A bonus of securing Radio 1's Big Weekend this year for Norwich has been the week of Radio 1 Academy sessions at Open in the city centre, a chance for youngsters to learn about a career in the music and media business. Whilst I just (!) miss the upper age cut-off for attending seminars with illustrious speakers like Greg James and Jake Humphries, or sneaking into live Lounge sessions with the likes of Ella Eyre, Jessie Ware, or The Maccabees, I was able to blag a ticket for last night's BBC Introducing gig, hosted by BBC Radio Norfolk's Sophie Little and Radio 1's Huw Stephens.
Tickets are applied for through the Radio 1 website. After a confirmatory e-mail to reassure you that the application has been received, the bar-coded e-tickets hopefully arrive in your in-box a few hours later. As with all BBC shows, they tend to over-ticket to ensure a full house, so do not take this as a guarantee that you will actually get in. Remember what happened when The Maccabees played Norwich Arts Centre to celebrate their winning the NME Best Small Venue last year. NME sent out free tickets to 400 'prizewinners'. Unfortunately, most of them turned up at the 290 capacity venue to claim their prize.
Last night's patient were finally admitted to Open almost forty five minutes after the advertised 'Doors' time of 19.00pm. An earlier evacuation of the building caused by smoke effects setting off the fire alarms was blamed, but any seasoned gig-goer will know that delays can be, and often are, due to all sorts of reasons.
The honour of opening tonight's show falls on Norwich eight piece, 'Real Life Charm'. who I recently saw support 'Wooden Arms' at Epic. It is always going to be difficult to organise and balance the sound well on stage for a band that has eight members, including two keyboards and two percussionists, but the technical team nailed it tonight. I am really warming to this band. Their percussive electronica contributes, but never overpowers, the vocals and the guitars, and frontman Tim Hyland has the range to sound at one moment like Wild Beasts or Alt-J, then drop down when the song calls for deeper power and projection. No wonder they are picking up radio play from national stations, and you can still get a free download of their single 'Desire' if you are quick. Standout track for me, though, remains the sensual sadness of 'Freud'.
The second local act is the wonderful, amazing Daisy Victoria. Don't make the mistake of drawing comparisons with PJ Harvey or Kate Bush. You might come close vocally with Emilie Simon, but Daisy is a self-contained individual talent that will soon have everyone speaking her name. Give credit too to her brother Sam, who co-writes and produces, and proud Mum and Dad who I believe I spot in the audience with i-Pad and mobile held aloft. Huw Stephens gets a mention for playing her first single 'Heart Full of Beef' on his show, and we all get thanked for coming to see her. The pleasure, Daisy, is ours.
Headliners tonight are Essex based 'The Bohicas' a four-piece rock band that evolved out of 'Swanton Bombs'. The sound desk really crank up the volume for this one, maximising the blisteringly seedy rock and roll, pumping guitar and ground-shaking drums. Add in punchy vocals and alpha-male posturing and you have rock and roll on a plate. Signed to my favourite label in the world, Domino, these boys provide a fitting climax to this first BBC Introducing gig from Open.
Huw Stephens takes over on the wheels of steel for a DJ set, whilst I sneak off home for a Pot Noodle. For those lucky enough to have tickets for the second show tonight, you are in for another triage of treats with local bands 'Teen Brains' and 'Montagues and Capulets' (both excellent), and 'Sundara Karma' from Reading. Have a good one!
Real Life Charm's Facebook page is at https://www.facebook.com/reallifecharm , where you will find a link to the free download.
Daisy Victoria has Facebook, including tour dates, at https://www.facebook.com/daisyvic
The Bohicas have their own page on Domino Records' website at http://www.dominorecordco.com/thebohicas/
Like Daisy, they will be playing the incredibly fun and cool Great Escape at Brighton later this month