Lucia at Norwich Arts Centre - 01/02/2019
On a busy Friday night for gigs in Norwich, we checked in on PONY UP’s latest instalment to see what Norwich Arts Centre had to offer. First up were Current Bond, a London based quartet sharing members with Norwich’s very own Graceland, fresh from supporting The Neutrinos here last week. Ennio Morricone style atmospherics met with dark Southern Gothic tinged lyrics akin to narratives woven by the likes of Nick Cave, PJ Harvey or Anna Calvi made this a fruitily haunting start to the evening. All these aspects combined to give Current Bond a distinctly cinematic quality that sat comfortably beneath Arts Centre’s church ceiling. What could’ve potentially lacked in the bangers department was eradicated by enchanting stage presence and an excellent vocal performance throughout, particularly on the Karen O style mantra ‘Clicks’.
Playing a first gig is always a strange out-of-body experience: soundcheck’s scored by nerves and excitement which spends all day fizzing round your belly as you imagine all your pals seeing your strings snap and your dignity lost. Then next thing you know, the set whirlwinds past leaving you in trance-like state of ‘okay what now?’ Anyway, if the question is ‘what now’ then Hex Friends’ answer is ‘let’s party brah’. A 3-piece not unfamiliar with the Arts Centre stage, it was their first ever show since releasing debut single ‘Pinky Promise’. First impressions are important so it’s fair to say Hex Friends are tight, good-fun and accessible. Norwich has a surprising abundance of fuzzy C86-esque guitar pop so their set was well-received and refreshing. A lot of influences come to mind throughout their 6-song set: lashings of Pavement, My Bloody Valentine and Graham Coxon permeate the guitar playing of axe-man Connor Etteridge who feedbacks and screeches his way through nostalgic vignettes of garage pop-punk. This melting pot of influences and melodic inoffensive pop reminded me a lot of Philadelphia band Swearin’, whose debut single ‘Dust in the Gold Sack’ wouldn’t be out of place in a Hex Friends set. Like the bands Hex Friends recall, there’s a roughness round the edges but with tightness in all the right places that shows scope for evolution that’d go down a storm in a basement show.
Apparent answers to the increasingly nebulous question ‘is guitar music dead?’ Glaswegian Art-punks Lucia played an energetic frenzy of melodic new-wave that pulled influences from most of the right places. I couldn’t deny this is a band that look and sound like they bypassed early 80’s New York on the way doon from Glasgae. Never a bad thing. Refreshingly frenzied in their approach to what could’ve been the kind of streamlined set I usually expect from indie-bands, Lucia are clearly adept at working crowds; with energy and a good dose of attitude being a constant throughout, chipping away at the audience’s initial self-consciousness. An excellent performer whose staccato shouts and yelps were like a mixture of The Slits’ Ari Up and your favourite drill sergeant, the controlled intensity of Lucia Fairfull spearheaded the band’s attack. Fan faves like ‘Summertime’ and ‘Melted Ice-Cream’ upheld a pretty uninspiring brand of nostalgic indie-pop but a Glitter Band drumbeat here, and a Talking Heads style interlude there, meant the band pretty much unified young and old audiences alike. With every band that played being solid and well-received, it’s fair to say PONY UP have hit the back of the net once again.