Preview: Norwich full gig guide March 8-14


Foals - Credit: Archant

Since their infectious staccato guitar afro-pop, cum math-rock saw Foals break through six years ago, they've stealthily avoided death by hype which is to their credit. They arrive back in Norwich following the release of their third album. Plus: Bastille, Skunk Anansie and Lewis Watson.


UEA, March 8

Since their infectious staccato guitar afro-pop, cum math-rock saw Foals break through six years ago, on the back of blistering singles like Olympic Airways and some irresistable live shows, they've stealthily avoided death by hype which is to their credit. They arrive back in Norwich for their biggest date — already sold out — following the release of their third album, Holy Fire, which sees the band making a bid for arena-style mega-success.

Feted producers Flood and Alan Moulder, who've worked with Smashing Pumpkins, Nine Inch Nails and U2, have been brought in and boy, do the results measure up, balancing enormous post-grunge guitar riffs and choruses, funk-informed basslines and cavernous drums.

The strutting, unashamedly poppy single My Number will be just at home in festival fields as basement indie clubs this year, but it signals just how brilliantly engineered this record is.

Most songs drip with an embarrassment of instrumental riches, with riffs, beats and signatures emerging from the musical thicket for a moment in the sun before disappearing into the verdant, vibrant jungle. From the steel-drums-and-guitar riff within Milk & Black Spiders to the dense, full-blooded Providence, Holy Fire is slickly realised.

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Despite a couple of duds, it feels adventurous, exhilarating, evocative and spiritual with wonderfully atmospheric slabs of glowing-ember, comedown electronica, offset with a burbling tribal drumbeat and maracas.

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Waterfront, March 9

South London band Bastille began as a solo project in 2010 by lead singer Dan Smith. The alternative identity expanded into a four piece live band and sold out gigs and several successful appearances at festivals such as Glastonbury and Isle Of Wight got them a deal with Virgin Records.

Their angsty indie pop has begun popping up on TV soundtracks and numerous adverts and they also supported Emeli Sande and Two Door Cinema Club during 2012.

Their just released debut, Bad Blood, is full of catchy, infectious tunes. Opening with the most recent single, Pompeii, moving on to the Friendly Fires-esque Weight Of Living and finishing on the emotive Get Home, it's a well-balanced and interesting album.

Its repertoire of tricks — piano and falsetto sob-rock, yodel-along backing vocals, hands-in-the-air breakdowns — is entirely predictable, but generally redeemed by strong, surging melodies.

There are some annoying delusions of cultdom (most obviously on the Twin Peaks-referencing Sarah Palmer) but overall, it is a hooky, unmistakably populist affair from a band destined for success this year.

'This is definitely our biggest ever tour, but to be honest any gig we play is still a massive novelty to us, and we really enjoy doing the smaller acoustic things,' says Dan.

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Norwich Arts Centre, March 13

If there's a band which sums up how exciting the UK jazz scene is at the moment it's Sons of Kemet. The previous collaborations of the band members reads like a modern lexicon of creative music and includes Radiohead, Courtney Pine, Matthew Herbert, Zero 7, Polar bear and the BBC Concert Orchestra.

The project is the brainchild of young clarinet and saxophonist and Radio 3 New Generation jazz artist Shabaka Hutchings, whose ambition was to assemble the most unlikely line-up and allow them free rein for their distinct musical personalities to shine through. The line-up features two mighty and intricate drummers in Tom Skinner and Seb Rochford and tuba star Oren Marshall.

The resultant music is loud, earthy, vital, and refreshingly rough-edged at times but surprisingly danceable; the two drummers spur off each others' energies and the tuba occupies a variety of roles from breathless walking bass to subtle, overdubbed layers of sound. Shabaka's plaintive tone and uncluttered compositions frame the sound.

Expect idiosyncratic but danceable grooves, improvised twists and a passion and conviction which set this new band apart. Probably the most exciting band on the new Brit jazz scene over the last year.

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UEA, March 14

It's been a quiet few years for London Brit rockers Skunk Anansie —you may be forgiven for thinking they called it a day for good in 2001. Instead, they embarked upon an eight-year hiatus, making a muted return in 2009.

With five million album sales and in Skin, one of the most forthright, iconic, and confrontational female-lead singers of recent times, the band appear to have been revitalised by their hiatus.

As confrontational as ever, return to the UEA on the back of the release of their latest album Black Traffic, as well as a back catalogue of tracks that made them one of the most successful and unusual rock bands of the early 2000s.

It is Skin, Cass, Ace and Mark Richardson's third album since starting afresh, and their sixth overall, and it proves yet again that Skin may be one of the most underrated female vocalists of our time.

And Brixton-born Skin is certain that fans who go along to the see the band on their latest tour will see a better Skunk Anansie than ever before. She said: 'I think we are more powerful. We're a better band than we have ever been and we are better at playing our instruments. If you've been playing together as a band for 20 years then you've got to be better.'

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Norwich Arts Centre, March 14

Oxford 20-year-old singer-songwriter Lewis Watson is among a generation of aspiring young musicians who have taken the plunge and independently mastermind a digital cottage industry from which their songs can be discovered.

After gradually building his own fan-base, his economically-produced debut EP, It's Got Four Sad Songs On It BTW, topped the iTunes singer-songwriter chart on the first day of release, outselling the likes of Adele, Madonna and Ed Sheeran in the process. It's a model that plenty of artists aspire to recreate, but few ever make any serious progress with. 'People are calling my age group the broken generation, yet we're getting out there, doing what we want and being successful with it,' says Watson.

Within days of the EP's release, Watson had attracted the attention of just about every record label in the land and soon inked a deal with Warner Bros Records. Recent months have found him holed up with a huge number of collaborating songwriters and producers. His recent EP Another Four Sad Songs coincided with sold-out shows, and 2013 could be big for him. Support from Kimberly Anne and Saint Raymond.

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Foals (indie/rock) — UEA

Bastille (electro-pop) — Waterfront

Resonators + Solko + Freya Roy (dub/reggae/indie) — Open

Throb (glam rock) — Brickmakers

King Dinosaur (rockabilly) — Blueberry

Mind The Gap (rock) — King Edward VII

Songbirds: feat. Jake Morrel + Brother The Wolfe + Daisy Vaughan + Tristan Mckelvey + Monty and the Puma Fruits (folk/pop/indie) — The Birdcage

Bark Prelude (acoustic/indie) — Jurnets Bar King Street

Mel Stevens & The Strollers (rock'n'roll) — Walnut Tree Shades

The Bunkadoos (roots) — Brewery Tap

Lena & The Playboys (jazz/blues) — Hog In Armour

Latino Sound (Latin) — Revolution de Cuba

Just-Is (jungle) — Hideout

The AJ Experience — Fiveways

Pete 'Kiwi' Keegan (skiffle) — Gatehouse

Norwich Folk Club — Christ Church Centre

Norwich Guitar Academy Showcase — B2


Lawson (pop) — UEA

Twee Off!: feat. Concrete Knives (indie) — Arts Centre

The Stylotones (ska/reggae) — Brickmakers

Super Action Heroes (rock) — Walnut Tree Shades

Big Black Cadillac (rockabilly/rock 'n'roll) — The Woolpack

Moneyshot (rock) — Blueberry

The Awakening: feat. Romeo & Harvey (So Solid Crew) — Twilight Anglia Square

Rammerator (rock/metal) — King Edward VII

To The Last (rock) — Boundary

Bark Prelude (acoustic/indie/1pm) — Arts Centre Bar

Tallawah Band (reggae) — Revolution de Cuba

Young Musicians Band Festival (local/2pm-7pm) — B2

Julie Bunn (pop/rock) — Old Catton Maids Head

Secondhand Blues (blues) — Buck Inn

Hotsmoke & Danger — Golden Star

The Rum Dogs (country/Irish) — Micawbers Tavern

Stepback (rock'n'roll) — Arkwrights

Lucas (soul) — Freedman

Danny Reno — Sprowston Social Club

Alan Ley — Trowel & Hammer

Terry Adams — Angel Gardens

Revolves — Heath House

Shannan — Quebec Tavern

Mark James — Kier Hardie Hall

Tony Cann — The Windmill


Robert Cray (blues) — Theatre Royal

Chas & Dave (pop/rock) — St Andrew's Hall

Mambo Jambo (acoustic/3pm) — Brewery Tap

The Planks (soul/blues) — Twilight Club (Anglia Square)

Lee Vasey Big Band (12pm) — Brickmakers

Folk Club (acoustic/folk) — The Lounge

Pyvarotti (2pm) — Twilight Anglia Square


Johnny Marr (pop/indie) — Waterfront

Jazz Jam: feat. Rich Buddie — Walnut Tree Shades

Jazz Jam: feat. Brendan Young + Lee Vasey + Ian Hireson + Mark Jolley (jazz) — Silver Road Cottage

Brickie Session (open mic) — Brickmakers

Jazz Night — Hog In Armour


Sons Of Kemet (jazz) — Arts Centre

Heart Of A Dog + Milly Hirst (acoustic/folk) — Bicycle Shop

Elliot Drewes Quartet (jazz) — Oaklands Hotel

Cruizer (blues) — Brickmakers

Phab Club: feat. David Cooper (folk) — Vauxhall Centre

Traditional Folk Night — Beehive

Light's Out Jam Night — Rumsey Wells


Russell Swallow and The Wolf + Kimberley Anne + James Frost (acoustic/pop) — Bicycle Shop

Sonic Arts 73: feat. Trance Map (electronic/jazz) — UEA School of Music

A13 Allstars (Americana/blues) — Brewery Tap

Dark Witness (metal) — B2

Pure Acoustic (open mic) — Brickmakers

Traditional Irish — Gatehouse

Acoustic Singaround — Micawbers Tavern

Open Mic — Garden House


Skunk Anansie + Beware Of The Darkness (rock) — UEA

Lewis Watston (pop/indie) — Arts Centre

The Brew + Bad Touch + Upgrade (rock) — Waterfront Studio

Freeload (rock/indie) — Brickmakers

Sam Russo + Throwing Stuff (indie) — Blueberry

Comic Book Ending (indie) — B2

The Macarno's (acoustic/pop) — Ten Bells

Ghostriders Western Club: feat. George Mcintosh (country) — TA Centre

Outathablues (blues) — Walnut Tree Shades

Ben Watson Quartet (jazz) — Rumsey Wells

Johnny Jump Band (country/blues) — Micawbers Tavern

Cruisin For A Bluesin (blues) — Rose Tavern

Lee Vann (acoustic) — Bar 11

Norwich Unplugged (acoustic) — Hog In Armour

Folk Night — Olives

Open Jam — King Edward VII

Open Mic — Lounge

Open Mic — Coach & Horses