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.
Summer is almost here and so is the first full festival season in three years! We all know the reason why that is, and that is the same reason why Airbourne’s ‘Boneshaker’ Tour was cut short.
There is a sense of resumption in the air tonight, of the world getting back on track. Soon we will all be standing in fields again and tonight Airbourne are able to finish touring their 2019 album, ‘Boneshaker’.
Plotting a handful of intimate shows ahead of their own festival run; Airbourne pluck for The Waterfront in Norwich. The venue sold out months in advance and with the weather today being very warm, this show is destined to be a sweaty affair!
Sadly the support act, Gorilla Riot, are unable to make it to the venue so the high levels of anticipation are stretched as fans await the headline act, who finally grace the stage 2 hours after the doors open.
Any boredom is quickly blown away by the incredible sound shockwave emanating from Airbourne as they break straight into ‘Ready to Rock’. Evidently both the band and the crowd are indeed ready to rock and the onslaught of high energy rock n’ roll is underway.
The band spread the setlist evenly across their five albums tonight with the title track and ‘Burnout The Nitro’ featuring from latest effort ‘Boneshaker’. Airbourne have a formula and they stick to it, so these tracks naturally fit in.
There is little in the way of innovation either in their music or their tried and tested stage antics, but to be fair that is what the fans want. As frontman Joel O’Keeffe jests on stage, nobody is here for a jazz concert or a techno rave. The venue is sold out with guests wanting old fashioned rock n’ roll, and that is exactly what Airbourne give them.
By the time the last notes of ‘Runnin’ Wild’ ring out, the venue has become a hot, sticky, sweaty, beer soaked mess. Airbourne will leave your ears ringing for days, and your mind racing for weeks. This is a simple but effective show that we are all thankful we are once again able to witness.
Music icon and pioneer Gary Numan arrives in Norwich on a warm Sunday night, as his lengthy UK Tour draws towards a close.
This has been a tour that has included a statement headline show at Wembley Arena, as the career resurgence continues for Numan. Part of the reason for this renaissance is the cult-like devotion of Numan fans who fill the venue well in advance of their hero’s arrival.
The second reason for this rejuvenation is the current hot streak of releases from an artist very much in form. After reaching Number 20 in the Album Charts with 2013 effort ‘Splinter (Songs from a Broken Mind)’, Numan has delivered not one but two Number 2 Albums with 2017’s ‘Savage (Songs from a Broken World)’ and last year’s ‘Intruder’.
Vindication for an artist who has never taken the easy route via the nostalgia circuit and has always followed the creative path.
The third reason for recent successes is that Numan is a force of nature live, but we will get on to that in just a moment. First a mention to opening act, Divine Shade, who do a fantastic job in warming up the receptive UEA LCR.
Fans early arrival is well rewarded with a superb performance from the French trio; who much like our headliner are able to perfectly blend rock and electronic influences into an aurally stimulating sound. Combining this with a visually pleasing stage presence, the band has the winning formula down.
Soon enough, it’s time for Numan to take to the stage, but he doesn’t just take to it… he owns it. As we mentioned, the live presentation of Numan and his band is a large reason for his recent success, and from the stunning opener, ‘Intruder’, onwards the band have the audience in the palm of their hands.
The visual effects on offer on this tour are incredible and complement the music splendidly. This dynamic typifies Numan live and creates an immersive experience for gig-goers. It’s hard not to be mesmerised by the light show whilst simultaneously being captivated by the music.
On the set list front there is a great mix of new and old material with latest album, ‘Intruder’ at the forefront. There is no real lull in the set, but obvious highlights include ‘Metal’, ‘Down in the Park’ and ‘Cars’.
It’s newer tracks though such as ‘The Gift’, ‘My Name Is Ruin’ and ‘Love Hurt Bleed’ that really standout this evening; which again provides evidence that whilst undoubtedly a music icon, Numan is far from a nostalgia act.
An encore of ‘A Prayer for the Unborn’ and ‘Are ‘Friends’ Electric’ sends the audience home happy and cements Gary Numan as an artist at the top of his game.
Let’s talk about discovery. It’s always a great feeling when you discover something new that you enjoy, and that is particularly true when it comes to music. Discovering a new song, a new album or a new band to enjoy is one of life’s great pleasures for music lovers.
That is why we created our ‘Discover’ New Music Playlist on Spotify! To help music fans find that new song or artist to really sink their teeth into. Now, October Drift was a familiar name to us from featuring on many a festival poster or recommendation over the years. For some reason however they always seemed to get placed on that ‘to do list’ of acts.
That was until recently when we added their recent single, ‘Airborne Panic Attack’, to our Playlist and a deep dive ensued. So, now it’s the long overdue time to catch the band live!
With that said we arrive at The Waterfront Studio in Norwich and are greeted by opening act, The High Points. Slightly off-piste from our headline act, the locals add a little funk to proceedings as they get the early attendees warmed up. Finishing their set with two broken strings, the band display great endurance to go with their obvious musical talent.
Our main support act, China Bears, then demonstrate just why it’s important in our journey of discovery to arrive early and watch the supports. The five-piece deliver a sublime set that continues to gain traction until the finale, ‘Sunday’, literally leaves the crowd asking for more.
Not long thereafter though it’s time for our headliners, October Drift, to hit the stage and reinforce just why we felt that excitement when first listening to them. The band absolutely own the stage tonight and their energy levels are infectious as band and crowd bounce in unison.
There is a good mix of older material and new tracks in the setlist tonight and the bands time on stage flies by. That age old adage of time flying when having fun certainly springs to mind, and fun is probably an apt word for this evening; both band and audience seemingly having plenty.
‘Cherry Red’, ‘Oh the Silence’ and ‘Come and Find Me’ are all fantastic tonight, but new track ‘Insects’ in particular sounds huge. The delightful finale of ‘Like the Snow we Fall’ being performed from within the crowd is just the sort of epiphany inducing moment that hammers home our point.
Discovery is a wonderful thing. So, head to shows early, check out the smaller stages at festivals and of course listen to our ‘Discover’ New Music Playlist. As for October Drift, on tonight’s showing and with their second album on the horizon, the future certainly looks bright.
The pandemic certainly has played a number on Anniversary Tours with Therapy?’s ‘So Much for the 30 Year Plan’ Tour becoming a 31 Year Plan and now eventually a 32 Year Plan!
None of that really matters though to the fans packed into the Waterfront in Norwich on a Saturday night. All that really matters to those fans is getting to catch their cult heroes Therapy? in action and having a good time.
Spirits are therefore high as our support act James and the Cold Gun enter the stage to the Kate Bush song of the same name. The band led by James’s Joseph and Biss instantly harness that excitement to create a great atmosphere for their opening set.
The band will soon be releasing their debut EP, ‘False Start’, and tonight fans are treated to those tracks and more by a band quickly establishing themselves on the scene. With performances like this, expect to hear much more from the band in the future.
But next we look to the past as Therapy? celebrate their 30+ year career with a carefully curated setlist. It doesn’t take long for the audience to reciprocate the energy of the band, as early numbers ‘Nausea’, ‘Stories’ and ‘Die Laughing’ set the tone for the rest of the night.
WATCH ‘DIE LAUGHING’ ON YOUTUBE
After all this time consistently touring it should be no surprise that Andy Cairns, Michael McKeegan and Neil Cooper work so well together. A run of ‘Turn’, ‘Callow’, ‘Trigger Inside’ and ‘Church of Noise’ demonstrating just why on record and live the band have been able to endure longer than most of their contemporaries.
Another reason for their longevity is their ability to still create interesting new music, and next the band treat the crowd to a new track. ‘Joy’ looks set to feature on their next album, which if this track is anything to go by will be another belter.
After ‘Diane’ and ‘Teethgrinder’ close out the main set, the band return for an encore of ‘Knives’, ‘Potato Junkie’, ‘Nowhere’ and ‘Screamager’ much to the delight of the crowd. The band promise tonight to keep going for another thirty years if they can; and with showings like this you wouldn’t put it past them.
A year ago, back at a time when live music was just a distant memory, Ricky Warwick delivered his stunning solo album, ‘When Life Was Hard and Fast’. The album featured highly on our 2021 Album of the Year list but since then Warwick has been unable to tour the album.
That is until now, as with restrictions withdrawn Warwick and his band The Fighting Hearts are able to hit the road once again and tonight they find themselves at The Waterfront Studio in Norwich.
THE HOWLING TIDES
First on stage this evening are young rockers The Howling Tides who make the most of their time with a splendid performance. The four-piece get the crowd engaged early on with the likes of ‘White Crow’ and ‘Crack My Soul’.
They are followed by the criminally underrated The Virginmarys who are emerging from the pandemic as a two-piece. Having witnessed the band live many times, I was interested to see how this new dynamic would work and whether they’d maintain their power.
Thankfully that power is still there, as is a new layer of ferocity as the band plough through a setlist featuring many new songs. These new songs offer great promise, whilst older favourites such as ‘Running For My Life’ and ‘Just A Ride’ remind of just how good this band are.
RICKY WARWICK & THE FIGHTING HEARTS
It’s not long thereafter that Eminem’s iconic ‘Lose Yourself’ blasts out and Ricky Warwick and The Fighting Hearts grace the stage. They burst straight into life with ‘Gunslinger’, ‘Over the Edge’ and ‘The Road to Damascus Street’ riling the audience up.
As if fronting The Almighty, Thin Lizzy and Black Star Riders wasn’t enough, Warwick has also established a successful solo career over the years. This was punctuated last year with the release of ‘When Life Was Hard and Fast’. Tonight’s show is a mixture of each aspect of this unlikely career, including the likes of ‘Jailbreak’ and ‘Finest Hour’ from “the day job” as Warwick terms it.
Whilst these big hitters a natural highlights, it’s telling that the true highlights come from ‘When Life Was Hard and Fast’ including the title track, ‘You’re My Rock ‘n’ Roll’ and ‘Still Alive’. This just goes to show that at this stage of his career Warwick is perhaps tunnelling his experiences into producing his best work.
It helps tonight that he is backed by a tight band that helps bring his visions to life. There are a good number of The Almighty tracks in the set tonight and it’s ‘Free ‘n’ Easy’ that brings the evening to a close; a thoroughly enjoyable evening of the hard rock majesty that we’ve missed these past couple of years.
Voodoo Daddy’s is tucked away in the side streets of Norwich’s city centre. Inside you are greeted with a cool pizza bar downstairs and an intimate music venue upstairs which is the scene for the show tonight.
Only announced recently, this show is part of a small run of dates headlined by PET NEEDS under the banner of the Nick Alexander Memorial Trust (NAMT). If you are not familiar with NAMT then you really should be, as the charity does incredible work helping disadvantaged and marginalised sectors of society access to music.
Opening the evenings proceedings is a short solo Morning Crush set, which captivates the early attendees and finishes with a poignant new song. Shortly thereafter (Paul) Henshaw graces the stage and serenades us with a selection of rousing acoustic numbers. A fine start to what promises to be a great night.
Things get turned up a notch soon after as the hard rocking Ghosts of Men storm the stage. Despite some good old fashioned technical difficulties, the duo still produces an entertaining performance, raising the noise levels in preparedness for our headliners.
Those headliners, as mentioned, are Colchester group PET NEEDS. Fresh from signing with Xtra Mile Recordings the band has graced many a stage with labelmates such as Frank Turner, Beans On Toast and Skinny Lister.
They’ve been honing their craft and nights like this will help forge their cohesiveness and delivery. It may not be the biggest show, but the bands appetite is ravenous for a rock show.
Tracks like ‘Kayak’ and ‘Pavlovian’ instantly build the audience engagement and the sing-a-longs continue throughout their set with ‘Punk Isn’t Dead (It’s Just Up For Sale)’, ‘Toothpaste’ and ‘Tracey Emin’s Bed’ all highlights.
It’s a short, sharp set from a band with huge potential and the encore of ‘Overcompensating’ sends attendees off into the Norwich night delighted with what they’ve just been a part of.
That is the independent small venue scene, the DIY punk scene, the support fantastic causes scene, the just supporting new, exiting music scene. As we emerge from the pandemic, get yourselves back to these venues, find the acts of the future and support real music!
After another spate of COVID related cancellations and postponements over the past couple of months, live music is back once again. One such postponement was this tour, but thankfully Wolf Alice were able to complete a quick turnaround and tonight arrive in Norwich just the 6 weeks later than expected.
Along for the ride is support act Matt Maltese who provides a somewhat sombre yet very well received opening. Maltese and band serenade the audience with their unique brand of indie pop (imagine Keane in a jazz lounge) and no doubt win over some new fans with their delightful set.
Really though tonight is all about our headliners Wolf Alice. Acclaim and praise seems to gravitate towards the band with three highly lauded albums now under their belt. Of course, we awarded ‘Blue Weekend’ our 2021 Album of the Year Award. Anticipation is therefore high as the sold out audience await their arrival on stage.
As soon as they do arrive, it’s straight down to business with ‘Smile’, ‘You’re A Germ’ and ‘Formidable Cool’ instantly creating a connection between band and crowd.
WATCH ‘SMILE’ ON YOUTUBE
The incredible versatility of the band and singer Ellie Roswell in particular is a major part of what sets them apart from their contemporaries. Their ability tonight to segue between all out rockers and tender ballads with such ease is unfathomable. It probably shouldn’t work, but is does.
In fact, the audience as literally held in the palm of their hands tonight throughout the likes of ‘Bros’, ‘How Can I Make It OK?’, ‘Silk’ and ‘Visions of a Life’. Some moments even feel like an outer body experience such as ‘No Hard Feelings’ and ‘The Last Man On Earth’.
‘Moaning Lisa Smile’, ‘Giant Peach’ and ‘Don’t Delete the Kisses’ all feature in the latter portion of the show and serve as the cherry on top of a delicious cake. If incredible music is food, then the crowd go home full to the brim tonight.
Some bands are really good live, some bands are great live and then a select few bands just feel special, tonight Wolf Alice affirmed that they are in that elite category.
FRANK CARTER & THE RATTLESNAKES – NORWICH – LIVE REVIEW
With the release of ‘Sticky’, Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes have continued their evolution as an act. As we said when we reviewed the album, all four of the bands records have their own unique identity whilst remaining clearly Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes albums.
How does this era of the group translate live? Well, we headed to the UEA LCR in Norwich to see.
Up first are two support acts who warrant that term unique. Both Cassyette and Lynks feature on ‘Sticky’ and have been championed by Carter himself as ones to watch.
Tonight both acts are able to display their art to the packed audience and both make the most of their platform. Lynks in particular is far removed from what the general fan would expect from a Frank Carter support act, something acknowledged by Lynks during the set. The crowd however are receptive and buy into the occasion which means by the time the set is complete, Lynks has won some more fans.
There is an interesting cross-section of fans for our headline act. Some are fully onboard with their experimental directions on each album. Others demand Carter sticks to the sound of debut album ‘Blossom’ with no deviation. Those fans will be disappointed this evening with only ‘Devil Inside Me’ on offer from that record, which is actually sung by a lucky audience member.
Carter himself has shown throughout his career that he has plenty to offer beyond his traditional sound. Regardless of band or album, Carter has always been at his pinnacle when on stage.
WATCH ‘STICKY’ ON YOUTUBE
Equally that’s where the songs come to life. ‘Sticky’ is performed in its entirety throughout the setlist tonight and every song grows extra legs live. ‘My Town’, ‘Sticky’ and ‘Original Sin’ all sound massive and fit in perfectly alongside classics ‘Wild Flowers’, ‘Lullaby’, ‘Tyrant Lizard King’ and ‘Crowbar’.
The re-emergence of Cassyette on ‘Off With His Head’ and Lynks on both ‘Bang Bang’ and ‘Go Get a Tattoo’ both help add to the occasion, as Carter continues his upwards trajectory.
We’ve spoken in recent reviews for numerous artists of the poisoned chalice that artists face when progressing their sound. Fans will have different opinions on ‘Sticky’ but tonight those songs and the band as a whole are a force to be reckoned with!