Preview: Norwich gig guide Feb 10-16
Bringing his soulful strumming to the Arts Centre, Irish folk singer-songwriter James Vincent McMorrow's musical life began far removed from the haunting folk and mythic imagery of his debut album, Early In The Morning. Plus: Mary Hampton Cotillion, Ghostpoet, The Leisure Society.
JAMES VINCENT MCMORROW
Norwich Arts Centre, February 13
Bringing his soulful strumming to the Arts Centre, Irish folk singer-songwriter James Vincent McMorrow's musical life began far removed from the haunting folk and mythic imagery of his debut album, Early In The Morning.
His early love was hardcore rock, and he spent his teens learning to play drums to the likes of Refused, At The Drive In and Glassjaw. He then dabbled with hip hop. It wasn't until he heard Donny Hathaway's I Love You More Than You Will Ever Kno' that he even considered singing, and because of the high, soulful tone to his voice, he found particular encouragement from female singer/songwriters.
'I can understand the way they construct melody almost better than I can the way male singers write,' he notes. 'But it wasn't until about four years ago that I actually wrote my first song. I knew I needed to have things worth talking about before I put pen to paper.'
Early In The Morning is an atmospheric and absorbing listen, which peels back layers upon every visit. It's musically sweet and lyrically maudlin by equal measure. The unusual influence of those great female singers also makes an emotional mark. An inevitably comparisons is with Bon Iver.
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Support comes from Bristol singer-songwriter Rob Bravery.
t Further listening: www.jamesvmcmorrow.com
MARY HAMPTON COTILLION
Norwich Arts Centre, February 14
Hailed as a true original and aptly described as 'folk noir', Brighton singer-songwriter Mary Hampton's fragile, haunting voice perfectly conveys the surreal satires, bittersweet romanticism and incisive wit of her songs.
After two self-released albums that mixed original songs with traditional standards, her first album, 2008's My Mother's Children, was a sparse collection of her own songs, that mixed weirdness with acoustic simplicity.
In addition, Hampton contributed vocals to Rough Music by Eliza Carthy, and sang on Blow It Up, Burn It Down, Kick It 'Til It Bleeds, a 2006 album by Stereolab side project Imitation Electric Piano.
Her recently released album Folly received four stars in Q and Uncut magazines and was described by the Times as being 'very English, very unusual, and proof that if you want to make art, you just have to ignore debilitating forces and get on with it'.
For these live dates, she has brought together a five-piece live band of string and horn players known as the Mary Hampton Cotillion, featuring Alice Eldridge on cello, Seth Bennett on double bass, Jo Burke on vocals and fiddle, and Alistair Strachan on horns and percussion.
Support comes from Cambridge and London-based fusion band Sunday Driver, who mix English folk and classical Indian influences, and Norwich's Cakes and Ale.
t Further listening: www.myspace.com/maryhampton
Waterfront, February 14
Hailing from London via Coventry, Nigeria and Dominica, wonky hip hop star Ghostpoet, who specialises in off-kilter, loopy electronic ditties blessed with his delightfully rambling musings on modern life, has had acres of rave reviews and a Mercury Prize nomination.
The softly spoken 27-year-old is set to go from strength to strength in 2012 and we're lucky to get the chance to see what the fuss is all about.
And, for once, someone who looks dubiously like a too-cool-for-school hipster actually has the goods to back it up. His acclaimed debut album, Peanut Butter Blues & Melancholy Jam, was the perfect showcase of his loveably ramshackle, but hook-laden productions and his lazy baritone.
Despite allusions being drawn to Mike Skinner and Roots Manuva, Ghostpoet's vocal style borders on unique, a reserved yet well-spoken new voice.
As beautifully complex as it is subtle and with a sometime ramshackle veneer, the MC's oeuvre reveals a thrilling musical assertiveness. It's easy to warm to his laid-back, characterful delivery and lyrical conceits, complimented by captivatingly dark, brooding and intimate production, such as on the sinister, quasi-industrial poise of Us Against Whatever Ever. This young, inventive, British MC is well worth seeking out.
t Further listening: www.ghostpoet.co.uk
THE LEISURE SOCIETY
Norwich Arts Centre, February 15
Expect pastoral and slightly whimsical, 1960s-influenced folk-pop, as this Ivor Novello-nominated band finally arrive at the Arts Centre for this date which is postponed from October.
The Leisure Society was formed by Nick Hemming, formerly of early 1990s indie band She Talks To Angels which included actor Paddy Considine, film director Shane Meadows and bassist Richard Eaton.
Hemming, who was also a member of The Telescopes, went on to write music for the Meadows' films A Room for Romeo Brass and Dead Man's Shoes.
In 2006, he moved to London to work with multi-instrumentalist and producer Christian Hardy; the pair have subsequently built a live band drawn from members of Brighton's Willkommen Collective and further afield, notably Mike Siddell who previously played violin with Hope of the States.
The Leisure Society have been recipients of considerable critical acclaim, being dubbed the English answer to Grizzly Bear, Department of Eagles and Fleet Foxes.
Their wistful 2008 Christmas single, The Last Of The Melting Snow, was honoured with a 2009 Ivor Novello nominated and their debut album, The Sleeper, won considerable acclaim.
The follow-up, Into The Murky Water, released last year, saw Hemming musing wryly on regret and balancing lush English pastoral with perky the string- and flute-assisted arrangements. Support comes in the shape of a solo slot from Dan Michaelson of The Coastguards.
t Further listening: www.theleisuresociety.co.uk
SOUNDS IN THE CITY
Paul Carrack (rock) — Theatre Royal
The Vibrators + Dingus Khan (rock) — Arts Centre
Tendahooks + more (rock) — Brickmakers
Pocket Godzillas (rock) — King Edward VII
The Bristol Johnson Experience (soul) — Brewery Tap
Norwich Folk Club: feat. Mike Wilson & Damien Barber
V8 Rumble (rockabilly) — Walnut Tree Shades
Bill Fadden & The Rhythm Busters (rock'n'roll) — Arwrights
Tom Hingley (DJ set) — Karma Kafe
Ale Worthy Beats: feat. DJ Jazzlord — Rumsey Wells
Danny Reno — Perseverance
Rob Charles — Chapel Break
Chippy — Fiveways
Alan Ley — The Nelson
G — The Farmhouse
Bo Nanafana: feat. The Selector (ska) — The Talk
Suggs (ska/pop) — Theatre Royal
One Night With Elvis: feat. Lee 'Memphis' King (tribute) — Maddermarket
Alesana + more (metal) — Waterfront
Ben Weston (jazz) — The Forum
Sparks4Heart Evening: feat. Brother Pit + more (acoustic/charity) — Puppet Theatre
Speedometer (funk) — Arts Centre
Soothsayer Present: feat. Soulborn + more (metal) — metal/rock) — B2
Storm (rock) — Boundary
Ben Weston (jazz) — The Forum
Hot Cold Ground (blues) — King's Arms
Killer Hurtz (metal) — King Edward VII
Lowrider 9 — Arwrights
The Runaway Mind Train (acoustic/blues/folk) — Golden Star
Play The Music: feat. Luke Bailey + more (acoustic/1pm) — Arts Centre
Organic Underground Collective — Rumsey Wells
Rob Charles — Sprowston Social Club
Davie J — Angel Gardens
Jim Spiers — Heath House
Lenny T — Keir Hardie Hall
Shannan — Trowel & Hammer
Tony Cann — The Windmill
Kings of Swing Orchestra — Theatre Royal
Sonic Boom Six (ska/punk) — Waterfront
Floating Greyhounds (rock) — Boundary
Ewan McLennan (folk) — Bicycle Shop
Washboard Chris (blues/2.30pm) — Brewery Tap
Lee Vasey Big Band (12pm) — Brickmakers
Big Country (rock) — UEA
James Vincent McMorrow (folk/indie) — Arts Centre
Stookey Blue (folk) — Micawbers Tavern
Swing City (50s/60s) — Keir Hardie Hall
Monday Night Jazz — Walnut Tree Shades
Brickie Sessions (open mic) — Brickmakers
Jazz Jam — B2
Ghostpoet (hip hop) — Waterfront
Mary Hamilton Cotillion (folk/indie) — Arts Centre
Big Chris Barber Band (jazz) — Playhouse
Help For Heroes: feat. High Hopes + more (local/charity) — B2
Ron Hockett + Simon Brown Trio (jazz) — Rackheath Green Man
Leisure Society (indie) — Arts Centre
Headstart + more (pop/rock) — B2
Lee Vasey & Friends — Trowel & Hammer
Pure Acoustic (open mic) — Brickmakers
Elkie Brooks (easy) — Theatre Royal
Hydro Da Hero (hip hop) — Waterfront
The Zoom Club (acoustic/folk/reggae) — Brickmakers
Papa Shango + more (rock) — B2
Rob Holmes Band (blues) — Walnut Tree Shades
Lee Mitchell + Sam Edwards (acoustic/indie) — Bicycle Shop
Ghostriders Western Club: feat. Four card Trick (country) — TA Centre
James Veira (singer-songwriter) — Rumsey Wells
Sally Taylor & The Midnight Soul Band (soul) — Beluga
Johnny Jump Band (blues) — Micawbers Tavern
Elephant Gun (acoustic) — Rose Tavern
Open Jam — King Edward VII