Homely feel to festival

Sam Williams Forget mud, massive queues and overflowing chemical toilets, music fan Ian Johnson has staged one of the world's smallest music festivals in the comfort of his own home.

Sam Williams

Mud, massive queues and overflowing chemical toilets are just some of the hazards faced by today's festival-goers - but not for music fan Ian Johnson, who staged one of the world's smallest concerts from the comfort of his own home.

The 46-year-old opened the doors of his Clarence Road home, off Thorpe Road, to no fewer than eight acts, which performed short sets in front of a select crowd of 40 in his back room on Friday night, culminating in a sing-along in the small hours of Saturday.

Mr Johnson, principal at the Access to Music Studios on King Street, and his wife Rosie, 33, staged the event after winning a competition through the Orange Unlit tour for London singer/songwriter Jont to perform at their home, which impressed judges with its assortment of trinkets, ornaments and stuffed animals.

Jont, who has travelled the world for two years, performing gigs at hundreds of houses, including a gig in a hot tub and in a pasty shop in Cornwall, was joined by five Norwich acts, The Middle Ones, Galleons, The Lost Levels, The Loyal Few and Josh Weller. Ipswich teenage guitarist and singer Ruby and Her Whorses also played a short set, along with Brighton-based folk rock singer and pianist Sharon Lewis.

As with gigs the world over, the music kicked off two hours later than expected at 9pm, and continued until 3.30am.

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Mr Johnson said: “I was a bit worried about the number of bands who were playing here, but it all worked in the end.

“We managed to get everyone together in our back room to watch it. At one stage I counted and there were 43 people. It was really cramped, but a lot of fun.

“I don't know what the neighbours thought. We had a double bass and two synths playing at the end and we had a really good time. Someone suggested we should do this once a month. I was glad we did it, but also glad when it was over. We didn't have much sleep, but everyone had a good time. There were a lot of bottles in the recycling the next morning.”

And he said the Norwich acts had “represented the city really well” with their talent.

Jont, who travelled up from a gig in a Brighton home the previous night, and who was set to continue his tour in Abergavenny, Wales, on Saturday evening, praised the venue and the standard of the city's musicians.

He said: “It's a beautiful house and a great venue. I just looked up and saw a stuffed boar staring down at me with a top hat on.

“Norwich is a hotbed of culture.”


Other bands who have performed in unusual venues…

t Babyshambles singer Pete Doherty is planning a concert in his own home after police forced him to scrap a slot at the Moonfest festival in Wiltshire.

t The Stone Roses held a concert on Spike Island, Widnes, a maze of abandoned chemical factories in 1990.

t Indie rock band British Sea Power performed live at the Natural History Museum in London in June.

t Last October The Kooks and former Pulp frontman Jarvis Cocker performed a charity concert in an East London Oxfam shop.

t English psychedelic band Spiritualized played the highest show ever after performing in a pod two-thirds of the way up Toronto's CN Tower in 1997.

t U2 launched a new album with a surprise, free concert on the streets of New York from a truck in 2004.

t In 1969 The Beatles performed a concert from the rooftop of their Apple Studio in London.