Norfolk guitarist Oli Brown’s rockers RavenEye return to Norwich
- Credit: Submitted
As Norfolk blues guitarist Oli Brown and his rock outfit RavenEye return to support Bush, Adam Aiken recalls catching up with the trio following their triumphant performance at this summer's Download festival.
It's been two appearances at the Download festival in two years for RavenEye – something that rarely happens – and the three-piece are thrilled about it, even if this year's slot came about because of a cancellation by someone else.
'We're happy to take the consolation prize and it's nice to get the first call,' said Oli Brown, the singer and guitarist who was brought up in Norfolk.
'We shouldn't be here. We were at Download France last night and we had to drive back overnight to get here. We got here at four in the morning and slept in the van for a few hours, and then we went straight on stage.'
Raveneye have just finished their short but blistering set.
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'It was epic. We played a later slot than last year and there was a bigger crowd,' says Brown.
Last year, the heavens opened as soon as Raveneye came off stage at the legendary rock festival early on the first day – and the rain didn't relent over the next three days.
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This year things looked a little brighter.
'You see? It's a blessing,' Brown told us. 'They've put us on later today and it hasn't rained.'
With new drummer Adam Breeze now firmly established as the third member of the band, RavenEye seem a bit heavier this year – is that a fair comment?
'As a unit, we play together a lot more, so we influence each other's sounds more. Adam's a brilliant drummer and quite a heavy drummer, and that probably influences us, so I think you're probably right,' said Brown.
Breeze is also a showman. Brown and bassist Aaron Spiers have always played to the crowd (Spiers carrying the guitarist around on his shoulders during guitar solos) but during this set Breeze leapt into the festival audience - a long way down from the stage.
'You know what? I didn't think I'd actually get back up,' he says.
It wasn't the only spontaneous thing that happened during the 30-minute set. Brown managed to break a guitar and his mic stand as well as hurting his hand.
'We like the pandemonium, and that's the joy of live shows. The more things go wrong, the more we get off on it,' he says.
Breeze adds: 'We like the carnage, and we're doing new stuff all the time. It takes us to the next level and we all feed off it.'
By necessity, their Download set was slimmed down to just five songs. 'It's so hard to play 30 minutes,' said Spiers. 'It goes by so quickly. We wish we could jam more songs but we've got to slim it down.'
Slim it down they did, but slowing it down they won't be.
The rest of the summer has seen RavenEye play some of the other huge European festivals and they supported the mighty Aerosmith in Lisbon.
Then came a tour of the US before heading back for a European tour. It sees then returning for a stop at the Waterfront in Norwich supporting Bush.
Hugely popular in America in the 90s, Gavin Rossdale's post-grunge outfit were never quite as popular back here, but they do boast a loyal following. Armed with their seventh studio album, Black and White Rainbows, they arrive for one of just six UK dates.
It'll be like coing home for Brown. 'I love the Waterfront. I grafted a lot there,' he says.
But don't expect to see his blues alter ego from the Oli Brown Band turn up alongside RavenEye. He's keeping the two projects very much separate.
'I love trying to squeeze the Oli Brown thing in but this year been really hard because it's got so busy for us,' he says.
'I always want to keep the two alive, but right now RavenEye needs all the love, and that's where we're going.
'The two don't work together – the blues crowd have their own vibe, and I create differently and I play differently, and it's a different kind of performance.'
So we'll have to wait a bit longer for the bluesman to return. In the meantime, enjoy the imminent return of RavenEye to these parts. You'll be in the presence of a rock 'n' roll band that is going places.
• RavenEye will be supporting Bush at the Waterfront, King Street, Norwich, on September 23, 6.30pm, £28, 01603 508050, ueaticketbookings.co.uk