Sunday, 30 December 2018

CLUB UNIQUITY BIG SHOW, Duke’s Head, Somerleyton, 28 December 2018 review

THIS CLUB WAS BUILT WITH LOVE
Unlikely though it might seem, Somerleyton's Club Uniquity is the Hacienda of Waveney.

It’s easy to feel the thud of apathy in your soul when live entertainment events in and around Lowestoft are so badly attended or, at least, the ones I’ve been too have been. This is why, the afternoon after the night before at Club Uniquity – based at the Duke’s Head pub in Somerleyton – I’m still buzzing. In fact, when I got in last night, I was so stoked up I didn’t want to go to bed. For a man who’s usually in bed by half nine these days, that’s a breakthrough.

My friend Lurch saw the American singer/songwriter Dean Friedman at Club Uniquity in the summer. If a quiet little place in Somerleyton could attract a major US musician on an acoustic tour, then it had to be worth investigating. Then Lurch told me that it was run by Paul Johnson (left), who we were both at school with.

Paul Johnson. When we were all incarcerated at Benjamin Britten High School, he was one of the cool guys. Judging by the way his positivity, enthusiasm and just plain funny personality informs Club Uniquity, he still is. (Back at the old grey school, Paul’s band did Sex Pistols covers, and I remember being honoured that he asked me to do a Sid Vicious painting on the back of his leather jacket. That was the height of street cred at BBHS in 1979). 

The aesthetic of the club is very simple: it’s cool and comfortable, with sofas and padded stools, so you can sit and watch the various musical acts in a relaxed manner as you have a drink. There’s none of the self conscious atmosphere that can be generated, when the audience has to stand and fill the floor space in front of acts they don’t know, or when they’re corralled into regimented rows of chairs that make it hard to get a refill or visit the bathroom. A sign above the stage says ‘This Club Was Built With Love’, and that attitude resonates in everything from the soft, atmospheric lighting to the framed pictures of Debbie Harry and Madonna on the walls. So… me and Lurch were there for Club Uniquity’s Big Show, which is held once a month, presenting a selection of varied acts. 


First up was singer songwriter Yve Mary B (left). I can only appraise things through the crazy paving of my musical reference points, so to me Yve’s set suggested country rock like the Cowboy Junkies with maybe a nod or two to Joni Mitchell. Not really my personal taste, but her guitar playing was hypnotically melodic and Ye has an equally beguiling voice. At Paul’s urging, she did an encore and then was joined by a friend for a duet with Lauren Dove. Thisextra time’ was all good naturedly spontaneous, the kind of thing that the atmosphere of Uniquity positively encourages.

Riddle was a different proposition altogether, a young guy throwing himself around the stage like Iggy Pop learning his moves, with a sound that put me in mind of Bruno Mars, with some inspiration from vintage Prince. Riddle has a voice of great range, but I felt that he would be better off dropping the acrobatics, and should have enough confidence in his material to play his songs straight, as Yve did. Can’t fault his vocal craft, though, although his between song banter could be sharpened up, particularly when Paul stole a big laugh from the mixing desk with his comment that perhaps Riddle, “would like to have his first homosexual experience.”

Yve and Lauren were back next as they’re both in TransEuropa, Paul’s band, together with an excellent, smiley drummer called Dan. Paul’s upbeat attitude to life shines through in a dance act that, to my mind, appear to be the product of a chemical love-in between Screamadelica and Dreadzone. The vibe was ‘up’ and genuinely fucking epic!”. Praising Yve and Lauren’s synchronised dance moves and harmonised vocals, Paul couldn’t help but endear you to him, grinning about how delighted he was to be jamming with such creative people; also, there can’t be many performers who can keep singing while adjusting the sound levels at the mixing desk. I’d love to know if TransEuropa are playing any festivals next year – they’d go down an absolute storm.

With a real buzz now in the room, last up were Coronation Kings (left). This is where things get even more surreal for me. Myself and Lurch were not only at school with, but were in the same class as, lead singer and guitarist Richard Barrett... I didn’t really know what to expect but, like all the acts on this evening in various ways, the Kings’ set was class stuff. Again – and this is only my opinion – their focused, immediately infectious rock brought to mind some of Kings of Leon’s catalogue, with Richard’s vocals reminding me a bit of John Power from Cast. They were really, really good, and I wasn’t surprised to discover, after doing some checking this morning, that their two stand-out tracks, ‘Waterfall’ and ‘Domino’, were issued as singles. An album’s apparently due in early 2019, which needless to say I’ll be purchasing.

What a great night! Club Uniquity doesn’t even charge an entrance fee, and the bar prices were so reasonable that I was convinced I’d been undercharged all night. Not only that, but whoever’s in charge of the music in the Duke’s Head clearly has a real ear for classics, as The Who’s revolutionary call-to-arms ‘Won’t Get Fooled Again’ was blasting out when Lurch and I stopped by for a concluding pint. (Not surprising, then, that the best covers band round these parts, the Austin Beats, are playing at the Duke on New Year’s Eve.)

It’s worth saying one more time: Club Uniquity is fantastic. I’ll happily trot out the cliché that it’s one of this region’s best kept secrets, but with nights as life affirming as this, it won’t be for much longer.

All images copyright respective artists.

3 comments:

  1. Lurch's response.
    Right! I've had a chance to 'come back down to Earth', since seeing the Coronation Kings, at Club Uniquity on Friday evening. It had been roughly 38 years since I last saw Richard Barrett perform. This was back in the days of school disco nights at Benjamin Britten high school.

    As an ageing punk/mod rocker, my album collection is largely made up of 70's & 80's punk/mod music (no surprise there). But it's not limited to that. My top 5 bands/artists, (in no particular order) are: The Stranglers, Clannad, Rush, It Bites, and John Denver!!! So the obvious punk/new wave, some folk, heavy stuff, and even a bit of country music (which generally I loathe!) Indeed, even this year, amongst the annual Stranglers gig, Public Image Limited, Killing Joke, etc, I've even fitted in Dean Friedman and The Feeling!
    The bottom line is, that I don't only have one taste in music, and 'that's it'!

    So, the CK's gig. I went there with a bias, because of wanting to see Richard perform, and I was totally blown away! They were in my opinion, simply the best 'original material' amateur (and I use that term lightly) band, that I have seen! The performance was up there with anything that the Kings of Leon, Kaiser Chiefs, and even Coldplay, have turned out. I likened Richard to Rob Dickinson of Catherine Wheel. Only with a better voice (again that is just my opinion)

    The next gig apparently, is at the Dock Tavern!!!!!! in Gorleston. The guys are far far better than that! I wish that I had the kind of money to promote them, and get them to where they rightfully should be. Here's hoping they get that lucky break, that so much of the manufactured dross gets these days! Simon Cowell take note.

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  2. It was the marvellous Lauren Dove singing with yve

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