THE STRANGLERS | 14.03.2019 | Newcastle O2 Academy | REVIEW and PHOTOS

THE STRANGLERS | 14.03.2019 | Newcastle O2 Academy | REVIEW and PHOTOS

The Stranglers – 14th March 2019 – Newcastle O2 Academy

The Stranglers – 14th March 2019 – Newcastle O2 Academy

By Gordon Armstrong (G’s Gig Shots)

It’s been a week short of one year since they were last here but The Stranglers don’t rest on their laurels and are back with a new set to keep the fans bouncing. The stage is set up to resemble a kind of industrial warehouse with huge air con fans and oil drums and a neon sign on the backdrop displays No More Heroes, a phrase sadly becoming truer every week!

Jean Jacques Burnel as cool as ever has a huge smile on his face as he walks over to his bass and the band belt out Tank to get the night underway! It’s a set well mixed with old and new but such is the strength of the songs every one of them is a “banger” as the kids say these days 😉

Rattus Norvegicus is visited for the first of 5 times tonight with a blistering version of Get A Grip (On Yourself) but the set covers all eras not just living in the past. The band are heading into their fifth decade looking and sounding stronger than ever with newer songs like Man On The Moon, This Song and Water sitting perfectly with older favourites Duchess and that dirty bass led classic Peaches. It was great to hear Princess of the Street bringing the tempo down a bit with some fantastic guitar and keyboard work from Baz and Dave.

I’ve always felt Greenfield’s keyboard sound is an important part of the Stranglers identity rather than just background and Something Better Change is a perfect example of this. Of course, the hits are there (Golden Brown, Always The Sun, etc) but for me Hey (Rise Of The Robots) and Bring On The Nubiles were my particular highlights in this 24 song set.

I have friends who go to many of the gigs each tour and as Burnel punches the shit out of his bass before that ever familiar intro to No More Heroes I can see why and even as a casual fan I’m already thinking I can’t wait to see them again next time as they certainly show no signs of stopping and just get better every time.

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BROTHER ALI | 15.03.2019 | Newcastle Think Tank | PHOTOS

BROTHER ALI | 15.03.2019 | Newcastle Think Tank | PHOTOS

Brother Ali – 15th March 2019 – Newcastle Think Tank

By Gordon Armstrong (G’s Gig Shots)

I am in no way qualified to do a full in-depth review of this gig as I don’t think I could do it justice. But I will say it was one of the best hip-hop gigs I’ve been to in a long time. From Minneapolis, Brother Ali’s socially conscious lyrics strike a chord but he also spreads the word of peace and love. I personally got a distinct Michael Franti (Disposable Heroes of Hiphoprisy and Spearhead) kind of vibe, which can never be a bad thing. I can only say if you like your hip hop go see Brother Ali.

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SLOW READERS CLUB | 09.03.2019 | Sunderland Independent | REVIEW and PHOTOS

SLOW READERS CLUB | 09.03.2019 | Sunderland Independent | REVIEW and PHOTOS

Slow Readers Club – 9th March 2019 – Sunderland Independent

Slow Readers Club – 9th March 2019 – Sunderland Independent

By Gav Wyatt (G.Wyatt photography)

I’ve never been to the Independent before so I didn’t quite know what to expect! This is a venue that has seen acts such as Kasabian, Glasvegas, The Zutons and The Maccabees play here so I was so surprised at how compact the room was.

I had arrived just as the support act were playing out their final tune and fought my way through a packed out crowd to as close to the front as possible, because it was so packed there was no access to the front of stage so taking photos was going to be challenging as I’m not the tallest of blokes, but I stayed in the crowd whilst the band completed their set up and enjoyed the crowd singing along in unison to The Smiths ‘There Is a Light That Never Goes Out’ before the band coming onto the stage to Donna summers 12” version of ‘I Feel Love’ (one of my all time favourite tracks)

The band received an excellent welcome onto the stage from the crowd with chants of ‘Readers’ which was repeated at different intervals right through the set, Luckily I manage to get a spot to the side of the stage to get photos just after the opening track ‘Fool for your philosophy’

I’d never even heard of this band before tonight so I was amazed at how good they were, they have just gone full time and have spent many years perfecting their sound and performance and the crowd loved it, I could have quite easily closed my eyes and imagined myself deep in a crowd of thousands as the sun is setting on a summer day at a festival with the warm glow on the back of my neck and the crowd singing back anthemic tune after anthemic tune from the Readers.

Don’t get me wrong, the small venue and packed out crowd of the Independent played the perfect role on the night but I was staggered as to why I’m not watching them play in a bigger venue and I know they have played the odd big stage and festival, but if they keep doing what they are doing then I’m sure they will have invitations to appear on the festival scene flooding in.

Setlist

  • Fool For Your Philosophy
  • Lives Never Known
  • Lunatic
  • Cavalcade
  • Start Again
  • Lost Boys
  • Forever in your Debt
  • Sirens
  • Supernatural
  • You opened up my heart
  • Plant the Seed
  • The Wait
  • Block out the Sun
  • Feet on Fire
  • I saw a Hhost
  • On the T.V.

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KT TUNSTALL | LAUREL | 11.03.2019 |  Gateshead Sage | REVIEW and PHOTOS

KT TUNSTALL | LAUREL | 11.03.2019 | Gateshead Sage | REVIEW and PHOTOS

KT Tunstall and Laurel – 11th March 2019 – Gateshead Sage

Review and photos by Victoria Wai (Victoria Wai)

What I absolutely love about both the support act and headliner on this night is that there are no airs and graces but pure passion and appreciation of being able to do what they do for an audience that has gathered, who are also just as appreciative of what they see before them. With each drop of the ‘f-bomb’ it is done so with so much love.

Laurel is starting to make a name for herself and has been touring the more intimate venues for a few years. She admits that she is a huge fan of headliner KT Tunstall and is thriving on every moment given to her. The last three times I have seen her the crowds have been somewhat rowdier but the Sage crowd is quite a contrast that the first ‘f-bomb’ of the night is dropped as she is amazed by the attentiveness. The only time it gets really loud is when she and her band shout the ‘yeah’ bit in Lovesick.

Laurel has an instant connection with the crowd that when she introduces South Coast someone asks where she is from. Jokingly her instant reply is ‘the south coast,’ but then she says Plymouth and the crowd cheer which is some feat as this gig is in the North East. The volume is tripled as she introduces the last song Adored as the audience want her to stay a longer. Showing their appreciation at the interval there is a never ending queue for her at the merch stand.

KT Tunstall – 11th March 2019 – Gateshead Sage

A booming ‘Hey Micky’ comes as the room darkens then appears the lady of the night KT Tunstall and with a quick hello the members of her band join her to open with the song that is wrote on her white guitar, Uummannaq Song. She narrates that we are in a Sage shaped space ship travelling to the furthest side of the world before starting ‘Other Side Of The World.’ Tunstall is quite clever like this and we get these soundbites throughout the night that lead into her songs. There is also a personal connection in that she talks of the rivers of “Gateshead and surrounding areas” reminding her of home as well as those “clear blue skies then stepping out and it’s like fuuuccckkk!” She maybe LA based now, but she still talks like a true Scot.

There is so much energy in the air and true or not the band slip off twice for their ‘beer break’ and Tunstall is on the stage alone, just her with a guitar, a loop pedal and a tambourine then later a harmonica. She says most people probably spent their hard on cash to see her because of the song that has now become a ‘karaoke classic’ that she couldn’t be more proud of as she can now buy a few rounds of drink. The way she plays Black Horse And The Cherry Tree is one of those special moments where it feel like it is just you and her in the room even when the room is clapping along leading into the band coming back and a mash-up huge loud mash up with the classic hit Black Betty is played.

Although Tunstall has a stellar back catalogue we also get some from her latest release Wax with Little Red Thread being a personal favourite on the night visually. We get back-to-back of The Night That Bowie Died, Dark Side Of Me and The Mountain as she asks for us all to just get lost in the music. Besides the claps in between each song the room obliges and is still as we let her do her thing. What a moment. But being KT Tunstall we go out on a with the heavy rockier song ‘The Healer’ before she is off and the crowd call for her back.

The crowd is rewarded with ‘Invisible Empire’ and a rendition of Tom Petty’s ‘Won’t Back Down,’ which makes the room still and silent once again and it is such a beautiful moment. I could watch and listen to Tunstall perform this way all night but her vibrant soul is also something to be witnessed and it probably couldn’t be more fitting that the night ends with ‘Suddenly I See’ and those that were sitting before that were invited to stand earlier in the night were right up on their feet with everybody else in the room. If only Sage had room for those big streamers this was the moment for them as the band leave the stage and Tunstall runs and hand slaps those at the front with a big shout of “we totally love ya.” That feeling is echoed back to her as the venue empties.

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SLEAFORD MODS | 01.03.2019 | Newcastle Boiler Shop | REVIEW and PHOTOS

SLEAFORD MODS | 01.03.2019 | Newcastle Boiler Shop | REVIEW and PHOTOS

Sleaford Mods – 1st March 2019 – Newcastle Boiler Shop

Sleaford Mods - 1st March 2019 - Newcastle Boiler Shop
Sleaford Mods – 1st March 2019 – Newcastle Boiler Shop

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

We are standing in a packed, sold out Boiler Shop waiting for what is likely our top played current band in our household, the Sleaford Mods. Supported by LIINES, we had only managed to catch the last couple of songs due to having to trek back to our car to dispose of my backpack that was not allowed into the venue due to a recent policy change, but what we did hear was rocking, bassy and full of energy leaving us wishing a bag hadn’t caused such a controversy. So heads up if you are Boiler Shop bound!

I had been introduced to the Sleaford’s a few years earlier by a friend and I had been instantly hooked by the raw punk style fury and dripping sarcasm, spitting disaffected contempt and council estate life, corruptness and characters that I’d met on more than one occasion. This band blew me away with just how hooked into my generation they were, just how sick of all the shit and weary we are, voices sore from shouting. I instantly introduced them to the Mister knowing he was about to fall hard for this band, and I wasn’t disappointed as he ate the music alive. We had the pleasure of the front row at Beatherder festival 2017 where Sleafords headlined and watching the Mister dressed as Dorothy Gale dancing and singing with pure unadulterated joy to these lads will be one of my most enduring life memories. Fast forward 2 years and here we are again, front row poised and even headier having had the pleasure of popping along to the record signing and meeting Jason and Andrew earlier that day.

Sleaford Mods - 1st March 2019 - Newcastle Boiler Shop
Sleaford Mods – 1st March 2019 – Newcastle Boiler Shop

Andrew takes up his stance with the laptop and a beer, and spends the night looking like he’s having the time of his life, his stripped back beats that encapsulates hip hop, rave, electronica and pop but somehow weaves the same sarcastic humour as Jason’s lyrics with quirky notes and kazoo sprinkled into the mix, and you’ve gotta love anyone who gets a kazoo in there.

Jason is in full character as he belts out his performance with the skilled art of a poet. It would be easy to dismiss him as an angry post-punk performer but his clever play on words and sharp observations on the current state of affairs, his utter contempt and downright piss taking humour speaks to me more as a keen and talented writer who would be as likely to write a best seller as a top ten hit. His melodic voice goes from gentle and soulful up to furious screaming energy that can dissipate into silly humour dripping with searing sarcasm. At one point Jason proclaims how delighted and thankful they were that the album had reached number 9 in the charts, but I couldn’t help but laugh my tits off at just how much it sounded to my ears that this was a pure piss take and in reality they couldn’t give a damn toss about a number in a chart that means fuck all to our generation now.

To my utter delight when the set ended the guys exited stage left and were done. There was no encore and I liked that very much. Is there anything more wanky than jumping off stage and back on again for that one more song?

You may think Sleaford Mods are a bit marmite, but team Wyatt are big marmite fans!

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SIGRID | GEORGE EZRA | 07.03.2019 | Newcastle Arena | REVIEW

SIGRID | GEORGE EZRA | 07.03.2019 | Newcastle Arena | REVIEW

Sigrid and George Ezra – 7th March 2019 – Newcastle Utilita Arena

Review by Victoria Wai (Victoria Wai)

Fresh off the release of her debut album and kicking off the arena tour for George Ezra, we really did get a SUCKER PUNCH on the opening night at Newcastle Arena with Sigrid.

With her band dressed in black, Scandi-Pop sensation Sigrid is plainly dressed in blue jeans and a white t-shirt but her performance was far from plain. With the majority of the SOLD OUT crowd already filling out the venue there is a loud roar as she greets them with a ‘what’s up?’ And into the title track of her debut album which just so happens to be released at midnight after this show She announces this third song into the set and the crowd erupt with just as much excitement as she goes into the Madonna like opening of Don’t Feel Like Crying. After this performance I’d be surprised if half if not more didn’t wait up til midnight to stream its release as they were bouncing in the floor area just as much as she was running from one end of the stage to the other and taking every opportunity to take to the little square platforms that are also on the stage too.

Her energy is infectious. She seems to wear a constant smile throughout her whole set and that is also infectious. Whether you were familiar with Sigrid before seeing her open for George Ezra or not, you cannot help but be put under her spell. Her tunes are catchy enough to have you bopping around which the crowd on the floor do and with an artist like Sigrid it is a great experience to be able to watch her enjoy every second performing for us.

She runs through a strong half-hour set which includes EP songs that have made the album such as Schedules and Don’t Kill My Vibe. Both these actually show there are quite a lot of Sigrid fans in attendance and they sure were getting value for money as although she was the support act of the night it felt like it could have been her own headline show. She rounds up her set in style as the whole seating audience is on their feet and most of them are singing along to her recent hit Strangers, which is electrifying.

George Ezra himself puts on a stunning show. There is a curtain hiding his staging as Sigrid performs but as showtime comes it drops to full on screams to reveal a ‘big room’ complete with huge windows, potted plants and even a gramophone player. I have always been impressed with Ezra’s voice but I have never really been set alight with his live performances from what I’ve seen on television but I was proved well and truly wrong with this opening night of his headline sell out arena tour. His storytelling between numbers is hilarious and he even gives us some dance moves. His backing band are just as pumped as he is and jump around as much as they could too. The brass section are a real talking point of the night and they also lend themselves to some stunning backing vocals. We are given songs from both his first album and his second album and landscapes of sunsets and sunrises and even a blood moon come through the ‘windows’ and we are event treated to a bit of a carnival feel.

So, if like myself you think, “that George Ezra, well he can sing like and has catchy tunes but not much else,” be prepared to have your mind changed as this night, with both Sigrid and Ezra is close to what a perfect big production show is. The atmosphere was amazing as both artists and their bands gave us electrifying performances and I am now very gutted I missed out on Ezra’s more intimate show at the Newcastle Academy at the end of last year but luckily I can still catch Sigrid when she comes in November at the end of this year.

THE TWILIGHT SAD | MICHAEL TIMMONS | FISKUR | 02.03.2019 | Glasgow Barrowland | REVIEW and PHOTOS

THE TWILIGHT SAD | MICHAEL TIMMONS | FISKUR | 02.03.2019 | Glasgow Barrowland | REVIEW and PHOTOS

The Twilight Sad | Michael Timmons | Fiskur – 2nd March 2019 – Glasgow Barrowland

The Twilight Sad – 2nd March 2019 – Glasgow Barrowland

Feature by Graeme J. Baty

I think I’ll have to make this the last time I review The Twilgiht Sad. It’s becoming increasingly difficult to objectively review the band since I am ridiculously biased! Have they become an unreviewable juggernaut? This Barrowland gig seems like it’s been a long time coming. When they played here back in December 2015 that became one of the greatest gig experiences I’ve ever had. They’re back a few years later to another sold-out audience.

Fiskur – 2nd March 2019 – Glasgow Barrowland

Fiskur open the proceedings with a warm and light set before the impending doom and gloom of the headliners. Glasgow based project featuring a few familiar faces; Ross Clark, Andy Monaghan (Frightened Rabbit) and Christopher McGarry (Three Blind Wolves). There’s quite a good turn out early on to catch their splendid set.

Michael Timmons – 2nd March 2019 – Glasgow Barrowland

Michael Timmons follows as main support and he’s gathered quite a few fans among the diehard TTS followers, myself included! Having caught his set with them at Leeds Brudenell last summer. He’s since gone on to support the band across Europe. He treats a very courteous and attentive audience to a selection of songs from his debut Bone Coloured. The song ‘Material’ proves a highlight of his short set, that one gets me every time, just beautiful. He ends the set with an incredible barrage of cathedral reverb with a sound that cuts right into your soul. Quite an impressive achievement for a solo act. A great reminder that I really need to dig into my pocket and get a copy of that record!

The Twilight Sad – 2nd March 2019 – Glasgow Barrowland

I won’t say too much about the headliners. If you were there you’ll know how good it was. I drove six hours through rain storms and battled a few inner demons to be here (a huge thank you to the lovely people that talked me into going x). Worth every inch of effort. This marks my tenth time seeing them and remarkably this show has increased my admiration for the band. I walked away from the show with a feeling of euphoria and gratitude. I’m grateful I’m alive and able to witness a show like this. Perhaps that is the way I should view the experience? Rather than describing songs or light shows, perhaps it really is the feelings that matter. Throughout the epics highs and epic lows of my life, The Twilight Sad have been a firm part of my soundtrack for the last 8 years and they are simply one of the greatest live bands of our generation. That euphoria is magic and might explain my unwavering love for the music.

The new material is absolutely stunning in a live setting. They’ve grown to become one of Scotland’s most beloved bands and made a very welcome return with new album It Won/t Be Like This All The Time on Rock Action Records earlier in 2019. I/m Not Here gets the biggest crowd reaction of the new songs, with fans out singing James with sheer volume and enthusiasm. That brought a huge smile to my face.

The setlist is a dream come true, with lots of favourites in there but predominantly features the strong new material. There are two distinct highlights of the set. There is nothing that will send shivers down your spine quite like hundreds of people signing (in a Scottish accent too 🙂 ) Cold Days from the Birdhouse. It is, of course, Keep Yourself Warm that brings the biggest reaction. No tears for me this time, just pure love for a great song performed flawlessly.

I’m hoping for more UK shows later in the year, who knows maybe another Barrowland show? Now that would be amazing. Such is the love for TSS in Glasgow I’m confident they could have sold out a few nights in a row. I’ll settle for this one perfect night though. Here’s to my next ten TTS gigs!

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BLACK FUTURES | 21.02.2019 | Newcastle Think Tank | PHOTOS

BLACK FUTURES | 21.02.2019 | Newcastle Think Tank | PHOTOS

Black Futures – 21st February 2019 – Newcastle Think Tank

Feature by Graeme J. Baty

Long overdue photos from a couple of weeks back when Black Futures supported Frank Carter and The Rattlesnakes (see that review here). They were absolutely amazing. Possibly one of the best bands I’ve ever seen at Think Tank!

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KRIS BARRAS BAND | JACK J HUTCHINSON | 08.02.2019 | Newcastle Cluny | PHOTOS

KRIS BARRAS BAND | JACK J HUTCHINSON | 08.02.2019 | Newcastle Cluny | PHOTOS

Kris Barras Band | Jack J Hutchinson – 8th February 2019 – Newcastle Cluny

Photos by Kevin Burdon (Kevin Burdon Photography)

Kevin Burdon was at The Cluny for a night of outstanding blues! Check out the photos from the show.

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BLUE ÖYSTER CULT | THE TEMPERANCE MOVEMENT | 23.02.2019 | Newcastle O2 Academy | REVIEW and PHOTOS

BLUE ÖYSTER CULT | THE TEMPERANCE MOVEMENT | 23.02.2019 | Newcastle O2 Academy | REVIEW and PHOTOS

Blue Öyster Cult | The Temperance Movement – 23rd February 2019 – Newcastle O2 Academy

By Gordon Armstrong (G’s Gig Shots)

A headlining act in their own right The Temperance Movement were here tonight setting the mood for one of rock music’s greatest acts; Blue Öyster Cult. They waste no time in getting the crowd going with Only Friend and Caught In The Middle and for the next 40 minutes deliver a fiery set of blues-soaked rock n roll. Phil Campbell’s voice just gets stronger every time I see them and the band just gel together brilliantly on tracks like A Deeper Cut and set closer Midnight Black leaving the crowd wanting more!

The Temperance Movement – 23rd February 2019 – Newcastle O2 Academy

The intro rings out and the band take to the stage the dark blue lights making it difficult to make out anything but shapes and shadows but there’s no mistaking the image of Eric Bloom and Buck Dharma centre stage sharing a lifetimes friendship fist bump signalling Blue Öyster Cults’ return to Newcastle. Tattoo Vampire gets things underway and for the next 100 minutes we are in the palm of their hands! The big MTV era hit Burnin’ For You is aired early in the set sandwiched between older Secret Treaties cuts Career of Evil and Harvester of Eyes all of which are met with the same joyous reception.

BOC are no strangers to Newcastle having even recorded some of the tracks for Some Enchanted Evening at a City Hall show way back in the day, so it’s great to see them still rocking to a full house here after almost 50 years as a band (despite multiple line up changes) I was a bit disappointed that our Toon crowd voted against Shooting Shark when Bloom put two songs up for public choice though!

Dharma is outstanding tonight both vocally and musically especially on Last Days Of May where he absolutely knocks it out of the park! But it is, of course, Don’t Fear The Reaper that causes the majority of the crowd to lose their minds. Regardless of the reasons why people know this song, be it long time fan TV/movie soundtrack or THAT sketch (even Eric was mimicking the “more cowbell”) it’s a great song it’s got everything memorable riff melodies sing-along chorus AND that ferocious solo never gets old! And yeah I got fed up of hearing it in clubs and pubs radio etc BUT never tire of it live!

However BÖC are more than just THAT one song – Godzilla is still possibly of the first and finest stoner rock blueprints, Hot Rails To Hell (handled brilliantly by guitarist and keyboard player Richie Castellano) is just pure Garage Rock ‘n’ roll and Black Blade co-written with Michael Moorcock is sci-fi storytelling at its finest. These amongst many many others high light the bands versatility which is why they’ve lasted the test of time Aptly Cities On Flame (with Rock ‘n’ Roll) brings the night to a close and I’m hoping we get that promised new album sooner than later and maybe one more tour out of the guys for the 50th celebrations.

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