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AAA Music | 22 January 2020

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Drugstore – Live @ Norwich Arts Centre

| On 20, Dec 2013

Friday December 13th, Norwich

WombatWombat’s 13th Birthday & Christmas Party is a special date in the calendar for the Norwich Arts Centre. A wonderful converted church with an intimate and friendly atmosphere, ideal for the three bands playing tonight.

Starting with the debut gig for Norwich ‘super group’ BUOYS, who consist of no less than six familiar musicians in the band, all female apart from the drummer. They make a raw punky call and response type noise, which is a wonderful racket. Their set is full of fun but rather disjointed and chaotic at times. Both of these attributes made them a delight to watch as they were clearly having fun whilst delivering some damn fine tunes.

She Makes War is the DIY solo project of Bristol based multi-instrumentalist, Laura Kidd. She describes herself as Dramatic Gloom-Pop and uses loop-pedal layers of vocals, electric guitar, ukulele, megaphone, marching drum and what I think is a bouzouki. Kidd is both confident and individual as she mesmerises the almost-full confines of the converted church that is the Norwich Arts Centre. Her songs are pretty brilliant with titles like ‘Shields’ and ‘Daggers and Slow Puncture’ – they are executed in a very confident manner. She is chatty throughout and says we are ‘nice’, and ends on the superb ‘Scared To Capsize’. We experience one of the best and most diverse artists seen at the Arts Centre for a long, long time

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Drugstore are a London based, alternative-indie band, led by charismatic Brazilian songwriter and bassist Isabel Monteiro – they have been around for some 20 years, not really fitting into any particular music genre. They broke up in 2002 and reformed a few years ago. Things haven’t been easy for Monteiro in the intervening years – lost love, homelessness and, at a guess, a love for a drink or two. But unlike many of the current plethora of female singer/songwriters, Monteiro tells it like it is, good and bad, with a generosity of true emotion and a humour that makes it universal.

Tonight, predictably, they are on great form and change from guitar driven indie pop to gut-wrenching tales of hardship and woe, but all in a good, reassuring way. The packed crowd are both attentive and quiet and almost always polite, and simply love watching Monteiro’s dramatic and theatrical way of melting the crowd’s hearts with her honesty and heart-on-sleeve lyrics.

They begin proceedings with their only ‘hit’ single ‘El President’ and you forget Thom Yorke was on the original or had anything to do with it, such is the beauty. Next up and well received is comeback song ‘Sweet Chilli Girl’, which garnered good airplay on Radio 6 a couple of years ago. Throughout the set, Monteiro swigs occasionally from a bottle of wine and the band are even bought a round of drinks by a punter in the front row after a supposed dare from one of his friends

Ending with the appropriate ‘Xmas In The North Pole’, the crowd participate in a mass sing-a-long with smiles on everyone’s faces. Monteiro nicely pleads for no one to put this ‘fun’ song on YouTube, as she is so renowned for her sadder songs not happiness! Was it a classic Christmas party? Yes!

Words and Photos: Nigel Nudds