UEA, Norwich October 1, 2022
by Paul Hammerton
Any band performing at 6.20pm on an October evening in Norwich must worry about the size of their audience, but Truckstop Honeymoon – the husband-and-wife duo Katie and Mike West, from New Orleans via Kansas – take to the stage in a well-filled LCR.
Rotating banjo, guitar and double bass, with styles ranging from bluegrass and Americana to burlesque and rock, it is a perfect warm-up for the evening ahead.
After years of touring and 10 albums, they are old hands at this and know how to work the crowd.
A combination of great songs that tell stories, such as Dolly Parton Has Sleeve Tattoos, and self-deprecating banter (“These aren’t real songs, just a few things we put together”) leave us wanting more.
Pet Needs, a high-octane four-piece punk outfit hailing from Colchester, have built up a solid East Anglian fanbase, who are here tonight in their numbers.
Frontman Johnny Marriott launches himself on stage for new single Lost Again with explosive energy that he manages to keep up for the entire set.
With songs about Tracey Emin’s bed and washing-machine spin cycles, they don’t take themselves too seriously, and they seem to love what they do.
Drummer Jack Lock keeps the band tight and relishes his spot centre stage with a high-energy entertaining style.
And as Marriott reminisces about his student days here at UEA, the reason for the grin on his face becomes clear – he has fulfilled his ambition to appear on the LCR stage.
Much larger stages may be graced by Pet Needs in the future – at least their super fan (and album producer) Frank Turner certainly thinks so.
And then it’s the man himself – Frank Turner & The Sleeping Souls. Postponed a number of times, it’s show number 2,693 for Turner and he soon has the crowd eating out of the palm of his hand with his gig rules: 1) Don’t be a dickhead; and 2) If you know the words, sing them.
And we know the words, and we sing them in what quickly becomes a community participation event.
Experiencing Turner live is very different from listening to him on record, with the Sleeping Souls giving added drive to his voice, and at times he brings a frenzied energy to proceedings, whipping the crowd on the dance floor into a vortex.
There is poignancy with a song for his departed friend Scott in A Wave Across The Bay. A solo interlude gives us an old song for a past love (The Fastest Way Back Home) and he muses about how Be More Kind is still timely six years on from being written.
Turner shares his love of Norwich with memories of his hardcore punk days in the Ferry Boat and early solo gigs in the Queen Charlotte, and then launches into the Sleeping Souls’ version of hardcore with Non Serviam.
It all ends with Marriott popping up for the encore with a harmonica addition to I Still Believe.
The vibe of the whole evening is of a big family of three bands and crew having the time of their lives, and the early finish – there’s a club night scheduled here later this evening – allows us to head off elsewhere in good time to Be More Kind to each other.