The Waterfront, Norwich July 17, 2023
by Adam Aiken
There’s a queue round the block long before the doors open – something that doesn’t often happen at The Waterfront.
It would be nice to think everyone’s turned up early to see the wonderful Sari Schorr, who’s opening tonight’s show, but the real reason is that people are trying to secure places at the front for the headliner – a rare chance for those of us who don’t get invited to Red Carpet events to get up close and personal with a Hollywood star.
Unfortunately, it means a large proportion of those who arrived in good time tonight don’t manage to get inside until after Schorr has started her set.
However, those who do catch her get to see an acoustic performance to remember.
Joined on stage only by guitarist Jim Kirkpatrick (perhaps better known round here as part of FM), the stripped-down set is a real treat.
The highlight of the half-dozen songs or so is Damn The Reason, with its satisfying minor-third intro, which comes over perfectly in this format. But a cover of Down Down also works well and is a fun set-closer.
Fingers crossed that Schorr’s next show here is a bit longer – and that we don’t have to spend any of it stuck outside.
Between sets, an enthusiastic soundman has fun shouting all the usual gobbledegook into the microphones as he and his team get the stage ready for Kiefer Sutherland.
Despite this, the start of his set is dogged by poor sound, and his vocals are lost in the mix.
Things do improve after that, and we can finally enjoy the actor-turned musician now that he’s managed to make it to Norfolk.
This visit has been dogged by the pandemic, with two previous dates having been postponed, so perhaps that’s one reason for the slightly manic reception he receives.
Can’t Stay Away is marked by a catchy guitar solo, and twin guitars work well together in Chasing The Rain – a song greeted with such reverence that you could hear a pin drop.
Not that it’s as hushed as that all night, though, and the “regular” music fans here seem to have been joined – unsurprisingly – by a number of people who wouldn’t normally be at a Waterfront gig. Some of the adoring screams get a little tiring, and you get the feeling that a few here tonight would be just as thrilled if their hero sat down and read them the phone book.
Not that there’s anything wrong with Sutherland’s earlier career helping to give his latest one a boost, and if it helps attract more people to the world of live music then that’s great.
The satisfying Going Down has a comfy feel to it, while Going Home is a slab of proper blues-rock.
Meanwhile, it’s bloody hot in here, and it’s no surprise when the show’s briefly halted when someone down the front passes out. But Sutherland’s quickly back into his stride, even if the set is marked by peaks and some not-so-high points.
Something You Love has more of a rock’n’roll feel to it live than it does in the studio, but both Bloor Street and County Jail Gate feel just a bit flat.
The singer shares a few anecdotes with us, including tales about his upbringing and one about when he went on a rodeo tour back of the States back in the 1990s (of course he did…). Another of his personal stories is about the background to So Full Of Love, which he wrote during the pandemic and which helped him realise he was “a changed man”. It’s a catchy tune with a great upbeat bounce to it.
A couple of Tom Petty covers are included, with Ways To Be Wicked the better of the two, and things get a bit rockier towards the end of the evening.
This Is How It’s Done adds a touch of funk to proceedings, and the encore completes the circle with the inclusion of Agave, which could easily fit into one of Schorr’s full electric sets.
All in all, it’s a satisfying end to an evening that slowed down a bit too much in places but nevertheless gave Sutherland the chance to show how he’s successfully embraced a number of genres.
But what would make for a great legacy from tonight would be if some of those who’ve been tempted to venture out by the presence of this Hollywood A-lister came back here again soon.
There’s plenty of good live stuff played around here, you know.