Oh, how I would love it if Norwich post-rock experimentalists Host were ever to play Burnham Market. Then I could headline my blog entry with Hoste Arms Host Host, ore even better, Hoste Arms Host Leg of Host Tour. But I am being silly, and I digress.
I have arrived at The Murderers in Timber Hill in good time for tonight's Odd Box live music night. The first bands tend to start around nine o'clock, but promoter Georgie is busying herself whilst soundchecks are finalised. Grabbing myself a pint of Woodfordes Wherry as I pass the bar, I take up position near the corner stage ready for the first act.
The evening opens with Soyuz Rats, a band I haven't seen since they supported Eagulls at the Arts Centre earlier this year. Live it consists of Rob Burton and Chris Richford channelling live energy from electric guitar and bass into a soundcape of drumloops, samples and growling vocals that veers from punk to metal to rock like a weather vane spinning on a blustery day. There's so many influences in the mix that it is hard to keep up, but Rob and Chris have it all under control, with much hitting of effects pedals and turning of knobs. A quite awesome set, and a polished blend of live instrument and pre-recorded sound. There's stuff to listen to and download at http://soyuzrats.bandcamp.com/releases
I believe that I saw Epia play their very first set here at The Murderers earlier in the year, and I am pleased to report that tonight's gig was no less chaotic, with a vintage synthesiser crashing to the floor during the soundcheck, and the set being halted mid-way in order to find a longer cable for the drummer's headphones. Even Mark Jennings apology to the audience comes through a distorted microphone making his voice sound like Mickie Mouse on helium. But when it all comes together, and all that electronic energy is harnessed, and Andrew and Christian are on board, the effect is mesmerising and a satisfying moment to savour. A bit like in the old days of the circus, when the lion tamer finally has all the giant cats sitting on the right platforms. It is a rich mix of live guitars and drums weaving a path alongside Jennings' keys and all melting into the collection of samples and programmed rhythms emerging via the circuit boards and laptop memories. There's a brilliant album of their music, Local Closures, featuring tracks from both Epia and Mark Jennings' other band Broads. Download at https://broadsofnorfolk.bandcamp.com/
Last, and certainly not least, come tonight's headliners Host, a band that I last saw at another Odd Box night earlier this year at The Murderers after having finished my volunteer box office shift at Norwich Arts Centre. I arrived that night having sadly missed Mari Joyce and Hot Raisin, and I was actually lucky to see as much of Host's set as I did, but I loved the way that Lorna's vocals carried, and how the combination of Jack on guitar, Steve on synths and Dan on drums seemed to be each bringing something special to the sound.
Tonight's set starts slowly, and it is a couple of songs in before Lorna's voice has really loosened up. She is sipping from a bottle that she claims contains a mixture of camomile tea and honey, but looks more like the kind of fluid that gets lobbed towards the stage at Download when audience are getting restless. Each song is counted in on the sticks by Dan, who then keeps the rhythm hot whilst Steve adds in the synths and Jack plays with the kind of electric guitar work that at any moment threatens to spin off into a classic old-fashioned rock solo.
But Host are a band that are a great example of that cliché the 'sum of the individual parts', and it is when all four are in full flow together that the ethereal beauty and driving rhythm of their music truly shines. They get better and better as the set progresses. By the time we get to the last song the audience have really got behind them, and an encore is inevitable. They do not get to play live that often, and the next performance is not until September at The Owl Sanctuary, so make a note to check that date. In the meantime, there's music to download at http://host1.bandcamp.com/
Soyuz Rats Facebook : https://www.facebook.com/search/top/?q=soyuz%20rats
Epia Facebook : https://www.facebook.com/Epia-1848888708671094/?fref=ts
Host Facebook : https://www.facebook.com/HOSTNaarch/
Odd Box Promotions Facebook : https://www.facebook.com/Oddboxbookings/?fref=ts
The Murderers Facebook : https://www.facebook.com/The-Murderers-125665510821221/?ref=br_rs&qsefr=1