Thursday evening. Late night shopping in Norwich. First Thursday in December. Definitely time to get this Christmas shopping malarkey sorted before the crowds and the crush becomes as unwelcome as a grope at a Catfish and the Bottlemen gig. Time to track down Grandpa's socks and Grandma's perfumed drawer liners before the gentle aroma of Yardley's lavender is replaced with the sweatier muskier smack of retail desperation.
Meanwhile, just a stone's throw from the top of Norwich's London Street (just like Bond Street, but without a tube station) lies Open, the magnificent former headquarters of Gurneys Bank. A place of refuge and sanctuary tonight from the over-priced gift coffrets and questionably unrepeatable blue cross bargains, and the venue for what hopefully will be the first of a regular series of events showcasing Norfolk's finest up and coming bands. Organised jointly by Outline Magazine and BBC Introducing, and taking over the downstairs Club Bar at Open, a good crowd has secured the best bargain available in Norwich tonight - four bands for a fiver (or £3 for those uber-organised bods who booked in advance).
First up are the mighty Midnight Zoo, three youngsters from Norwich who have are already creating waves and are being talked of locally as the 'new Joy Divison'. It's the third time I've seen them live in the space of a few months, and I'm pleased to report that their performances are maturing into much more than just an 80's tribute act. Jess Page Jarrett is a towering presence with his growling vocals, manic guitar work and adolescent strutting. His eyes may be closed whilst he sings, but ours are transfixed. Neat drums from Michael and steady bass from Zachary provide the anchor to a memorable opener for tonight's show. Two new songs premiered tonight, including the impressively moody 'Ride the Tide'.
Jess from Midnight Zoo
Thieving Icons have a lot of support in the room tonight, and relish playing to the crowd as they launch into their set of punchy pop punk. Andrew Todd has recently joined the lineup, replacing Marcus on drums, but the seams don't show. Admittedly their material reminds me of the standard pub-rock fayre that I used to dine out on back at The Greyhound in Fulham Palace Road many moons ago, but the final two songs seem to shift up a gear and have greater impact. More 'Narcotics' please.
Thieving Icons' Liam Wells
Secret From Richard are the second of tonight's acts that are new to me. They seem to divide opinion, but for my money they are probably the most marketable of tonight's lineup, and their playing seems to be a quorum of four individual talents, each contributing to the finished product. The strength of the material is obviously paramount, and even though these boys have the right jeans, the right trainers and exactly the right line-up of faces (bearded beany-toting guitarist, long-haired grunger on bass, manic drummer and blonde good-looker on vocals), the songs and stage presence could perhaps benefit from a tad more aggression. Way too good to be fed to the A&R men and moulded into something they're not, but most definitely deserving of wider recognition.
Secret From Richard's Jason Sturman
BK & Dad need no introduction to anyone remotely interested in the Norwich music scene, but are so, so different to any of the other three acts that it is a shame that not everyone stayed long enough to see them headline tonight's 'Cut'. The sonic blitzkrieg of Leo's guitar and Pip's drumming never fails to impress, whether it be from the stage of the Norwich Arts Centre with full visual accompaniment, or from a simple marquee by the skatepark in Eaton Park. Either way I am transported back in time to the days of the UFO Club in Tottenham Court Road in a way that the likes of Royal Blood seem uninterested in tapping into. If you like your ears to bleed in seven psychedelic shades, you will love BK & Dad.
BK & Dad
So that was it. Thursday night. Too late to organise another Cut in time to soften the carnage of the next three weeks' late night shopping grapples, but at least Grandma's drawers are sorted. More soon please, and thank you to Open, Outline and BBC Introducing for making the first Cut the deepest.