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Live Reviews

Neck of the Woods Festival

Earlham Park, Norwich

Sunday 29th May 2022

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NECK OF THE WOODS FESTIVAL REVIEW

All 📸 (c) Denis Gorbatov / Full Pelt Music

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.

Full Artists Galleries here

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.

Full Artists Galleries here

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!

Full Artists Galleries here

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.

Full Artists Galleries here

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.

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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.

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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!

Full Artists Galleries here

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.

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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.

Full Artists Galleries here

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.

Full Artists Galleries here

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.

Full Artists Galleries here

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.

Full Artists Galleries here

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.

Full Artists Galleries here

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.

Full Artists Galleries here

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.

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Read our review of ‘W.L’ from The Snuts

Categories
Live Reviews

Lost Evenings

Roundhouse, Camden

Thursday 16th – Sunday 19th September 2021

Lost Evenings

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LOST EVENINGS – ROUNDHOUSE, CAMDEN – LIVE REVIEW

Few musicians command such a passionate and dedicated fanbase as Frank Turner does. Since 2017, he has held an annual pilgrimage known as Lost Evenings. 4 days of activities based on the man himself punctuated by 4 headline sets each offering something different.

Last years event in Berlin was cancelled for obvious reasons and with the world not out of the woods yet Turner has chosen to return to the spiritual home of the event, Camden.

Whilst the main event takes place at the legendary Roundhouse, the festival takes over most of Camden. There are multiple stages of music, pop up gigs, panels, tattoos and much more.

THURSDAY

So let’s start unpacking the events of Lost Evenings 4! The event commenced on Thursday for the solo show of the weekend. No Sleeping Souls (well, just one – Matt Nasir on mandolin), as Turner explores some of the hidden gems of his back catalogue.

There are two fantastic support slots on the main stage from Emily Barker and Grace Petrie. Two incredible musicians who both manage to grab the audience with both hands, each joining the other during their sets as they encapsulate the spirit of the event.

Throughout the weekend Beans on Toast acts as master of ceremonies introducing each act. Next he welcomes Turner for the first of four occasions!

Turner and Nasir proceed to serenade the partisan audience who relish the opportunity to hear a few lesser played numbers. Turner states that he will endeavour to repeat only a few songs over the weekend.

Thursday highlights include new single ‘Haven’t Been Doing So Well’, the emotional ‘A Wave Across A Bay’, rarer numbers ‘Losing Days’, ‘Substitute’, ‘Tattoos’, ‘Josephine’ and special sing-a-long cover ‘Somebody To Love’ with Turner joined by Petrie and Barker. All in all a great way to start the festival.

FRIDAY

Friday sees Turner joined by his band The Sleeping Souls for a set billed as “the first three albums plus new songs”.

As far as support goes we start with the new – PET NEEDS. The young band from Colchester showcase tracks from their brilliant debut album including ‘Toothpaste’, ‘Pavlovian’ and ‘Tracey Emin’s Bed’, which receive big reactions from the crowd.

Read our review of ‘Fractured Party Music’ from PET NEEDS

Next up it’s something old with longtime Turner contemporary Jamie Lenman joining the party. Given the theme of the evening you’d assume those in attendance would be aware of Turners hardcore past, but there are more than a few deer in headlights reactions to Lenman’s hard and heavy outing. It is however an excellent performance that ensures any first night hangovers are blown away.

It’s then Turner time again and tonight we get a carefully curated set of early favourites. Fans again get some rarer tracks from the vault including ‘Live Fast Die Old’, ‘Once We Were Anarchists’, ‘Back In The Day’, ‘This Town Ain’t Big Enough for the One of Me’, ‘To Take You Home’, ‘Nashville Tennessee’, ‘Imperfect Tense’ and ‘Sons of Liberty’.

There is also a special section where fans get to hear three new songs from upcoming album ‘FTHC’ in the shape of ‘Non Serviam’, ‘Punches’ and ‘Haven’t Been Doing So Well’ again.

Listen to ‘Haven’t Been Doing So Well’ on our Spotify Hot List!

The night is rounded off by ‘I Knew Prufrock Before He Got Famous’, ‘Father’s Day’, ‘St. Christopher Is Coming Home’ and ‘Photosynthesis’ sending the crowd home happy.

SATURDAY

Saturday now and we first head to the Lock Tavern for an Xtra Mile Recordings takeover with special acoustic sets from PET NEEDS, BERRIES and Johnny Lloyd.

Both BERRIES and PET NEEDS play delightful sets to a packed room which go down very well. Sadly it is then announced that Johnny Lloyd is unable to make it. Thankfully master of ceremonies Beans On Toast is on hand to play an impromptu set.

As expected Beans On Toast has the audience in the palm of his hand as he regales them with tales and songs relating to Camden. A lovely afternoon that represents all that is great about Lost Evenings.

It’s very quickly time to head to the Roundhouse for round number three, which on Saturday sees Turner play his seminal album ‘England Keep My Bones’ in full.

Watch Frank Turner on Episode 1 of the Full Pelt Music Podcast!

Before we get there we have two more fantastic support acts. First up this evening is the highly entertaining The Lottery Winners. With their catchy songs and endearing onstage banter, the group are a delightful opening act.

Next the incredible Nova Twins take to the stage and initially elicit somewhat of the same response as Lenman the day before. However by the end of their set they have captured the imagination of the whole crowd. Nova Twins future is bright and on the evidence of tonight it shouldn’t be long before they are headlining venues this size.

The next may well be the most hotly anticipated performance of the entire weekend. The main man playing, in full, an album that catapulted his career and won a legion of fans. Those in attendance know that this will be special…

..And special it is! Not just said album in full but all accompanying b-sides and associated tracks. From the moment Turner takes to the stage and opens with ‘Sailors Boots’ the energy in the room of immense. This is only amplified when playing the likes of ‘I Am Disappeared’, ‘One Foot Before the Other’, ‘Peggy Sang The Blues’, ‘Redemption’ and ‘I Still Believe’.

Joined at times by string and horn sections the finale sees everything come together with ‘Eulogy’, ‘If Ever I Stray’ and ‘Glory Hallelujah’ delivering a memorable and worthy finale to the evening.

SUNDAY

The final day of the festival is billed as the greatest hits day. Turner who has kept to his promise to limit repeats, has held back some of his most loved songs. But first, Guise! Fronted by Jess Guise, the band do a great job warming up the crowd. They may be on home turf with Guise married to Turner, but it’s their music that earns the fans adoration come the end of their set.

Our last support act of the weekend is another band Turner fans are familiar with. Skinny Lister are possibly the perfect band to raise any tired spirits after a busy weekend. They bring the party, get the crowd moving and ensure the stage is set for Turner to close out the event in style

Read our review of Frank Turner live at Coda, Colchester

Tonight’s mission statement is clear from Turner – send the fans home happy. ‘Get Better’, ‘1933’ and ‘Little Changes’ kick off a set full of fan favourites.

In a well structured set list Turner includes some lesser played favourites such as ‘Thatcher Fucked The Kids’ and ‘Glorious You’. From start to finish he has the audience in the palm of his hand.

The encore of ‘The Ballad of Me and My Friends’, ‘Photosynthesis’, ‘Recovery’ and ‘Four Simple Words’ provides just the ending required to what has been another incredible weekend.

As we said at the start, not many artists could create and sell out a weekend like Lost Evenings, but Turner has built something very special and Lost Evenings 5 is surely in the pipeline already!

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Read our feature on the ‘Independent Venue Love’ series from Frank Turner