THUNDER | DAN REED | 06.02.2019 | Gateshead Sage | REVIEW and PHOTOS

THUNDER | DAN REED | 06.02.2019 | Gateshead Sage | REVIEW and PHOTOS

Thunder and Dan Reed – 6th February 2019 – Gateshead Sage

By Kevin Burdon (Kevin Burdon Photography)

Thunder live at Sage Gateshead

Dan Reed opened the evening, abandoning the funky riffage of the Dan Reed Network for a more laid back acoustic style. He’s not an artist that I’m massively familiar with, but his set was very impressive and his vocals were superb, particularly on an acoustic cover of ‘Holy Diver’, which he dedicated to Ronnie James Dio.

Dan Reed live at Sage, Gateshead

You could tell by the response from the crowd that he had a lot of his own fans in attendance, but his excellent performance did a good job of winning over a lot of the Thunder faithful too. Even solo on an acoustic guitar he still brought some funk with ‘Get to You’, before finishing his set with a beautifully delivered acapella rendition of ‘All My Loving’ which received a standing ovation from sections of the audience.

Thunder live at Sage Gateshead

Thunder were touring their new album, Please Remain Seated, which sees them revisit songs from throughout their career and give them a new minimalist arrangement. If you’re familiar with Thunder’s live show, the idea of them doing an unplugged set in an all-seated venue might seem a bit strange… A band famous for their hard rock anthems (that are made for dancing) playing acoustically in an all-seated venue is one of those concepts that can go one of two ways, and I was curious to see how it would turn out!

I’ve seen Thunder play all of their hits on umpteen occasions over the past 15 years, so the prospect of them playing a non-standard setlist with some curveball selections and different interpretations was something I’d been really looking forward to. I’d deliberately avoided listening to the Please Remain Seated album prior to the gig, as I wanted to reserve judgement of the reimagined songs for the live performance, and I wasn’t disappointed.

The set began with only Danny Bowes and Luke Morley on stage, delivering a stunning stripped back version of ‘Love Walked In’, with Morley on 12 string acoustic and Bowes bringing out a much more subtle and nuanced performance to the well-worn classic. The rest of the band joined them on stage for an almost country-ish version of Stand Up, and the mood was set for the evening. The atmosphere on stage was very loose and relaxed, the band joking with the crowd and each other between songs.

Thunder live at Sage Gateshead

The minimalist genre-swapping arrangements were not only refreshing to hear, but they also gave the band a chance to cut loose and show what they could do and experiment a bit more on their instruments than they would normally in a standard Thunder set. Chris Childs on bass was particularly impressive on a chilled-out jazz version of ‘Girl’s Going Out Of Her Head’ – one of the biggest stylistic surprises of the night if you’re familiar with the frenetic, riff-driven original version!

A slow bluesy version of ‘Loser’ further proved the point that a damn good song is a damn good song regardless of how it’s arranged, and it gave Morley a chance to lay down some more sumptuous lead guitar work.

The setlist blended the songs from Please Remain Seated album with other reworked arrangements from their back catalogue. Classics like ‘River of Pain’ and ‘Higher Ground’ were given fresh legs with the new versions and got the crowd singing along loudly, while newer songs like ‘Resurrection Day’ really stood out in the live setting.

My personal highlight of the night was an outstanding delivery of ‘A Better Man’, with Danny Bowes showing he’s still one of the best classic rock voices in the business. It was immaculately observed by the packed Sage crowd and you could have heard a pin drop in the quiet sections, everyone was so transfixed on the performance.

The band closed the set with a sensational arrangement of ‘Low Life in High Places’, which has always been one of their best-written songs, and the stripped back orchestration added extra weight to it. Starting with just vocals and piano it gradually built up to the powerful chorus and instrumental section, including a guest appearance of a choir, who were suddenly illuminated behind the back curtain. The band left the stage to a standing ovation, promising to be back soon with a fully electric set.

Credit to Thunder for taking a chance and trying something new, rather than just doing another standard “hits” tour, and it genuinely felt like witnessing something special on stage. The experiment paid off!

Setlist:

Love Walked In
Stand Up
Miracle Man
River Of Pain
Future Train
Blown Away
Girl’s Going Out of Her Head
Higher Ground
Empty City
A Better Man
Fly on the Wall
Just Another Suicide
Bigger Than Both of Us
Loser
Serpentine

Robert Johnson’s Tombstone
She’s So Fine
Resurrection Day
Low Life In High Places

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FUN LOVIN’ CRIMINALS | 01.02.2019 | Northumbria Institute | REVIEW and PHOTOS

FUN LOVIN’ CRIMINALS | 01.02.2019 | Northumbria Institute | REVIEW and PHOTOS

Fun Lovin’ Criminals – 1st February 2019 – Northumbria Institute

Fun Lovin’ Criminals – 1st February 2019 – Northumbria Institute

Review by Donna Wyatt. Photos by Gav Wyatt (G.Wyatt photography)

Kicking off February on a white-out freezing night in Northumbria University, New York’s most loved Fun Loving Criminals brought the classically smooth funk that has been a soundtrack to our lives since the 90’s.

I remember the first time I heard Scooby snacks, probably one of their most notable and memorable hits, and how it instantly got into the psyche of a generation. Looking around the audience I saw an eclectic mix of people, perhaps reflective of the eclectic music on offer, as Criminals span a range of genres including rhythm and blues, hip hop, funk and soul.

Lead singer Huey Morgan had suffered an injury to his leg recently so had to remain seated, but his rapport was not diminished as his humour and mischievous personality shone from his red leather chair while he sipped on Remy Martin. Drummer, Frank Benbini (a Brit who recalled a year working at Spanish City and a special place in his heart for the North East) worked the crowd and won hearts instantly, not once fading into the background as he exuded great showmanship and banter, Whilst the equally charming Brian Leiser handled Bass, keyboards, Trumpet and Harmonica with ease and style and was quite the charmer, often cracking the whip to keep the boys on track and steering the tangents back to the music.

Huey was on top form despite a heady mix of brandy and painkillers and being stuck in a chair with his smooth voice and wit and had a plentiful supply of guitar picks to ensure a good few spectators took a souvenir home. The camaraderie between the 3 was tight and endearing whilst the music went through belting classics such as Loco, Fun Loving Criminals, Love Unlimited and Scooby Snacks and to more recent offerings from the latest album, Another Mimosa.

It was a banging set delivered in style and although it might have been a freezing cold, snow-covered night everyone left with warm fuzzy smiles.

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HEAVY LUNGS | 30.01.2019 | Newcastle Think Tank Underground | REVIEW and PHOTOS

HEAVY LUNGS | 30.01.2019 | Newcastle Think Tank Underground | REVIEW and PHOTOS

Heavy Lungs – 30th January 2019 – Newcastle Think Tank Underground

By Gav Wyatt (G.Wyatt photography)

Heavy Lungs – 30th January 2019 – Newcastle Think Tank

On the night that Boyzone played in front thousands at the Metro Radio Arena, I chose to spend my night Watching some proper music instead at Newcastle Think Tank. Following on from supporting Idles at Newcastle Riverside in October post-punk band heavy lungs arrived back in Newcastle to play at Think Tank as a part of their own UK tour, previously playing Nottingham the night before.

Heavy Lungs follow a long line of successful bands that have made the leap out of Bristol. Having only formed in the spring of 2017 they have already supported some big bands (such as pals Idles) and they are carving their own path through the British music scene.

Playing Downstairs in Think Tank’s Underground the rooms barren décor of heavy steel beams concrete and wooden pallet clad walls played the perfect backdrop to the four pieces set which included drummer George pummelling his kit through every song and vocalist Danny ponding on and off stage and more guitar riffs and bass licks than you can shake a shitty stick at.

Heavy Lungs are a great band to see live and if they keep playing gigs at the pace they play their music then I’m sure they’ll soon pick up a big following and go far.

Setlist;

  • Half full
  • Jealous
  • Roy
  • Blood Brother
  • Motorhead
  • Stutter
  • Charmer
  • Bangalore
  • Descend
  • Unfaithful one

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…AND YOU WILL KNOW US BY THE TRAIL OF DEAD | 03.02.2019 | Newcastle Riverside | REVIEW and PHOTOS

…AND YOU WILL KNOW US BY THE TRAIL OF DEAD | 03.02.2019 | Newcastle Riverside | REVIEW and PHOTOS

…And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead – 3rd February 2019 – Newcastle Riverside

Feature by Graeme J. Baty

And You Will Know Us By The Trail of Dead – 3rd Feb 2019 – Newcastle

It’s been a long time since the Trail of Dead played Newcastle, and in all honesty I didn’t think they’d ever come back! Their last show at Newcastle Academy was poorly attended. Credit to the band that didn’t deter them, I recall it being one of the highlights of my gig calendar. Eight years later I’m over the moon that they are back in Newcastle, this time they are celebrating 20 years of their classic Madonna.

They have Spoilers opening for them on the tour. With a set of varied songs that don’t quite fit the Trail of Dead sound but hell I didn’t care these were quite a pleasant surprise. In tune with their name, they save the best song till last, no spoilers! The last song in the set (Jam in A according to the setlist) propelled them to another level. They were on super early as fans were just arriving but they seemed to win the subdued Sunday night crowd over. We’ll have a full photo gallery from their set coming soon.

And You Will Know Us By The Trail of Dead – 3rd Feb 2019 – Newcastle

Twenty years ago I was learning the guitar and obsessively bingeing on American alternative music. Lots of Pavement, Sonic Youth, Built to Spill etc. I think, I first heard Trail of Dead on the John Peel show. I went out and I picked up copies of the first two albums and I was hooked from the start. Madonna was one of those records that spellbound me, the alternative tunings, tremolo guitar picking and dramatic song structures appealed greatly. Now in 2019 on my guitar god dreams have faded but the riffs are firmly embedded in my brain. Tonight is much more than just a stroll down memory lane, it’s a chance to see one of the most powerful live bands around.

And You Will Know Us By The Trail of Dead – 3rd Feb 2019 – Newcastle

One thing that never really occurred to me until now (particularly seeing them live) is that Trail of Dead are actually a drummer band! I have this revelation as I find myself fixated on the drummers, the percussion on their albums is simply phenomenal. Perfect Teenhood is pure driven rock drumming masterclass. After all, they say a band is only as good as their drummer. The current lineup features two highly skilled drummers. Kit set up in centre stage for the band members to swap drums for guitars in-between songs. I love this, I hate it when drummers are hidden away out of sight. Get them up front and centre stage, it looks and (more importantly) sounds amazing!

And You Will Know Us By The Trail of Dead – 3rd Feb 2019 – Newcastle

The setlist is exactly as you’d expect it, tracks in order with the intermissions played over the PA. Madonna (like their debut) doesn’t pause between songs, the only silence is at the end of Side A. It’s an immersive sound experience from start to finish.

Blight Takes All shows Jason Reece is a powerhouse frontman as well as a drummer. That’s one of the charms of ToD, they swap instruments and have two very distinct characterful vocalists.

And You Will Know Us By The Trail of Dead – 3rd Feb 2019 – Newcastle

Mark David Chapman erupts, proving to be a highlight of the set and an all-time favourite of mine. The crowd are getting really into it now as Autry Fulbright II stalks the stage looking cool as fuck!

And You Will Know Us By The Trail of Dead – 3rd Feb 2019 – Newcastle

All the band members disappear for the encore break. Leaving Conrad Keely to begin the opening of Sigh Your Children as a solo piece. The band dramatically re-enters the stage for the crescendo to Madonna. In a blink of an eye, the album is done. Holy shit. What an album!

And You Will Know Us By The Trail of Dead – 3rd Feb 2019 – Newcastle

The encore treats us to a handful of songs from their uber-popular 3rd album Source Tags and Codes. Ending the night on the classic Will You Smile For Me from their underrated 4th album the post 9/11 prog rock masterpiece; World Apart. The encore gives a nice summation of the bands successful period and confirms their place (in my mind) as one of the greatest bands of the 2000s. For me the first two albums are my favourites and Madonna remains as one of my favourite albums of all time. It’s nice for bands to do this, it really is an album that deserves attention and it was a thrill to hear it live.

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JIMMY EAT WORLD | 30.01.2019 | Newcastle O2 Academy | REVIEW

JIMMY EAT WORLD | 30.01.2019 | Newcastle O2 Academy | REVIEW

Jimmy Eat World – 30th January 2019 – Newcastle O2 Academy

By Kevin Burdon 

Jimmy Eat World are one of those bands whose songs provided the soundtrack to key moments of my formative years, but I never got the opportunity to see them live. I’d lost touch with their music since about 2007, but when the chance came up to review them at their recent show in Newcastle I jumped at it.

The band opened with “Sure and Certain” from their most recent album Integrity Blues, then launched into “I Will Steal You Back”, before they provided me with the first ‘goosebumps’ moment of the night when the opening riff for “Big Casino” kicked in.

While it may be the case that their 00’s output is the stuff that resonates most with me, Jimmy Eat World are by no means a nostalgia act and some of the material from the newer albums sounded great in the live setting – newest single “Love Never” shows the band are still writing great quality songs that can hold their own alongside the classics. One of the most impressive songs of the night was “Pass the Baby”, a musical tour de force which starts deceptively quietly but builds into a massive crescendo with riffage that Tom Morello would be proud of.

The band played a diverse set from across their career, including many of the massive hits you’d expect – “Futures”, “Work” and “Always Be” were stunning to finally hear live, but the highlight of the set for me was a stunning rendition of “Hear You Me”. It’s one of those songs that gets under your skin when you first hear it, and it was beautifully delivered with the crowd singing along to every word.

The band finished the main set with Bleed American, before returning for a 3 song encore of massive anthems from the Bleed American album, A Praise Chorus, Sweetness and (of course) The Middle. A really triumphant way to end an excellent night.

Setlist:

Sure and Certain
I Will Steal You Back
Big Casino
For Me This Is Heaven
Futures
Polaris
Pain
Pass the Baby
Get Right
Always Be
Lucky Denver Mint
Hear You Me
Love Never
Dizzy
Blister
Work
23
Bleed American

Encore:
A Praise Chorus
Sweetness
The Middle

WHITE LIES and BONIFACE | 04.02.2019 | Newcastle Boiler Shop | REVIEW and PHOTOS

WHITE LIES and BONIFACE | 04.02.2019 | Newcastle Boiler Shop | REVIEW and PHOTOS

White Lies and Boniface – 4th February 2019 – Newcastle Boiler Shop

Review and photos by Victoria Wai (Victoria Wai)

I was sat in a pub, around the corner from the venue before doors opened, there were many getting in high spirits with their VIP upgrade lanyards and T-shirts emblazoned with White Lies. There was an excitement brewing. We were celebrating White Lies fifth studio album and their tenth year in the industry. One fan really was in the spirits as he was covered head to toe in the merch stand!

Boniface - 4th Feb 2019 - Newcastle Boiler Shop
Boniface – 4th Feb 2019 – Newcastle Boiler Shop

Canadian quartet Boniface fronted by Micah Visser welcomed the early gig-goers, which there were quite a number of, giving us ‘indie sensibility and making it glisten.’ The two members on synths/keys with guitars were very eye-catching as they bounced around in their spots while Micah does mainly the static lead singer holding mic pose with added guitar and coming to life from time to time and at one point joining in on the keys. A very energetic performance and a choice support band.

Excitement and intoxication filled the packed Boiler Shop as the band stepped on stage and with the first glance of them chants of “Harry” came as opening track from their latest release starts and a singalong from the get-go to Time To Give. Harry McVeigh is a great frontman and genuinely seems pleased to be back in Newcastle as at every opportunity he is beaming with arms raised and gives the city a huge shout-out more than I have ever heard any band when interacting with a crowd.

There is a great mix of material from the new album ‘Five’ but songs from the back catalogue are greatly received too with the thumping Farewell To The Fairground being first up and when Harry asks the crowd to sing back they do it with so much passion, that you wouldn’t quite believe we are in a 1000 capacity venue. The sound is loud and the lights go from static blues, reds then bursts of other colours and strobes, which adds to the excitement of the night. As the night goes on many gig-goers try their best to get to where people had already taken the prime spots but those in them were not going to let them go without a fight. Luckily none of that happened as the majority just wanted to live this experience with other gig goers.

The chants for Harry come and go throughout the night but the other members are just as energetic with Charles Cave on bass and backing vocals and thumping out the energy on drums is Jack Brown. On this tour, the three-piece become a four with Tommy Bowen letting his fingers do the magic on the keys. But Harry’s charisma really does steal the show and at every opportunity his arms are up in the air as if to say, ‘let me embrace every single moment of this night just as much as you are,’ especially with the tenth anniversary of their first release and as he mentions this the crowd erupt. It’s a very nostalgic moment for the majority of the room as they remember how old they were when Unfinished Business hit the airwaves and they jump having the time of their lives. This feeling stays for the stand out track on the new album, Tokyo, and Harry feels this and is literally thumping his fist on his chest as the crowd get rowdier.

The whole night is full of energy. You wonder when you are going to catch your breath but that comes when Harry returns solo for the encore and sits behind the keyboard to play Change from the Big TV album and it is the quietest the crowd becomes. What a moment. But of course the night could not end like that and we are treated to the anthemic To Lose My Life and the loudest I hear Charles’ vocals. It’s good to have these guys back and being ever so humble. Ten years you say. Here’s to another ten.

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YOUNG FATHERS | 22.01.2019 | Newcastle Boiler Shop | REVIEW and PHOTOS

YOUNG FATHERS | 22.01.2019 | Newcastle Boiler Shop | REVIEW and PHOTOS

 Young Fathers – 22nd January 2019 – Newcastle Boiler Shop

By Gav Wyatt (G.Wyatt photography)

I was first introduced to Young fathers last year, I instantly loved what I heard. I heard they were coming to Newcastle so I knew I had to be there.

The band were supposed to be playing this gig in December but due to illness they had to cancel, however, the rescheduled date of January 22nd soon came around and I’m at the Boiler Shop eagerly awaiting for them to come on stage. They were fifteen minutes late, it didn’t matter the crowd was more than ready and to be fair had waited long enough that an extra fifteen minutes made little difference.

The energy that the Young Fathers bring to the stage is mesmerising and infectious, almost instantly the crowd are responding. They’ve come a long way in the last ten years, from humble beginnings playing in nightclubs to a Mercury award-winning group this is a band that’s of the now and should be taken notice of.

It’s hard to put into words a night and a performance as flawless as this that I think I’m just going to leave it at that and finish of by saying that they were everything I was hoping they would be and much much more.

Setlist

  1. Get started
  2. Wire
  3. Queen is dead
  4. Feasting
  5. Toys
  6. Wow
  7. Get up
  8. Dare me
  9. Rain or shine
  10. Old rock n roll
  11. Low
  12. In my view
  13. Border girl
  14. Only God knows
  15. Lord
  16. Shame

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JIMMY FLOYD HASSELBAIND | 31.01.2019 | Newcastle Cluny | PHOTOS

JIMMY FLOYD HASSELBAIND | 31.01.2019 | Newcastle Cluny | PHOTOS

Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaind – 31st January 2019 – Newcastle Cluny

Feature by Graeme J. Baty

Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaind – 31st January 2019 – Cluny

Stepping in last minute for The Unit Ama who sadly couldn’t make the tour, local legends Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaind made a brilliant and very fitting support act for The Messthetics. Remarkably this is the first time I’ve seen them live, their live reputation proceeds them, highly praised from all in the local scene. I must admit that their recorded material doesn’t quite seem to capture their sheer presence and intricate indie-rock stormers. I walked away from the show a fan!

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THE HOWL AND THE HUM and SAUVAGE | 24.01.2019 | Newcastle Cluny | REVIEW

THE HOWL AND THE HUM and SAUVAGE | 24.01.2019 | Newcastle Cluny | REVIEW

The Howl And The Hum and Sauvage – 24th January 2019 – Newcastle Cluny

Review by Victoria Wai (Victoria Wai)

Has a band ever captured your attention purely because their name interested you? I know there have been bands that caught people’s eye because of this, even before you’ve heard the music; The Howl And The Hum are one of those bands. I caught their set at last year’s Twisterella Festival in Middlesbrough and they simply stunned me into silence. Their headline show at Newcastle’s The Cluny was a whole different affair to that show a few months prior but equally as entertaining.

Sauvage. Photo by Victoria Wai

Support of the night came from Newcastle quartet Sauvage, who sometimes go the other way with their namesake especially due to Johnny Depp and unfortunately not by the French translation of ‘wild!’ But don’t let that name get to you, they bought a solid half-hour set for the early gig goers with a mix of indie and psych sides. Each member had their own energy and you didn’t quite know who to focus your attention on. I heard a few murmurs of people in the crowd who had seen them before saying that was the best they have ever seen them play. I put my hands up as one of them. I don’t know what has happened over the past few months but something is definitely working for the better.

As with most headline acts those milling at the back soon came forward as The Howl And The Hum were ready to start. We were the hum waiting for the howl!

A few months ago I saw these guys play, it was dark and intense. The same came tonight, in the upgraded Cluny from Cluny 2, but there were a lot more stories to be told and not only through their music. Unlike the support act, The Howl And The Hum definitely had a ‘star’ of the band and that came from frontman Sam Griffiths. I mean most bands do have THAT frontman and he delivers. Not taking anything away from the other three members Bradley Blackwell, Conor Hirons and Jack Williams as the band is greater than the sum of its parts.

Hip swerving Sam guides us through a tight 45 minute set of atmospheric alt-rock as he tells us many of the songs are about possessions from sharks to bus tickets. It definitely had the crowd that bit more intrigued than if we were given a straight-up performance of their music and the usual patter you get from stage to crowd. The melodic sounds then big thumping bass and guitars mould into a very entertaining set that the crowd were thoroughly into.

‘Don’t Shoot The Storm’ is a song about not shooting bullets into a hurricane. Sam on top of his impressive ‘woo’s’ also gives us some great dance moves to participate with. Strangely the song that came about staring at the back of a Megabus while in a Fiat Punto, ‘Sweet Fading Silver,’ captivates the audience and sends a roar through the room but personally ‘Portrait I’ and ‘Godmanchester Chinese Bridge,’ were personal highlights to a highly entertaining night that I walk away with The Howl And The Hum as a musical possession to press play to every now and then.

THE MESSTHETICS | 31.01.2019 | Newcastle Cluny | REVIEW and PHOTOS

THE MESSTHETICS | 31.01.2019 | Newcastle Cluny | REVIEW and PHOTOS

The Messthetics – 31st January 2019 – Newcastle Cluny

The Messthetics – 31st January 2019 – Newcastle Cluny

Feature by Graeme J. Baty

I went into the show, admittedly, knowing very little of the bands material, just what I’d heard online. The draw of Fugazi (easily one of the greatest bands ever) legends Joe Lally and Brendan Canty was too much to deny, anything they’ve worked on is special and I was curious to know if the magic had carried over to this new project. The Messthetics are a hugely welcome surprise after years of Fugazi silence it’s marvellous to see and hear Joe and Brendan re-unite. This time they’re back with another incredible talent; guitarist Anthony Pirog. The results are nothing short of brilliant and have outweighed anything I could have possibly imagined.

The Messthetics – 31st January 2019 – Newcastle Cluny

I am known for my love of instrumental music and I know some people tend to drift without a vocal or lyric to hang onto but with The Messtechics there is simply no time to drift, they constantly shift and dynamically change sounds, it’s extremely thrilling not knowing where the song will go, how it will end or when the next party riff is gonna come in and make you grin from ear to ear. 

The Messthetics – 31st January 2019 – Newcastle Cluny

Watching Anthony Pirog is a thrill. He’s visibly having the best time in the world, pedal hopping and pulling out the most creative and diverse tones I’ve ever heard. Over the hour-long set he uses more tricks and technique than I’d ever manage in a lifetime of guitar playing.

Mythomania makes for the perfect opener and introduction to the band a super cool groove makes way for a J Mascis style hurricane of guitar technique and amazing riffs. Whilst the backline tightly drives, and at times almost tames Pirog. I was utterly engrossed right from the start. 

Crowds and Power is the standout song from the night. Somehow an hour evaporates in the blink of an eye and the night is over, it’s a thrill to witness this night. It is way too early in the year to be suggesting ‘gig of the year’ contenders but it’ll take some doing to top this show.

There’s a delightfully playful air about the music, yet the sound is highly crafted. Three super talented musicians have created something much greater than the sum of its parts. This is much more than just a fun side project or something to fulfil any ego requirements. Simply put The Messthetics are amazing! After the show, I picked my jaw up from the floor and walked away from the show saying to myself… ‘holy shit, that was good!’.

The Messthetics are a sight and sound to behold. Truly one of the most inspirational instrumental bands on the planet. Just what I needed to blow off the cobwebs after a long boring gigless winter!

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