Victoria Wai 2018 music roundup – FEATURE

Victoria Wai 2018 music roundup – FEATURE

Victoria Wai selects her highlights of 2018!

Top gigs of 2018

Trying to split my gigs of the year to gig-photos of the year was pretty difficult I’ve gone with my gigs of the year with my favourite photos of those gigs (in order of performance).

BRYDE – O’MEARA, LONDON (1st May)

Bryde headlined London’s O’Meara back in May. It slowly filled up but by the time Bryde and her band took to the stage there was hardly any room to move. Fans were out in full force and the ones at the front were singing along admiringly to every word. It was a hot and sweaty affair and the atmosphere was more than perfect.

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ANNA CALVI – BOILER SHOP, NEWCASTLE (3rd Oct)

As lights went down, I dreaded this gig as a photographer, as red light filled the room as did a lot of smoke. For many photographers this is their worst nightmare. I actually love red light but certain reds are not great with photographic technology but the buzz in the room or something clicked and it ended up being one of the best gigs I’ve photographed. Just wish I could have captured the whole night as Anna OWNED that stage outright.

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ARCANE ROOTS with Bryde – THINK TANK, NEWCASTLE (22nd Oct)

I have photographed this venue a few times but when Arcane Roots headlined in October there was something different. They brought in their own lighting rig which definitely gave the venue an extra edge. This was the penultimate night to Arcane Roots farewell gig and many AR friends had gathered. There was something special in the air and even the support act Bryde was given a special reception from the crowd. By the time AR came to the stage the atmosphere was like nothing I had experienced in this venue. Smoke and blue lights were the main effects and we were all in awe of the performance we were given.

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LORD HURON with Malena Zavala – SAGE, GATESHEAD (28th Oct)

Lord Huron only came to my attention because I was familiar with the support act Malena Zavala and it was a blessing to see not only her on that stage as both acts were magical on that stage. The acoustics, the lights, the smoke, the crowd – everything that happened under that roof that night was pure magic and it is hard to describe. It was a case of ‘you had to be there.’

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ESTRONS – THINK TANK, NEWCASTLE (3rd Nov)

When hype is so big before I get myself familiar with musicians I generally shy away for a bit and let the dust settle a bit but something told me I had to see what Estrons were about and all I can say of this is do BELIEVE THE HYPE. There was so much energy from the get-go and the crowd fed off it and sometimes being amongst a crowd ready to mosh can be a scary experience (especially with camera kit) but I wanted to be amongst it on this night. Seriously, if you are not familiar with Estrons either it could be one of the best things you witness live.

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PAUL SMITH – MOTH CLUB, LONDON  (28th Nov)

I wasn’t meant to be at this gig but the other gig I was meant to attend fell through but it was the best thing that could have happened. I’ve heard of Maximo Park, the band that Paul Smith headlines, and have seen them a few times but nothing quite prepared me for this. Fans had gathered in high spirits and we were even treated to a lovely support slot by Kathryn Williams. Paul Smith and his band ran through songs from all of Smith’s solo material and we were even treated to Maximo Park songs in the encore. I went in with an open mind and left more than impressed as that was a stellar performance that it didn’t matter I was cutting it close for the last tube!

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THE WANDERING HEARTS – RIVERSIDE, NEWCASTLE (3rd Dec)

There was a different vibe at the Riverside that I have not felt for a while and it was definitely down to The Wandering Hearts. A few familiar faces were in the crowd from a previous festival performance in the area and other friends had gathered as they had recently heard them harmonise on the radio. Spirits were high – singalongs in the right places and silence as the harmonies washed over us and warmed the venue and the dreary night up outside. I saw ‘part one’ of the Wild Silence tour back in March in London. The difference in a few months is that the backing band had been stripped down and if I am honest it actually worked a lot better. I have witnessed The Wandering Hearts in student bars, at festivals and a few other amazing venues in England and they can set any venue alight with their harmonies and personalities.

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SNOW PATROL – METRO ARENA, NEWCASTLE (5th Dec)

Lights, lights and lights. That is all you need to know about a Snow Patrol gig. Showtime came and the Arena was fuelled in excitement. The visuals that appeared on the screen, stage and around the Arena was a spectacle and the band fronted by Gary Lightbody gave their all. You could feel the excitement from the five piece and the crowd sang back the big anthems giving you goosebumps. Nothing could be faulted even when Gary’s falsetto couldn’t quite be reached – in fact it made it more of a show.

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CLOVES –  ISLINGTON ASSEMBLY HALL, LONDON (11th Dec)

There is something spectacular about Islington Assembly Hall and it suited Cloves to a tee! Thankfully the acoustics in this beautiful venue were amazing and the sound engineers were on form as a few people were a bit too highly intoxicated. I’ve got nothing against people having a good time, that’s why I go to gigs and besides ‘niggles’ on reflection this was one of the best gigs I have ever attended. Wherever you stood, if you had Cloves in your view you could feel the emotion in her voice. If you didn’t have her in your view you could feel the emotion. It was a simple set but it was a stunning set.

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ALL SAINTS – O2 ACADEMY, NEWCASTLE (12th Dec)

A night of nostalgia is what this night was. Memories of my late teen years and a university exchange that took me to San Francisco came flooding back. You definitely need the right crowd and the right sound under the rood of the o2 in Newcastle and this night proved that most things were right with All Saints. Most of the back catalogue hits were performed as well as new ones. Even the cheesiest of crowd participation came with Never Ever but it worked. The staging was simple and the backing band were on point and Shaz, Nic, Nat and Mel had crowd interaction on point filling fans hearts with joy and a night to remember.

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Top albums of 2018

I left my Albums of 2018 to the last minute as I wanted to let the year run its course rather than a surprise addition in the week before Christmas as you just never know what surprises may crop up. Most of the albums that stood out to me this year were debut albums – so much talent creeping through giving the ‘big names’ a run for their money.

It was hard selecting who would take the top spot, so the best way for me to do this is to list them in order of their release:

THE WANDERING HEARTS – WILD SILENCE:

A whirlwind of a story of how Tim, Tara, AJ and Chess came to be The Wandering Hearts and the story led to this fine debut of an album back in February. Compared to Fleetwood Mac and The Civil Wars and dubbed into the Americana genre, this foursome bring harmonies that tug on the heartstrings and lyrics of love to ‘chasing down the thunder…trying to find a spark.’ Wild Silence is a fine debut album that has seen them wow crowds in the UK to Nashville and Memphis and winning the The Americana Music Association UK ‘Bob Harris Emerging Artist Award.’ Look out 2019 The Wandering Hearts are ready for the world.

MARTHA FFION – SUNDAY BEST:

Her dreamy vocals and poetic lyrics for this release in March lived up to the 2016 release of Wallflower that first got me hooked on Martha Ffion. I had literally turned on the radio and was hunting down who Martha was and have followed her music closely. I admitted to her that ‘her music wasn’t something that I normally listen to but there was something that drew me to her.’ Sunday Best revisits some of her early stuff and some of it like No Applause is heavier in sound but it works. Two years after discovering Martha and listening to the album for the hundredth or so time something clicked in my brain that makes me feel her vocals are on the level of Nina Persson of The Cardigans whether that will swing it for you or not as this album still is amazing because of Martha Ffion.

BRYDE – LIKE AN ISLAND:

Bryde missed my radar until her second release EP2 in 2016 and as soon as heard Wait I was hooked. I then got to see her live in November of that year in a basement bar. Just a girl with a guitar and an attentive crowd. I got to see and hear the mellow tracks to the full-blown angst. Her debut album Like An Island is this with added band on most tracks, which is how she performs now and then too. Like An Island is raw and emotional with lyrics that can cut deep, like a friend giving you a reality check.  Play the album anywhere and go see some of the tracks performed live. Just get some of Bryde’s music in your life as it ‘feels like euphoria.’

MALENA ZAVALA – ALISO:

Dreamy and mellow is how I would describe Malena Zavala’s debut. One to put on your ultimate chill-out lists but it is more complex than that. It captures and hypnotises your soul as delicate vocals pull you into the lush melodies of a dreamscape. Aliso as an album is somewhat psychedelic in places and is only a taster of what Malena can do and seeing her live a few times over this past year and a half there is definitely more to come but until then loop this as many times as you can and lose yourself.

LAUREL – DOGVIOLET:

That streaming site put Laurel on my radar. I finally caught her live as a support act then on her second Newcastle visit, which is where I picked up her debut Dogviolet – so not only did I get to see the album performed before my very eyes but I ended up taking the album home with me and it stayed with me and in the car for some time. It is the perfect driving soundtrack. We were coming into the dark autumn nights by the time Dogviolet came into my hands but it felt like I could have been driving along the West Coast of California as it has that California sound to me and her vocals definitely lend itself to that.

LYLA FOY – BIGGER BRIGHTER:

I was surprised when Lyla Foy brought out Bigger Brighter as I kept seeing her as part of other bands so when I saw this released I knew it had to be put in my record collection and my only non-debut album of 2018 to make this list! There is something about the way she harmonises with her delicate touch over the lyrics that are somewhat in the mystical fantasy world almost Stevie Nicks like. Over the few years I’ve been following Lyla’s work it has ever occurred to me until this album, or maybe it is just in this album, that she has elements of Kate Bush in her music too. But strip away these comparisons and make room for this in your collection especially We’re Different, Bigger Brighter, With The Night and thumping Try My Heart.

CLOVES – ONE BIG NOTHING:

Everybody’s Son was released in 2015 on the EP XIII. It is one of my all-time fave songs. It is minimalistic and shows off Cloves vocal ability. Cloves has been making her name quietly – a few showcases here and there and a tour with Michael Kiwanuka in the States then her album was released – in the UK it came on the 28th September. This was probably my most anticipated album of the year and it was a wait worth waiting for. When I first heard California Numb I was a little disappointed as it didn’t have that XIII feel that I totally fell for so on hearing California Numb for the first time it took me by surprise. I then started from scratch and it made me realise that having Don’t You Wait and Frail Love alongside these harder hitting tracks just shows how versatile Cloves can be and she does it with so much conviction. One Big Nothing is an emotional rollercoaster of an album. Her vocals add that extra bonus to what is being delivered. There is something in her voice that I cannot really describe but it is SOMETHING. I recently saw her headline and of that show I wrote, ‘it is REAL, it is LIFE.’ This is the album too. This is what makes it the stand out ‘album of the year,’ for me but all the other albums in my list are so strong too that now and then I let it become ‘best with the best.’

MIDDLE KIDS – LOST FRIENDS:

Middle Kids came out of nowhere for me. They were put on a list of gigs we could photograph/review. I had already had a lot on so needed a break then someone I followed since last summer was billed as a support act so days before the gig I got back on the list to photograph and review the show and listened to their music on that streaming site and kicked myself for not getting to hear of Middle Kids sooner. Lost Friends has a deeper feel to the sounds that has your feet tapping. In fact, those lyrics are deep and if you let yourself open to listening to the lyrics and then feel the emotions with the music on top you realise the true potential of Middle Kids. Lost Friends feels classic and timeless too and a top addition into my Best Of 2018.

ALL SAINTS | 12.12.2018 | Newcastle O2 Academy | REVIEW and PHOTOS

ALL SAINTS | 12.12.2018 | Newcastle O2 Academy | REVIEW and PHOTOS

All Saints – 12th December 2018 – Newcastle O2 Academy

Review and photos by Victoria Wai (Victoria Wai)

After their ‘comeback’ album Red Flag in 2016, the excitement following 1990s girl group All Saints has gone from strength to strength and another album followed in the Summer of 2018 titled Testament with a tour following. It was not only a night of nostalgia but also a night proving that there is more to Shaznay Lewis, Nicole Appleton, Natalie Appleton and Melanie Blatt as they rounded off the tour at Newcastle’s o2 Academy.

As the introduction kicked in the atmosphere was intense. People milling by the bar literally pushed to the barrier as we were given a mini megamix intro as all four ladies stepped onto the stage following the band kicking off with the flirtatious Bootie Call. From the get-go you could see they were all on a high as much as the audience. The night called for us all to have a great time and that we did; from the die-hard fans to those reliving their youth.

It was a great mix of songs. They proved just how strong they were vocally especially with all the jumping around on top of their choreographed moves. What was admirable was watching them up there having the best time. It’s been highly documented of that famous feud and for fans like myself, we are so grateful that their friendship stood the test of time, that when their first single, I Know Where It’s At, makes the setlist the Academy erupts as “everybody wants to hang out at (their) party.” But at every party, you do need to catch your breath and latest single, After All, brings us back down and maybe on the verge of tears.

All Saints really do not get the credit they deserve as vocalists and songwriters, namely Shaznay Lewis. Listening to their music is one thing but when you get to see people perform the music that resonates with you, it is a feeling that really cannot be described. That is a true testament to these ladies and proves that there is room for them to be constantly relevant to the music industry.

Another great thing about seeing All Saints perform live is that (to most people who only know the singles) it could be said that Shaznay and Melanie are the ‘lead vocalists’ with Natalie doing her share and Nicole gets the ‘speaky’ part in that famous song. But this could not be further from the truth and it is great to see them ALL do their part. Collectively their harmonies blend brilliantly; individually they are just as perfect.

Bonus for the die-hards is the medley of ‘never before played live’ songs with All Hooked Up, Alone and Take The Key. I have said die-hards a few times but I believe 90% in attendance definitely knew the words to these album tracks. I think as an artist, it must be a great feeling when people sing back the words you wrote and for the fans there is a connection when you get those few moments of singing together.

Pure Shores peaks the night and it is party atmosphere in full swing. In the past, this song has been the finale of the night. It’s hard to describe the feeling but it really keeps you on a high that you cannot come down from. Things are a bit different for me personally this night, as a merry fan seemed to love it as much as me, that he pushes in the tiniest of gaps and tries to elbow my shoulder to discomfort so I move. Not the thing I want to write in a review but sometimes it needs to be said and there is no need for people to do this, especially when they tower in height over you. Pure Shores IS my song and nothing was going to spoil this moment for me, so a huge credit to the security who saw this and for letting me hold onto ‘my moment,’ and having the encore to enjoy. And what an encore. From the epic Love Lasts Forever to a hip-hop break, then into one of the biggest crowd participation moments ever with Never Ever. Yes, ‘a few questions that I need to know,’ is how can Shaznay, Natalie, Nicole and Melanie top this? Well, there are more chapters to be written about this Glorious story and I have all the Black Coffee’s ready for it!

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CLOVES | 11.12.2018 | Islington Assembly Hall | REVIEW and PHOTOS

CLOVES | 11.12.2018 | Islington Assembly Hall | REVIEW and PHOTOS

Cloves – 11th December 2018 – Islington Assembly Hall, London

Review and photos by Victoria Wai (Victoria Wai)

I first saw Cloves (aka Kaity Dunstan) on a whim back in February 2017 after hearing her track Everybody’s Son back in 2015. I just happened to be in the right city at the right time. There was a buzz that night and those feelings came flooding back as the lights went down in Islington Assembly Hall. The crowd murmured in anticipation as the band of three played what felt like an orchestral introduction before Cloves appears, then she is on stage and as soon as she sings the opening to Wasted Time, my stomach is in knots, never mind how Cloves herself is feeling. From the get-go the night is raw and emotional. To me this is how most gigs should feel as she glides from one end of the stage to the other and at times grabbing the mic stand as she sways.

The music then takes a more upbeat feel with Bringing The House Down as the lights get brighter but still fit the mood of what Cloves’ music is about. That is Cloves down to a T! The lights compliment the music and it gets under your skin! This is why Cloves rates high on my radar; her music is simple yet complex and full of fire and passion. It is REAL! It is LIFE!

I had three albums down as ‘albums of the year’. That was up until April, then Cloves debut came in October here in the UK and it may have claimed the number one spot. Seeing her debut album One Big Nothing come to life on stage really gets into every bit of your body. We go from the stripped back songs to the big thumping sounds and her vocals are effortless and fragile. You cannot help but to get lost in the moment – or these 50 minutes or so we get of her.

The added bonus of this night though is that on top of her album tracks we get a brilliant cover of Mazzy Star’s, Fade Into You, and the way she performs it, she could probably claim it for herself as knowing the original or not, she makes it her own. She claimed the night as soon as she stepped on stage then onto the crowd singing back the ending to Better Now. And it is her personality on that stage that you wish those that were just a bit too loud in the room could have been quieter as her songs and her performance definitely deserved the attention. Luckily the acoustics of Islington Assembly were perfect that most of the time it did not bother you.

Cloves was made for this stage and many are starting to get it. Those in the room already know it and the night is ours, that we wanted more after she and her band run off stage after the title track from the album. Luckily, Cloves hears us and returns with her guitarist and she asks, “is it alright if we do Everybody’s Son?” The room could not have asked for anything better and we are feeling it as the room then feels still. And I am exhausted from the emotional journey I have just been on. I am left breathless and my heart is in a million beautiful pieces coming back together and beating in my chest.

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SNOW PATROL | 05.12.2018 | Newcastle Metro Arena | REVIEW and PHOTOS

SNOW PATROL | 05.12.2018 | Newcastle Metro Arena | REVIEW and PHOTOS

Snow Patrol – 5th December 2018 – Newcastle Metro Arena

Review and photos by Victoria Wai (Victoria Wai)

The last time Snow Patrol played Newcastle back in 2012 was my first time seeing them live. Back then I remembered lights, lights and lights. Fast forward to December 2018 for their latest album Wildness and if you were as impressed as me, then were not let down.

The Earth catching the Sun is what greets us on screen then Chocolate from the 2004 album Final Straw has the crowd roaring their approval. Take Back The City follows and the strong crowd sings back in unison on this opening night of the tour.

You cannot fault anything with a Snow Patrol gig. They take everything into consideration. There are no big screens blocking any view, just one big projection that gives one spectacular visual after another for each song. There are times where it looks as though the band are in a box but the show designer(s) are definitely aware of where the audience are and make sure everyone gets their money worth. The setlist covers everything for every Snow Patrol fan that we are even treated with songs that they ‘haven’t played in a long, long, long time,’ including How To Be Dead.

Set Fire To The Third Bar stuns the arena into almost silence as Martha Wainwright appears magnified and flickering on the screen behind the band and Gary Lightbody gets to duet with her. If this doesn’t give you goosebumps I am not sure what gig you were at.

Snow Patrol - 5th December 2018 - Newcastle Metro Arena
Snow Patrol – 5th December 2018 – Newcastle Metro Arena

This tour definitely was given a run over with a fine tooth comb, as the show we get seems to be the work of a perfectionist. The visuals on the screen to the lights and to how each song followed each other gives us the perfect run of emotions. We knew when to be silent and we knew when we could really belt out a tune as Open Your Eyes followed to the more mellow Run; the song that really put Snow Patrol on the map with thanks to Jo Whiley giving it its full 6minute spin all those years ago on BBC Radio 1.

Snow Patrol - 5th December 2018 - Newcastle Metro Arena
Snow Patrol – 5th December 2018 – Newcastle Metro Arena

Perfect and time are the words I have described this night and more so with Life On Earth as Gary tells us, it’s the song that ‘kicked his arse’ in the five years it took writing it but with that time we get to see it performed in all its glory as red light fills the arena like a red mist over us as a spaceship orbits the Earth on the screen. It is one of the most beautiful scenes I have ever witnessed at a live show. Of course, Chasing Cars makes the setlist and everything about it is stadium-worthy.

Snow Patrol - 5th December 2018 - Newcastle Metro Arena
Snow Patrol – 5th December 2018 – Newcastle Metro Arena

What If This Is All The Love You Ever Get? comes after an encore. I mentioned the word perfect but the night is not without hitches, first off there was the 20minute delay to the show starting and then Gary’s falsetto goes during this encore, but to me, those hitches make the show more real. You felt how he was singing! And then just like that we are back to perfect as the show closes with Just Say Yes and it definitely felt like a YES moment what I was seeing on stage and on the screen to the lights filling the arena magnified how I felt listening and seeing Snow Patrol right before me in the same room.

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HINDS | SPORTS TEAM | 04.12.2018 | Newcastle Riverside | REVIEW and PHOTOS

HINDS | SPORTS TEAM | 04.12.2018 | Newcastle Riverside | REVIEW and PHOTOS

Hinds and Sports Team – 4th December 2018 – Newcastle Riverside

Review and photos by Victoria Wai (Victoria Wai)

What can I say about Sports Team? Interesting might be the word. Entertaining might be the another. And they can sure put on a show and the crowd slowly filling in were feeding off the vibe of a frontman jumping about, throwing moves like Mick Jagger and then on the other spectrum a keyboardist almost vacant unless he was playing the tambourine, then he might have took a little walk around the stage. The other four members fill the bits in-between. If you hadn’t heard of Sports Team prior to tonight, you might have been taken by the show over than the music, like me. Whatever it is though, I would definitely say they are worth the watch and next time I might take in more of the music than the visuals as put both together would be worth a bet!

“Hi we’re HINDS and we came here to rock,” states the banner behind the band and that they did. They’re a relatively new band, as a four-piece they bring an infectious indie-lo-fi-pop vibe to the Riverside and just before they start their set Carlotta Cosials notices how cold it is along the banks of the Tyne and how much hotter it is inside the venue and then later how quiet the crowd is, as they entered the stage and in between songs. However, the latter statement could not be further from the truth as there was definitely a lot of jumping about from the crowd as well as from the band themselves.

Watching the four-piece is like happiness in your soul especially that smile of drummer Amber Grimbergen. Does she ever stop smiling when hitting those skins? In fact, the whole band just don’t stop smiling, even when Ade Martín has problems with the bass they are laughing and engaging with the crowd. Hinds are just all about fun. In this hour-long set we are given songs from both albums, Leave Me Alone and I Don’t Mind and bought to life they fit in choreographed moves that are just as punchy as their songs.

Admittedly, I was tired coming to this gig but on hearing many positive things about them nothing was going to stop me from being here and although I am not that familiar with their catalogue of songs except their current single, British Mind and also Bamboo. Whether you’re clued up or not on Hinds there is no doubting you will be hooked after your first time. Those that were ‘quiet’ before definitely weren’t as the show went on. We even had Ana García Perrote come to the barrier and even get close enough to ‘almost kiss a girl,’ at the barrier. And if that wasn’t enough Carlotta actually comes into the crowd and onto the bar belting out a tune.

Hinds are infectious, fun, and engaging. If they are on the bill get listening to their music before heading out and get more involved in the show as to bop around is one thing but to bop around and singing their songs gives it that extra element and it definitely got me out of the slumber that I was in before the show started.

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HOLY MOLY AND THE CRACKERS | 30.11.2018 | Newcastle Riverside | REVIEW and PHOTOS

HOLY MOLY AND THE CRACKERS | 30.11.2018 | Newcastle Riverside | REVIEW and PHOTOS

Holy Moly and the Crackers – 30th November 2018 – Newcastle Riverside

Review and photos by Victoria Wai (Victoria Wai)

Holy Moly and the Crackers - 30th November 2018 - Newcastle Riverside

There was quite a buzz as I arrived at the venue. Many had gathered early from a varying of ages. Holy Moly and the Crackers were kickstarting the weekend for many at the Riverside in Newcastle.

Opening the night we have local band Portraits. I saw these guys recently supporting another band and something felt a bit flat that night. Not with them, but the night in general. This night was very different! They gave their all again but everything seemed more free-flowing and every member on the stage felt pumped with energy. There was definitely something in this Friday night air.

Moments before Holy Moly and The Crackers came on the floor space literally packed in every inch and spirits seemed very high. Lights down and smoke filling the stage and I felt the audience’s excitement in me! Holy Moly are Newcastle based and they have been on the scene for a quite a few years now. I am Newcastle based. Heard the name for years. This would be my first time seeing them though I have crossed paths with a few members at times.

Holy Moly & The Crackers - Riverside, Newcastle - 30th Nov 2018 - 39

The venue erupted as soon as the music started from both the crowd and the band. It was pure electricity pumping through me as I watched what was going on in front of me. Every member on that stage was infectious with energy. It was a solid set from start to end.

Holy Moly & The Crackers - Riverside, Newcastle - 30th Nov 2018 - 34

Leadman Conrad Bird was unstoppable. He covered every part of the stage and up close with every member of the band. How he kept his breath throughout is amazing especially as he was also on the trumpet and guitar. In fact that goes for every member, it just so happens Conrad was covering space more, as we had Ruth Patterson’s arms everywhere when she wasn’t conducting the fiddle. Accordion player Rosie Bristow was almost doing acrobatics as she played with Nick Tyler on his electric guitar jumping up and down behind her then Jamie Shields slapping da bass and Tommy Evans drumming like all possessed drummers do! Piece this all together and it is one of the most exciting things to witness at a live show.

We are given many songs from the back catalogue including Cold Comfort Lane which featured in the blockbuster Ocean’s 8. River Neva brings a real ‘knees up’ affair but to be honest the whole night is one big knees up. And if that wasn’t enough we are treated to some new songs such as All I Got Is You to acrobatics moves in Upside Down courtesy of their circus performing friend Hannah.

It sure is one big party with Holy Moly and The Crackers and we end with Devil & The Danube…..if only they were allowed…as not even given the chance to completely walk off the stage the chants for one more come quick, fast and loud, that Ruth and Conrad remain on stage for a beautiful duet called Ain’t That Enough. Maybe the quietest song of the night but the energy is still the same as Ruth’s vocals get the chance to shine that bit more and are complemented by Conrad’s huskiness. The venue is at high intensity that when the song finishes the other band members run back on stage and play us out with the stomper that is Mary.

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ANNA PANCALDI | BRYDE | LYLA FOY | 24.11.2018 | Hemelvaart Ayton | REVIEW and PHOTOS

ANNA PANCALDI | BRYDE | LYLA FOY | 24.11.2018 | Hemelvaart Ayton | REVIEW and PHOTOS

Anna Pancaldi, Bryde and Lyla Foy – 24th November 2018 – Hemelvaart Ayton

Review and photos by Victoria Wai (Victoria Wai)

Anna Pancaldi with Bryde and Lyla Foy - 24th November 2018 - Hemelvaart Ayton Scotland
Anna Pancaldi with Bryde and Lyla Foy – 24th November 2018 – Hemelvaart Ayton Scotland

There are some artists you can see time and time again and it is always refreshing, take the artists Bryde and Lyla Foy for instance. I only saw them play the night before prior to this gig. This gig was last minute as it was a ‘day off’ but their friend Anna Pancaldi had a solo gig with no supports so traveling an hour plus up the A1 sounded great, for them and for me.

Hemelvaart is just past the border into Scotland and a little hidden gem in the village of Ayton and is known as a bier cafe and the beer is worth the drive (but do stay so you don’t drive after sampling the fine stuff!). Pair this with fine music then you are onto a great night.

Anna Pancaldi with Bryde and Lyla Foy - 24th November 2018 - Hemelvaart Ayton Scotland
Anna Pancaldi with Bryde and Lyla Foy – 24th November 2018 – Hemelvaart Ayton Scotland

Lyla opens the nights proceedings. The set begins with the final track; With The Night from her current album Bigger Brighter and it is such a soothing performance. If the lights had been dimmed more and there was a fire lit, what a cozy night it would have been. The audience are a very quiet bunch and seemed too polite to say anything, which in a way is good as we could hear every beautiful note Lyla gives us.

The first few songs Lyla performs are on keys and then moves to the guitar. After a few tuning problems we hear Impossible, which actually featured in an animated series called Bojack Horseman! A bit of tweaking here and there, we got a slightly different version for those familiar with Lyla’s music but non-the-less and being  the natural talent that she is, it was a wonderful end to her set.

Anna Pancaldi with Bryde and Lyla Foy - 24th November 2018 - Hemelvaart Ayton Scotland
Anna Pancaldi with Bryde and Lyla Foy – 24th November 2018 – Hemelvaart Ayton Scotland

There’s no messing with Bryde as she manages to squeeze in seven songs into her short set with a mix of songs from her debut album, Like An Island, and a few EP tracks. We begin with Handstands and even get the quieter tracks like Wait. The audience remain their quiet selves and again this is a bonus. Over the past year I have seen Bryde a number of times and mainly backed by a band but this tour sees her solo and it is amazing. She looses non of her charm being solo. In fact her performance is that bit more captivating. I would say much more but I also love it when she plays with the band. The chemistry she has with the band is bounced off the audience instead on this night. We also get the wonderful cover of Bombay Bicycle Club’s Flaws as a duet with Lyla. Hearing them together is something to be witnessed and it’s great that I can say that I have had the privilege of seeing it performed twice.

Anna Pancaldi is a new name to me and an added bonus to the night although it was her headline show as I had come on the back of the Bryde and Lyla Foy tour. Being a music fan, especially of live music, I always try to get to see all acts on the bill and my original reasonings for being at the Hemelvaart show was the reverse of most people in attendance. We all got more than we bargained for.

Anna Pancaldi with Bryde and Lyla Foy - 24th November 2018 - Hemelvaart Ayton Scotland
Anna Pancaldi with Bryde and Lyla Foy – 24th November 2018 – Hemelvaart Ayton Scotland

An acoustic guitar accompanies Anna’s soulful tones as she opens with Promise We’ll Never Grow Old. Anna is also quite a character and in between songs we get stories of misheard Anne Marie lyrics to accidental roadkill and to finding the comfortable silence in between songs. Yes, there was that silence again but it definitely was at one with the room. Anna gets to showoff her talents more so and if you had her emotional charged vocals you would too, and we get an acapella version of Can’t Help Loving Dat Man from the musical Showboat and ends her set unplugged. Her set is very stripped back (as it is for Bryde and Lyla). After hearing the songs in this environment and then hitting the streaming sites to hear the full sound, it was definitely a pleasure to hear Runaway and Stay Right Here this way.

Bryde pointed out earlier that we were getting three female artists who are three very different artists. Lyla had her dream-pop, Bryde gave us her fierce and fragile indie and we finish on a more soulful vibe with Anna. In recent times there’s been a lot of talk of diversity in the music industry in that more female musicians should be placed higher on the bill at festivals and even headline them. What tonight proved at Hemelvaart is that there’s enough diversity amongst female artists that this should not even come into question. All three artists on this night are worthy of those much talked festival slots and airplay. They are actually better than some that gain those headline slots!

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PAUL SMITH | KATHRYN WILLIAMS | 28.11.2018 | London Moth Club | REVIEW and PHOTOS

PAUL SMITH | KATHRYN WILLIAMS | 28.11.2018 | London Moth Club | REVIEW and PHOTOS

Paul Smith – Kathryn Williams – 28th November 2018 – London Moth Club

Review and photos by Victoria Wai (Victoria Wai)

Let’s get the introductions over with. Paul Smith is probably best known as the lead singer of the band Maximo Park who does some of the best jumps on stage while dressed smart in suits and hats.

On this night at London’s Moth Club, he is Paul Smith, solo artist backed by The Intimations. Many of my music loving and gig going friends love Maximo Park and Paul Smith. Me? Well I’ve dipped into the music now and then, at the now defunct Split Festival and at the recent Great Exhibition Of The North with views of the back of a tug boat and collaborating with Rachel Unthank. The last night of the Diagrams tour would be my first full experience of Paul Smith with my full attention.

Paul Smith - 28th November 2018 - London Moth Club
Paul Smith – 28th November 2018 – London Moth Club

I was there with an open mind and unfamiliar with the back catalogue. This would be some night. This would be a night I could be very open and critical. On first thoughts what came to me was, “lucky he has Kathryn Williams supporting him.” He states in the show that he doesn’t like reading reviews as he has a photographic memory for insults. Don’t worry though, Paul Smith, I think this is one of the decent ones.

Kathryn Williams - 28th November 2018 - London Moth Club
Kathryn Williams – 28th November 2018 – London Moth Club

I have seen Williams a few times and she is simply captivating. Her strong set includes dedications to Sylvia Plath with songs from Hypoxia and a nod to Leonard Cohen before finishing with Little Black Numbers, where she entices us with the use of a loop pedal blending her harmonies.

The room soon filled ready for Paul Smith. There was competition for the front that there was even a scuffle of words for place to be right in front of Smith. It later ended with a hug! Then through the crowd members of The Intimations appear through the crowd followed by Smith. The silent room soon booms as he introduces, “we are Paul Smith and The New Intimations,” then straight into Public Eye, which is also the opening track to his latest album, Diagrams. We then delve into his first album Margins from 2010 with North Atlantic Drift. This seems to be the basis of the night. A celebration of where Smith started his solo career outside of Maximo Park to where he is now and with the backing of the trio that make up The Intimations for his latest outing with Diagrams.

I suspect that everyone in the room (except me) is familiar with how a Paul Smith show works. They are packed in tight smiling and mouthing lyrics back and engage in his storytelling. My eyes move from watching Smith to his band Tom, Nathalie and Andrew. I am fixed on the electricity on the stage, not just because I had a camera, I put that away many times because this was a great SHOW! I was drawn in every second. At times I took myself away from the front of the stage to stand to the sides and back to see the crowd but to be close up to such a charismatic performer had me taken that half the night I was up front.

Paul Smith - 28th November 2018 - London Moth Club
Paul Smith – 28th November 2018 – London Moth Club

The Moth Club stage is pretty small but Smith moved his smart shoes over every centimetre of it. Once you are in the grasp of Smith he keeps you there. He rewards us by bringing Kathryn Williams back to the stage as they duet on Beauty Contest and it in itself is sublime. We even get a few surprises from the album Contradictions with People On Sunday and Break Me Down.

High on energy The Intimations help Smith close with Silver Rabbit and we even get one of his famous jumps which I am told is a rare thing outside of the other band. How it was done on that stage without taking out Nathalie Stern to his right or the amps to his left is something but this IS Paul Smith. He even marks the occasion by bringing out a special guitar to match the Moth Club in its gold glory but the night is not done yet. We are now past the venue curfew and getting close to the times of the night bus service but the roar of the crowd keeps Smith on stage alone and the Maximo Park fans shout loudly for Unfamiliar Places and By The Monument gets a choral sing-along.

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THE JAPANESE HOUSE | ART SCHOOL GIRLFRIEND | 19.11.2018 | Newcastle O2 Academy | REVIEW and PHOTOS

THE JAPANESE HOUSE | ART SCHOOL GIRLFRIEND | 19.11.2018 | Newcastle O2 Academy | REVIEW and PHOTOS

The Japanese House and Art School Girlfriend – 19th November 2018 – Newcastle O2 Academy

By Victoria Wai (Victoria Wai)

Amber Bain headlined Newcastle O2 Academy to a very excitable crowd. I was one of those excitable ones as there is just something about the production that Bain puts into her project The Japanese House that when I listen to her music, it’s like riding an emotional rollercoaster. I have seen her perform live once prior to this date and watching her is almost trance-like, well for me at least, as a lot of the crowd gathered at the front are in a different kind of state that makes them scream and wanting to reach out and touch Amber. I guess that could also be considered trance-like but as I said, an emotional rollercoaster, it definitely is!

Art School Girlfriend

My excitement hit another high before walking into the venue. I somehow missed the memo that a fairly new act going by the name of Art School Girlfriend was the support act of this tour. ASG has a similar vibe to TJH but maybe more so on the ‘chill vibe.’ I first saw ASG at The Great Escape earlier in the year and people were lucky to get in to see her. She was high on the list of ‘ones to watch.’ She also headlined her own tour a few months prior to this support slot. Both times, she was with a full band. However, on this tour, she’s flying solo and was just as mesmerising. Her performance didn’t feel any less complete than if she was with a full band. I was stunned into silence but sadly, half the crowd were immersed in their own conversations. ASG was the perfect opener to this night and seeing her perform solo was a wonderful surprise.

The crowd pushed closer to the stage when The Japanese House appeared. A low tempo opener introduction put an excited silence over them as smoke and blue light filled the stage then the first sight of Amber sent them into a frenzy as she and her band opened with Face Like Thunder. Bain interacts with the crowd from the get-go as she shouts out ‘How you doing?’ to little waves, winks and smiles to members of the audience. The same interaction is given to her band as she shares a laugh here and there to even a drink!

Mid-way through the set we are given new tracks Lilo and Follow My Girl and the fans have already been studying the lyrics as you can not only see a lot of them mouthing the words but also hear a good few sing along with Amber. It is like this with every song of the night, each song also met with screams of appreciation. Then there were the handful like me that are simply in awe of getting to not only hear but to see Amber on stage as The Japanese House.

Every note delivered feels very emotive yet effortless at the same time. Most of the crowd sing their emotions loud but for some, singing along sometimes feels like you are detaching yourself from what you are really feeling, if that makes sense. There are times when I sing my heart out (very badly) at gigs but at a gig like that of The Japanese House (and the support of Art School Girlfriend) I feel ‘absolute chill’ that my body feels like it is in another place and time until the house lights go on. I guess you could say it feels like euphoria.

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SAM FENDER | 17.11.2018 | Newcastle Student Union | REVIEW and PHOTOS

SAM FENDER | 17.11.2018 | Newcastle Student Union | REVIEW and PHOTOS

Sam Fender – 17th November 2018 – Newcastle Student Union

By Victoria Wai (Victoria Wai)

It was the homecoming of all homecomings when Sam Fender headlined at Newcastle’s Student Union for the final night of his autumn tour. I have never felt so much excitement running up to a gig in ages and I mean real excitement, as my timeline was going crazy of people attending the show and then people being gutted for not being there. The room was packed even before the support act, another North East England act, A Festival A Parade. Beers were already being poured at a rate of celebration as they were on.

The night, like a lot of the dates of this tour, was sold out. Even before Sam and his band came on every inch of the floor within viewing of the stage was taken. Lights down and flashing lights got the crowd chanting ‘Fender’ until the main man himself appeared on stage, to screams filling up the room as if we were in a huge arena. The screams literally come before the introduction of each song and at their final note. The band themselves are just as energetic, moving about as much of the stage as Sam. Unfortunately, guitarist Dean broke his leg a few days prior so Joe stepped up on the night with Tom and Drew. You could not only see but feel the energy of this band and the audience feed off it. Chants of ‘Deano’ come when Sam gives him a shout out. That is how much respect is in the room on this night. Sam even represents the support act by wearing one of their T-shirts.

It seriously was a celebration of Tyneside’s own. Sam gives personal shout-outs to his old school then to the bar where he pulled ‘the worst pints’ and met his manager and even to where he used to busk to get to where he is now, selling out dates in the UK to across Europe and in the New Year will see him take on the festivals in Australia.

Hands are up and bodies sway throughout the whole night. A few people are on other people’s shoulders and at any opportunity, the phones are up recording the night. Normally in this kind of setting I would have expected the security to be all over the place but there was none of that. The chants come and go throughout the night. It feels like a football crowd at times. It would be hard not to get caught up in the moment of Sam Fender.

There are a few quieter songs in the set and to their credit, the loud crowd are at the same time quite attentive The biggest singalong of the night comes with Leave Fast. A lovely moment comes when broken legged Deano comes to the stage and he and Sam play out the end of the song, with Sam getting down on his knees. A touching moment to end the set on.

A three song encore ended with a cover of Dancing In The Dark by Bruce Springsteen (his favourite artist of all time) which may have got the second loudest singalong of the night!

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