New season: Norwich Arts Centre

TREVOR HEATON, EDP Whats On Editor Norwich Arts Centre becomes the latest venue to launch its autumn season next week. And guess what? We’ve had an exclusive peek.


A packed line-up beckons at this much-loved arts venue, tucked away at the end of St Benedict's in Norwich.

Now moving into its 31st year, Norwich Arts Centre has put on thousands of bands, solo performers, artists, comedians, plays and exhibitions in that time.

Among them, famously, are many names which have gone on to become huge international stars (Manic Street Preachers, Coldplay, Oasis and Nirvana among them).

And there's some very promising names in the new line-up too. Here are just a couple: Catherine Feeny (September 4) was born in Philadelphia but has made her home in Norwich over the past couple of years. She's been making ever-growing waves with her second album Hurricane Glass and among her festival and tour appearances this year was Glastonbury (£8 adv, £9 door).

On the comedy side, when reviewers start comparing you to Monty Python and the Not the Nine O'Clock News teams, then it's time to sit up and take notice. The Ornate Johnsons (November 1, £10, concs £8) have earned just such plaudits following their successful appearance on BBC4. The group is composed of “behind the scenes” writers and collaborators with such comics as Matt Lucas, Jo Caulfield and, er, Basil Brush - but they don't seem destined to stay behind the scenes for very long.

Most Read

Music, as ever, forms the backbone of the programming with the usual massive range running the gamut from indie to pop, folk to world, jazz to rock.

On the pop side, Tiny Dancers (September 2, £6.50 adv, £7.50 door) have been winning plenty of airplay on the likes of Radcliffe and Maconie for their blend of Sixties pop melodies with a quirky and very English post-punk sensibility.

From Canada the night after there are pop-rockers Malajube (£6 adv, £7 door), winners of the country's equivalent of the Mercury Music Prize. Then on September 19 there's fast-rising Ben's Brother, led by Jamie Hartman who's penned such songs as All Time Love for Will Young (£7 adv).

Indie attractions include - on September 8 - highly-rated Norwich combo Lot 55 headlining a fund-raiser for Norfolk charity Nelson's Journey. They'll be supported by Fitzwilliam and the Spitfires, NBT III finalists Sam and Daisy and Telegram Sam. Tickets £5 adv, £6 door.

Americana is a genre that crosses several - singer-songwriter, blues, country, folk… and Devon Sproule (September 6) ticks all those boxes. Fans of Gillian Welch will find much to admire in the songs of Sproule (and her band).

Tickets £8, concs £6. On October 2, Texas songwriter Eric Taylor (same prices) brings his blues-tinged tales of everyman… and -woman.

Country music fans, meanwhile, should check out the October 17 visit of Dale Watson (£10 adv, £11 door), whose style has been compared to Johnny Cash, no less, with rolling rhythms and combination of pedal steel and fiddle.

Folk fans have some excellent attractions this autumn. On September 24, Northumbrian quartet Rachel Unthank and the Winterset have quietly notched up plenty of celeb admirers with their North East traditional songs and interpretations of works by artists as diverse Antony and the Johnsons and Robert Wyatt. Tickets £10, concs £8.

Then, on October 29, award-winning Malinky will be bringing their sparkling take on Celtic musical traditions (£10, concs £8).

Vancouver-based duo Salt, in concert on September 26, are already veterans of the international roots music community.

November sees a brace of top Irish names - on the 12th it's the sought-after combo Lúnasa (£12, concs £10), while on the 18th it's the stunning vocals of Cara Dillon (£12, concs £10).

The arts centre's intimate atmosphere makes it a superb venue for singer-songwriters and among the numerous purveyors of the genre there's David Ford (with a “pocket orchestra” of cello and violins) on September 13. Tickets £6 adv, £7 door.

Norwich-based Lisa Redford has won international praise (and worldwide sales) for her two albums. With recent appearances at prestigious venues in New York under her belt, she's back on home territory on September 14 (£8 adv, £9 door).

King Creosote (Kenny Anderson) is the driving force behind Scotland's Fence collective, responsible for more than 600 songs - and which launched the career of a certain KT Tunstall. He'll bring his folk/pop/country-rock tunes to the venue on October 4 (£12 adv, £13 door).

Elusive LA songwriter JD Souther is in concert on October 5 (£12, concs £10).

Rock and roll revivalists Vincent Vincent and the Villains bring good-time tunes and rockabilly bang up to date on November 2 (£6.50 adv, £7.50 door).

Jazz is represented by (October 31) Tim Garland's Northern Underground Orchestra, an explosive 13-piece combo featuring top soloists and new and classic songs (£10, concs £8). Jazz/hip hop star Soweto Kinch headlines a finale evening for Norfolk Black History Month on November 3 (£5 adv, £6 door, £4 concs), while genre-crossing combo Polar Bear make a return visit to the St Benedict's venue on November 24 (£10, concs £8).

Gilad Atzmon (November 28, £10, concs £8) winds up the jazz programme with his blend of bebop, electro, ethnic and classical.

World music to look out for include an evening of Afro-Brasil music, dub and dance on September 1 (£5 adv, £6 door), brass band Balkanatics (September 28, £8, concs £6), Zimfest - celebrating traditional and modern Zimbabwean music - on October 6 (£7, concs £5), and Mali quartet Bassekou Kouyate and Ngoni ba (November 22, £10, concs £8).

Cabaret, comedy and children's entertainment includes (September 5, £3.50 adv, £4 door) the music and spoken word in The Broken Piano Show, Red Dwarf legend Norman Lovett's new show on September 11 (£10, concs £8), Out of Your Knowledge - a celebration of poet John Clare - on September 20 (£8, concs £6), an audience with Howard Marks (October 3, £14.50), writer, poet and performer Lemn Sissay (October 11, £8, concs £6), comic Stephen K Amos (October 15, £12, concs £10), people's poet Ian McMillan (with Yorkshire five-piece band Henwen) is on October 22 (£11, concs £9).

Acclaimed comedian Rhod Gilbert is much in demand on television and radio where his deadpan style (think: a Welsh Rich Hall) has made him a firm favourite. He brings his new show - Who's Eaten Gilbert's Grape? to the venue on October 30 (£10, concs £8) and tickets will be in heavy demand, we predict.

There are a couple of great children's shows for October half term: Silly Billy Bum Breath Strikes Back (October 23, £8, concs £6) and Comedy Club 4 Kids (October 27, with Janice Phayre, Stuart Goldsmith and Ed Petrie. Tickets £8, concs £5)…

…plus of course, the usual packed programme of visual art, drama, courses, talks, film and much more.

t Box office: 01603 660352; Book online at

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter