEANS ON TOAST
Soon enough it’s time for Beans On Toast to take to a stage complete with new backdrop, lighting and a table! Yes, Beans has gone big for this tour and even has a loose setlist written on the table.
The loveably unpredictable nature of a typical Beans show remains however with the singer regularly going off-piste with audience requests and stories from the road. Beans has always impressed with his ability to improvise and tonight he deals with some rather inebriated fans with veteran aplomb.
As for that setlist, there is a good mixture of old and new as you’d expect from a musician constantly churning out topical content. New songs include anti-war protests, odes to fabled venues and considerations of an AI future. The packed crowd hang off of every word and note, as Beans On Toast demonstrates his natural ability to hold an audience’s attention.
Old favourites are present too with the likes of ‘The War on War’, ‘The Chicken Song’ and set closer ‘On & On’ enticing some of the bigger sing-a-long moments. All in all, tonight is yet another successful show for a musician who has long since established himself as an underground national treasure!
Tonight is a sell out and anticipation is high for one of rocks brightest prospects as Nova Twins commence their UK Tour at the Waterfront in Norwich! This was already a hot ticket, but the added attention the band received at the Brits recently has raised the bar further.
Entering the venue, you know full well that this will likely be the last time Nova Twins are playing venues this small. A rocket has been strapped to their backs and rightly so, because they fitted it themselves. Everything coming their way has come from their own DIY ethics, their own creativity and their own natural talents.
Fittingly, the band has selected two more acts that fit that bill to open on this tour. Up first are Uninvited, who on their showing tonight will be invited to many more shows in the future. Not previously on our radar, they very much are now after an assured and intense opening set. Quickly winning the packed crowd over with their blistering pace, keep an eye on this band, we certainly will be!
Next up are a band further down their career path as it were. Opening slots with My Chemical Romance last summer may have placed Witch Fever on many people’s maps, but the group has been making a noise for a little while now with a steady stream of increasingly impressive singles.
Tonight, they are clearly playing to a crowd in the know and that creates a fantastic atmosphere as the band demonstrate the raw power that has been the base of their early work. The likes of ‘Bloodlust’, ‘Congregation’ and ‘Blessed Be Thy’ sound absolutely massive in this relatively small venue and you again would expect Witch Fever to be moving on to headlining these sized rooms in the near future.
Nova Twins have quickly established themselves on the scene through two very well received albums and a string of support slots and festival appearances. Having caught them play a number of these shorter sets, our main question tonight is how do the band translate over a full headline set. The answer, as was expected, is very well indeed!
Starting off with the likes of ‘Fire & Ice’ and ‘Cleopatra’, the band quickly asserts their ferocious energy on the stage. Audience participation comes naturally and at times it feels like the band and audience are in fact one with each other.
The likes of ‘Taxi’ and ‘Play Fair’ still go hard and the likes of ‘Sleep Paralysis’ simply leave you in awe of the majesty emanating from the stage. Even we opened this review by calling Nova Twins prospects, but that isn’t the case, no, this band are the present and they are ready to take over the world!
An encore of ‘Antagonist’, ‘Undertaker’ and ‘Choose Your Fighter’ is just the cherry on top of the cake. Tonight has shown the sheer quality of new rock acts out there at the moment, with all three bands clearly set for bigger things.
We’re fully embedded in the new year now, so it must be time for music fans to get back into the UK’s fine music venues. In fact we are close to the ever important, Independent Venue Week, so it’s great to start the year at one such venue – Epic Studios in Norwich.
The versatile venue can host events of all sorts but on this bitterly cold January evening, it hosts lots of denim and leather rockers as British Lion come to town!
The final night of a full UK Tour, the band led by the legendary Steve Harris of Iron Maiden, attract a very healthy crowd tonight. Those in attendance are treated to not one but two accomplished support acts with the first of those, Airforce, in full effect as most attendees enter the venue.
Musically very suitable to supporting a member of Maiden, Airforce make the most of their short time on stage with a succinct and vociferous performance which no doubt wins over any uninitiated in the audience.
Next up is Voodoo Six, a band that Maiden/Lion fans will be very familiar with. The band stepped in on short notice to fill the void left by Canadian group Coney Hatch being unable to fulfil the tour.
Disappointing for some, for others like myself, this was actually an upgrade. Voodoo Six have consistently put out quality music and put on great shows for two decades now. Numerous line-up changes haven’t prevented the band putting out six albums and playing shows all over the world.
Tonight, they are on top form once again with an assured performance, mixing tracks old and new, to the delight of the crowd. Perennially tipped for bigger things, perhaps that ship has sailed but the constant of quality music and great shows doesn’t appear to be going anywhere as Voodoo Six once again show themselves to be criminally underrated.
Finally the time arrives for British Lion to take to the stage and they naturally receive a hero’s welcome. It’s the last show of the tour but also a (close to) hometown show for a number of the members, so the atmosphere is relaxed and the band let the music do the bulk of the talking.
The group have two albums in the bank at this point and the set list is a good mix of the two. Harris and co are able to give a good account of themselves, with singer Richard Taylor even acknowledging the apparent identity crisis that the band often have thrust upon them by others.
Long since dispelled as a mere solo project for Harris, since their inception in 2012 the group has evolved and that’s evident tonight with the stage presence of Taylor as exhibit A. This is a package now and not a vessel for Harris alone.
That makes the spectacle greater as far as the live show goes and places more emphasis on the music as opposed to the “oh look there’s Steve Harris” feeling for their early shows. It’s great to see and will hopefully lead to greater longevity from the project.
As this tour draws to a close with ‘Eyes of the Young’, British Lion may take a step back to Iron Maiden once again, but with performances like tonight you know it won’t be long before the band are reunited onstage again.
Amber leaves lay sodden on the ground, there is a crisp chill in the autumnal air and there is an awful lot of black clothing amongst the excited crowds gathering at the UEA LCR door. Yes, whilst the ghouls and spooks are out guising across Norwich this All Hallows’ Eve, the city’s metal community are haunting its largest venue.
There are no tricks here this Halloween, just the treat of a hard hitting night of action from the double-headed monster that is the co-headlining Bury Tomorrow and August Burns Red, albeit with a re-jigged undercard.
Gone just days ahead of the tour are Miss May I, joining Thornhill in departing the tour originally booked some 3 years ago (we all know what has transpired in that time!). Jumping in on short notice however are Novelists FR who receive a warm welcome.
As they arrive onstage in a venue festively decorated with ghostly figures, the early crowd show that they are here for some fun tonight. The French latecomers are able to deliver just what is needed to warm everyone up for the barrage of noise that is set to follow.
AUGUST BURNS RED
Up next is August Burns Red, who instantly rile the audience up with a quick run-through of System of a Down classic ‘Chop Suey!’. Clearly the band have many fans in the audience and those fans are treated to an hour of brutality from a band well versed in serving up crowd pleasing performances.
Our headliners Bury Tomorrow arrive onstage, dressed in white paper suits, and instantly bring the ferocity and intensity that has earned them their pedigree as a live act. The opening three tracks instigate a hot atmosphere in the crowd, until sadly a lengthy medical incident in the audience derails the momentum.
It has to be said the response from the band, the crowd, the security, the venue and medical staff is fantastic, and hopefully that individual is ok! It naturally takes a short while to find the same level of energy again, but Bury Tomorrow ensure that soon enough the party is back in full swing.
‘LIFE (Paradise Denied)’ particularly does well in getting the atmosphere back on track and helps return the band to their stride. It isn’t just Halloween that has the bodies moving tonight, and by the time the show comes to an end everyone in the venue, be it human, monster, vampire or ghost as had a great time.
Soon this tour heads off into Europe, and next year Bury Tomorrow will return with their seventh album. But right now we return to the dark, cold and creepy outdoors.
When the industry is always looking for the next big thing, The Snuts have certainly thrown their name in that hat over the past couple of years. A huge debut album has now been followed up with a brave, adventurous and importantly well received sophomore record.
To really breakthrough though artists need to back up what they do on record when taking to the stage. Tonight we head to the UEA LCR in Norwich to see what progress the band have made on this front.
Up first however are local favourites Youth Killed It who command the stage as if they were the headliners. Full of genre-bending rifftastic sing-a-long anthems, the band control the stage with utter ease. Whilst just the opening act tonight, there would be worse bets to place than one predicting that Youth Killed It will return to headline this stage.
Next, the audience are serenaded by young singer-songwriter Heidi Curtis who is able to charm the baying crowd with her uplifting performance. Curtis is most definitely one to watch in the coming years.
Finally the venue get the group that they’ve been waiting for as The Snuts arrive onstage to a powerful politically charged video. Yes, video… the band instantly showcase their intentions to raise their live credentials with a elegant stage set up.
It’s not all style and no substance however, as The Snuts are able to back it up with a stunning performance full of effortless cool swagger. The audience are held in the palm of their hand as they mix material from their two albums.
Perennial contenders Pulled Apart By Horses have just released the fifth studio album of their near fifteen year career. ‘Reality Cheques’ features a more streamlined sound and tonight in Norwich we get to see how that translates on stage.
Opening the early evening show at the Waterfront Studio are local newcomers Magnolia. It’s difficult to find much about the band online and even harder to pigeonhole them into any genre.
Describing themselves as psychedelic post-punk, there are certainly elements of those genres present in amongst their experimental sound. There are also many others as killer riffs segue into moments of pure randomness. There are times of brilliance and times of dreadfulness in their short set. Only a young act, there is something here, I’m just not sure what it is yet!
THE HOWLERS PHOTOS
Next up are a band clearly further along their discovery path. Londoners The Howlers recently released new EP, ‘Further Down the Line’ and songs from that record are highlights tonight.
The group own the stage like they are industry veterans and the crowd are left in awe of a top quality support slot. These are the shows where newer acts can win new fans and build their audiences and the likes of ‘The Boy I Was Before’ and ‘El Dorado’ will have done some excellent building work tonight.
PULLED APART BY HORSES PHOTOS
Finally, our headliners Pulled Apart By Horses take to the stage and from the first angry guitar strum the intimate audience are raucous! To say that both band and crowd are up for it tonight would be an understatement and that makes for a fantastic atmosphere on this Saturday night.
New album, ‘Reality Cheques’, naturally features heavily in the set list for Pulled Apart By Horses and as they open with ‘Pipe Dream’ and ‘First World Problems’ it’s clear that the album passes the live test. The new songs sound massive as do older tracks such as ‘The Haze’ and ‘The Big What If’.
During a cost of living crisis, small shows such as this are superb value for money and our headliners deliver an energetic and engaged display from start to finish – something often found lacking with arena shows.
As Pulled Apart By Horses close their set with fan favourites ‘V.E.N.O.M.’, ‘I Punched A Lion In The Throat’ and ‘High Five, Swan Dive, Nose Dive’, they reaffirm themselves a standout live act and rubberstamp the fact that five albums in they remain a creative force.
With the nights drawing in and the first full festival season in three years now completed, it’s time to head back indoors for our live music fix. And where better to start than in one of the UK’s many incredible intimate independent venues!
That brings us to Norwich at The Waterfront Studio for a sold out show from Canadian acts Arkells and Lights. Getting to welcome international acts such as these back into venues such as this is another reminder of the progress live music has made to return this year, and the venue fills up early with fans eager for an evening of great music.
Whether or not they’d be in receipt of such was never really in doubt considering the acts present. Up first is the multi-talented Lights who clearly has her fair share of diehard fans in attendance. Thankfully for them she has a whole hour to showcase her genre-bending indie pop, to the delights of those in the venue.
Latest album, ‘PEP’, features highly throughout a career spanning set list and album tracks such as opener ‘Prodigal Daughter’, ‘Beside Myself’ and ‘Okay Okay’ are highlights in a consistently powerful and uplifting show.
Yes, the bar for tonight is set very high by Lights, and many seasoned professionals would flounder in their attempts to follow such a performance. Luckily for both the band and the packed venue, Arkells are more than up to the challenge.
The Opening trio of ‘Past Life’, ‘Leather Jacket’ and ‘Michigan Left’ set the stage for another top tier performance from this well-oiled touring machine. At this stage of their career, the group have songs for days so it’s refreshing that they are willing to accept audience requests such as ‘Hand Me Downs’ which occurs next.
Arkells provide another career encapsulating set list with a particular focus on recent efforts ‘Blink Once’ and ‘Blink Twice’. Big hitters such as ’11:11’, ‘Knocking At The Door’ and finale ‘You Can Get It’ all elicit huge reactions from the crowd, however the highlight of the night comes from something special and unique.
Frontman Max Kerman regales the crowd with the tale of a young married couple having their first dance to ‘And Then Some’, with the track being performed by a local covers band. Kerman proceeds to recreate the moment of the first dance with the couple in the crowd, even bringing out the singer of said band, Counterfeit Brits, to sing.
Another memorable moment comes via ABBA cover, ‘Gimme! Gimme! Gimme! (A Man After Midnight)’. Expect the unexpected appears to be the theme of the night as Lights also returns to the stage to perform ‘Human Being’ with Arkells; much to the delight of an audience who will remember this night for years to come.
Live music is well and truly back, and our independent venues are leading the charge with amazing shows such as this taking place every night of the week. The tickets to catch these two fantastic international acts in intimate UK venues are surprisingly inexpensive. Thankfully for you there are a number of shows remaining on this tour, so do yourself and your local venue a favour and head along to one!
To say this week has been hot would be the understatement of the century. So, whilst the opportunity to cram into a sold out UEA LCR in Norwich isn’t the most appealing; doing so to catch indie rock royalty Kasabian play an intimate headline show makes it unmissable.
The dust has firmly settled on the well publicised line-up change in the band, and massive slots at the Isle of Wight and Knebworth this summer have just solidified what fans discovered on the bands return tour last year – new look Kasabian remain one the best live bands on the circuit.
This show was originally set to be part of their lowkey return tour, but illness saw the show postponed to now. The show is in effect now a small warm-up for their headline set at Tramlines this weekend.
The band are given a hero’s welcome from the pumped up audience as they arrive on stage. The atmosphere in the venue tonight is as hot as the weather has been and it all goes off as Kasabian kick off with ‘Club Foot’, ‘Ill Ray (The King)’ and ‘Underdog’!
Sweaty bodies are everywhere as the band continue to showcase their reinvigorated live show. Newly minted frontman Serge Pizzorno stalks the stage like a man possessed, he controls the crowd with natural ease as he steps out of the shadows to the forefront of the band.
Kasabian always were a phenomenal live act, and the line-up switch doesn’t change that. The genius step that the band has taken is to add The Music frontman Rob Harvey to their live line-up. Harvey fills the huge void left by Pizzorno in his previous role and adds a whole new level to the groups sound.
Nobody can doubt the quality of their back catalogue with tracks like ‘You’re In Love With a Psycho’, ‘Shoot the Runner’, ‘stevie’, ‘Empire’ and ‘Vlad the Impaler’ on offer tonight. What the band does in the studio next will be interesting but new tracks ‘CHEMICALS’ and ‘ALYGATYR’ show they still have plenty to offer.
Any doubt that Kasabian remain a viable live entity has been dispelled and come this winter, the band will once again be gracing arenas across the UK.
They sign off this evening with an encore of ‘Bless This Acid House’, ‘L.S.F. (Lost Souls Forever)’ and ‘Fire’. It’s been a night to remember for the audience and another statement made by a reinvented and rejuvenated band.
It was March 2012, some ten years ago now, that I first discovered Rival Sons on this very stage. The band supported Black Stone Cherry here at the UEA LCR in Norwich and instantly had a new fan.
I was captivated by the incredible power of the band and the unbelievable voice of singer Jay Buchanan. The bands most recent release at the time was their breakthrough second album, ‘Pressure & Time’, so imagine my delight that the band are back on this stage tonight playing that album in its entirety!
My history of this band in this venue doesn’t stop there however. Two years later in 2014 the band headlined the venue for the first time and I attended to review for another publication. Just two songs in Buchanan departed the stage unable to continue and the show abruptly ended. The last song played, you guessed it, ‘Pressure and Time’.
WATCH ‘PRESSURE & TIME’ FROM RIVAL SONS ON YOUTUBE
The band made up for that show in 2015 and now some seven years later they return with Buchanan acknowledging onstage “…I remember this place…”. Before that though we have the support band!
Tonight, that band is Dirty Honey who hark back to that night of discovery a decade ago by delivering a blistering set of classic rock infused numbers that somehow seems to channel the same energy as Rival Sons way back when.
Many in the crowd appear clued in and lap up the likes of ‘Heartbreaker’ and ‘When I’m Gone’. I can certainly see history repeating itself and Dirty Honey making similar strides to those of our headliners tonight.
The weird time warp that I find myself in then comes full circle with Rival Sons arriving on stage and banging out ‘Pressure & Time’ in full with very little time spent coming up for air.
It isn’t until the band plough through the tracks that you remember just how many great tracks are on this album. ‘All Over the Road’, ‘Save Me’, ‘Burn Down Los Angeles’, ‘Gypsy Heart’ and ‘White Noise’ all stand out this evening.
It’s not until after they return from a very short intermission that the band begin to engage with the audience and the atmosphere becomes more relaxed. ‘Open My Eyes’ and ‘Electric Man’ certainly help to loosen up the crowd a little.
There are stunning moments with Buchanan demonstrating those hauntingly good vocals on ‘Jordan’ and ‘Shooting Stars’ before the band stretch their legs on ‘Feral Roots’.
They close out the show with ‘Do Your Worst’ and new track ‘Nobody Wants To Die’, and the audience are sent into the night happy. We’ve relived the past and looked to the future, and we’ve celebrated the fact that Rival Sons remain an incredible force live.
As May draws to a close, the traditional UK Festival season commences. Of course 2022 is the first full season in three long years following the pandemic-related disruption to the 2020 and 2021 summers.
It must be fate then that as we journey towards Earlham Park in Norwich, the skies are grey and the rain begins to fall. It wouldn’t be the UK summer without some of the wet stuff now would it?
Our destination on this chilly spring Sunday is a new venture called Neck of the Woods. The one day festival sees organisers take over a venue vacated by yesterdays Let’s Rock Retro Festival.
I’ve long championed the notion that Norwich needs an indie/rock festival and if tagging along to this existing event makes one viable then I’m all for it. Line-up wise Neck of the Woods is certainly going for the growing younger indie crowd with only headliners The Kooks of a certain vintage.
Access is quick and easy and the atmosphere once inside is nice and relaxed. The usual overpriced festival food and bars are present as are four stages of music.
Given the ongoing cost of living crisis it’s somewhat disappointing yet fully expected post-pandemic that food and drink prices have increased since last year. A hot dog, fries and a can of pop coming to a staggering £14.50! As I say, expected given the past couple of years, but a little frustrating.
The site is setup well for a one day event with the stages spread out between two different areas, each with one outdoor and one tented stage. As expected there is some sound bleed at times, but nothing too invading.
There are a handful of stalls and other activities scattered around the site, with ample facilities such as toilets plus a separate VIP area. Thankfully there are no major queuing issues all day with the amount and distribution of everything on site seemingly well measured.
That’s the amenities taken care of then, now onto the music! That is after all why we are all in this field, with a little sunshine now poking through.
Opening the main stage are local favourites Youth Killed It who do a fantastic job in getting the early attendees engaged. Their unique brand of indie punk captures the imagination of the young audience and shows great promise for a band coming into their own.
The main stage and the tented second stage, sponsored by local venue The Waterfront, alternate meaning eager music aficionados can catch an endless stream of musical pleasures if their legs can hold them. We are able to hold this pace for the first half of the event, allowing us to take in some great young acts including a fair few to have featured on our ‘Discover’ New Music Playlist!
One such act is Liverpudlian indie upstarts Rats who open the second stage with a blistering set which wins over every single person present. A glimpse into the future of indie music, and the future is once again looking bright.
Next on the main stage are The Lottery Winners who, with their great onstage banter and even better musical output, may be the perfect festival band. The group have the audience in the palm of their hands throughout their short set and leave the crowd wanting more, which is all you can really hope to do.
Another enthralling act grace the second stage next with their superb 80’s tinged Synth-Pop are Deco. This is a name that is popping up on many a festival line-up this summer and is certainly one to watch out for.
Also on the one to watch list is the fabulous Lauran Hibberd who has been making waves for a couple of years now. Hibberd is preparing to release her debut album later this year, and on the evidence of today it is set to be a big one. Fully expect to see this name playing higher up festival bills next summer!
The Royston Club continue the hot streak of great young bands at Neck of the Woods next with another top showing in the tent. With many fans seemingly already in the know, the band are able to create a fun atmosphere as our legs begin to tire.
No time for rest just yet as we return to the main stage for a band that feel on the cusp of something really big. The Snuts hit the number one spot with their debut album and recently played some huge shows across the country including Brixton Academy.
Songs such as ‘All Your Friends’, ‘Always’ and ‘Glasgow’ from that album feel like they were made with days like today in mind. With the sun now making regularly scheduled appearances from behind the cloud and the crowd fully in the festival spirit, the band go down as expected. A hero’s reception for a group surely destined to headline this sort of event.
Now after that relentless run of superb music, we must stop and retreat to check out the VIP offerings. With a private bar and toilets along with ample seating including a good view of the main stage, the VIP area is basically what you’d expect at a festival; nothing too fancy but a nice place to chill out.
But whilst we rest, the music doesn’t. The organisers have done well to secure a line-up featuring some of the best new bands on the scene with a splattering of larger acts to draw the crowds.
Whilst we relax we get to enjoy dodie who offers something slightly different to the indie lad rock predominantly featured. An enjoyable set from dodie allows us time to recuperate before another onslaught of music.
We pick things back up towards the top of the bill now with Sea Girls on the main stage. Sea Girls are a band that I’ve heard of but never actually listened to. Not really knowing what to expect, the band are able to quickly get my attention. They also have the attention of the majority of the attendees with a clear connection existing between band and fans.
Their time on stage sails by very quickly which is usually a good sign, and with their name featuring on many festivals this summer, I feel they’ve earned a little more attention from me before I hopefully see them again.
In fact, one of my favourite things about festivals is discovering new music. I’d like to say NOISY on the third stage are a new discovery but they’ve actually featured on our ‘Discover’ New Music Playlist already. That said catching them live here gives new emphasis to their music as the band play one of the most energetic and passionate sets of the day.
Perhaps this energy and passion is what make our sub-headliners DMA’s fall a little flat having to follow them. Another band that I’ve not personally delved too deeply in before, I can’t say that are able to grab me as much as many others have today. A slower paced set perhaps wasn’t what the doctor ordered following NOISY in a small tent and prior to Yonaka in the big tent.
DMA’s are pleasant enough and perhaps do deserve deeper inspection, but as the weather gets colder and the feet start to ache, they struggle to capture my imagination today.
That was never going to be a problem for our second stage headliners Yonaka however! This after all is a band built on energy and passion, a band whose bond with the audience is synergetic.
Arriving slightly late on stage, the band power through their set which just adds even further impedance and immediacy to their performance. A sublime mixture of the stunning and the powerful encapsulates Yonaka as they deliver the likes of ‘Ordinary’, ‘Call Me a Saint’ and the incredible ‘Rockstar’.
Fans in attendance have probably just witnessed the performance of the day, but having slightly overrun it’s time to leg it back to the main stage where The Kooks have just arrived for their headline performance.
Their setlist tonight features debut album ‘Inside In/Inside Out’ predominantly to celebrate its 15th anniversary. Adding in a few hits from that albums successors makes for a pretty great festival setlist.
Opening with ‘Seaside’ and ‘See the World’, the band instantly have the crowd in hand. They are able to maintain this connection throughout their performance which is more than worthy of the headline slot.
By the time ‘Naïve’ closes their set and sends the fans off into the night, it is very much job achieved both for The Kooks and for Neck of the Woods. Norwich does need an event like this, and whilst far from sold out, the event is well enough attended to be deemed a successful debut.
Hopefully Neck of the Woods can build on this solid start, build their brand and bring some of the biggest indie acts to Norwich in the coming years. Most importantly though I hope that they maintain the focus on new bands!
Today has been a day of discovery, finding great new acts before enjoying a handful of the best indie acts around at the moment; the perfect mix. I’d imagine we will be hearing a lot more from a number of these acts over the coming years, and hopefully we will be back at Earlham Park next year.