Wednesday, 5 December 2012

A little blog about Norwich Arts Centre....

I thought it was about time I did a blog about one of my favourite Norwich performance venues. It’s the place where I started my music photography back in 2003, and has featured heavily in my life for many years. This place is the delightful Norwich Arts Centre.

The current home of Norwich Arts Centre used to be a church, St Swithins - you can read more about the history of the church here. The Arts Centre has been based at St Swithins since 1980 and previous to that occupied a former department store on St Benedicts Street. It is loved by many - the musicians who have played and those who have watched bands over the years.

My association with the venue is a little less rock and roll than the bands performing there - mainly due to the fact I lean mostly towards indie and folk music.  My photography career began there in October 2003. It was a time when I went to a lot of gigs because they sounded interesting, and most of the time I didn't really know anything about the people playing at them. This is an approach I've recently started using again as I really did find some great music that way, and I'm sure I will do again.

The first gig I took a camera to was very memorable due to the fact the second photo I ever took is still one of my favourites. I was shooting using an Olympus OM10 film camera, and my subject was Nina Nastasia, who played an absolutely fantastic set and was also a willing subject. This photo has been used by Nina herself and Touch and Go Records over the years, and still pops out of the woodwork occasionally.

Nina Nastasia - 2003

This opportunity was the start of a musical adventure for me, and I started covering many gigs in the local area. I continued to use the OM10 for some time, but then it failed catastrophically as I was photographing Snow Patrol at Norwich Waterfront, with not a single photo coming out. I took the decision to go digital.

Many of the gigs I have photographed over the last decade have been at Norwich Arts Centre. I love the intimacy of live music there. I love the history of the place, the acoustics - and even the sticky floor at a busy standing gig. I love the staff who have made me feel welcome at every gig I come to.  And I love that atmosphere when you witness something special there, which I've been lucky enough to do several times.

The lighting can often be a challenge, but then it wouldn't be the same with blaring white lights would it?

I'm going to recall some of my favourite musical moments at Norwich Arts Centre now, in no particular order....

Emiliana Torrini - 2005. A really beautiful gig, with a stage covered in candles.

Emiliana Torrini

Martha Wainwright - A boiling hot evening in 2008. Memorable also because Martha told a peristent heckler to go away in style. She got a big round of applause from what I remember...

Martha Wainwright

God Is An Astronaut - Strobe lighting allowed me to play...

God is an Astronaut

KT Tunstall - one of those nights where you knew you were seeing something special. KT went on to massive things after this show.

KT Tunstall

Rilo Kiley- Another very memorable night with a band I was crazy about at the time. 2005 was an amazing year for gigs at the Arts Centre.

Jenny Lewis of Rilo Kiley

Mumford and Sons 

Mumford and Sons

Scott Matthews - one of the best gigs of 2011 for me. A great songwriter.

Scott Matthews

The Raveonettes - Another fantastic band to see in such a small venue. Really atmospheric.

Sharin Foo, The Raveonettes

Stephen Fretwell - Another fantastic British songwriter. This gig sent shivers down my spine.Another from the golden year of 2005.

Stephen Fretwell

Regina Spektor - The first time I'd ever seen someone play a chair.

Regina Spektor

Dan Deacon - I saw Dan at DumDuckerDum festival in 2007. This was a gig in the Arts Centre bar and was a brilliantly energetic affair....

Dan Deacon

Tina Dico. Memorable not just for the music, but also for my favourite photo to date. This has been used a few times now, most notably in Conde Nast's 'W' magazine.

Tina Dico

Lissie- another something rather special moment.


Dyko featuring Wolfgang Flur - ex Kraftwerk - sometimes some very special guests still turn up. Like the time Wolfgang accompanied Dyko. I saw these guys at one of the many successful Wombat Wombat gigs which still happen regularly.

Wolfgang with Dyko

There are many more gigs that I could include, but this will then no longer be a little blog about Norwich Arts Centre.

So I have a lot to thank this place for. It has introduced me to some great music, given me some fantastic live music opportunities, has allowed me to exhibit my work and been generally really supportive of what I do. I look forward to many more gigs here.

To find out more about Norwich Arts Centre and events there visit:

For a set of photos taken at Norwich Arts Centre visit my Arts Centre Flickr set