Video: Ulrich Schnauss, Radiophonic Workshop and Public Service Broadcasting make it an epic first night of the Norwich Sound and Vision Festival
11:37 10 October 2014
A review of the first night of Norwich Sound and Vision 2014, including Ulrich Schnauss, Radiophonic Workshop and Public Service Broadcasting.
There are two ways of enjoying the Norwich Sound and Vision Festival, which is fast in danger of becoming one of the highlights of the city’s social calendar.
This time last year the wife and I decided to see just how many venues and performances it was possible to enjoy in just one night.
The result of which was a thrilling night enjoying a diverse range of music styles from acoustic and folk, through to funk and hip-hop. And for the record the answer was six bands in six venues in a highly entertaining six hours.
For this year’s festival trip (for babysitting necessities mean we can only enjoy just one night of the three day event) we chose to partake in the second way of following the festival - by picking one venue and being based there for the evening.
That may mean the music is less diverse, but the benefit is you properly immerse yourself in the music put in front of you - rather than constantly checking the schedule and trying to work out what time you need to be and where for the next musical hit.
And boy am I glad we chose to spend the evening at Epic, because the trio of Ulrich Schnauss, Radiophonic Workshop and Public Service Broadcasting provided what must surely be one of the most intriguing and enjoyable musical nights in the city this year.
Before all of that, we did however enjoy a festival hors d’oeuvre by supping a welcome early evening drink at the Craft Beer Festival, in St Margaret’s Church, in St Benedicts Street - a welcome new addition this year and a good way of bringing several local breweries in on the act.
After a pleasant 20 minutes listening to Daisy Victoria in the Epic bar, we arrived in the main bit of the venue in time for Ulrich Schnauss.
Half an hour of the German’s dreamy electronic music threatens to put us all in a sleepy trance, but is a perfect way to wind down from the hectic day before and prepare for a night of live music.
As with all of the three acts, Schnauss’ epic soundscapes are backed with engrossing videos, his made up of visual trips through mountains and glaciers - all in all the perfect accompaniment.
The main support act of the night, Radiophonic Workshop, are an intriguing prospect. They were a sound affect unit set up within the BBC way back in 1958 to produce effects and music for television and radio.
If I say ‘Dr Who theme’ you’ll instantly know their most well-known composition.
After being disbanded more than a decade ago, some of its members have reformed to tour and produce a new album.
They shuffle on to the stage and it’s only natural that the first thing you notice is their age. This is a band made up of very experienced musicians.
Looks decieve (and in this case matter not a jot) because what they perform for the next hour is some of the most original and unique music I’ve heard live - and to think that some of it was written more than five decades ago.
Titles like ‘Electricity’, ‘Out of this World’ and ‘Vortex’ give you some indication of the epic scale of the music being performed. Each song builds and builds and builds to a thrilling conclusion.
They finish with the aforemention Dr Who song, but unsurprisingly, not quite the version we all know so well.
It’s a hard act to follow and by the time Public Service Broadcasting enter the stage, the value for money box has already been ticked.
Like the band before, PSB (as they are known) are an equally strange prospect to explain. A two-piece made up of a drummer (who drums) and a lead (who provides vocals, electronics, keyboard, guitar and even banjo - often all in the same song).
The premise is one that instantly intrigues - footage and audio from public service broadcasts, archives and propaganda videos played over music touching upon a variety of genres, from fast rock, to country to dance and electronic music.
They are a band who’s music often fits perfectly with the subject in question. Several of their songs about war actually manage to sound like the subject in question, in particular ‘If War Should Come’ which becomes more and more intense as the words audio talks us through the process of Britain preparing for war.
Highlights include ‘Night Mail’, which samples the famous WH Auden poem and again manages to sound a bit like a train and its staff working through the night, ‘Spitfire’ and ‘Everest, which you may not be surprised to learn, reaches it’s climax just as the story reaches the summit of the world’s largest mountain.
They are a duo who are hard to explain but I’d highly recommend their first album proper ‘Inform - Educate - Entertain’.
If Norwich Sound and Vision is about bringing truly unique music to the city and giving people their first taste of such acts, then this was the perfect opening night.
Click here to see Radiophonic Workshop in action.