Photos by Nick Miners

Photos are from the Eectric Ballroom gig, 02/05/12

Norwich Arts Centre was the site of a double celebration on Saturday 12 May, where, finishing their UK Shallow Bedtour, Dry the River were also celebrating front man, Peter Liddle's, 26th Birthday. Each band recycled the, "last night was a bit heavy" line, and clearly seeing no impairment on their performances, the audience was also relieved to note the absence of hangover induced nausea, head-banging or no. Local support Deers, Norwich Arts Centre regulars, set up the gig's unstoppably beautiful wall of noise, with Cut Ribbons, from Llanelli in South Wales, inducing unconscious head bopping and hip swaying in time to lead vocalist, Anna Griffiths' Debbie Harry-esque infectiously energetic stage presence.


With the looming shark album art as a backdrop, the band stepped out casually and unpretentiously, and giving a nod to the crowd, plunged straight in with 'No Rest'. Liddle's voice permeated the still air, engulfing every nook and cranny of the intimate arched ceiling among a crowd who became completely captivated in the moment. Aside from continuing the gargantuan volumes with following track 'Shield Your Eyes', the band took at step back from the microphones to perform an a capella version of 'Weights & Measures'. The converted church venue provided the perfect foundation to truly showcase the band's seamless harmonies and choral influences, and Liddle's ethereal falsetto echoed throughout the rafters. They couldn't be away from their instruments for too long however, and bought the song into full force after the first chorus, the effect dramatically heightened by the preceding stillness.


The set list, including, 'History Book', 'No Ceremony', 'Family', 'Shaker Hymns' and 'Demons', showcased the flawless melting pot of musical talent; the earthy, almost pagan lyrics, dulcet harmonies, acoustic, electric and bass guitar melodies and beautiful violin flourishes. The cyclical nature of the track order defined the albums' ethos, and my personal highlight came right at the end, when after an encore, the band performed 'Lion's Den'. The closing track became a manic, cathartic, no energy-spared pit of emotional energy, purging the audience of composure, with all band members drawn from their positions into a centre of the stage, clearly soaking up the crowd's transfixion and enjoying their newly achieved and well deserved lifestyle..


Refreshingly, Dry the River consciously didn't play their first single release, 'Chambers & the Values'. In this way the audience was not undermined or patronised by instead suggesting that they would be well-listened in the entire album, rather than the odd song on Radio 1. With an impromptu 'Happy Birthday' sang by the audience and a set list written on a banana, which will slowly rot in the bedroom of whoever caught it, the band had just the right amount of audience interaction. Having played the album relentlessly after I caught the bug reviewing it, I was one of the rare spectators mouthing along to (most of, alas) the words, much to the annoyance of the poor guy in front of me. Much of the satisfaction also came from watching an elderly gentleman thrashing his head all over the place, clearly lost in a state of sublime satisfaction.


Dry the River ended the UK tour with a beautiful, poignant gig, with faultless energy and interconnectness between the elements which make the album such a joy to listen to. If you're in the US, where they're currently touring, be sure to see these guys.