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Johnny Borrell

September 24th 2013 | Norwich Arts Centre | Gigs

Words: Liam Forkes | Photo: Liam Forkes

There was little atmosphere outside of the Arts Centre, Norwich, on the evening of Tuesday September 24th. Former Razorlight vocalist Johnny Borrell was headlining with his own solo career. After his debut album flopped, selling less than 600 copies in the first week of release, there was little enthusiasm. However, that night Borrell proved that he can hold his own.

With a turnout of less than thirty people so far, acoustic singer-songwriter Z- Berg started off the evening. Musically, she was stunning, with her harrowing voice reverberating around the room and inspiring awe to those who listened. Unfortunately, the poor turn-out left little enthusiasm in the room. Feeble applause followed each song, and the crowd simply seemed uninterested. Her bantering with the crowd gave little to the atmosphere, and her seeming lack of movement or charisma simply left the crowd disappointed. Her joke "I always like to start my set off with the most depressing song I can think of, I like to set the mood" seemed all too true. Overall, an outstanding talent seemed to have gone to waste here due to a small and uninterested crowd that simply was not motivated.

Next on the bill was fellow acoustic singer-songwriter David J Roach. Here, it seemed to be the same as his predecessor. Roach clearly possesses an outstanding vocal talent, with guitar skills to match, but once again a lack of audience simply made him seem dull. His songs were more powerful, and did a much better job of retaining audience attention, however once again, little was done to motivate a clearly bored crowd. Albeit, he was clearly a lot more charismatic, and his constant playful utterances ("I feel like I should point out that I'm a lot happier in person") seemed to raise the tone of the evening, however the crowd still remained uninterested. Overall, like Roach's predecessor, a wonderful talent was let down by an uninterested crowd and a lack of effort to motivate them.

Following this, the headline act and his band took the stage. Before they even entered, the size of the crowd had grown considerably. Johnny Borrell, and his support band Zazou immediately brought a new tone to the gig. Wasting no time, Borrell brought his folk-rock creation alive, and the crowd pleasingly responded. Feeble applauses were replaced with a storm of slamming hands and screams, and it was clear who the crowd were there to see. On-stage, the band did not waste an inch, swinging and strumming everywhere they could. The charisma arduously and consistently radiated from the stage to the crowd, and this seemed to reflect from them, with a sea of smiles greeting Borrell. However, the band took little time to interact with and appreciate this crowd. They played their songs, and did so well, however they didn't seem to do much else. This was disappointing considering the surprisingly high turn-out. It simply seemed like Borrell didn't care, and this was a shame. Also, the frontmanship that characterised Razorlight shows simply wasn't imported there, and this made the show far less of a spectacle that it could and should have been. Overall, two less-than-impressive support bands paved the way for an underwhelming set. Impressive stage presence and stunning musical performances were let down by a lack of frontmanship from Borrell, and a lack of interacting with the people who have supported his transition. Johnny Borrell is a talented musician, it just simply did not show that night. 5/10

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