Ears still ringing - looking back at local music in 2012

Music fans at the Sundown Festival

Music fans at the Sundown Festival - Credit: © ARCHANT NORFOLK PHOTOGRAPHIC

Surprise, surprise it has been another busy year for the local music scene. His ears still ringing, KINGSLEY HARRIS looks back at 2012 — and apologies to all those who don't get mentioned.

2012 was another action packed year on the local music scene. The customary apologies to those who found success this year but didn't make it into the round up, it's a tough job rounding down the round up, if you know what I mean.

Nationally the industry is still in decline; it doesn't help that the recession is piled on top of that. Locally there's a mixture of opinions between promoters as to how vibrant the music scene actually is. For me it's nice to see the rockier side of the scene starting to push through. There is a too often, too similar staleness creeping into those promoting the indie and acoustic side of the scene.


2012 started brightly enough with Norwich born Cathy Dennis' song I Can't Get You Out Of My Head, a hit for Kylie Minogue, being named most played song of the noughties, making Cathy the most successful British female songwriter of all time. While at the other end of the spectrum Big Issue seller Steve James released The Wildman Sessions CD to help raise funds for his solar powered recording studio built into the back of his bike. I hope you bought one Cath?

MC Context continued to pull in the gongs and bagged MTV's Brand New for 2012 award and headed for London. Local Blyth Jex girl Nina Baker headed off to Rockfield Studios in Wales to finish off recording her Teacup in a Storm EP. Nina is now also shortlisted for the MTV Brand New for 2013 award and releases her new album Quite Frankly in the New Year. It appears she has already pre-empted success and moved to Warwickshire. Thetford rapper Franko Fraize makes the Radio 1 daytime playlist with his track Watch How I'm Moving.

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After applauding Richard Penguin's Eclectic and Acoustic nights at Olives in last year's round–up, he decided to call them a day in February. Norwich popsters The Kabeedies release their second album Soap on Fierce Panda records. It has been a long journey from teeny bop to mature pop for the band, whose line-up changed in July when front lady Katie left the band and they recruited Christian Daniels ex- of The Cheek.

Norfolk-nurtured Ed Sheeran picks up Brit awards for Best British Solo Male Artist and Best British Breakthrough Act.


This month saw new venue Open, officially, well…open. Booker Rick Lennox said: 'This year was about raising the profile and establishing the venue.'

Across the borders former Suffolk residents and Goths, Fearless Vampire Killers were Kerrang new blood in 2011 and since the release of their single Bow Ties On Dead Guys in March this year they subsequently joined their national tour. Their debut album came out in May along with the Kerrang nomination for Best British Newcomer.

Rising starlet local singer Kamilla Lovett headed off to the SXSW music festival and Conference in Austin, Texas. Popular local boys Lost? win the chance to support McFly at the UEA but then decide to call it a day in September.


New local talent competition Rocket from the East held its first final. Run by Craig Hill of Tilting Sky, the competition saw Port Isla shoot into orbit as winners. 'The competition will be run bi-annually to allow some time for new acts to filter through and avoid the high percentage of repeat acts you'd get if running it annually,' Craig said. It's nice to see a promoter giving these kinds of issues some thought.

Yarmouth legends Stare reformed for the 30th anniversary of Norwich Sound City. As crisp as ever, it was nice to see the band in such good form, look out for more performances in 2013. Lead singer Hammy goes on to make a local BBC documentary and manages to burn Cath's Potatoes in the process.

Ambient Rockers Sennen hit a high note with their third album Lost Harmony.

The last ever Golden Years Concert was announced and held at the UEA. The concerts started at The Talk back in 1996. Since then they have raised over 100k, however, I know what these aging rockers are like, you just can't keep them down. I wouldn't be surprised if their back again once the Viagra kicks in. The Darkness resurgence continued and they are confirmed as tour support for Lady Gaga…

Holy State released their debut album Electric Picture Palace and what a great album it was as well but oddly enough the band had announced their decision to split back in March and played their last gig at the Norwich Arts Centre.


The NME's Top Small Venue in East Anglia award is retained by the Norwich Arts Centre. Clarence (Larry) Pye, one of the city's original skifflers passed away. Larry was lead singer with The Jailbirds; he is also believed to be the first local singer to have sung on the new Anglia TV Midday Show in Norwich.

Spixworth's Sam Kelly appeared on Britain's Got Talent and made it all the way to the final equalling Poringland's Ronan Parke from last year; neither won but a life changing experience for both no doubt.

Dereham band Sancho Blanco are voted through to the Live and Unsigned regional finals but sadly make it no further. The Neutrinos get funky in the basement of Westlegate House, officially Norwich's ugliest building, as part of the Norfolk and Norwich Festival. Killamonjambo celebrated Jimmy Doherty's decade on the Farm and headlined his birthday party. Norfolk nurtured Ed Sheeran picks up an Ivor Novello award for his hit A-Team.


Playfest was declared bankrupt to the tune of £150k. The weekend itself had mixed feedback. I didn't attend but those that did said The Big-Top line-up was very disappointing. Others praised the main stage line-up although it appeared not many lessons were learned on the lack of toilets front. By the amount of people left out of pocket I'm not sure this festival will rest in peace.

Local drummer Matt Goom, now drumming with 1980s rockers The Quireboys, fulfils a lifelong dream of playing the Download Festival with the likes of Metallica and Black Sabbath.

New BBC talent show the Voice saw the local talents of Bill Downes (Sprowston) Toni Warne (Great Yarmouth) and Leanne Mitchell (Oulton Broad) all up in front of…. or behind the judges even. Leanne Mitchell won but then failed to excite the record buying public when her debut single Run To You limped up to no 27 the same month.

Norwich lost one of its greatest and much loved guitarists. Ian Gosling passed away at 48. Ian played with early Norwich metal stalwarts Saigon, however, he'll be best remembered for popular covers band Ice and Fire, in the 1990s.


Local singer, drummer and all-round entertainer Stewy Macintosh retires again! Watch local press for details on Stewy's next retirement bash.

The Piratones win Access to Music's Atom Live contest which culminated in an appearance at Liverpool Sound City and a UK Tour in a luxury tour bus. They later showcased for Island records.


Once again the Brickmakers' Brickfest Charity weekender hit record attendance. The festival is now the biggest local music festival fixture in the pub category. Many thousands of pounds have been raised by the pub for local community projects since it began. Not many venues can claim they give back to their community in this way.

Young Norwich City College rock band Rampant Horse win the chance to play at the BT London Live concert in Hyde Park to celebrate the Olympics.

Norwich rockers Dead Red release their debut album What Have You Done. Norfolk nurtured Ed Sheeran sings Pink Floyd's Wish You Were Here at the Olympic closing ceremony.


Whether it was 10, 15, 20, 27 or 30,000 (all figures quoted in the press) that attended Sundown Festival, the renamed Norfolk Spectacular, the event was certainly a bigger hit this year. The line-up is more appealing to the under age, top of the pops music goer with Olly Murs, Pixie Lott and Dizzee Rascal taking the top spots, but that's a breath of fresh air in itself. Organisers cured the ticket farce that plagued it last year but are still struggling to find a good way to incorporate local acts. Certainly the closest contender to eventually compete with Suffolk rival Latitude, if that's the plan?

Norfolk band Second Opinion celebrates 40 years on the road with a gig at Dereham memorial Hall.


Sound and Vision returned for a third successive year. This buzz band extravaganza and conference certainly pulled in a good selection of undercurrent bands. Sadly the conference side of things still seems to be hit or miss, although the Simon Raymonde talk is always a popular one at these kinds of events. Ian Johnson head of external relations at Access to Music said: 'Sound and Vision, especially the band line-up was this year's highlight for me.'

An amazing year for Kings Lynn band Deaf Havana who played Japan and Australia in October. They had already played the Reading and Leeds festivals and go on to support You Me at Six at Wembley arena.

Destined for the top, Norwich's Fever Fever called it a day but let's not write that obituary just yet, rumours are that the band were actually having a reshuffle and are about to re-launch. Band member Rosie said: 'The new band is a complete departure from Fever Fever and that's why it needed to be a clean break, new line-up, new songs and new ethos.' Looking forward to seeing them at next year's Sound and Vision.


Main news of November was the long time coming announcement that Access To Music was to give up its 10 year home in King Street and move to Epic in Magdalen Street. Ian Johnson, of ATM, said: 'It's all agreed and we should have everything moved over to Epic by next September.'

Norfolk nurtured Ed Sheeran co-writes Little Things a No.1 hit for One Direction this month.


It's another great year for Radio Norfolk's innovative BBC Introducing franchise. The show has gone from strength to strength and moves to a new Saturday night slot 8-9pm on January 5. The show's forte is uncovering the areas young talent. Producer Gary Standley said: 'There is some amazing fresh young talent out there. We've enjoyed Port Isla, The Piratones and The Rumble who are still at school. King's Lynn has exploded into life with Jessie's Ghost, Movements and Golly Ghost to name a few and we can't forget the great voice of Milly Hirst.'

Beth Orton plays a rare gig at the Arts Centre to promote her new album and by my reckoning probably her finest album to date, something I thought I'd never say after listening to Central Reservation in 2000.

Stuart Hobday leaves the Arts Centre after eight years. Stuart's time at the Arts Centre has transformed the way we view and use the venue in a good community way.

City college band National Image, who are slowly building a name for themselves, have just released their second EP, Junk Food Love.

Norwich hair metal covers band Pout At The Devil sell out the Waterfront. Band members have come from various originals bands over the years: Ostracoda, Killerhurts, Leonard and Dead Red to name a few. The band performs anything from KISS to Bon Jovi and see in the New Year at the Brickmakers.

On the venue front Paul Ingelby of the Waterfront said the reintroduction of the studio room upstairs around July 2011 had been a complete success. The venue is now putting on twice as many live shows over the two rooms and will be looking to build on this in 2013.

The Brickmakers becomes one of the most decorated venues in the city when it bagged yet another award, this year it was the publicans, East Anglian Music Pub of the Year. New to the venue game Open put on some great shows Rick Lennox said: 'I'm really pleased with the first year. The venue is very versatile and we've proved that we can accommodate any kind of show. We aim to step things up next year and already have some really cool shows lined up.'

Labelwise, Dudley's Allsorted have been the keenest this year, slowly building their roster with some great releases from Solko, Axel Loughrey, and best of all Leeds band Club Smith. Gravy teased us with the stunning single Broadswords from local shouty rockers Khan. NR ONE has been slow with only the Hello Bear album making a splash along with the Stare album The Luxury of Anger on its new Eastzone subsidiary, doing well. Specialist electronica label 3by3 records have also been doing the business with its JK Flesh album selling out. Olympians also put out a run of delicious singles on the Cardiff based label Barely Regal.

See you in 2013…


Best Local Releases of 2012

Hello Bear - This One Girl

Magoo - The Continuing Adventures Of

Club Smith - Appetite for Chivalry (not local band but local label)

The Proposition - King Snake Devil Snake

Burning Crows - Never Had It So Good

Jess Morgan - Aye Me

Sennen - Lost Harmony

Lisa Redford - Reminders

Best Local Bands of 2012

Fever Fever, Port Isla, Khan, Solko, Dead Red, Kamilla Lovett, Olympians, Franko Fraize, Deaf Havana, Milly Hirst

Local Bands To Watch Out For In 2013

Port Isla, The Broken Seas, Crystal Bats, Burning Crows, Wicked Faith, The Piratones, Raevennan Husbandes, Pout at the Devil

Things To Watch Out For In 2013

New collective of Rick Lennox and Stuart of Open, Fab Kabeedie of Super Fun Adventure Team and Annie Catwoman of wombatwombat will be bringing you new club night Planet of Sound from the spring onwards. Run in tandem with their other promotions the collective also have a show on Future Radio. Norfolk nurtured Ed Sheeran cleans up at the Grammies?!

Releases To Watch Out For In 2013

The Lost Levels, These Ghosts, Witchers and The Burning Crows all have new albums in the can. No fixed titles or release dates as yet but all eagerly awaited in 2013.

Nina Baker – Quite Frankly

The Broken Seas debut single release