But it works both ways. Tonight, whilst the mighty Arsenal FC are being entertained by South London minnows Sutton United, with the prize being a place in the quarter-finals of the FA Cup, I am at Norwich Arts Centre mostly to see two of my favourite local bands play. The main attraction, though, is The Nightingales, a band formed in 1979 by four members of Birmingham's founding punk band The Prefects. Much loved by the late John Peel, and still championed by Marc Riley, I have to admit that I have never seen seen them live before. Yet the fact that no less than four other reviewer colleagues, whose opinions and musical knowledge I respect hugely, are here tells me that this must indeed be an essential band.
But let us not forget those two support acts of whom I spoke earlier. I reviewed Violet Kicks only a few weeks ago for Outline Magazine, so would point you towards that for a deeper insight, but needless to say Jessie, Matty, Melissa and Conor nailed it again with strong stage presence, and songs such as the almost-hallucinogenic Scenes Distorted. And this is still only gig number four for this talented quartet.
Earlier Outline review of Odd Box Promotions gig including Violet Kicks
Although I quoted Graceland as being one of my favourite Norwich bands, tonight was actually the first time I have seen their complete set. Previously I have only caught snatched moments whilst volunteering on the NAC box office, or when dashing from one venue to another during Norwich Sound and Vision. Yet I feel as though I know this band so well. Stevie and Maxie Gedge played in The Brownies, an earlier band that also featured Sophie Little (of BBC Introducing and Radio 1 fame) on vocals, and whose album Our Knife, Your Back got rave reviews in both Q magazine and the NME. Stevie still plays bass, Maxie has switched to drums, and the Graceland line-up is now completed by Ellie Jones on guitar and Rosie Arnold on guitar, keys and vocals.
Rosie Arnold - Graceland
Tonight's set did not disappoint, although being on home turf with plenty of friends in the audience might have allowed a casual air to infuse the stage - their were a couple of brief intermissions between numbers, and Rosie's sardonic thanks to Norwich Arts Centre for booking them captured her wry sense of humour perfectly. However, the pedigree of all four members truly shone through tonight - Ellie is cool and detached, Stevie side-steps neatly from one foot to another as she propels each song forward with her inimitable bass playing, Maxie is thumping the skins to within a whisker of their lives, and Rosie's vocals are given just the right amount of reverb to bring it all together and deliver an auditory explosion on a par with sampling the finest sushi selection. Highlight for me was the single Fleetwood, a track that, ironically, contains one of the most addictive and memorable bass lines since The Chain. So, so good.
Music is nothing like football - the pleasure of a gig is in being able to savour and enjoy every act without partisanism or prejudice, to be able to appreciate talent in whatever form it presents itself, and be open and receptive to new experiences as well as enjoy the familiar. This gig tonight did that for me, and was in every way so much more enjoyable than watching eleven multi-millionaires struggling to kick the shit out of a team of part-timers in Surrey.
Graceland - Video for 'Fleetwood'