Punk and Psychedelicious Sounds in Norwich

by | Jul 12, 2022 | Music

Another sweltering Friday night in the city and live music in abundance. The Walnut Tree Shades never lets the party crowd down at the weekend, there is always a solid set of well-known tunes being delivered by more than competent covers bands. Last week, Head Way fuelled a fab-pop-rock evening with familiar singalong tunes, the previous week the brilliant guitar work of Decades Apart took the punters into the shut your eyes and play air-guitar world of Hendrix and Guns N’Roses, before topping it off with a stunning interpretation of Lynyrd Skynyrd’s Freebird.

Tonight, the first of a threatened heatwave, the renown Alternative Lobster, accompanied by their shaven-headed polo shirt-wearing fans pounded through punk’s classics. Anyone wanting for The Jam, early songs from The Clash (Janie Jones), weren’t to be disappointed.

The guitars sounded familiar, the rhythm section on message, the lyrics angry and delivered as raw as the day they were scrawled. Alternative Lobster are good at that kind of punk. On songs where some subtlety was needed, like the faux-California delivery of the Ramones, or the musicality of The Stranglers, tonight wasn’t the night for it. Passionately delivered monotonal, near-chanting was how things would be sung tonight.

As the reliably punk-rocking Alternative Lobster ended the first half of their set, it was time to head to Timber Hill for something a little more alternative, Karma Sheen. A glance at the web-page for Voodoo Daddy’s and a link to the band, promised psychedelicious sounds in a Raag-and-Roll mash up. For the cloned 1970s San Francisco moustaches and tie-dye shirts alone, it was worth stepping across the city centre and taking a musical trip.

Only previously once seen locally at The Last Pub Standing, this London band have already acquired a fanatical Norwich following. Two people came up to me separately before the set started to tell me how “fantastic” this band were going to be and that they are “a different league!”

The meditative sitar leads us into creamy soundscapes evocative of the 60s, soundscapes driven by drums, by a throbbing bass, overlaid by the sweetest guitar solos, sounds that anyone who was really there in the 1960s might remember. Sameer Khan’s vocals, guitar work, pipe work and harmonium playing brings the Sufi influence to the stage. This Hindustani psychedelic rock is head-spinning and mind-blowing. These guys even blend in a Theremin alongside the rocking sitar that George Harrison could only have dreamt about.

Everyone in the crowd was jumping and twirling as the show built up to its tumultuous climax. It was great to hear something new, something exciting, tunes and rock that build and pause and breathe. Sounds that spread love and peace from the mixed-up soul of 21st Century England. This band knows how to move a crowd. For a moment, I had a vision flash across my mind’s eye of Karma Sheen getting 100,000 people up, dancing on their crazed feet, in a field in Somerset.