Watch This Space! – The state of Norwich’s Venues

Norwich is considered to be a ‘fine’ city, but a relatively small one.  However, one way in which it leads the pack in East Anglia is through its music venues. The city is known for having a large variety of small capacity, and fairly niche, music venues available to all musicians, but quite frankly, they aren’t given enough exposure.  

The creation of the music festival Wild Paths this year has allowed me to discover music venues I haven’t been to before. From The Shoe Factory to The Birdcage and Voodoo Daddy’s Showroom, it’s nice to uncover new spaces which provide a different atmosphere. It’s a nice surprise to see other venues such as The Bowling House utilise the space they have available and also be part of the festival.   

The most famous music venues in Norwich are The Waterfront and the LCR. However, both are owned by UEA Student’s Union so can feel as if they are excluding a larger, older demographic. Open Norwich is another widely recognised venue, but is largely associated with the event Soul Train.  

Norwich has such a rich history and I am pleased to see that a variety of historically relevant venues are also being used. Tilly Moses has recently announced a secret gig held in The Shoe Factory. The Shoe Factory is an amazing venue, naked with exposed beams. I think it is amazing that a venue with such an amazing history has given a nod to its past. In fact, Norwich as a city consistently recognises its past and wonderfully intertwines this into the vibrant events and culture within the city itself.  

Having such unique music venues can also add to the atmosphere within the gig. I’m often left a little disappointed when I step into The Waterfront and The LCR and the floors are sticky and stained with alcohol and the gig is over its capacity and feels overcrowded. This is great for gigs with high tempo music and also when the song requires a mosh pit, but for artists that play slower, more acoustic sets, you can feel a little out of place.  

With less recognised gig venues, the atmosphere can feel more comfortable and intimate. After all, the main reason to attend a gig is to see the artist live and build upon the relationship you have formed with them from listening to their tracks. A smaller music venue enables you to read the facial expressions of the artist, to see the pain and heartache that resurfaces as they perform. Gonzo’s, The Crypt or The Birdcage are the perfect venues that provide intimacy, character and a more enjoyable atmosphere for performances with lower tempo tracks. 

Since I have been a student at UEA, I am so pleased that the venues in Norwich are expanding, growing and receiving the recognition they deserve.

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Jess Barrett

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August 2022
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