Groningen has some great buildings. I amuse myself by day by simply wandering around and looking up. Much of the architecture is wonderful; exceptionally Dutch and picturesque. Somehow, when in Groningen for the first time last year, I failed to observe how well some of these fine buildings are utilised for Eurosonic. If Thursday has a theme it might well be that Sonic Breakfast is in awe of live music in stunning spaces.
Take Wildwood Kin in Der AA Kerk as an example. Der AA Kerk is a church in the centre of town. Look up and your breath is taken away by the domes, the sculptures and the icons. Beer is sold at two and a half Euros a pop though I suspect that’s simply an Eurosonic addition and wouldn’t be the case when the priest is in the pulpit.
Wildwood Kin shouldn’t have passed me by to date but I guess their brand of posh, Radio 2 friendly, folk-fuelled niceness hasn’t stood out in the crowd of other E-mails received. That’s all changed now and I promise to give this family three piece (two sisters and a cousin) my full attention. Their tight harmonies sound exquisite in this delightful space. They show their rock n’roll credentials by breaking a sustain pedal. Warm, polite and inclusive, Wildwood Kin generously praise the welcome they’ve been given in Groningen. And they receive much praise back in return. It’s a lovely set in a lovely setting.
I should have gone to the Stadsschowburg in Groningen before now. A theatre hall that’s seen some history, there’s a twist in this space. Rather than be ushered towards seats in the red velvet domed theatre (it’s a smaller scale Royal Albert Hall), we’re directed down some plush corridors towards the stage. Yes, the audience watch the bands from the theatre’s stage. The bands play on a specially constructed platform that hangs into the auditorium. Behind them, the word ‘Eurosonic’ beams out from a multitude of light bulbs fixed around the theatre. It’s a truly incredible site.
The setting is not lost on Hannah Williams and The Affirmations. This is out and out soul music theatrically delivered. Hannah has a great voice; a power-laden emotional thing from which you feel every moment of anguish and every glimpse of happiness. It’s a polished set; there’s no awkward, nervous rambling here. Every member of Hannah’s band knows exactly what their role is. When Hannah enters into harmonies with her two delightful backing singers, you think the dome of the theatre might open and ascension might begin. It’s heavenly stuff from within a wondrous setting.