NARC. #178 November 2021

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The new must-have Pay As You Go card for 19-21 year olds, that makes Tyne and Wear Metro travel even cheaper.

Save up to 30% off normal fares



Our pick of the best events in November





New releases from J.P. Riggall, Ten Eighty Trees and Shakk & Eyeconic; live shows courtesy of Shame, Jarv Is, Admiral Fallow, Wargasm, Anna Meredith, Bleak Soul, Noya Rao and many more; boundary breaking art exhibitions courtesy of SJ Fuerst and Poulomi Basu; live comedy from Gavin Webster, David Callaghan and Big Mouth Comedy Club; theatre including The Offing, 10 Things To Do In A Small Cumbrian Town, Retake Remake!, and BonBons Cabaret, plus loads more!

INTERVIEWS 34 | BRAVE EXHIBITIONS 36 | ANI SANDWITH 37 | WAVES FESTIVAL 38 | BLOWIN’ A HOOLEY 32 | PAVE THE JUNGLE Ahead of the release of their startlingly good new EP, Waiting For Nothing, Pave The Jungle’s Rachael Whittle talks to Claire Dupree about the evolution of the band’s visceral alt. rock sound You heard it right, the rumours are true – NARC. TV is returning! I know you’ve all been eagerly sat at your telly/devices of choice, just waiting until you’re able to watch exciting recorded performances of local artists paired with insightful interviews, so now the wait is over. For those that don’t know (and why bloody not? What else have you been reading?!), we conceived of NARC. TV as a way to get musicians paid and audiences entertained during lockdown #1, roping in filmmaker extraordinaire Ste Bardgett, aka Art Mouse, to capture thrilling performances and occasionally dodgy chat with local artists, ‘hosted’ (or ‘standing awkwardly, fluffing lines’) by NARC. editor Claire (yep, that’s me, talking about myself in the third person like a tit) and NARC. web editor David Saunders. We’ve had so much fun doing two series’ worth of shows that we’ve decided to make NARC. TV a permanent fixture of our digital output going forward – plus, it’s a great way for us to watch live music without having to endure other people. Ugh. We’ll be kicking off the programming from Thursday 18th November, and broadcasting a new 15-minute long episode every fortnight via YouTube, Facebook, Instagram and on our website until we get fed up or run out of money. On a serious note, NARC. TV is a real labour of love for the three of us, and we hope the programmes will become a regular place for music-hungry audiences to discover performances from interesting bands and artists. Enjoy! Editor Claire Dupree Website David Saunders Creative El Roboto Advertising Claire Dupree Stay social, connect with us NARC.magazine @narc_magazine @narcmagazine NARCmagazineTV

Cover Image Amelia Read Review Images Tracy Hyman / Thomas Jackson / Victoria Wai Contributors Jake Anderson / Paul Broadhead / Jonathan Coll / Mark Corcoran-Lettice / Laura Doyle / Lee Fisher / Lee Hammond / Tracy Hyman / Jason Jones / Evie Lake / Lizzie Lovejoy / Hope Lynes / Jay Moussa-Mann / Kate Murphy / Robert Nichols / Michael O’Neill / Nicola Owen / Helen Redfern / Kate Relton / Damian Robinson / Elodie A. Roy / Conor Roy / Steve Spithray / Leigh Venus / Luke Waller / Robin Webb / Ali Welford / Maria Winter / Cameron Wright

VISIT US ONLINE WWW.NARCMAGAZINE.COM NARC. Magazine, Tel: 07748 907 914 Email: Web: Published monthly by NARC. Media. Printed by Reach Printing Services, Middlesbrough. Distributed by CSGN All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced in whole or part without permission from the publishers. The opinions expressed in NARC. belong to the individual writers and do not necessarily reflect the views of NARC. or its staff. NARC. welcomes ideas and contributions but can assume no responsibility for unsolicited manuscripts, photographs or illustrations

39 | LIZZIE ESAU 40 | JANE WEAVER 41 | VENUS GRRRLS 42 | BOUNDARIES FESTIVAL 44 | GAZE 45 | SLEAFORD MODS 46 | NORTH EAST INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL 47 | SOPHIA 48 | SELF ESTEEM 49 | BEND & SHAKE 50 | THE LAST OF THE FALLEN ANGELS REVIEWS 52 | LIVE REVIEWS Reports from the front row, including Nick Cave & Warren Ellis, Opus Kink, Simon Amstell, beabadoobee, Billy Nomates, Max Fosh, Adam Buxton, Fontaines DC and Plastic Mermaids

55 | DEMOS Featuring Electric Circus, Nine Banks, Joe Middleton, Yung Lotus and Aaron Dinning

56 | TRACKS Reviews of singles and EPs by North East artists including Don Coyote, Kristos Kabiotis, Charlie Layzell, Danica Dares, Follow, Wax Heart Sodality, President, Tino Johnson, E-Mence, Matthew Jameson and more

59 | ALBUMS New releases from Courtney Barnett, Irreversible Entanglements, Damon Albarn, Emma Ruth Rundle, Richard Dawson & Circle, Idles, Snail Mail, Peaks, Zuzu, Kills Birds and more

62 | MIXTAPE Doo-to-Door Poet Rowan McCabe compiles a mixtape of some of his favourite Englandthemed songs

Next Issue Out 1st December





ARMCHAIRANARCHISTS North East multimedia artist Mark Carr, aka STAGE



AN EVENING WITH...THE UNSUNG The Unsung is a sci-fi/historic mystery mash-up


presented in audio form and directed by Vici Wreford-Sinnott, telling of four extraordinary disabled women who are thrown together from parallel worlds. This live online event celebrates the work with cast and director, and invites questions from the audience. ARC, Stockton (Online)


Ship of Fools (after Hieronymous Bosch) by Cold War Steve

UNTIL SATURDAY 6 ERICA EYRES, DAMIEN HIRST, FREDDIE INGOLDBY, JEFF LUKE, COLDWAR STEVE, AI WEIWEI The Middlesbrough gallery investigate themes around collecting art and the economy of art during the pandemic, displaying work by the likes of Damien Hirst, Coldwar Steve and Ai Weiwei loaned to the gallery by collectors in the area. Eston Arts Centre, Middlesbrough estonartscentre


Armchairanarchists, releases his new album in a sonic adventure of sound and visuals. Working across many disciplines, Armchairanarchists’ music is political, modern, post-new wave and alternative. Also on the night, expect a premiere of The Scream, a visceral 50-minute live performance dissecting mental ill health. Star & Shadow Cinema, Newcastle

WEDNESDAY 3 TERRESTRIAL ACT Produced by nomadic collective Hot

Desque, a collaborative film shot at Newcastle’s Theatre Royal earlier this year features work by Sam Carvosso, Anna Reading, Davinia-Ann Robinson, Hannah Rowan, Harry Smithson and Giorgio van Meerwijk. Evoking a future-past landscape, themes of extractive capitalism and human interference with the natural world are explored. Running until Friday 19th November. The NewBridge Project, Newcastle



HARD Based on true stories, this hilarious and moving tale by Alison Stanley follows Zee, sex worker, chat girl and general dogsbody, as she navigates a dependent parent, a phone that never stops ringing, a string of customers and a threatened banana shortage. Laurel’s, Whitley Bay

THURSDAY 11 GREEN RIBBONS The power of the voice is at the

forefront of folk collective Green Ribbons, who count among its members Debbie Armour (Burd Ellen), Frankie Armstrong, Alasdair Roberts and Benjamin ‘Jinnwoo’ Webb, and whose debut album celebrates the joy of unaccompanied songs, both newly composed and traditional. Support comes from Cath & Phil Tyler. The Cumberland Arms, Newcastle greenribbonsmusic



THE CROSSINGS BAND & FRIENDS A gig in aid of Crossings Community Group,

which works with refugees, asylum seekers and migrants through music, featuring The Crossings Ensemble, a group performance from their members, eight-piece Latin-infused Cumbrian-based band La Sonora Boreal and The Crossings Band, who play music from around the world with effervescent charm, perfect for dancing! Summerhill Pavilion & Gardens, Newcastle






Bordello Collective

FRIDAY 12 WE THE QUEERS Teesside queer arts group Bordello

Delving into the perceptions around the titles of artwork and the significance titles hold over pieces, artists including Anna Tompkinson, Ellie Green, Kieran Brimm, Robyn Fyfe, Mupenga-Lusilao and the LACE Collective seeks to change our attitude to titles and further audience’s understanding of their importance. Running until Saturday 18th December. Pineapple Black, Middlesbrough

CHIEDU ORAKA Having become a recognisable name on the

Northern grime scene, ‘the Black Yorkshireman’ Chiedu Oraka defies genres with his fresh honesty and intense lyricism. A charismatic artist with a sounded rooted in the bedrock of rap and grime, his unique take on the genres makes him an artist to watch out for. Cobalt Studios, Newcastle

OUSEBURN OPEN STUDIOS Ouseburn’s 36 Lime Street houses over 40


DEIFIED/KILONOVA/ SURYA Teesside’s renowned rock and metal

promoters Rock The Foundry are bouncing back with new shows at Middlesbrough’s Doctor Browns every Friday and Saturday, with the aim of regenerating the town’s heavy rock credentials. This show features angry, dark heavy metal from Deified, modern thrash from Newcastle’s Kilonova and post-metalcore from Surya. Doctor Browns, Middlesbrough rockthefoundrypromotions




WEDNESDAY 24 JAMES LEONARD HEWITSON L.A.D.S After a busy summer releasing an album and a new EP, live shows at End of the Road festival among others, and airplay aplenty, Hartlepool’s slacker indie songwriter James Leonard Hewitson brings his band back for a hometown show ahead of even more new material due later this year. Support comes from power-popsters bigfatbig. The Pot House, Hartlepool

the glory days of Newcastle and Sunderland’s alternative indie scene, presented by Club a’Gogo, Gimme Shelter will feature two live bands and vinyl-only DJs playing punk, new wave, ska, indie, alternative, mod, 2-tone and more. November sees experimental collective No Teeth and art rockers Richard Carlson Band perform. World Headquarters, Newcastle




GIMME SHELTER A new monthly club night which celebrates


Collective present an alt. drag and cabaret night featuring a collage of artists from the world of drag, queer cabaret and performance arts. Known for platforming LGBT+ and Queer expression, their immersive, interactive and performative work crosses mediums and boundaries. Available to view online as well as in person. ARC, Stockton



Cobalt Studios celebrate Ladies And Decks and invite like-minded women (or whose who identify as women) who love music and are already DJing, or those who would like to learn how, to join a regular social to chat, mix and share notes. Free entry, but donations welcome. Cobalt Studios, Newcastle

diverse artists, makers and designers spanning a wide range of disciplines from sculptors, painters, glass artists, puppeteers, furniture makers, graphic designers and more. The venue throw open their doors for visitors to browse the artists’ work, check out demonstrations and take part in workshops. Also on Sunday 28th November. 36 Lime Street, Newcastle


MONDAY 29 GRACE PETRIE A performance from much-loved and

highly lauded activist, songwriter and folk singer Grace Petrie is always a delight; she’ll perform a solo set of songs from new album Connectivity, displaying a deft skill for uncanny lyricism and charm. She also performs at Middlesbrough Town Hall on Sunday 12th December. The Cluny, Newcastle





Words: Laura Doyle If anyone looked like they really needed a cup of tea and a sit down, it’s Wargasm. The electro punk duo have a lot of pent up stress that needs releasing, and they’ve found the best way to do that is via high-octane, snarling


tunes about how terrible everything is. Blending the early 00s trifecta of punk, nu-metal and rap rock, Wargasm make for a pretty mind-melting listen. Dual frontpeople Milkie Way and Sam Matlock tackle every song with their polarised vocal styles, because throaty screams and sickly sweet singing clash in the most unusual way. Latest single Salma Hayek pays tribute to the actress’ tranced out vampire dance with their usual harsh angst and slightly blasphemous imagery. It’s a controversial formula, but it’s working: since their formation in 2018, Wargasm have already made it onto bills alongside alt. artist Yungblud

and goth rockers Creeper, featured at Reading and Leeds and Download Pilot, and bagged themselves the Heavy Music Award for Best UK Breakthrough Band this year – all impressive accomplishments given the flunk of 2020. Now that Wargasm have found their footing, it’s about time they embarked on a proper tour of their own: expect strobe lights, busted mics and colourful language at their Northumbria University show. Wargasm play Northumbria University, Newcastle on Saturday 20th November



GAVIN WEBSTER @ TYNE THEATRE & OPERA HOUSE Words: Evie Lake Since debuting in a pub in Gateshead in 1993, Gavin Webster has been a dominant force on the North East comedy stage. His anecdotal comedy is personal to the region, situated between the grudges your uncle would moan

about and eager, nuanced observations that, well, mostly return us to his grievances. After five years, Webster returns to his ‘natural home’, Tyne Theatre & Opera House, on Friday 12th November. Set to tackle ageing, lockdown, being on hold, young people’s inability to drive and his teenage daughter’s hot takes on his lack of understanding, Gavin Plays Live To Actual People promises a homecoming of belly laughs and his ukulele, an uplifting instrument Webster has tuned to the key of his bitter and impassioned humour. Recognisable from his roles in both I, Daniel Blake and comparing Gateshead Council to the


Third Reich, Webster has cemented himself as a Northern comedy legend over his substantial career; performing live from Newcastle is where he is at his best. Support comes from Lee Kyle, another of the region’s finest comedic talents, who, having been described as both ‘sophisticated’ and ‘ridiculous’, takes no prisoners...especially when potatoes are involved. Gavin Webster and Lee Kyle perform at Tyne Theatre & Opera House on Friday 12th November

HOUSE OF GHETTO Programmed in partnership with Curious Arts | 0191 261 0505

Sunday 5 December, 2pm & 3.30pm £9.50 | £8 7


Gem Andrews



Words: Maria Winter Don’t miss this exciting double headline show from two of The Globe’s favourite singersongwriters: North East-based Americana/folk artist Gem Andrews and folk and country star Serious Sam Barrett, who play the venue on Friday 19th November. As an experienced tourer of folk and country music, Serious Sam Barrett magically performs both heartfelt self-written and traditional songs on his 12-string guitar and banjo. Originally from West Yorkshire, Sam has constructed an incredibly successful career, sharing stages with the likes of Katherine Tickell and Lucero. With a similar vibe, Gem Andrews delights audiences with her brilliant Americana and folk


music performances. A powerful songwriter of considerable talent, her full harmonies and glorious melodies have seen her likened to the great Patsy Cline and Lucinda Williams. The Globe continue their in-person/at-home hybrid ticket system, so if you’d rather watch from the comfort of your own home livestream tickets are available. No matter where you watch, this pair are not to be missed. Serious Sam Barrett and Gem Andrews play The Globe, Newcastle on Friday 19th November



Words: Kate Relton The arts have long been a refuge and source of solace in dark times, and in these postpandemic days, stories like The Offing are the perfect antidote to the uncertainty and worry.

Coming to Newcastle’s Live Theatre from Wednesday 3rd-Saturday 27th November, Janice Okoh’s adaptation of Benjamin Myers’ much-loved novel is a rich and colourful depiction of friendship and discovery. Breathing new life into this warm and evocative coming-of-age story, the show features music composed by Ana Silvera, with recordings performed by renowned folk musicians. In the wake of the Second World War, teenager Robert Appleyard sets out on a journey from his hometown of Durham in search of work and new opportunities in the South. On the clifftops of Robin Hood’s Bay he chances upon Dulcie Piper, an unconventional and eccentric force of nature who will change the course of his life. Explored through the lens of adolescent adventure and unexpected friendship, The Offing is a timely reminder that even through the worst of days, happiness can be found in life’s small pleasures. The Offing is at Live Theatre, Newcastle from Wednesday 3rd-Saturday 27th November


Chintzy Stetson

Eyeconic & Shakk by Connor Annison



Words: Tracy Hyman Always a special day, the sixth instalment of Songs From Northern Britain all-dayer sees Declan Welsh And The Decadent West headlining The Georgian Theatre stage on Saturday 20th November. The Glasgow-based musician and his band are masters of catchy indie rock sounds and bursting with energy. Once again hosted by BBC Radio Scotland and BBC 6Music’s Vic Galloway, this musical showcase from promoters The Kids Are Solid Gold brings the best up and coming talent from the North East and Scotland to The Georgian Theatre. Three stages, a sprinkling of TKASG regulars and lots of new musical delights are waiting to be discovered. Special guests on the Georgian Theatre stage include Somebody’s Child, an indie rock/pop band hailing from Dublin, with a singer whose powerful, passionate voice will make you sit up and listen; the catchy riffs and melodic guitar of indie band Savage Mansion, and local rock outfit Nice Guy, whose sound contrasts with the hard punk of Franky’s Evil Party. On the Green Room stage enjoy performances

from the beautiful nu-folk vibes of Lizzie Reid, dance-pop outfit VanIves, Teesside indie rock songwriter Finn Forster and the dreamy guitar pop of Hartlepool’s Leopard Rays. In the Georgian’s bar, intimate sets come from singer-songwriter Jamie Farrell, the futuristic folk of Me Lost Me and talented folky songwriter HJM Bradshaw, with more still to be announced. Songs From Northern Britain takes place at The Georgian Theatre and The Green Room, Stockton on Saturday 20th November



Words: Claire Dupree Remember that carefree summer, when good music and great friends were the only things on your mind? It’s that energy that Teesside-based rappers Eyeconic and Shakk have ably captured with their new track It’s A Vibe, despite it being written at the height of 2020’s lockdown. Individually, the artists have been honing their considerable talents and releasing fresh and often surprising takes on hip-hop; having performed a live collaboration of their track Bed

Of Needles for NARC. TV series 1, the pair’s new tune is an energetic slice of nostalgic garage euphoria. The video for It’s A Vibe shows the typically playful pair enjoying the festival fun at this year’s Lindisfarne, and performing the track live for the first time with scores of fans hanging onto their every word. Shakk’s instantly recognisable quick-smart bars are expertly paired with Eyeconic’s emotive and clever style, making for an upbeat and dancefloor ready track. “During lockdown while the world was in turmoil, we wanted to create something fun and refreshing. Shining light on a side of our personalities that we haven’t necessarily expressed through music before.” Eyeconic comments, with Shakk adding: “We felt it would be the perfect foundation to make something that encapsulated everything that makes the British music scene fun, energetic and diverse.” It’s A Vibe comes at an interesting time for both artists, as they navigate increasing attention from local and national radio, and add to their already impressive roster of support slots and high profile shows. After a frustrating couple of years dealing with the twin evils of Brexit and Covid, there’s no doubt that it’s time for Eyeconic and Shakk to rise to the next level. Eyeconic and Shakk release It’s A Vibe via TLR on 5th November



Admiral Fallow by Beth Chalmers


ADMIRAL FALLOW @ THE CLUNY Words: Ali Welford It’s been a good while since we last heard from Admiral Fallow – six years in fact since both their last record and their previous visit to North East. This extended layoff has allowed members to pursue their own ends (not least You Tell Me, Sarah Hayes’ excellent collaboration with Field Music’s Peter Brewis), yet the quintet’s re-emergence feels timely; a

welcome, warm dose of congenial indie folk, just as the winter months begin to draw in. What’s more, the Scots’ return to The Cluny on Tuesday 23rd November will present fans with a fresh clutch of heart-rending favourites, coming hot on the heels of their long-awaited fourth full-length, The Idea of You. Produced by Paul Savage (Mogwai, Arab Strap, Deacon Blue) and issued via long-time label Chemikal Underground, the album’s nine songs traverse everything from Philly soul and sophisticated pop to guitar-driven rock, though never fall too far from the group’s much-loved hallmark; soaring yet intimate anthems, imbued with beauty, empathy and a rich streak of

melodicism. Recorded pre-pandemic, the collection also offers a refreshing reminder of simpler times, its themes of growth and bloom bestowing respite following a year rammed with lockdown albums and off-the-cuff side projects. Admiral Fallow’s previous visits to The Cluny have been joyful, celebratory occasions. With all that’s happened since, I’d be little surprise if this show sees them go one better. Admiral Fallow play The Cluny, Newcastle on Tuesday 23rd November. The Idea of You is released on 5th November via Chemikal Underground



Imperial Wax Plus Support From TV Death Sunday November 7 Doors 6:30pm – ends 9:30

The Northumbrians: A talk and book reading by Dr Dan Jackson. Also featuring poet & artist Paul Summers and Hector Gannet (solo). Thursday December 2

**this is an early show**

JOSHUA BURNSIDE + Matt Dunbar & The Autonomous Collective + Philip Jonathan Wednesday November 24 The Jesus Bolt + T.E Yates + Gerard Starkie (Solo) Friday November 26

Rats On Rafts + James Leonard Hewitson Thursday December 9 A Night of Hibernal Festivity with special guests. Thursday December 30




Noya Rao



Words: Michael O’Neill If there’s one thing I missed about live music during the wave of lockdowns more than anything else, it was that rush of euphoria when you chance upon a new act who blows your mind, and your expectations, to smithereens. So, with that in mind, I extend huge props to Cobalt Studios for their regular FRESH Thursday events, which promise to offer the enthralling experience of discovering exciting new music alongside “lots of candles, board games and a home-cooked slap-up dinner” which is included in the price of the ticket (important side note: there are also alternate options for coeliac and those with nut allergies too!) The instalment on Thursday 18th November boasts an extraordinary double bill of neo-soul delights. Heading the bill is the Leeds-based synth-drenched future soul outfit Noya Rao, who have previously represented UK Jazz at

SXSW, and whose intoxicating grooves, in the mould of Yussef Kamaal and Flying Lotus, will sit perfectly alongside local quintet LYRAS, a neo-soul/R&B group who have firmly established themselves as another welcome addition to the North East’s fledging neo-soul scene, with a new school jazz sound that firmly recalls the sophisticated sonics of Hiatus Kaiyote and Moonchild. Noya Rao and LYRAS play Cobalt Studios, Newcastle on Thursday 18th November



Words: Michael O’Neill It’s fair to say that Sheffield’s finest export needs little introduction. The shadow that Jarvis Cocker’s delightfully Anglicised approach to songwriting has cast over the last thirty years of left-field pop has been profound, and JARV IS… is a marvellous extension of this.

Last year’s Beyond The Pale LP was a welcome return to form for Cocker, with the morbid Must I Evolve? (which was fittingly recorded live from a cave) and the witty House Music All Night Long standing toe-to-toe with the twisted glory of This Is Hardcore, We Love Life and his marvellous solo LPs. However, it is clear that JARV IS… isn’t simply a shameless cash-in on former glories, with Cocker’s relentless hunger to innovate and evolve constantly being apparent in the fact that this venture is a fully-fledged new band, as opposed to being a continuation of his illustrious solo career. Their engagement at Newcastle’s Boiler Shop on Wednesday 3rd November is guaranteed to be a testament to this, with support coming from the legendary Hot Chip frontman Alexis Turner, whose recent solo LP Silence is a marvellous continuation of the floor-filler extraordinaire’s side career as a cerebral troubadour. JARV IS… and Alexis Taylor play Boiler Shop, Newcastle on Wednesday 3rd November





LUMIERE - Imminence, Novak, Bloomberg Arcade, 2019, commissioned by produced by Artichoke. Photo by Matt Crossick



Words: Michael O’Neill The almighty Cobalt Studios is the venue for this eclectic double-bill of euphoric guitar-driven glory on Saturday 6th November. Hailing from Chelmsford, Tigress are a five-piece rock band who are fresh from the release of Pura Vida, their debut album and blistering statement of intent. Their angular, riff-soaked sound is readily apparent in single Disconnect, which has bagged them plaudits from Kerrang! and BBC Radio 1, whilst they’ve also supported bands as illustrious as Green Day and Bring Me The Horizon. Given the widescreen-shot dynamics that are apparent in every guitar lick and drum fill, it’s no surprise they’ve been making a buzz in such hallowed quarters. The bill is shared with Bleak Soul, the solo project of Benjamin Langford-Biss, who previously cut his teeth as the guitarist in emo outfit As It Is. Recent double A-side Living/ Nihilism brilliantly encapsulates his introspective, melodic heady synth-emo, replete with pounding Pretty Hate Machineindebted drums and Depeche Mode-esque melancholy. It’s a marvellous contrast to Tigress’ buoyant anthemic glory, and it’s a hell of an enthralling line-up for those with a penchant for music that seeks to push the boundaries of rock into fresh, enthralling new

frontiers. Bleak Soul and Tigress play Cobalt Studios, Newcastle on Saturday 6th November



Words: Claire Dupree The UK’s largest festival of light, Lumiere, returns to Durham with an ambitious programme of installations from Thursday 18th-Sunday 21st November. Transforming the city into an interactive sensory experience, work will be on display from a diverse, international roster of artists, with many of the installations addressing overarching issues including the pandemic, climate change and environmental impact, in often quiet and poignant ways. Of particular note, Finnish artists Pekka Niittyvirta and Timo Aho’s vivid Lines stretches across the riverbank to highlight the catastrophic impact of rising seas; in North East-based Novak collective’s sound and light installation Imminence, animated scenes of the consequences of climate change unfold, depicting deforestation, bee extinction, coral bleaching and global warming, providing a sobering reminder of the dire predicament we find ourselves in. Among numerous returning favourites, other highlights include a collaboration with New Writing North and Durham University in which commissions from 10 UK poets including Kae

Tempest, Kayombo Chingonyi, Selina Nwulu and Michael Rosen will be projected onto the walls of Durham Castle; Halo, a musical sculpture activated by touch courtesy of France’s Illumaphonium; In Our Hearts Blind Hope, projected onto Durham Cathedral, will be an immersive reflection of the darkness and loss we have endured, by Hungary/UK-based Palma Studio; video-mapped projection Chronos takes the viewer on an audio-visual voyage; France’s Groupe LAPS bring an LED rock ‘n’ roll band, The Froggs, to the Market Place for an all-night performance; and Tony Heaton’s neon pink A Larger Ripple is humorous, political and subversive. Community-led works include Article 12, referencing the UN Convention on the Human Rights of the Child, neon-lit text artworks celebrate the voices of local young people. For the first time, works will also light up landscapes across County Durham in celebration of the county’s place on the UK City of Culture 2025 longlist, with installations appearing at Raby Castle, Finchale Priory, Penshaw Monument, Seaham Marina, Ushaw and Apollo Pavilion. Lumiere 2021 will also feature the first ever artwork hosted online. Tree of Hope is designed as a moment of reflection; visitors contribute their hope for the future and then see the moving image of a sapling blossom in real time with each new idea. Lumiere 2021 takes place in Durham City and locations across the county from Thursday 18th-Sunday 21st November



GIRLI by Haris Nukem



Words: Kate Relton Following her sell-out return to the stage this summer, alt. pop sensation GIRLI visits Newcastle as part of her UK tour. Performing at The Cluny on Thursday 25th November, GIRLI brings her signature unapologetic and raw style to the North East. New single Ruthless, taken from her new EP Damsel In Distress, showcases her powerful vocals, and has racked up over three million audio and video streams, with radio play reaching as far as BBC Radio 1. GIRLI says Ruthless is a tribute to women and their struggle for equality and liberation in a competitive world. Accompanied by a vibrant and anarchic music video directed by Kassandra Powell, GIRLI styled the video herself: ‘’I chose to style myself and the cast in 18th Century princess attire, to hint at Sofia Coppola’s Marie Antoinette and Vivienne Westwood’s punk take on this era while also nodding to Marie Antoinette herself, who was a woman who was scapegoated and hated by society – this video is pink, punk, antiestablishment, pure ruthless rebellion.’’ Known for speaking openly about feminism,


sexuality and mental health, GIRLI recently launched a podcast – GIRLI IRL - featuring candid discussions with LGBTQ+ artists. GIRLI plays The Cluny, Newcastle on Thursday 25th November



Words: Claire Dupree With the aim of championing marginalised voices in the music industry, and giving a platform to independent filmmakers and musical subcultures, female-led film agency Doc’N Roll present a series of screenings at Newcastle’s Tyneside Cinema as part of their eighth annual festival. As the title may suggest, Doc’N Roll is all about music documentaries, and screenings spotlight era-defining music and those who made it. Included in the festival is a career-spanning documentary on no wave icon Lydia Lunch, The War Is Never Over, a no-holds barred profile of an artist unafraid to indulge, seek pleasure and say “fuck you!” as loud as any man; exploring themes of grief and addiction, Irish songwriter

Damian Dempsey and his fans come under the spotlight in the part documentary, part concert film Love Yourself Today; Belgian director Gwenaël Breës attempts to make a film about a band that doesn’t want to be filmed, in his unique tale In A Silent Way (A Portrayal of Talk Talk); A Symphony Of Noise captures the creativity of revolutionary British musician and composer Matthew Herbert; North East scrap metal merchant and Big Bopper fanatic John Cumberland undertakes the challenge to get J.P. Richardson, aka The Big Bopper, inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in Bopper & Me; while mischievous metafictional documentary The Nowhere Inn: St Vincent, features Annie Clark (aka St Vincent herself) and Sleater-Kinney/Portlandia’s Carrie Brownstein’s attempts to make a documentary about St Vincent, despite wrestling with complex and unpredictable forces. With Q&As also taking place for In A Silent Way, Love Yourself Today and Bopper & Me providing an opportunity to dig deeper, Doc’N Roll promises to be a must see for music and film fans alike. Doc’N Roll Festival takes place at Tyneside Cinema, Newcastle from Tuesday 2nd-Sunday 7th November


Haiku Salut



Words: Evie Lake Haiku Salut are set to reimagine their iconic lamp show at Middlesbrough’s Westgarth Social Club on Saturday 6th November to the sound of their fifth album, The Hill, The Light, The Ghost, which came out in August to rave reviews. Using an array of different lamps, flickering in sequence, they become visual cues to the beat of the music, evoking and awakening personal memory within us, culminating in a shared vision of environment and place. The Hill, The Light, The Ghost is an experimental and instrumental, dream-like album that was born from numerous field recordings: the crunch of footsteps, the call of birds and the creaking of floorboards. The result is visceral, tangible landscapes intertwined with emotive and enchanting melodies, creating an independent world in each song. Their mission statement of ‘exploring sound in relation to memory’ and

their lamp show is set to display this perfectly. Combining electronic with classic instrumental, the Derbyshire trio seeks to immerse their audience in a journey of memory and imagination. The lighting creates a singular, spellbinding atmosphere as it flickers, fades and dims. Haiku Salut transcends the notion of genre, with Gemma and Sophie Barkerwood and Louise Croft creating a multi-instrumental, multi-dimensional film-like score. Haiku Salut play Westgarth Social Club, Middlesbrough on Saturday 6th November



Words: Jake Anderson Stand-up comedy isn’t something anyone can do. I tried it once – ‘once’ being the keyword. My opening joke was “two men walk into a bar, ouch ouch”. My career never quite recovered after that.

That’s why we have professionals for it, with Middlesbrough Town Hall selecting four of the wittiest acts for their Big Mouth Comedy Club on Saturday 13th November. MC for the night is quick witted Josh Jones. The Mancunian is known for diving into the deep end with topics on LGBTQ+ rights and playground politics. Along with MC Josh Jones’ and their high energy opening will be multi award-winning TV presenter and broadcaster, Matt Richardson. Richardson kicked off his career at just 18, making it to the final on So You Think You’re Funny. The night will also see a performance from Markus Birdman, an Edinburgh Fringe veteran who puts an emphasis on physical comedy within his shows and has been described as “a master of timing”. Comedian, actor and author Njambi McGrath will close the evening, known for her approach on tackling racism in her performances, her debut special Breaking Black, in which McGrath delves into life as a black woman in post-Brexit Britain, is a particular highlight of her oeuvre. Big Mouth Comedy Club takes place at Middlesbrough Town Hall on Saturday 13th November





Words: Lizzie Lovejoy Led by and made for people with learning difficulties and disabilities, independent theatre company The Lawnmowers will take to the ARC Stockton stage on Tuesday 9th November. This time they’ll be performing their new show Retake, Remake!, an honest and inspirational performance where they reclaim films that had

been made about disabled people but without disabled actors or advice. The Lawnmowers have used this production to research and explore the outdated and overrated practises of Hollywood and the main stream media. As part of this investigation, they will be taking the audience on a journey through a range of challenging topics, from dating to eugenics. With moments of intensity, and an analysis of the disabled experience, there are also fun and heart-warming parts to the show. Making use of lip-syncing, they are able to rewrite, retell and investigate a range of popular culture including

films, music and more. The Lawnmowers hope that this patchwork style show, which knits together so many different areas to investigate, will be an ‘eye opener’ to all those watching. The goal is to use performance to educate and one day create a fair and equal society. A cry for acknowledgement and respect, Retake, Remake! is designed to challenge, entertain and enlighten. Retake, Remake! is at ARC, Stockton on Tuesday 9th November

Andy Warhol, Marilyn Monroe, CIRC.123-1968 © 2021 The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc. / Licensed by DACS, London

Print Goes Pop 25 September 2021 - 29 January 2022 Free entry Mon - Sat, 10am - 5pm Hatton Gallery, King’s Road, Newcastle University, Newcastle upon Tyne NE1 7RU


F R I DAY 1 2 T H N O V E M B E R




Shame by Sam Gregg



Words: Cameron Wright Gaining praise for their debut album Songs Of Praise, and reaffirming their success with their atmospheric 2021 follow up Drunk Tank Pink, Shame are one of the front runners of the British post-punk scene. Their noisy and energised performances have pinned their live content as a staple piece of the band, as they riotously cannon through their catalogue. Having garnered recognition from articles like NME and Clash, it is clear that Shame have intention of making an impact on the genre. With the Guardian referring to them as ‘Britain’s most exciting new band’, Shame make no false promises about their desire to provide a feverish and exhilarating performance to the stage. As they arrive at Newcastle’s beloved Boiler Shop on Sunday 21st November, the band are poised to deliver a dynamic and enthused

rendition of their hits. With no signs of slowing down, Shame’s legacy can only blossom from this point onwards and fans of the punk quintet should jump at the opportunity to catch that passion at such an established North East venue. Shame play Boiler Shop, Newcastle on Sunday 21st November



Words: Kate Relton The conversation around diversity and inclusion in the arts has proven fertile ground for creative organisations to produce innovative and inspiring work, and Freestylers are no exception. Bringing their live performance of Everybody With Me, Always to BALTIC on Friday 12th-Saturday 13th November, Freestylers want to use their first tour to “get to know new people through creativity, performance and movement”.

Commissioned as part of CONTINUOUS, an ongoing collaboration between BALTIC and Siobhan Davies Dance, Everybody With Me, Always aims to provide a relaxed environment for audiences. Passionate about the power of teamwork and shared ownership of work, Freestylers hope to create an intimate and welcoming atmosphere. Through a mix of film, interactive activities and live performance, they want audiences to feel free to move, make noise and participate in any way they like. Champions of diversity, Freestylers say their goal is to make the arts more inclusive: ‘’We believe that everyone in our group is powerful, so we are passionate about finding ways to break down conventional power structures…celebrate individuals but challenge individualism in the arts. Freestylers provide a space where people can be seen if they choose to be.’’ Freestylers present Everybody With Me, Always at BALTIC, Gateshead on Friday 12th-Saturday 13th November




Here for Gigs November Highlights

Friday 5 November Sage One Amy Wadge Friday 12 November Sage One Gabrielle - Celebrating Over 20 Years of the Number 1 Album Rise Friday 12 November Sage Two Anna Meredith Wednesday 17 November Sage One Sixties Gold



Saturday 20 November Sage One 44th Brass In Concert Championship


Saturday 20 November Sage Two Martin Stephenson & The Daintees Friday 26 November Sage Two Riverside Ragas: Swati Natekar Saturday 27 November Sage Two From the Glasshouse #2 Line-up TBA

Head to on for our full gig listings. @Sage_Gateshead


Friday 19 November Sage Two The Quireboys ‘A Bit Of What You Fancy’ 30th Anniversary Tour



Wednesday 3 November Sage One OMD plus Stealing Sheep



Withered Hand by Jannica Honey



Words: Michael O’Neill If your idea of a heaven lies at the mercy of a fist-pumping, heart-on-sleeve singer-songwriter armed with an acoustic guitar, a stack of anthems and a heart full of raw emotion, then I can confidently guarantee that all your Christmases will come at once on Sunday 21st November, as Scottish solo artists Billy Liar and Withered Hand are co-headlining two shows within the region on that very day! The proceedings will kick off with an afternoon show at Middlesbrough’s Westgarth Social Club before proceeding north for an evening engagement at Sunderland’s The Ship Isis. These two shows will find the prolific Billy Liar finally able to air songs from his debut album Some Legacy, which followed a lengthy string of EPs and a solid decade of touring the globe with his

punk-indebted brand of troubadour glory. Joining Liar is lo-fi stalwart Withered Hand, the alias of Dan Willson (whose songwriting has bagged him plaudits from publications such as NME and MOJO and artists as esteemed as King Creosote) who will be previewing material from the long-awaited follow up to 2014’s critically acclaimed LP New Gods. Billy Liar and Withered Hand play Westgarth Social Club, Middlesbrough and The Ship Isis, Sunderland on Sunday 21st November



Words: Laura Doyle Cumbria is an excellent holiday destination, but gorgeous vistas and bountiful options for a pub lunch do not necessarily make an ideal permanent home. Hannah Sowerby has condensed her woes based on personal

experience into a one woman comedy play, 10 Things To Do In A Small Cumbrian Town, which heads to Newcastle’s Alphabetti from Tuesday 23rd November to Saturday 11th December, to show the realities of living in the countryside. Not everyone can afford to live in a luxury mansion overlooking Derwentwater, and working a 9-5 doesn’t leave a lot of time and energy to run up mountain sides on the reg. So what exactly is there to do for a young lass? Penrith native Jodie has scrambled together an educational list for anyone who has dreamt of getting a place in the country – and it isn’t all Wainwright walks and overpriced row boats. Join Jodie as she recounts the realities of living above a kebab shop, stacking shelves and a complete lack of anonymity everywhere she goes, to scrape together her list of top things to do for entertainment in a place where fibre optic broadband might as well be the USS Enterprise. It’s a far cry from the idyllic experience than the telly would have you believe, and it might just make you appreciate city life a smidge more than you currently do. 10 Things To Do In A Small Cumbrian Town is at Alphabetti Theatre, Newcastle from Tuesday 23rd November-Saturday 11th December



Image by Ian Allcock



Words: Laura Doyle It’s a bit depressing to hear that some artists have managed to release multiple albums since the age of lockdowns began, but it’s also nice

that some have had bursts of productivity and enlightenment in an otherwise creatively desperate time. J.P. Riggall hasn’t just set out his second Covid-era record though; he’s decided to do some proper reflection on his entire back catalogue up to this point to draw inspiration for an all new spin on some of his personal favourite tracks. Isolation Blues is the ultimate walk down memory lane, with a selection of stripped back folkish melodies that span Riggall’s career. Whether it’s the mournful a capella of shanty Captain Of My Soul slowly thrumming into your eardrums, or the whimsical strumming of

hauntingly romantic Deer, Isolation Blues promises not to retread old paths. To ensure a refreshing experience, J.P. Riggall took it upon himself to build this album from the ground up: every track is recorded in one take, then mixed and mastered of his own volition. It’s a simple process, but one that results in an organic earthiness that is as if the artist were in the very same room, giving a performance that is from the heart. J.P. Riggall releases Isolation Blues via Bear Love Records on 19th November

Whack on a Santa hat, grab a bottle of fizz, wrap your secret santa, as it’s the office Christmas party!

A LIVE THEATRE co-production


WED 3 – SAT 27 NOV 2021

Wed 1 Dec - Thu 23 Dec £10-£20, concs from £6

‘ unexpectedly touching story of friendship that conquers the barriers of age, class and gender.’ THE GUARDIAN

TICKETS; £14 - £28, CONCS FROM £12 (0191) 232 1232


Age Recommendation: 16+ (Contains strong language and sexual references)

THE TIMES Literary review

Christmas Spectacular Created & Performed by Your Aunt Fanny & Bonnie and The Bonnettes

Presented in association with Live Theatre

Live Theatre, Broad Chare, Quayside, Newcastle upon Tyne NE13DQ

(0191) 232 1232


SJ Fuerst, Smile. Courtesy of the artist and Hancock Gallery



Words: Helen Redfern Considered one the 15 best artists working today, as voted by GQ Magazine, SJ Fuerst draws from fashion, pop art and contemporary culture to create uncannily hyper-real paintings. Her quirky surrealism invites us into a strange world of inflatable animals alongside chic fashion models. Each of the women brings her own personality and elegance to a weirdly bizarre, almost ridiculous scene that Fuerst admits reflects her own personality. It’s this blend of playfulness and sophistication that makes Fuerst’s work so appealing. Fuerst combines classical and pop sensitivities in her paintings, having studied at both The Florence Academy of Art and London’s Atelier of Representational Art. Whilst the technique may be traditional, the subjects are fresh and contemporary. Having grown up in the suburbs of Connecticut, she now lives in Gozo in an old Maltese farmhouse with 115 inflatable animals to keep her company.

“Life is fascinating because it’s full of fun things, serious things, beautiful things and some dark things. I want my work to reflect this.” Explains Fuerst. In her opinion, it’s the balance of the right mix of these elements that transform a painting from being empty and one-dimensional into something really captivating. And so she begins by finding a toy or costume that speaks to her, then designs the most interesting way to use that element in a painting. The model then brings the air of chicness and confidently pulls the whole image together. Discover the dark undercurrent in Fuerst’s playful collection for yourself at Hancock Gallery. SJ Fuerst’s exhibition is at Hancock Gallery, Newcastle from Thursday 18th November until Saturday 26th February


SAM LEE @ GOSFORTH CIVIC THEATRE Words: Kate Relton While many of us saw out the darker days of lockdown in the company of banana bread and

Netflix, award-winning folk artist Sam Lee was far from idle. Following the release of Old Wow in 2020, the musician and conservationist is hitting the road again with the Old Wow+ tour, offering fans an updated and reimagined version of the album, featuring six bonus tracks. Performing at Gosforth Civic Theatre on Thursday 25th November, the show will give audiences the opportunity to experience the best of Lee’s evocative and engaging style. Known for his conservation work and involvement with Extinction Rebellion, it’s not surprising that the environment is central to his work. With previous career credits including music direction for Let Nature Sing, which saw birdsong enter the UK Top 20 chart, Lee’s drive to raise awareness of the climate crisis is at the heart of Old Wow+, acting as a compelling call to action. Building a reputation as a game-changer in the British folk and acoustic scene, Lee artfully combines his trademark intimate sound with a powerful passion for activism and the natural world. Sam Lee plays Gosforth Civic Theatre on Thursday 25th November



Little Simz



Words: Cameron Wright After her latest album Sometimes I Might Be Introvert exploded into a tsunami of accolades, acclaim and global success, Little Simz is firmly on her way to becoming one of the new generation’s most revered rap artists. Merging a cornucopia of sounds, the album is one of the year’s most musically diverse, sonically consistent and lyrically intuitive releases. Little Simz blurs genres from Afrobeat to neo-soul, introducing industrial backing and huge orchestral pieces to create a masterpiece whose sound shines with a triumphant grandeur throughout. From the boastful to the consciously introspective, Simz’s lyrics narrate themes of womanhood, Black identity and our political climate beautifully. The album’s success leaves no doubt among critics and fans that Little Simz is only destined for phenomenal things. Garnering success in the United States, it seems like only a matter of time


before she establishes herself as a household name across the globe. To catch such a meteoric talent on her ascent to the top is a rare experience and not one any fan should ignore, so as Simz embarks on a UK tour, set to drop in to Newcastle’s O2 Academy on Saturday 27th November, nobody should shy away from her dynamic and majestic live performances. Little Simz plays O2 Academy, Newcastle on Saturday 27th November



Words: Lizzie Lovejoy Playing a blend of dark funk, hip-hop and jazz, instrumental band Red Snapper will be performing at Newcastle’s Cluny on Tuesday 30th November. Since their formation in 1993, Red Snapper have played shows globally and in collaboration with a variety of vocal artists such as Gavin Clarke and Eliza Carthy and have supported the likes of

Björk and The Fugees on an international level. They gained even more interest in recent years after their music was featured on El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie, and they’ve become well known for their creative remixes, reworking music by Trouble Funk, Edwyn Collins and more. After a pause on making music, the band released their first single after six years during September 2020. B-Planet is a toe tapper, pairing a clapping beat with a repetitive bass guitar acting almost as a melodic voice on the track. At points, the song pulls away from the expected rhythm and throws the listener into discordant sounds before dragging the audience back into a more comfortable beat, echoing something akin to a hallucinogenic experience. With a psychedelic twist, listening to their unique genre warping material takes the listener by surprise. Known for their ability to create immersive soundscapes and give strong performances, Red Snapper are sure to take their Newcastle audience on a trippy, auditory adventure. Red Snapper play The Cluny, Newcastle on Tuesday 30th November




Words: Lee Fisher Anna Meredith feels very much part of a recent wave of musicians and artists who straddle classical and contemporary music, jazz and improvisation, soundtracks and collaborations,

orchestras and electronics, and do so with grace and ease. I first heard her via her lovely soundtrack to Eighth Grade (2018), by which point she’d already released a couple of albums (Varmints and Anno), with another – Fibs – the following year. Somewhere along the line she’s also become an MBE, a Mercury Prize nominee, a multiple Proms-commissioned composer and gathered all manner of other plaudits. There’s also Bumps Per Minute, a Dodgems-themed project with its own video game and a Somerset House

residency with an actual dodgems installation. It’s unlikely that she’ll be bringing anything quite so elaborate to Sage Gateshead for her full-band performance on Friday 12th November but everything Meredith does turns out to be sprinkled in magic, and she’s promised “an evening of high frolics, fast notes, slow notes, roots, toots and questionable covers.” Which sounds pretty damn delicious. Anna Meredith plays Sage Gateshead on Friday 12th November





PREVIEWS GCT Folk Club presents

Sam Sweeney Band

BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards 2019 – Nominated Musician Of The Year Songlines

The Guardian

Friday 26 November 2021, 7.30pm, £17

Gosforth Civic Theatre | 0191 284 3700 | @GoCivTheatre



The Burning Hell



Words: Tracy Hyman For over twenty years, award-winning vegetarian restaurant The Waiting Room has held regular Sunday night gig and art events, alongside the occasional all-dayer. After a slight mishap in the rebooking of postponed gigs following 18 months of lockdown, organiser Luke Harding decided the only solution was to make a proper event of it, and Eaglesfest – taking place on Sunday 7th November – was born. The Eagledukes, a 24-piece ukulele band, will kick off the event in The Other Room (adjoined to The Waiting Room), followed by locals Dressed Like Wolves, Tom Joshua and Gone Tomorrow. There is even a reunion of the hilarious Carmen and Dick, with more acts to be confirmed. The event is headlined by Canadian art folk rockers The Burning Hell (who also play The Cumberland Arms on Wednesday 3rd November) and Swedish queens of punk banjo, Baskery (who happen to be playing Newcastle’s Globe on

Saturday 6th). Both acts will be making a welcome return to The Waiting Room and the North East. It wouldn’t be a Waiting Room event without some of their delicious vegetarian cuisine, and artisan pizza, festival food and a mini beer festival selection from the Three Brothers micro-brewery at Preston Farm will be up for grabs, with the live music itself running between the venue itself and the Preston & Eaglescliffe Social Club. Eaglesfest takes place on Sunday 7th November at The Waiting Room and Preston & Eaglescliffe Social Club, Eaglescliffe



Words: Jake Anderson Are you ready to enter the house that Vandebilt? The band invites you to their hometown with a performance at Independent, Sunderland on Friday 26th November.

The group are promising an unforgettable night of electronic bangers, as well as support from Newcastle-based experimental house DJ Ponder and electro-noir act Motel Carnation. This will be the band’s first show in the region since their performance at Newcastle’s The Cluny in September, and it promises to be an evening filled with electronic bangers. Vandebilt have been prolific this past year, with their ability to construct catchy and groovy music building them an increasing fanbase. Their latest single, Real Good, demonstrates their anthemic pop electronica and slick instrumentation. It’s a tune that will hook you in with its lush production and then have you belting out the earworm of a hook. Fans will want to grab their tickets ASAP as alongside a special after-party, there is also excitement about an additional set from another group that the band are keeping secret for the time being, only revealing them once the event is sold out. Vandebilt, Motel Carnation and DJ Ponder play Independent, Sunderland on Friday 26th November







N O R T H E R N A R T. A C . U K



David Callaghan



Words: Maria Winter Bobik’s plays host to the new show from comedian David Callaghan, entitled Everything That’s Me Is Falling Apart. This isn’t just any comedy show, it’s the world’s first augmented reality comedy theatre show – something you will not want to miss out on! On Thursday 25th November comedy lovers can witness this interesting concept, as David Callaghan takes the audience on a journey of hilariously heartfelt yet beautifully bittersweet stories of love and loss, all through the art of visualisation technology, animation and a toy train (if that doesn’t convince you, I don’t know what will!) David’s incredible performance will make you believe anything is possible, whilst simultaneously putting a smile on your face. Widely lauded as an inventive and talented comedian, if you want to escape the challenges of everyday life for one night and join David’s world of comedy, then this show is a must-see for you. David Callaghan presents Everything That’s Me

Is Falling Apart at Bobik’s, Newcastle on Thursday 25th November



Words: Claire Dupree The annual celebration of creativity and community in Hartlepool returns to the historic Hartlepool Headland from Friday 26th-Sunday 28th November. Aimed as a springboard to launch the festive season in the town, the streets will be awash with music, art, performance and a carnival atmosphere. With a theme of Turning Tides, organisers aim for the event to encourage hope, connection and inspire creativity. Illuminations and installations will include work direct from the Lumiere art trail, which is expanding this year to celebrate the County Durham City of Culture bid. An interactive self-led trail, sound walk and immersive displays will be a day and night spectacle. Windows and building facades will be brought to life with artwork created by the community, and buskers, choirs, brass bands and fire acts will see the streets brimming with

entertainment. There will also be live music in partner venues throughout the weekend, with sets from garage rockers Onlooker, balladeer Lost State of Dan and indie rock duo Giraffes among others. For festival goers wishing to try their hand at a new skill, workshops will include wreath making, photography, ceramics, pottery, graffiti, music and drumming, body adornment and much more. Wintertide is an independent event run by volunteers from the Headland Festival Group, Rachel from community arts organisation BloomInArt explains why supporting artists is so needed in the area. “It’s really important as a community festival to create a platform to showcase, strengthen and support talent on our doorstep. Linking across groups, colleges and then connecting them in a programme with established artists from the area and the big show stoppers creates that opportunity to push boundaries, build ambition and strive for excellence.” Wintertide Festival takes place art Hartlepool Headland from Friday 26th-Sunday 28th November



Untitled from the series, Blood Speaks, 2013-18 © Poulomi Basu


ERUPTIONS: A DECADE OF CREATION BY POULOMI BASU @ SIDE GALLERY Words: Hope Lynes Join Poulomi Basu, an award winning Indian activist, artist and photographer on a gripping visual journey investigating war, suffering and the fight of women and indigenous communities in South Asia. Her exhibition, Eruptions: A Decade of Creation, spans three projects from Basu dating back to 2009, truly documenting an era of exploration. The solo exhibition at Side Gallery, which runs from Saturday 30th October to Sunday 6th February, immerses audiences in the projects Centralia, Blood Speaks: A Ritual of Exile and To Conquer Her Land, through exhibiting the captivating forms of virtual reality, film, photography, crime evidence and documentary. Basu places the light on female pain, whilst also inspiring the audience through stories of remarkable women and her own activism. Centralia reports testimonies, portraits and investigations of fallen (mainly) female revolutionary fighters in brutal conflicts between the People’s Liberation Guerilla Army;


Blood Speaks, winner of the Royal Photogenic Society’s Hood Media 2020, exposes the harrowing origins and results of the Chaupadi exile ritual, a violent practice towards menstruating women in Nepal; in To Conquer Her Land audiences can witness the extraordinary experiences of India’s first female soldiers on the borders of India and Pakistan. Basu’s inspirational work has resulted in a policy change criminalising the Chaupadi exile practice, whilst working alongside Action Aid for the #MyBodyIsMine Menstruation campaign. Eruptions: A Decade of Creation further provides an insight into a feminine world of hardship, perseverance and strength. Eruptions: A Decade of Creation by Poulomi Basu is at Side Gallery, Newcastle from Saturday 30th October to Sunday 6th February



Words: Hope Lynes Local rockers Ten Eighty Trees return for their first Newcastle show in two years at The Cumberland Arms on Saturday 13th November.

Eager to get back to the stage, the band have a reputation for their passionate performances. Since their beginning three years ago, nothing but euphorically energetic songs have emerged, which has earned Ten Eighty Trees acclaim with BBC 6Music’s Tom Robinson among others. The Geordie rock trio release their new single The Kick on 29th October, a track that will knock you sideways with its catchy punk style, complete with confident vocals evoking true emotion which bleeds into the personal theme of getting out of a toxic relationship to pursue what you want to do in life. The Kick turns a negative situation into three minutes of liveliness that never slows down, resulting in one of the rowdiest songs the band have produced so far. Support for The Cumberland Arms gig comes from Mancunian band Dalmas, who create music for everyone by entwining pop punk vocals with modern rock instrumentals and glimpses of 80’s synth. Local talent St. Buryan are also supporting, bringing their experimental indie sounds to the mix. Ten Eighty Trees, Dalmas and St. Buryan play The Cumberland Arms, Newcastle on Saturday 13th November. The Kick is released on 29th October




Words: Cameron Wright Hot on the heels of their latest release, Sticky, Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes return to Newcastle’s O2 Academy on Saturday 20th November. Since the early 00s, Carter has dominated, terrified and enthused audiences with his

powerful and dynamic performances, gaining a reputation as one of punk’s most explosive live presences. Famed for encouraging a chaotic yet inclusive and respectful live environment, Frank Carter’s performances are quickly etching their way into Britain’s punk mythology. Their debut album Blossom is still solidifying a reputation as one of the country’s most venomous and uncompromising punk rock records of its time, winning them an immediate fanbase among critics and punk lovers alike. With every subsequent release, the band’s sound changes and develops, from broad and progressive arrangements to more traditional and simplistic songwriting; the band always

seems eager to take a myriad of influences and toss them into the melting pot. Sticky is no exception, and yet even by their standards, the sound is unpredictable and unpolished. Pitched as a celebration of freedom and liberation, Sticky plays as an advertisement to turn feral and unleashed, which should entice any fan to experience the unchained atmosphere first hand. Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes play O2 Academy, Newcastle on Saturday 20th November




























One Cell At A Time - Sensory Cellumonials by Baum and Leahy



Words: Claire Dupree In this groundbreaking work, artists have collaborated with researchers and scientists to create art which explores the make-up of the human body. Engineered by the international scientific research project, The Human Cell Atlas, who are creating a map of every cell type in the human body in order to better understand biology and disease, a digital exhibition of work by 13 artists seeks to further explore our understanding of our own biology in a uniquely accessible way. Primarily an online exhibition, with some regional in-person events also taking place, highlights of the project include artist duo Baum & Leahy’s Sensory Cellumonials, a series of guided visual and aural meditations informed by our senses; experimental film Call Of The Silent Cell by Paul Smith and Vicky Isley delves into research of the immune system; dance and moving image artist Anna Macdonald’s series of films, images and text, Ways Of Doing Things, was created in collaboration with transplant recipients and demonstrates the remarkable ways we connect with each other; and montage film Constellations


by artists Esther Teichmann and Christopher Stewart explores the intertwining narratives of the Human Cell Atlas research. A live event of Stacey Pitsillides’ Donate Yourself takes place in Newcastle on Sunday 31st October, and discusses stories of care, trust, immortality and consent in an augmented reality journey, questioning how we may see our bodies after death. The live event will include a guided tour of augmented reality artworks through the Ouseburn Valley. A host of learning projects and further collaborations also make up this fascinating project, which will be hosted online from Friday 29th October-Tuesday 30th November.



Words: Claire Dupree As is often the case with grassroots scenes, it usually takes the effort and forward-thinking attitudes of just a handful of people for things to get off the ground. Despite its world-class cultural standing, Durham has suffered with

being somewhat of a musical wasteland since Empty Shop HQ left the city centre. While places like Old Cinema Launderette and Claypath Deli keep the flag for independent musicians flying, there is a distinct lack of opportunities for local performers. Enter Down By The River, one of those previously mentioned forward-thinking promoters, who this month launch Durham Introducing, a supportive space for artists to find their creative footing, hosted at Claypath Deli. DBTR’s Graham Grundy explains: “[Durham Introducing will be] a safe space where people can come and express themselves artistically in a supportive environment, where they can build confidence and take an important step in finding their creative way.” Each monthly event will be curated and co-promoted by different individuals or groups, with the goal of making the events ethical, diverse and enjoyable environments for performers as well as attendees. Performers at the first event on Thursday 11th November include unique grunge jazzers Labyrinthine Oceans, Newcastle-based ethereal songwriter India Arkin and avant-garde spoken wordsmiths The Durham Beats. Down By The River present Durham Introducing at Claypath Deli on Thursday 11th November


Bonbons Cabaret by TJmov



Words: Leigh Venus As the curtains continue to tentatively part on the cultural world after the devastation of the past couple of years, the festive season is – astonishingly – looming into view, and with it the long-awaited return of the riotous seasonal extravaganza that is The BonBons Cabaret. A local fixture since its 2017 inception as a collaboration with Alphabetti Theatre, The BonBons Cabaret is a confection by the House of Love collective, namely the Bonnie and the Bonnettes trio fresh from their Drag Me To Love national tour, queer pop art punk rocker MXYM riding the waves of new single Starfire self-professed fool and Newcastle queen Vol-Au-Vent Love, and lip-syncing burlesque babe Mama Rhi. Finding itself pandemically postponed in 2020, The BonBons Cabaret is back at a slew of North East venues, from a Halloween homecoming at Alphabetti Theatre right through to New Year’s

Eve; a date that sees the return of the fan-favourite kid-friendly version of the cabaret followed by an inevitably outrageous NYE show and party. Firmly rooted in the North East and dedicated to championing the very best alternative and queer talent out there, The BonBons Cabaret is the glitter-infused winter warmer we all need. Step through their curtain, and who knows who you’ll meet? The BonBons Cabaret 2021 takes place at Alphabetti Theatre, Newcastle on Saturday 30th October, Middlesbrough Town Hall on Sunday 7th November, Laurel’s Whitley Bay on Saturday 13th November and Alphabetti Theatre on Friday 31st December



Words: Laura Doyle Comedians can spend literally months crafting their stand-up sets. The nerve wracking process involves creating jokes out of seemingly thin air that hopefully will make a room – maybe even a

stadium for those really big names – laugh. So what happens if you condense that creative process into, say, a single day? Felt Nowt are going to attempt this social experiment to see what can be achieved in the twelve hours in the run up to an actual live show in front of real people. Unless you happen to be a seasoned improv comic, it is surely a daunting task. The process is simple: throw a bunch of local comedians into a room together for a single day. They must dream up a series of sketches that they hope will be comedy gold. You buy a ticket for a mere fiver, rock up at Bobik’s on Sunday 14th November, and see the fruits of their labour. Will you witness cutting edge hilarity, available for one night only? Or will you watch in horror as a bunch of people try desperately to do underprepared funnies? The latter is unlikely, as noted local comic Lee Kyle will be the guiding six new comedians, Kelly Edgar, Mike Wardley, Charlie Ellis, Luke Connell, Phil Erswell and Michael Perren, through the unique concept. Strap in for a night filled with unpredictable results! Stand-Up In A Day takes place at Bobik’s, Newcastle on Sunday 14th November



PAVE THE JUNGLE AHEAD OF THE RELEASE OF THEIR STARTLINGLY GOOD NEW EP, WAITING FOR NOTHING, PAVE THE JUNGLE’S RACHAEL WHITTLE TALKS TO CLAIRE DUPREE ABOUT THE EVOLUTION OF THE BAND’S VISCERAL ALT. ROCK SOUND IMAGE BY AMELIA READ One of the many frustrations, and perhaps necessary evils, of being an independent musician is being unaware of how your music will be perceived or even if it’ll get heard at all. An interesting by-product of this can be that artists feel more able to honestly lay their emotions and true opinions bare, unaware of the impact they may be having; that someone could hear their music and have it resonate so completely with them, must be exhilarating and terrifying in equal measure. It’s this conundrum that Rachael Whittle faced when writing songs for Pave The Jungle’s first EP, The Hissing, back in 2019/2020.


Roundly celebrated for its acerbic takes on alienation, mental health and addiction as much as its rhythmic heaviness and off-kilter swagger, Rachael wrote with a ferocious intensity and honesty which thrust her and drummer bandmate Scott Jeffery into the limelight. “The first EP was written before Pave The Jungle really existed. I didn’t think about people listening to the songs, or hearing those lyrics, I just wrote for myself.” Rachael explains, as the duo prepare to unleash their second EP in as many years, Waiting For Nothing, this month. “I guess this time I was more aware we’d be putting these out. Perhaps I’ve made them less personal lyrically as a result.”



Subject-matter aside, what remains ever-present is the band’s alt. rock mastery; Waiting For Nothing is heavier, angrier and sounds like a band completely at home with their sound. “It’s definitely more urgent than the previous stuff. I do feel sorry for Scott on drums at times!” Rachael admits. “This one is written from a more observational standpoint, maybe with the exception of Picture of Health. I write about places I’ve lived in Oddball and Lucky Ones, whereas Moirai talks about the three fates within Greek mythology. How they’re said to weave a tapestry of people’s lives, and if they cut the thread the person dies. They’re also said to visit a newborn baby within three days to decide their fate. It’s just a concept that fascinates me.” Moirai kicks the EP off with typically punishing rhythmic intent, punctuated by stabbing guitars. Rachael’s extraordinary voice has a melodic depth; her powerful vocals are almost baritone, loaded with menace, guttural yet carefully controlled. Oddball’s squall of snarling guitars and almost spoken word interjections are underpinned by Scott’s ever-present thrashing drums, as Rachael caustically describes “a love/hate relationship between an individual and a place” and learning how to embrace feeling like an ‘oddball’. The melancholy and massive Lucky Ones is as wistful as Pave The Jungle are likely to get; while standout track Picture of Health sees Rachael laying bare her own underlying health issues, resulting in themes of

procrastination and negativity exemplified by impassioned vocals and an expertly controlled quiet/loud dynamic. It’s a track which demonstrates Pave The Jungle’s growth as architects of thrillingly visceral alt. rock. Waiting For Nothing will undoubtedly be the release that sees Pave The Jungle step up their profile, both in the region and beyond. Rachael’s process of demoing to the point of perfection has clearly paid dividends, alongside the enforced stasis of the last 18 months the band have been able to more carefully hone their creative process, and Rachael confirms that their forthcoming tour is sure to influence whatever comes next. “Writing the songs is just one part of it. We love it, but it can be all-consuming. I’m lucky as both Scott and our manager Jules are very well organised. I can’t think of anything worse than planning the logistics around a tour or a release. They really take the reins on that front. That gives me time to focus solely on the music and the artwork.” With management coming on board shortly before The Hissing was released last year, Rachael recognises the groundwork has been laid for future growth, but acknowledges that it can be difficult for independent artists to progress. “Tangible progression more often than not requires substantial investment, and that’s something our region goes without in more ways than one. Up North we generally have to shout louder to be heard, and unfortunately that leaves the door open for opportunists and monopolisers. These kinds of exploitative characteristics aren’t good for local music. Especially when you throw deceitful, or downright abusive, practices into the mix,” she says, alluding to the allegations surrounding promoter SSD Concerts which have been well documented online. When asked about how musicians in the region can progress without compromising their own ethics, she’s resolute in her response. “Ultimately what I think matters most is owning your vision and staying true to it. Everyone encounters their share of snakes and bad actors, and at times they’re hard to distinguish from those with an honest and healthy interest in your art. In fact it can be paralysing. We all just need to stay on course and lift others up whenever the opportunity arises.” Unafraid of demonstrating this DIY spirit, the duo have been quietly promoting their own shows under their Cow House moniker for a few months now, bringing artists from outside the region as well as spotlighting local musicians. “We’d talked about putting gigs on for a while, and post-pandemic seemed like a great time to start. Scott handles the bookings/promo and I do sound on the night. It’s been a lot of fun so far; bringing up-and-coming bands we personally love to a safe, fun and supportive space like Little Buildings.” Little Buildings plays host to Pave The Jungle’s Newcastle leg of their tour in celebration of the EP release, which also sees them perform at Middlesbrough’s Base Camp. “We’ll be touring with a full band! We did a couple of gigs as a duo once lockdown ended, but it didn’t feel right at all. On a good day we’ll be loud, explosive, dynamic, and interesting. On a bad day we’ll be loud. But seeing as Base Camp is at the beginning and Little Buildings is on the last night of the tour, we’ll be firing on all cylinders!” Pave The Jungle release Waiting For Nothing via Cow House on 26th November. They play Base Camp, Middlesbrough on Saturday 6th and Little Buildings, Newcastle on Friday 26th November




CLAIRE DUPREE TALKS TO JOEL THOMSON ABOUT THE NEW ITERATION OF BRAVE EXHIBITIONS FESTIVAL, WHICH SETS OUT TO MAKE CONNECTIONS AND BREAK BOUNDARIES There is more to Brave Exhibitions than meets the eye. Keen music lovers may notice that the Cluny-based festival, now in its third year, has grown quite considerably since its inception, but that’s not the whole story. On course to become a shining example of what principled, ethical and diverse programming can be, it has been shaped by a collaborative effort to give the region a basis for what ‘better’ could look like. Organiser Joel Thomson sets the scene: “The first two years were pretty much an experiment in whether or not I’d be able to pull that sort of an event together and make a success of it, and I intentionally wanted to do as much of it myself as possible, to teach myself how to be a festival producer. I’ve always liked to learn how to do things myself before delegating tasks to others. Of course, it could have all gone horribly wrong and I could have found myself massively out of my depth, but I think it worked out alright.” Building on the festival’s growing reputation as a place for musical misfits to find something new to love, some of this year’s many highlights include noise rock titans Part Chimp; urgent alt. punks Blóm; celebrated avant artist Nuha Ruby Ra; experimental polymath Kapil Seshasayee; endearing post-punks Trash Kit; psychedelic noise collective GNOD; dark dance band Evil House Party; Newcastle’s


electro folk artist Me Lost Me; composer, turntablist and performer Mariam Rezaei; found sound electronic project Late Girl; genredefying electronic composer and viola player Astrid Sonne and improviser Shelly Knotts among many others. Joel gives special mention to Sunday night’s headliner, CURL. “There are no artists on the bill that I’m not really looking forward to seeing, but if I had to pick one that I’m particularly excited about it would be CURL, a collective made up of producer and MC Brother May, multi-instrumentalist, vocalist and producer Coby Sey, and Oscar-nominated composer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist, Mica Levi formerly of Micachu & The Shapes. I’ve been obsessed with everything Mica has ever done and was pretty desperate to get one of her projects on this year’s bill. They are going to be an absolutely perfect end to this year’s festival.” This year’s event sees a considerable step up in terms of both artists performing and the general scope of the event. “I think having a year of sitting in my flat by myself during lockdown really helped me to get my ideas together for this year’s festival, and think about some great people and organisations I could approach to partner on some activity.” Enter partnerships with Salford’s Fat Out Festival, North East music support agency Generator, Black-led feminist community



T-B, L-R: GNOD, Part Chimp, Deep Tan, Mariam Rezaei, Nuha Ruby Ra, Trash Kit

AT BEF YOU’LL SEE MORE ESTABLISHED ARTISTS BILLED ALONGSIDE EMERGING TALENT, BOTH LOCAL AND INTERNATIONAL, AND THIS YEAR SEES MORE PARTNERSHIPS AND COLLABORATION interest company Sister Shack and feminist music company Tits Upon Tyne, who have been instrumental in programming a fringe programme which equals the delights of the main festival. “The ethos and intention behind Brave Exhibitions festival and F54 Promotions is to showcase a broad range of genres, through inclusive and diverse programming; something Generator is passionate about.” Says the organisation’s Helen Walkinshaw. “At BEF you’ll see more established artists billed alongside emerging talent, both local and international, and this year sees more partnerships and collaboration; meaning the activity is responding and reflecting to the North East music industry and audiences in a much broader way. Personally, I’ve attended every year of BEF, and I’m really excited about what Joel has produced again this year.” Fringe events include a discussion with author and musician Stephanie Phillips from feminist punk band Big Joanie about her book Why Solange Matters, followed by DJ sets from Awkward Black Girl and BEF residents (Journey Cafe Bar, Wednesday 17th); a field recording workshop and live demo from AJA (Cobalt Studios, Saturday 20th); and a weekend of panel discussions and live music curated by Tits Upon Tyne (Saturday 13th & Sunday 14th). “The fringe events will provide opportunities for audiences and creatives (at any level) to engage with industry professionals in a supportive safe environment, network and hopefully gain some new insight and skills.” Helen explains. “From more technically focussed workshops, to panel discussions and live performances – the events will explore a range of themes, led by previous performers and new partners.” Natalie Greener, aka Tits Upon Tyne, has been instrumental in building a safe space policy for the event. “Our safe space measurements are part of our nationwide campaign to promote education and information within the arts to help better the

community, not shame it. Nobody has all the answers, but we hope a collaborative manifesto written by and for the community might help provide a starting point that is more current and reflective of modern creative and cultural social issues.” Natalie explains why working with BEF has been an important first step on the road to a fairer and more equal music scene. “As a non-profit, there is only so much we can do within our means without the relevant backing or support. We needed that first festival to take a chance on us but also listen to the message at hand; not just seeing some raging liberal feminists, but rather colleagues and peers who just want to enjoy live music.” 2021’s incarnation of Brave Exhibitions comes at an interesting point in Joel’s career as a promoter. Previously working as venue manager at The Cluny, he made the decision to venture out on his own this year with new outfit F54. Having spent a year sat in his flat and considering his career prospects, watching some pretty awful behaviour come to light in the North East’s music scene, he knew the region deserved better. “I want to provide good experiences for all artists, venues, event staff, crew and audiences, and hopefully make any touring artists, from grassroots to high profile veterans, leave town thinking, ‘Yeah, the North East and its inhabitants are really nice’. I feel that having about 17 years experience playing in bands, as a promoter and as a venue booker, I’m in a pretty decent position to do that, and hopefully make things a bit nicer for people before the world burns to the ground within the next 50 years.” Brave Exhibitions Festival takes place at The Cluny, Newcastle from Friday 19th-Sunday 21st November, with Fringe events taking place across various venues the weekend prior and on the run-up to the festival. Check their website for full line-ups





JONATHAN COLL DISCOVERS HOW THE SEAHAM SONGWRITER HAS REDISCOVERED HER LOVE FOR HER CRAFT AHEAD OF THE RELEASE OF HER FIRST NEW TRACK IN FIVE YEARS As the live music industry begins to wake from its pandemic-induced slumber, talented local singer-songwriter Ani Sandwith is preparing to release her first new record in five years. Time spent in lockdown has given her the opportunity to reconnect with the art of writing music. I caught up with her to find out what had taken so long, and why now was the right time to get back in the studio. “After taking some time away from the UK, and from normal life due to the pandemic, I had the chance to think about where my love for music lies. I realised that was in the live experience. I played so many different styles of music and in so many bands when I was younger that I never really thought about how to feed that into my own music. I spent the early part of this year in the studio recording new music, before going travelling for a while and being part of Summer Studios at Sage Gateshead when I got back. Now I’ve got a load of songs I want to share, and the best way to do that is in a room full of people.” The result is a new record which has married refined production with Ani’s own signature, authentic songwriting. Though her musical is influenced by artists from across the region, her storytelling comes from her own lived experienced. “The record is called Too Close, which is one of the most honest and



personal songs I’ve written. It’s about the feelings of a relationship breakdown and the personal battles that are endured to reach the point of breaking free. Songwriting is one of the only chances I really get to explore how I feel, and the last year or so has given me the perfect opportunity to do that. I think there was a lot of pressure on musicians to be creative during the lockdown; it was quite an ugly pressure to put on people. I’ve always felt like I need life to be happening around me to write music. I need those chance encounters and experiences.” Too Close is a superb acoustic track which shows she’s just as talented on strings as she is on keys, with the vocals and guitar being captured live to encapsulate the intimacy and sonic diversity of the song. Though the song itself comes directly from Ani’s heart, she called on a few fellow creatives from across the region to pull the project together. “The first step was to get back in touch with James Hutchinson, who I worked with eight years ago when I was doing a project with The Lake Poets. The studio he works out of in Silksworth is incredible. It’s great to have such an amazing facility outside of a city centre. It’s sometimes easy for these places to get overlooked, but they’re often where you find the most talented people. Being back in that studio just made me super excited to get back to gigging again, like every artist. For me, making music is all about connection; being onstage with an audience and creating a moment and an experience together is something really special, and it’s what I thrive on as an artist.” Ani Sandwith releases Too Close on 12th November. She plays Waves festival in Sunderland on Saturday 6th November



L-R, T-B: Casual Threats, Sagaboi Lottie Willis, Yusuf

WAVES FESTIVAL CONOR ROY FINDS OUT WHAT’S IN STORE AT THE BRAND NEW SUNDERLAND MULTI-VENUE FESTIVAL The team behind Independent further attempt to reinforce the musical prowess of their fair city as they announce the first of what they hope will be an annual inner-city festival straight out of Sunderland. Going by the name Waves, this new endeavour brings together five of the city’s premier venues, with Independent, Live Lounge, The Peacock, The Bunker and The Ship Isis working in perfect harmony on Saturday 6th November. In speaking to organiser Ben Richardson, it was clear that bringing a music-centred event which would have wide appeal was on the agenda in the formative planning stages. “The main thing all along was to create an event that the people of Sunderland could be proud of. Something that made every person who was into music in the area all come out on the same day and just have a nice time.” Independent is in the vanguard of Sunderland’s return to the musical map; the region is littered with multi-venue festivals, but Waves will be the first in the city for several years, and Ben believes it’s an event that music lovers in Sunderland deserve. When surveying the breadth of genres on display, attendees to Waves are spoilt for choice. There’s indie pop from the likes of noyou, Club Paradise and Faye Fantarrow; some of the region’s finest singersongwriters in Lottie Willis, Sophia, Elizabeth Liddle and Ani


Sandwith; punk pop power courtesy of bigfatbig and Casual Threats; the North East’s emerging rap scene is well represented through the sounds of SQUARMS, Philth Like and Sågaboi; there’s dreamy soulful pop and RnB from Nadedja and Badmind, and a large helping of post-punk from Pit Pony, Roxy Girls, Kickin’ Lilies, Leopard Rays and Point Blanc. On this eclectic line-up Ben comments: “We really just wanted to portray the music scene up here how it really is, people’s music tastes are becoming way more spread out and there really is a lot more diversity and difference than you might think.” It’s refreshing to see such a good gender balance in the line-up, which has been a point of contention elsewhere in the region. “You know what, we didn’t even have to try to be honest, and I don’t think you especially have to in the North East – if you just take a minute to think about who the most exciting new artists are that you think could really go somewhere, so many of those are women.” With such a wealth of talent on display at the festival, Ben is justifiably proud of the line-up. When pressed for a favourite, he’s spoiled for choice. “It’s very hard to choose. I just love Club Paradise. They always sound massive live. For those not from Sunderland, I’d say Kickin’ Lilies, they’re really cool.” And for those looking for their new favourite act, Ben’s money is on: “noyou, or Lottie Willis. She’s only 17, and she’s just unbelievable.” Waves festival takes place on Saturday 6th November at Independent, Live Lounge, The Peacock, The Bunker and The Ship Isis




BLOWIN’ A HOOLEY NICOLA OWEN TALKS TO HARRIET GHOST FROM AWARD-WINNING NORTH EAST THEATRE COMPANY BLOWIN A’ HOOLEY ABOUT MAKING THEATRE ACCESSIBLE TO ALL Back in 2016 actors Harriet Ghost and Micky McGregor struck out with their own venture, a vibrant and dynamic new Tyneside-based theatre company focused on representing North East experiences and support for new artists. Blowin’ A Hooley’s first production was of Tom Hadaway’s legendary play The Filleting Machine, a working class drama centring on Davey, a young man who is torn between continuing his education and making money on the docks. It toured to community centres and schools around the region to a positive grassroots response, and earlier this year they worked with production company Candle & Bell to produce a 360 film with an immersive VR theatre experience in order for audiences to access the production online. “We want to give people opportunities that they might not otherwise have access to,” explains Harriet Ghost. “Not just actors and other creatives but also audiences who might feel intimidated about going to a building-based theatre. The Filleting Machine got such a good response from people from places like the Meadow Well estate, so much so that they would come up to us afterwards and say that they recognised themselves or a friend or family member in characters and attitudes in the play.” Following this success Blowin’ A Hooley continued engagement with local communities, doing work which wasn’t necessarily meant for a wider audience but which focused on important training around the danger of getting into debt with loan sharks and also around grooming of young people for exploitation. During various lockdowns, the team furthered this work and expanded their digital projects, working with Tyneside schools to provide educational and entertaining Christmas shows as well as providing free outdoor activities and performances during the summer. Their next production is Yarns From Hyem, which finally gets a


WE WANT TO GIVE PEOPLE OPPORTUNITIES THAT THEY MIGHT NOT OTHERWISE HAVE ACCESS TO region-wide tour after being postponed in 2020. Championing North East talent by sharing four hilarious and moving stories of love, loss, hope and resilience, all written, directed and performed by incredible artists from our region, Yarns From Hyem further exemplifies Blowin’ A Hooley’s commitment to North East talent. “We were in day two of rehearsals when theatre venues had to close and we made the decision, with Arts Council’s guidance, to honour our artists’ contracts and support them through the difficult period – though we had no idea at the time just how long that would be!” They explain. “Now, Arts Council have funded us for the project 20 months later and we’re so grateful and excited to be able to get the team back together.” The crew have yet more delayed works in the pipeline, including the remounting of Notice To Move, a military theatre project based on the experiences of North East Armed Forces veterans, and an original family performance curiously titled Cinderella’s SnapTok, slated for Spring 2022. Yarns From Hyem by Blowin’ A Hooley is performed throughout November at Old Low Light Heritage Centre, North Shields and The Institute, Cambois (Saturday 20th); Whitley Bay Customer First Centre (Monday 22nd); St Vincent’s Centre, Newcastle and Cedarwood Trust, North Shields (Tuesday 23rd); The Exchange, North Shields (Thursday 25th); Pelaw View Centre in Gateshead (Friday 26th) and Ushaw, Durham (Saturday 27th)



Image by Joe ‘The Devil’ Bennison


PAUL BROADHEAD DISCUSSES CAREER GOALS AND MUSICAL FUSION WITH HOTLY-TIPPED EMERGING SONGWRITER LIZZIE ESAU London-born but Newcastle bred, Lizzie Esau’s new single Bitter Weather is getting an apt winter release on 10th November and it’s a stomping mix of hip-hop and indie rock that’s sure to melt the ice. Hot off the heels of previous post-lockdown singles What If I Keep Driving and Caffeine, Bitter Weather has been a live favourite in her set over the last few months and its eclectic sound sees Lizzie drawing from many different inspirations. “Bitter Weather is a real fusion of lots of things I’ve been loving,” Lizzie explains. “The verses are quite lo-fi and inspired by artists such as Clairo, Loyal Carner and Tom Misch. The heavier sound of the chorus takes inspiration from bands such as Wolf Alice and Royal Blood, with the really deep fuzzy guitar tones and brutally honest lyrics.” Those honest lyrics deal with prioritising the important things, as both an artist and a person, a balance Lizzie is trying to find. “The most important things to me are the people close to me,” she reflects. “I feel so lucky that I have such an amazing family, friends and team working around the music that we’re releasing, and I think sometimes other stupid worries in life can take over and get the better of you and it’s not until someone pulls you up about neglecting certain relationships that you really think about what actually matters.”


That musical team includes her fantastic band and producer Steve Grainger, who Lizzie has worked with on previous singles. But still she finds the old school method of songwriting works for her too. “Right now, I tend to make demos by myself in my room most of the time, as a force of habit from working in lockdown I think!” she laughs. “But I work very closely with producer Steve Grainger, who has written a lot of the instrumentation around the tracks too. Writing as a band is something that we’re definitely going to start doing more, which I can’t wait for as they’re all such great musicians and writers and I just love the experience of creating with others. But in terms of which I prefer, I think it’s good to have a balance of both as all different writing scenarios bring out unique perspectives.” With her ambitions in place, not to mention a cracking new single set for release, Lizzie is looking optimistically to the future and it’s one that looks bright for the young artist. “The plan for the immediate future is to keep writing lots, releasing music, and playing as many gigs as we physically can. I think just really perfecting the sound and growing as an artist is something that’s so exciting to me and I can’t wait to see how things progress. For the longterm future, it would be great to release an EP and to work towards an album with a label that we as a team around the music really love, and to be able to travel the world with the music…that would be the dream!” Lizzie Esau releases Bitter Weather on 10th November. She plays at Bobik’s, Newcastle on Friday 3rd December






Considering the rich, widely acclaimed solo catalogue she’s amassed over the course of two decades, Jane Weaver perhaps isn’t an artist you’d deem in need of a grand crossover moment. Occasionally, however, the best records turn out to be those we didn’t realise we wanted in the first place. For this writer, it’s an adage which certainly applies to Flock; an album which recalibrates the North Westerner’s psychedelic trademarks by way of vibrant, hook-laden songcraft, culminating in a body of work that’s perhaps the finest – and certainly the most accessible – she’s fostered to date. “I was worried some of it wasn’t as moody as my previous records, but the songs I was writing and the sounds I was hearing in my head were lighter and more melodic, so I just went with it,” she reveals. “I did want to make a more uplifting record comprising of different types of pop song; something which wasn’t particularly concept or subject-based. I was feeling quite low at the time, so it was all a bit contradictory, writing downbeat lyrics to upbeat melodies, but I’m happy with the way it turned out!” For all its wearied words, Flock’s raison d’etre – “a consciously positive vision for negative times” – makes for one of the year’s most generous listens, embellishing musings on UK politics and patriarchal norms with Day-Glo sensibilities and her warmest production work yet. The brighter motorik sounds of its predecessor, 2017’s excellent Modern Kosmology, may have softened the leap, yet as Jane recalls, Flock’s bolder brushstrokes nevertheless posed a novel challenge. “I was mindful from day one that pop music is more exposed production-wise – things are clearer and less layered. I’ve always found it easier to layer songs in soundscapes of synths and noise, so I wanted to avoid that if I could. I’ve never had problems making things up, but it’s translating what’s in my head into the studio that’s the real challenge.” Indeed, the prospect of realising this vision called for all her polymathic experience. “I do believe in fate, and that things


I DID WANT TO MAKE A MORE UPLIFTING RECORD COMPRISING OF DIFFERENT TYPES OF POP SONG; SOMETHING WHICH WASN’T PARTICULARLY CONCEPT OR SUBJECT-BASED happen along the way which lead you to a destination, good or bad. I probably couldn’t have made this record at any other point in my career, so I’m glad most have embraced it. It’s nice when people contact you on social media from all parts of the world, all ages and backgrounds saying they’ve just discovered your music – it’s great to feel like there’s a connection.” More welcome still, the coming months will finally see that artist-listener relationship re-established in person on Jane’s first full UK tour for three years. North East fans are especially well served, with November’s opening night in Stockton followed by a new year visit to Newcastle during the jaunt’s second leg. “It’s been exciting, terrifying and emotional, but essentially quite joyful!” She enthuses, on her long-awaited return to the live stage. “So many things have changed for so many people, and I’m really grateful the opportunity is still there. It felt good to be back with the band, and almost like my identity was being slowly revealed to me again…like ‘Ah! This is what I do!’ I’ll never take it for granted that it’s a given, but if us being on stage connects with people and helps them feel normal again, then I’m happy.” Jane Weaver plays The Georgian Theatre, Stockton on Tuesday 2nd November, followed by The Cluny, Newcastle on Wednesday 9th February. Flock is out now



Image by Milly Hewitt


STEVE SPITHRAY TALKS TO LEEDS-VIA-HARTLEPOOL’S VENUS GRRRLS ABOUT THEIR RIP-ROARING RETURN As the late afternoon sun begins to fade over Middlesbrough, Venus Grrrls’ singer GK (with the rest of the band close behind) is almost bouncing down the road in silver make-up, padlock jewellery and leopard skin print, in anticipation of her band’s early evening Twisterella Festival set. We meet in the doorway of an abandoned restaurant, near The Townhouse venue they are playing, for a very quick but gimlet sharp chat about the band’s forthcoming new EP. It’s almost two years since their debut EP on Monomyth Records and, global pandemic aside, I wondered what she and her merry band of space punks had been up to in the meantime? “Without being able to gig we’ve just been writing as much as possible, remotely if we could, and most of our upcoming releases were written during various lockdowns. We just got together when we could and got in the studio to do as much as possible.” The singer is right to come across as confident, and partner in crime, synth player Grace, concurred. “We would properly cram things in when we were together.” GK: “So, we’d do a live session, a photo shoot and a studio session all within, like, three days. It was definitely exhausting but we managed.” I wave my hand almost regally (and, truth be told, three pints in) at the sights and sounds of Twisterella Festival and Linthorpe Road’s unique early evening atmosphere – it must be good to get back to all of this, I ask GK. “We’re going on tour in November including


Newcastle, Leeds and Mutations Festival in Brighton. Our first headline tour. Exciting but nerve-wracking because it has been so long.” Their four track EP includes two new songs and two previously released as singles, so it feels like a transitional release and there is a clear evolution in the band’s sound starting to develop; it’s still spiky, punky rock, but with a confident alt. pop sheen that places them far ahead of their peers. GK: “We had a lot of big things planned for 2020 that were all unfortunately cancelled but now our next single Sudocream Queen will be out at the end of October and our new EP on the 5th of November.” Grace: “It’s a new sound for us because it’s all with [producers] Sugar House Music. The two singles we’ve done with them previously are on it and we’ve got two new songs, so it’s definitely in that transitional realm. Especially Glisten which is a lot more synthy and I think next year’s releases will reflect that more.” It’s GK who has the last word before they head into the venue to perform what ends up being a rip-roaring set which only further serves to cement them as a band to watch out for. “I think next year will be really good for us.” She says, prophetically. “We’ve got loads of new songs written and ready to record so we’re really excited to get them out. We are due back in the studio in January so we’re just trying to keep the momentum up and act as if nothing happened. We just carry on. What else can you do?!” Venus Grrrls release Potions EP on 5th November. They play Head of Steam, Newcastle on Monday 8th November




T-B, L-R: Guttersnipe, The Unit AMA, Territorial Gobbing, Summer




BOUNDARIES FESTIVAL LEE FISHER TALKS TO BOUNDARIES FESTIVAL ORGANISER GRAEME HOPPER ABOUT FUNDING, WEIRDNESS AND GOING FULL MUSTARD It takes someone with boundless optimism and vision to put on a deeply underground music festival in the middle of Sunderland. Luckily, the city gave us such a someone in Graeme Hopper, (Grassi to some) who has been a fixture across art and music in the North East for years as a musician (predominantly as Chlorine) and as an artist and designer (his work gracing album covers by everyone from Moor Mother to Field Music). Throughout it all – since he was 18 – he’s wanted to put on a festival, but practicalities overtook romantic ideas. “I’m not a wide-eyed teenager running around aimlessly any more,” he explains, “and I fully believe it’s a great thing not just for Sunderland but the North of Britain, the potential is huge. There are a lot more options and ideas to get stuck into than there have been in the City for decades.” And with this energy and the help of a grant from the Sound & Music Composer-Curator programme and Sunderland Culture, Boundaries became a reality. Like most people, Hopper has a complicated relationship with his hometown. “I genuinely love the place, but I just felt that there hadn’t been any gigs, never mind festivals, of any note in the City for many, many years. It’s a great spot to put on a show: all the infrastructure is there now: venues, bars, cafes, hotels all located next to one another… There’s an audience now and a willingness from the artists to turn up and get involved. It’s super exciting! Newcastle, Gateshead, Leeds, Glasgow etc, I love those places but why can’t Sunderland put on few days of weirdness and wonder too?” Taking festivals like TUSK, Supernormal, Counterflows, Rewire in Holland and ATP as examples of how to do festivals right (“Those first five or six ATP festivals in Camber Sands were mind blowing for me, the line-ups felt so special, you could feel the energy in the air and that you were a part of something, very unique.”), Hopper started forming a line-up that is primarily solo acts or duos, to keep things simple. “I went through my iPod, keeping in mind who would definitely be up for it and who could be a sneaky possibility. I was very keen not to use all the same names and rely heavily on local people (who I do admire a lot, just not for this debut edition), I wanted new names coming to the area who haven’t played in years or even at all! This will sound daft to some, but I often see music as colours; I get a really deep yellow feel from this line-up, that’s how it started coming together, so I went full-on mustard vibes!” He laughs. Booking The Rebel (legendary former Country Teasers frontman and all-round cult hero Ben Waller) was the point at which things felt real for Hopper. “He was so easy to talk to, he agreed straight

away, that felt like ‘right, this isn’t just local acts or mates etc. IT’S ON!’” As bands like Still House Plants agreed to play for a reduced fee just to be involved, then the likes of Guttersnipe, Territorial Gobbing, The Unit Ama and Summer among others agreed to play, the line-up really took shape. “I’ve just finished programming the day line-ups and both days are crazy.” Hopper enthuses. “Everyone playing could headline a show and blow the audience’s minds, it’s truly inspiring and very thrilling. Guttersnipe were the first band on my wish list so to have them play is going to melt faces inside out, Sunderland musician Alison Cotton is playing a super-rare hometown show, then there’s the live debut of Bulbils (Richard Dawson and Sally Pilkington from Hen Ogledd’s lockdown project), Karen Constance has made a film and will perform a specially written score to accompany it live. There’s so much going on. I think the audience are going to remember this line-up for a long, long time!” While few (none?) of the acts are exactly household names, they’re mostly well-known and highly regarded in certain circles (many often tagged as part of the doubly-appropriate ‘no audience underground’), but Boundaries also has a couple of new names. “I’m dead excited for London-based musician Malvern Brume, I’m a huge fan and feel he should be as well-known as Tim Hecker, Fennesz etc. A real special talent. Basic Switches I think will impress a few folk, using old keyboards and loops she makes this wonderful, spacey pop dance stuff. Then there’s an arty punk group called SUMMER who are making their live debut, think Lungfish but with accordions and repetitive relentless fun rock! YES!” Such is Hopper’s irrepressible excitement about all this that, with the debut festival only weeks away, he’s deep into planning an even bigger event for 2022. Taking place on Friday 20th and Saturday 21st May, he’s planning four stages including Sunderland’s new 800-capacity venue Fire Station Auditorium, the local Minster Church and The Peacock (which is the venue for this year’s event). “Bands have already been contacted and been booked in, I want to focus on rhythm for next year, so textural electronics alongside great abstract acoustic ideas and more jazz and metal! Proper ripper.” Synaesthetic to the last, Hopper reveals: “I’m getting strong deep red colours! I can’t wait!” Boundaries Festival takes place at The Peacock in Sunderland on Friday 26th and Saturday 27th November. Tickets are available from Dice







GAZE, S.L. Page’s first full-length play, taps into that all too common experience of what it is like to exist in a world that labels you as ‘different’. As a disabled artist with complex mental health issues, writing is her way of creating a space for herself, which she describes as “a space where I am free to either escape, or express myself and my experiences. It is my method for finding freedom, and I have absolute autonomy on what I choose to write.” Over the last couple of years, the support from Graeae (a theatre company which puts D/deaf and disabled artists at its heart) has given her the enthusiasm to keep writing, and now this opportunity to showcase her work at Northern Stage as part of the BEYOND programme is invaluable. In this work, Page has chosen to portray the stories of two women from different centuries and worlds alongside each other, which she finds “depressing, as well as illuminating. So much has changed, and yet so little has changed at the same time. Yes, women have the vote. We have more access to careers. But we are still not safe, we can’t walk home from work, or across a park to meet a friend without risk.” In the play, Alice Guy Blaché, the first woman to direct a film, and the first person of any gender to direct a film with a narrative, faces countless barriers and betrayal as her film career is burgeoning in the late 19th Century, while modern-day film student Rose grapples with her mental health in her battle to find a sense of purpose in her life. As a complete film nerd, it was by chance that S.L. Page came across Alice Guy Blaché and when she did, it was like finding a key to an


entirely new world of cinema, a world in which women have been part of the picture since the very beginning. It then became important to her to use Blaché’s story to reflect on how women have always been there, making films. Living centuries apart, these women fight to access the power, the autonomy and the creative freedom that we all deserve through their love of film. For S.L. Page, tracing the history of women in the world of film becomes wrapped up with the recent exposure of the ways women are still systematically abused within the industry. In that sense, not much has changed and the character of Rose reflects that. How do we as women discover our true identities? How can we share the unheard stories of remarkable women left out of the traditional history books? In GAZE, S.L. Page addresses these pertinent questions and highlights what has changed for women across time, but also – more importantly – what hasn’t. The script is witty, touching and very apt for times like these. S.L. Page sees her role quite clearly: “My task is to write, and to send that writing out into the world – then I have to hope it finds an audience.” Her unique perspective on what it is to be a woman and to be ‘different’ deserves an audience: an audience of women who yearn for more autonomy, power and creative freedom – and the men who need to hear this too. GAZE by S.L. Page is at Northern Stage, Newcastle on Thursday 25th November



Image by Alasdair McLellan


AHEAD OF THEIR UPCOMING O2 ACADEMY GIG, SLEAFORD MODS’ FRONTMAN JASON WILLIAMSON TALKS TO CAMERON WRIGHT ABOUT EXHIBITIONISM, NORTHERN IDENTITY AND LIVING UP TO EXPECTATIONS With latest album Spare Ribs freshly released, Jason Williamson opens up about the anxieties of making a new record. “It’s not hard to come up with the words or the rhymes, but it’s a long process in making them worth saying. Writing itself isn’t challenging but making it good is, there’s no point putting it out if it doesn’t mean something and isn’t saying something worth saying.” Discussing the fears of living up to previous releases by the band, he elaborates: “I used to be 25, skint and full of anger. That was what fuelled the music I was making, but now I’m a 50 year-old bloke who’s got a bit of money to spare and isn’t so full of those emotions.” With the band having developed their own formula, the ‘Sleaford Mods mould’ has always been a progression of rudimentary and raw sounds. No exception to the rule, the band’s latest release contained all the profane and venomous rampages barked over sparse but cutting beats, that fans have come to expect. Maybe more so than ever before, Spare Ribs is painfully frank; cutting no corners and marching onwards, tearing the filter off and supplying a desolate and pained commentary of the North. The abrasive, dense sounds of working-class rage that defined albums like Divide & Exit or Key Markets is found here once more, but with traces of new nuances and flavours peppering the mix.


Talks of energy, atmosphere and connection all stem from anecdotes of being on stage, performing. “Realising you’re a 50 year-old man jumping around like a twat, you learn to play on your strengths. I’m no Brad Pitt, but you get what you get and plough on.” The savvy, streetwise lyrics and machismo that narrate working-class Northern culture would become far less compelling delivered without Williamson’s authenticity. Spare Ribs jabs an honest finger at the South, with tracks like Elocution spitting a sarcastic and bitter dig towards the upper classes. Detailing the impacts of the pandemic and Tory Britain from a Northern perspective, the bleakly poignant anecdotes of Thick Ear and Mork And Mindy drone over repetitive and effectively monotonous beats, casting a troubled portrait of a betrayed society. “Anarchy needs to exist,” he says, pondering on the current indie rock scene. “You have to be careful of it though, a voice from the North immediately becomes a representation of it.” A starry eyed Williamson recounts the sound of Manchester that inspired him, the “cool and edgy sounds” that bit back against the South and forged their own identity. “I think we’re lacking that now, we need teenagers to be writing music that gives the rest of us a voice.” An instant playfulness springs into his voice when he discusses the upcoming tour and the joys of live music. “That constant flow of exhibitionism is where I’m at my best, it’s where everything comes together. We’ve had 18 months off, who does that? This isn’t the 90s!” Sleaford Mods play O2 Academy, Newcastle on Wednesday 24th November




T-B, L-R: The First Year, Son of Monarchs, Kendra and Beth


CLAIRE DUPREE CHATS WITH FESTIVAL DIRECTOR LISA-MARIE TONELLI ABOUT THE EVENT WHICH PUTS INCLUSIVITY AND DIVERSITY AT ITS HEART With an admirable ethos of diverse, collaborative and inclusive programming, the North East International Film Festival takes place at venues in Newcastle from Thursday 18th-Sunday 21st November. Comprised of independent film screenings of both feature and short films, award-winning productions with Q&As with cast and crew, satellite screenings, networking events and free educational workshops and masterclasses, NEIFF more than delivers on its promise to be the place for film fans to discover new work from under-represented groups and communities, as well as encourage and promote the work of independent filmmakers. “When planning the NEIFF it was incredibly important to me to put together a diverse, collaborative and inclusive event and to include as wide a range of submission categories as possible as well as the standard categories.” Says festival director Lisa-Marie Tonelli. “These include more diverse categories aimed at groups or communities that may have been previously under-represented in the industry, such as Most Diverse Work, LGBTQ+, Student Films, North East Films, F-Rated to represent females or female identifying individuals in the industry, Low/No Budget Films and our Visible category which represents disability in all its forms.” The screening list is far too extensive to go into detail here, but highlights include the opening night screening of Ian McDonald’s The First Year, telling the inside story of Jamie Driscoll’s first 12 months as North of Tyne Mayor; dark comedy Kendra & Beth about the only female employee in the warehouse of a sausage factory; a Mexican biologist confronts his traumas in Son of Monarchs; meta-commentary film Anywhere But Here investigates wanting to go places and see new faces during the pandemic; Tim is a short which sits somewhere between Reservoir Dogs and Only Fools And Horses; short animation Everyone Has My Jacket looks at fashion and gender dysphoria; Tossers focuses on the Tynemouth Outdoor Swimmers; Angel weaves together stories about the unsung heroes and icons in the North East; and Byker Lion shares the story of


OUR MISSION IS TO CHALLENGE CURRENT FILM EXHIBITION CRITERIA AND PROTOCOLS TO ENSURE ACCESSIBILITY FOR ALL growing up in Byker, sprinkled with Geordie humour. Workshops covering subjects including indie virtual production and using game engines in filmmaking will take place at Northumbria University from Monday 15th November, a writers room will encourage creatives to come up with a film idea from nothing and storyline it, plus there will be acting masterclasses. The festival has already succeeded in many of its goals; it’s one of approximately 80 festivals around the world to adopt the F-Rating, representing females in film, and they’re the first ever film festival to sign up to the BBC 50/50 Equality Project, making a commitment to diversity, as well as the first festival to be awarded the Raising Films Ribbon for their efforts to create an inclusive and adaptable space for audiences as well as their own team. “At NEIFF our goal is to foster diversity, equity, inclusion and safety amongst not only our filmmakers and audience but also our leadership team. We wish to take the lead and set an example for existing and future film festivals. Our mission is to challenge current film exhibition criteria and protocols to ensure accessibility for all.” Lisa-Marie explains. “These goals must be achieved in order to truly encapsulate full representation on screen, behind the scenes and in the workplace. It is important to create an environment in which every individual can identify themselves and their heritage.” NEIFF takes place at Tyneside Cinema, Everyman Cinema, Culture Lab, The Biscuit Factory, Okana and Northumbria University from Thursday 18th-Sunday 21st November. Visit their website for full listings





Image by Kate Milne A little like a football team scoring early, an accolade arriving early into a musician’s career can often bring more pressure than was needed; whereas the musician was initially free to explore their identity without worry, now it can often feel like they have something to lose. Rising to the challenge, Sophia – who was tipped as one to watch for 2021 by BBC Introducing in the North East – sees off all potential pitfalls with the sparkling coming-of-age debut EP Hometown, released on 29th October. Leading with the folky title track, Hometown (the EP) is a collection of honest, often heartbreaking, pieces of music which pay no respect to any playing-it-safe impulses. “The EP’s a real push for me,” confirms Sophia when explaining her creative process for Hometown. “I’m trying to be really honest with the record and I’m trying to not hold anything back. Sometimes in life I feel like I try to put a ribbon on things, but I wanted these songs, and these stories, to be very very honest, very personal and very truthful.” Picked up over six folky, melodic pop-infused tracks, Hometown not only tells the artistic truth of Sophia, but it also pushes her into new sounds and new creative ventures. “I wrote four songs with Eddie Scott (Picnic/Write Your Song) which was a new experience for me, and in some ways felt a little like therapy; we’d sit and talk about situations and then slowly once we had a theme we might stop and I’d come up with the lyrics and then bring them back and we’d shape the songs more. I wanted to work on the lyrics alone in

I WANTED THESE SONGS TO BE VERY HONEST, VERY PERSONAL AND VERY TRUTHFUL most cases though, as I felt like I needed to do that my myself.” Turning the finished tracks into aural gold was another ace-in-thesleeve (and protector against all ‘hot tip curses’), producer Alfie Cattell (Moodbay), who brought extra support to the project. “I worked with Alfie to explain the sound I was going for and I totally believed in his judgement, which helps because when the songs are personal to you, and you’re trying to be honest, it can be hard to distance yourself from what you’ve written.” Taking the EP out on the road is the next step for Sophia, with a headline show at Newcastle’s Little Buildings on Friday 19th November being an immediate highlight. “Eddie’s going to be playing guitar and we have live bass and drums as well, so once we start rehearsing we’ll have a better idea of what we’ll be playing at the launch and how we will approach our live shows.” Looking for the type of creative growth that can spur her career forward, Sophia may well be picking up other accolades in the future, and she’ll be taking it all in her stride. Sophia releases Hometown on 29th October. She plays Little Buildings, Newcastle on Friday 19th November






Image by Olivia Richardson “It wasn’t supposed to be this long or this daft! The album was supposed to come out in August!” Rebecca Lucy Taylor is describing the extensive, colourful campaign that’s preceded her second record as Self Esteem, of which today’s press round forms the latest leg. It’s a process that’s brought months of photo shoots, TV appearances and interviews much like our own; a laborious, visibly draining process, yet one for which the Sheffield singer voices no complaints. “I do think you get your rewards if you work hard,” she states. “My desire to be seen is just so unbelievably strong, and I feel a lot more listened to this time around. I feel more important.” It helps, of course, that the record she’s promoting is anything but routine. At the time of writing, early responses to Prioritise Pleasure have been as joyous and unabashed as the songs themselves; hearts and minds firmly hooked through brazen, almost comically full-blooded pop ambitions and filter-free lyrical deep dives. If 2019’s Compliments Please represented a bold reinvention following her decade as one half of indie outfit Slow Club, Prioritise Pleasure is the sound of an artist coming into her own, cementing her status as a bona fide star for a liberated post-#MeToo age. “Self Esteem is about finally doing what I want, unchallenged,” Rebecca explains. “Putting myself first has come very late, but I’m enjoying the benefits of not having my wings clipped every day. I feel free enough to prioritise pleasure in a way that’s not out of necessity, but out of choice.” “I’ve figured out that communication is key across the board,” she continues. “I was in a band for a long time where the art was in misdirect and metaphor, whereas now everything’s concentrated like Robinsons juice. Because I’m sick of being misunderstood and not listened to, I want to be direct. Every single factor – the songs, the costumes, the PR – is an opportunity to say something. They all


MY DESIRE TO BE SEEN IS JUST SO UNBELIEVABLY STRONG, AND I FEEL A LOT MORE LISTENED TO THIS TIME AROUND. I FEEL MORE IMPORTANT come hand-in-hand as one unit of work. It’s something I’ve always wanted to do, an all-consuming multisensory experience. It doesn’t make sense to me not to use every platform I have.” Off the back of such an audacious, exuberant triumph, I wonder whether she’d occasionally prefer to focus on simpler matters – her soaring vocal abilities perhaps? Or the art of penning a banging chorus? “Oh I’d love to! But that’s just my lot. Me being able to sing is very, very far down the list at this point!” She concedes. “I always think about how Ed Sheeran just gets to talk about his songs and not sexual abuse…I’d like to discuss my music and how I make it, but I don’t mind that things get more political than that. Enough music is being made and enough singers are singing. I want to know what else they’re doing.” Moreover, the intense spotlight drawn by Prioritise Pleasure’s lengthy build-up and ecstatic release has served only to reinforce the record’s central message: “Things are getting better, but the inequality is still raging daily. The thing is, whenever somebody gives me shit on Instagram, comments on the way I look or others me to some lads with guitars now, I just think ‘You’re proving exactly why I do this. So, you know…Go for it!’” Self Esteem plays Wylam Brewery on Tuesday 2nd November. Prioritise Pleasure is out now




Chantal Herbert, aka DJ Awkward Black Girl by Amelia Read

KATE RELTON TALKS TO DETERMINED CHANGEMAKER AND POWERHOUSE ACTIVIST CHANTAL HERBERT ABOUT CHAMPIONING MARGINALISED COMMUNITIES AND THROWING A MASSIVE PARTY INTO THE BARGAIN Waiting for our video call to start, I start to get nervous. Navigating a pervasive cancel culture and the many labels that have arisen over the past few years, I’m keenly aware of my middle-class-straightwhite-woman status, so talking to a powerhouse activist like Chantal Herbert about gender, race and inclusivity suddenly feels incredibly intimidating. I shouldn’t have worried. Oozing passion and enthusiasm, chatting to Chantal left me inspired and hopeful for the future. Founder of feminist CIC Sister Shack, Chantal is a formidable force for change in the North East, championing marginalised communities and throwing a massive party while she’s at it! Ahead of Bend & Shake, a queer party taking place at World Headquarters on Friday 19th November, we talked about her career, what motivates her and her hope for a North East that’s safe for everyone. Borne out of a feeling of being ignored as a woman in the music industry, Chantal decided that she would make the change she wanted to see: ‘’I knew a male DJ who said that women could probably be more successful, but they don’t try as hard. They don’t put themselves out there enough. He ran a festival every year but never hired women to do sets. And I thought, well screw you, I’m going to do something.’’ Living in the North East for nearly 20 years, she says that things are changing, but it’s not enough helping one marginalised community


while excluding others. ‘‘It’s just backwards,’’ she says. ‘’Newcastle has so far to go compared to other cities. There’s a hell of a lot of gatekeeping in the North East.’’ With a background supporting marginalised communities from asylum seekers to domestic abuse survivors, Chantal has taken these experiences and created a community where everyone is welcome: ‘’There needs to be some kind of shift and I’m going to make it my priority, hence why Bend & Shake is happening. It’s a space for everyone who feels like there’s something that they’re missing up here. It’s run and promoted by women and non-binary people of colour, which is something you don’t see in the North East at all.’’ She’s fiercely passionate about accessibility and equality, with a number of tickets kept aside for anyone who’s struggling: ‘’If you contact me and can’t afford to come, I have a guestlist and you’ll be able to come. I think that’s just the basics of humanity, you know?’’ With a handful of events coming up before the end of 2021, Chantal says she’s busier than ever, but Sister Shack is a labour of love. ‘’I’ve thought about closing it hundreds of times. Then I’ll get a message saying something I posted really helped someone, and I’m like, ‘okay this is why I do it’.’’ Chantal has a rare combination of fiery determination and genuine warmth which is infectious and entirely disarming. In a culture where we’re discouraged from voicing our opinions for fear of being cancelled or shamed, changemakers like her are exactly what the world needs to move forwards. Bend & Shake featuring DJ Miss Mixtape, Bandit, DJ Awkward Black Girl, DJ Hollie and more takes place at World Headquarters, Newcastle on Friday 19th November





DAMIAN ROBINSON FINDS OUT ABOUT THE EVOLUTION OF CONRAD MCQUEEN’S NEW COLLABORATIVE ALBUM Released last summer, Phase IV, the debut single by trip-hop supergroup The Last of the Fallen Angels, had more than a sense of perfect timing. Feeling like the ultimate soundtrack to a period of uncertainty and confusion, Phase IV was dark, menacing and highly artistic; the weight of its production and content sparking serious fan and industry attention and leading to many ‘what’s next’ conversations. What’s next, as it happens, is debut album Radio Babylon, a down-tempo masterpiece held together like an imaginary radio show, released this month. Matching a variety of electronic textures with a broad spectrum of collaborators, Radio Babylon pushes the darkness of Phase IV into new spaces, including the Spiritualizedesque string-laden heartbreak beauty of Ocean and the Blackstar-era Bowie feel of Orpheus. Fronting the collective, chief Angel Conrad McQueen talks of the unit as being “a collaboration project where I work with singers and musicians from all around the world to produce music that is thought provoking, fun and experimental. A recent feature said I was the dark glue that holds it together and I quite liked that.” Collaborators include Peter Hook, who helped turn the Angels from their conceived Phase IV stage into a full-blown art project: “Peter Hook produced a single for me a few years ago and we kept in


touch. After the success of the debut single, I was talking to Hooky about doing a Fallen Angels album in aid of Musicians Against Homelessness and he was really happy to get involved. He co-wrote and plays bass guitar on Kisses. With Hooky on board, I decided to approach some of my other musical heroes – Rowetta (Happy Mondays) and Brinsley Forde (Aswad) and other amazing singers and collaborators from New Jersey USA, Sweden, Ireland, Liverpool, Manchester and in the North East.” Stacking up with music legend Simon Ellis (Spice Girls, Westlife, Britney Spears) on production duties, the next step was to take the collective pieces and create a full album concept, something that was supported by the insertion of DJs talking between songs. “So many DJs have supported me by playing my music, it was nice to ask them to record a few words and give the album a theme that runs through it. ‘You’re listening to Radio Babylon!’”. The introduction of strong music videos has also set the project apart. “I definitely see LOTFA as a full audio-visual piece, and had a clear idea of the look and sound of The Fallen Angels from its inception.” LOTFA will be touring the album with a few live shows, which will also feature singers Mark Dickinson and Victoria Owsnett as regular collaborators, which Conrad enthuses makes playing live much easier and more fun. He’s also already generating new ideas for future projects, and it’s clear that the Angels might last for quite some time. The Last Of The Fallen Angels release Radio Babylon on 30th November.

rehearsals £12ph recording £20ph

0191 265 3879





Billy Nomates by Victoria Wai

BILLY NOMATES, BULL @ THE CLUNY, NEWCASTLE (07.10.21) Words: Ali Welford Without a live reputation to speak of prior to last year’s word-of-mouth breakthrough, to attend Billy Nomates’ debut tour is to witness an artist fully, finally unleashed. Tor Maries may only have 45-odd minutes of material between her fabulous eponymous full-length and last Spring’s follow-up Emergency Telephone EP, yet this virtuoso has no interest in padding things out. Indeed, once logged into her laptop (which, atop a small table, is her sole stage companion), this sold-out show is an exercise in relentless, barnstorming intensity; a fierce, frenetic pitch from a newcomer evidently determining she’s everything to prove and nothing to lose. It’s a remarkable thing to witness – a slickly rehearsed series of transitions delivered with thrilling, breakneck spontaneity; a formidable act where pulsing A-grade tunes as assertive as No and Heels are lent a whole new physicality through Maries’ impulsive, stage-busting dance moves. It’s an outstanding, one-of-a-kind performance, and one that’s all but impossible to adequately open for, but that doesn’t prevent York quintet Bull from giving it a mightily good go. An outfit who’ve improved considerably across their numerous sojourns North, this showcase of recent album Discover Effortless Living positions itself at the poppier end of the Pixies-indebted indie rock spectrum, though not at the expense of ramshackle edges or affable DIY charm. An impassioned warm-up which may well have turned a few heads.

MAX FOSH @ THE STAND, NEWCASTLE (11.10.21) Words: Cameron Wright Before even stepping on stage, Max Fosh establishes his YouTube credentials by offering £10,000 to an audience member with the best party trick. With a sign listing silly and endearing talents, the goofiness of the night has already begun. As Fosh runs onto stage, he kicks his Newcastle stand-up debut into gear. After quickly blasting through an overview of his various YouTube videos, to clue in the uninitiated, Fosh instantly begins interacting with his audience. As the night unfolds, there is a candour and comfort in Fosh’s rapport with the


crowd, as he pauses his own act to continue his pursuit of finding THE best party trick. At times this may have felt like a man trying to fill up his time slot, as actual routines were replaced by a woman singing Thomas The Tank Engine, yet Fosh still kept the show flowing and kept the atmosphere positive. The entire set felt a little like a road trip, with the end destination planned and the bags packed, but without any idea which roads to use and with little gas in the tank. Max Fosh provided an easygoing, whimsical night that although may not have been a polished stand-up routine, still showed a man trying something new, taking a risk and challenging himself, and for that I can only applaud.

ADAM BUXTON: RAMBLES @ TYNE THEATRE & OPERA HOUSE, NEWCASTLE (13.10.21) Words: Cameron Wright Somewhat aimlessly, Adam Buxton meandered onto the stage, baseball cap awry and sporting a pair of daring shorts. After rattling through the housekeeping rules of the night, Buxton leaps into a peculiar little song addressing the aforementioned shorts, before regaining composure and finishing up the final rules and etiquettes of the night. Flitting between very colloquial discussions on the smaller details of life, obscure musical outbursts and comedy routines, to long, meandering yet personal extracts from his book, I’m not too sure what Adam Buxton: Rambles was supposed to be, and I’m not sure he knew either. The whole show felt extremely reliant on the surplus of charisma Buxton exuded from the moment he stepped on stage. The overly relaxed yet effortlessly affable and inviting energy of the comic glued together the abstract segments of the night and gave the audience a reason to tolerate the borderline slapdash approach to the night. While the show may have fallen victim to a certain “it’ll be alright on the night” mentality, Buxton turned an evening that may have otherwise felt under-rehearsed into something warm and homely. The rough around the edges performance felt almost key to the night’s success, as the book’s both hilarious and poignant reflections revolve heavily around themes of imperfection, learning and adapting.


Nick Cave & Warren Ellis image by Thomas Jackson, SO.CO

NICK CAVE & WARREN ELLIS @ SAGE GATESHEAD (24.09.21) Words: Michael O’Neill Nick Cave and Warren Ellis need little introduction, with their recent output (2019’s Ghosteen and this year’s Carnage) offering an awe-inspiring testament to the sheer creative power at their mercy (this is reinforced by the fact that a mere quarter of the evening’s setlist predates Ghosteen). For this tour, the duo have traded the infamous Bad Seeds for the powerful, evocative harmonies of vocalists T Jae Cole, Janet Rasmus and Wendy Cole, as well as multi-instrumentalist Johnny Hostile (providing bass, drums and keys). This minimalistic line-up (especially by Cave’s standards,) brilliantly serves the sonic world of this body of work, with Ellis’ sparse synthesiser-drone led arrangements offering a glorious bed for some of Cave’s most introspective and accomplished songwriting. It translated brilliantly to the more intimate (again, by Cave’s standards) surroundings of Sage Gateshead’s Hall One, with these ecstatic hymns of grief and acceptance becoming almost trance-inducing in their weight and beauty in a live context, standing toe-to-toe with the classics that have sealed his reputation as one of the greatest songwriters of our time. All in all, the evening offered indisputable evidence that Cave is an artist who is still at the peak of his powers, discontent to rest on his laurels. Whilst many of his peers have surrendered themselves to the nostalgia circuit, Cave continues to push the boundaries of songcraft to serve his vision, and for as long as Ellis is by his side, he will continue to be a boundless, fearless, unstoppable force of sheer power.

FONTAINES DC @ O2 CITY HALL, NEWCASTLE (17.10.21) Words: Cameron Wright Early January 2020, Fontaines DC came to Newcastle to promote their debut Dogrel, the atmosphere was lively and the band scurried through their cluster of hits before retiring for the night. There were sparks of brilliance there, yet the fresh-faced group felt unsure of themselves, overwhelmed by the lights and the sounds. Marching on to the stage with a cocksure swagger in 2021, the Fontaines DC that performed at City Hall felt like a completely different experience. Any weariness has been purged from the system as each member of the band berated their instruments, whisking the audience into a manically swarming frenzy.

Frontman Grian Chatten commanded the stage with a presence that dwarfed his own from a mere year previous. Prowling around in a sea of sound, his every action seemed to thrust the crowd into an uproar, as Chatten’s pained vocals howled over instrumentation that grew more dynamic and belligerent with every song. With thunderous drums anchoring each track perfectly, each member of the band was firmly locked into their performance, while jumping into opportunities of pandemonium and adrenaline. With every concert of Fontaines DC, their power, confidence and colour only grow more impressive. Tonight the audience were caught perfectly in their web of noise and for a moment it seemed like the rising stars of punk were almost enjoying it.

BEABADOOBEE, MAC WETHA @ NEWCASTLE UNIVERSITY STUDENTS’ UNION Words: Jason Jones Beatrice Laus, or beabadoobee to you and I, exudes the kind of rare, understated charisma that can’t be feigned. Not one for spotlight-hogging histrionics or the garishness of kitschy gimmicks, instead the Dirty Hit wunderkind leans heavily on an astute instinct for hummable earworms and a voice brimming with seraphic grace as she whips the basement of Newcastle University SU into a pleasing frenzy on this brisk Saturday night. First up though, is Mac Wetha. Kind of like a newborn wearing dentures, the 22-year-old’s set has more teeth than you might expect, and even if his fleeting cameo is a bit of a Frankenstein’s monster, there’s enough promise here to suggest that once he finds his groove, the earnestly chipper scamp could be destined for big things. As for beabadoobee, the euphoric buzz with which she’s met would suggest that she won’t be playing intimate venues like this for too much longer. Her distinct brand of bubblegum grunge, spliced with an ample dash of college rock, is both endearing and candid, and zeniths like She Plays Bass and Worth It are electrifying snapshots of a star on the rise. By the time she returns to the stage for a thunderously-demanded encore, the atmosphere is one of simmering exultation, and the one-two punch of dreamy breakout hit Coffee and thumping recent single Cologne are enough to leave things spilling into the stratosphere.



Plastic Mermaids by Tracy Hyman

PLASTIC MERMAIDS, MAJA LENA @ THE GEORGIAN THEATRE, STOCKTON (18.10.21) Words: Tracy Hyman A favourite amongst Teessiders, the Isle of Wight’s Plastic Mermaids came back to their second home to receive a true Northern welcome. Maja Lena opened the show to a hushed audience, pin drop silent, to catch her beautiful voice. Delicate and otherworldly, her vocals float over the notes of folk guitar like a bird gently soaring to the highest notes and back. A true delight. A darkened stage beckons the Plastic Mermaids onstage one by one. Favourites old and new come blended together with their wondrous array of electronic instruments, a playground of sonic delights painting their songs across the airwaves towards the audience’s ears. Alaska’s lilting falsetto vocal was ethereal and poignant, layered up with guitar, piano and bass, building to a wall of sound with pedal effects, synth and megaphone. Disco Wings has a raw quality live, a funky bassline and guitar with energy and drive, an indulgent instrumental section, before a pause and a reprise, instruments collectively stop and restart with perfect timing. It’s infectious. The band are clearly loving playing live again and it is such a joy to see. A final song, Yoyo, and a sing-along to make the hairs on the back of your neck tingle, the union of band and listener, creator and devourer of sound. A special night.

OPUS KINK, TRAVIS SHAW, UNDIVINE TELEPHONELINE @ BASE CAMP, MIDDLESBROUGH (30.09.21) Words: Steve Spithray Midweek traffic aside, catching the end of Teesside’s chaotic young lo-fi punks Undivine Telephoneline and then astral folker Travis Shaw, is as good an advert as any for getting down early. The former’s Walt and Too Cool To Pay My Driver leaving the audience both delighted and bemused while Travis’ set is equally spellbinding. However, Brighton’s Opus Kink are the real deal tonight for fans of Dexys, The Coral and Fat White Family, trumpets, ill-fitting suits and paperclip earrings. Snarling frontman Angus channels the spirits of Elvis and Dale Barclay, while


a gaggle of merry pranksters behind him rattle through a pitch-black jazz punk odyssey of hillbilly folk tales told at blistering pace. Mosquito is built around an infectious riff, fed through a vintage sampler, with a huge, mangled chorus and everything is a little to the left of the field with an Opus Kink show. An air of barely concealed ugliness surrounds them, their music is third wave ska in essence but similarly, barely recognisable from its post-punk origins. A two-tone vibe is accentuated by an orchestrated drum solo that sees Angus and trumpeter Johnny in amongst the crowd before Wild Bill and This Train (with its immediately iconic “streets of London” refrain) round things off, the latter of which could well become their Ghost Town. Ones to watch for sure.

SIMON AMSTELL @ TYNE THEATRE & OPERA HOUSE Words: Cameron Wright Bashfully stepping on to the stage, Simon Amstell seems at once both disarmingly sheepish yet at ease as he takes a moment to soak up the applause, before playing with the audience, easing them in to a night of damming, self-effacing anecdotes that only grow more fiendishly degrading and mortifying as the show progresses. Famed for his acerbic and vicious wit on Never Mind The Buzzcocks, the Amstell on stage tonight is a far more introspective and overwrought presence as he shines a light on the worries and tribulations that he has battled over the past few years. As insecurities of age, love and parenthood all stem from innocent one liners, Amstell nurtures each throwaway remark until it blossoms into a thorough examination of pain and anxiety. As the show evolves from the tragically relatable, Amstell affably reminds us of his fame and success, retelling stories of his travels across America and his experience with a series of healing, hallucinogenic plants. Here, the show flies into a litany of elated epiphanies, that deliberately titter along the line of profound and preposterous. As the show reaches its conclusion, a full journey has been complete. Your sides hurt from laughter and your heart is warmed, even if the message of the show isn’t as rich or nuanced as it perhaps intended.




Electric Circus – Don’t Need

Epitomising gloriously modern hard rock, Newcastle four-piece Electric Circus have broken out onto the scene with their debut track, Don’t Need. From beginning to end, this song holds nothing back, pinned down by a rock solid drum line. Muted strings reload in anticipation of the song ahead, bulky bass grooves in, and all is let loose with fiery electric guitars and energy-fuelled vocals.

Aaron Dinning – I Hope That Things Get Better

i hope that things get better is an honest, solemn, and yet optimistic song about grief, written shortly after the passing of his father. Aaron Dinning, aged just 18, helped himself through this difficult time by writing a set of pieces on the theme, and chose this Taylor Swift-inspired track to release as his debut. Looking back on his experience of his father as an imperfect human being, Aaron reflects on bittersweet memories of holidays in America and the flawed everyday, remembering him for who he really was. This sentiment is perfectly embodied by the song’s pre-chorus: “When you fucked up / and I fucked up / and we fucked up together”. Accompanied by acoustic guitar, Aaron’s debut is heart-warming and mellow in every way.

Nine Banks – Innocent

Should you be a fan of such classic early-2000s pop punk bands as Blink-182 or Fall Out Boy, Nine Banks, with their debut single, Innocent, may well be for you. Recorded in guitarist Lewis Foster’s spare

A perfect concoction of classic and contemporary rock, it’s in some ways reminiscent of The Raconteurs and Eurovision winners Måneskin, Electric Circus’ short and not-so-sweet single is not a release to be ignored – and, having only formed earlier this year and already bringing their sound to shows around the North East – the band are also to watch out for.

room and featuring all the quintessential ingredients of the paradigm of pop punk, Innocent is an explosion of upbeat riffs, synth earworms and stories of vodka lemonades in the summer. Lively, bouncy, and true to the tradition of old-school pop punk, the Sunderland band bear keeping an eye out for on the live circuit.

Yung Lotus – Come Back To Me

Sunderland hip-hop artist Yung Lotus’s neon light shines again with the release of another track, Come Back To Me. Written after falling asleep in the studio after a hard day’s work and inspired by the dream that ensued, in which he found himself having been forgotten about by everyone who knew him, Come Back To Me takes on a wavy, spaced-out vibe. Synth-saturated, almost alien sounds and vocals create an unearthly psychedelic aura, amplified by off-beat hip-hop drums, building a sensory scene in which to absorb oneself, maintaining the style of previous releases like Saint Laurent and Spazzin’ Out as Yung Lotus continues to define his brand as an artist.

Joe Middleton – Azreal Joe Middleton, a talented artist from Sunderland, has spent the last year working with the Young Musicians Project, creating pieces and, more recently, performing them in venues around the area. Dubbed a potential Mackem Rufus Wainwright, Middleton’s track Azreal demonstrates his skill as a jazz composer. Rolling, extended piano chords establish a dreamlike, contemplative atmosphere, encapsulating the listener and carrying them gently through the song. Though lacking a steady pulse, aiding the piece’s ethereal ambience, it is sustained by steadier double bass underneath, accompanied by soft drums in the background. Middleton’s soothing vocals melt into the melodies of the piano, the lyrics depicting themes of angels, referencing “My Lucifer” - the song being named after the Islamic angel of death. Pleasant, pensive and poignant. wmcyoungmusiciansproject



CHARLIE LAYZELL FT FIRESITES HOW IT FEELS Words: Jake Anderson It’s important for an artist to evolve their sound. Which is a lot easier said than done - just ask Kid Cudi. However, it’s something that the North East’s Charlie Layzell has pulled off flawlessly. If I had only listened to Layzell’s newest track, How It Feels, without prior knowledge of Layzell, I’d have assumed the Newcastle rapper was a grunge singer. The rock instrumentation on How It Feels is different compared to Layzell’s usual lo-fi beats, bringing elements from hip-hop into the song’s structure, making it feel fresh and contemporary. The vocals from Layzell and electronic artist Firesites complement each other like butter to toast, creating captivating atmosphere when partnered alongside the track’s charming guitar riffs, and there are surprises aplenty. Released: 05.11.21

KRISTOS KABIOTIS HERE, AND THERE Words: Hope Lynes A sense of nostalgic longing overwhelms Kristos Kabiotis’ debut single, a nostalgia that is both melancholy and joyful. Rooted in memories of visiting family abroad, the lyrics tell an emotive story of spending time with and leaving loved ones that is full of fondness and pain. The instrumentals feel foggy in their production, which creates a blurred soundscape that adds to the process of recalling memories. The instruments become blended with the vocals, resulting in beautiful layers of emotion; a softly atmospheric folk track which is reminiscent of Mazzy Star’s Fade Into You, the format works great for the message Kabiotis is putting across. Kabiotis plays Sea Change, a charity-run venue in South Shields, on Saturday 20th November. Released: 19.11.21



DANICA DARES SIREN Words: Lizzie Lovejoy If Enya made a sci-fi soundtrack with Jean-Michel Jarre, you might end up with Danica Dares’ new single Siren. Opening with a fast, synthetic sound, there is something 80’s about this composition. Harriet McBain’s ghostly vocals echo over the top, pulling you into the story and holding you captive with repetitive and eerie lyrics. Danica Dares does a brilliant job of creating an atmosphere that is both haunting and yet somehow warmly inviting, ethereal and ominous. Using tales of the mythical Siren, they are able to create parallels between feminine powers of the ancient world and the strength of women of today, particularly with the unexpected use of a monologue breakdown in the second half of the track. FFO of Gothic 80’s synth. Released: 29.10.21

DON COYOTE PUT DOWN THE PHONE Words: Evie Lake Friend fatigue is a commonality that characterises our social lives; relationships can turn sour, toxic, and unsalvageable. Enter: Put Down The Phone, Don Coyote’s latest single and celebration of the relief you can feel once you have hung up on such people. The sunny electric guitar and active bassline establish a familiar and bright indie rock tune – their feelings become ours, and we can bop along to them together. After working through emotive and introspective verses and choruses, the culmination of the song breaks down into a joyous repetition of “I don’t like you anymore’ and “put down the fucking phone”: a release of positivity and relief. Life is already better, and there is a flurry of echoing backing vocals to affirm. Released: 18.11.21

ROUNDHØUSE CIRCLES Words: Jay Moussa-Mann ROUNDHØUSE, AKA Ian Thompson, releases the title track Circles from his upcoming album, Halcyon. A nostalgic take on 90’s electronic house music, Circles refreshes the classic hypnotic club beat, allowing strangely electrifying ear candy to bubble up alongside the occasional hit from retro keys. The track manages to paint a picture of the 90’s club scene while staying equally calm and peaceful. An understated, clever piece of work where rising sounds used early on reminiscent of a crowd chanting are mirrored by a real crowd towards the end of the track. Created in his woodland recording studio set in the Scottish Borders, the Scottish producer hints at a world before Insta moments; a throwback to a time now seemingly lost. The beat changes and the club moves on. Released: 05.11.21

SEBASTENELLI FEAT. CRAIG LYNCH POUR IT UP Words: Jay Moussa-Mann Newcastle born artist Sebastenelli brings us a standout hip-hop single, Pour It Up. Distinct in its style and sound, the track blends R&B and rap to create an addictive hook. Something about Pour It Up makes it very unique, from the surprising use of guitar riffs to syncopated beats, but mainly it’s Sebastenelli’s instantly memorable vocals, a beautiful voice that perfectly skims words like a pebble across water. Silver delivery with a wonderfully satisfying verbal flow over a writhing beat and bass line, the track features Craig Lynch (New Jersey) who complements Sebastenelli’s weighted tones with an equally strong if slightly brighter vocal rap line. This is the first single from Sebastenelli’s second EP released with Lindon Entertainment, due in December. Released: 06.12.21

MATTHEW JAMESON TRACK 1 Words: Michael O’Neill This enthralling taster of the Sunderland-based electronic musician Matthew Jameson’s upcoming Mercy of Memory LP is a swelling sea of sound, with oscillating pads and twisting melodies weaving in and out of one another over the span of a sprawling eleven minutes. Upon a bedrock of ambient hiss, Jameson carefully crafts a soundscape of white noise, modal leads and melodic phrases which gradually wash over each other to create a vivid abstract portrait of sound, before collapsing into a Disintegration Loops-esque coda in which they all gradually dissolve and deteriorate into distorted dust. Throughout the duration of the track, Jameson’s deft command of tension and release coalesce to form an engrossing and refreshing experience in electronic sound. Released: 19.11.21

E-MENCE I WON’T BE HERE TOO LONG EP Words: Michael O’Neill Fresh from a run of ten singles, I Won’t Be Here Too Long is a sprawling four-track collection from the enigmatic solo artist, whose singular brand of trap-hop takes the conventions of heart-on-sleeve melodic emo and marries it to 808-heavy, slipped beats. The artist considers the EP to be a song cycle regarding their own personal battles with their mental health, and this is writ large in the frank and uncompromising lyricism and the expressive beats which favour minor-key guitar arpeggios and pensive melancholic piano, alongside the harsh waves of percussion and synth bass. It’s an incredibly raw, enthralling, earnest and fresh statement from a singular artist who is unafraid to express themselves without compromise and without fear of being misunderstood. Released: 08.11.21

PRESIDENT WONDER Words: Luke Waller Since winning a national Battle of the Bands and thereby a deal with Island Records, culminating in the release of their 1987 debut party pop track European Summer, Middlesbrough band President have existed in numerous incarnations. But here they are, nearly 35 years later, with the release of a new song, Wonder, and a new album, Haight Street To Mirror Lake. Wonder may seem something of a far cry from European Summer, with its folky, emotive sound, harmonised vocals and ascending grandeur throughout – featuring the slightest touch of a Simon and Garfunkel-esque sound. Yet similarities are still to be found with previous material; a high-tempo beat fades in as the song ramps up, and the anthemic quality remains, though backed by orchestral sounds rather than 80s synth. Released: 12.11.21

TINO JOHNSON LIVE AT FACTORY ROAD EP Words: Luke Waller Live at Factory Road, a five-track EP by Newcastle electric blues duo Tino Johnson was recorded live at Sound Inc studios in Blaydon, and is filled from head to toe with dirty, grungy blues riffs. Backed by the thunder and swing of drum lines throughout, and fronted by biting vocals, tracks such as Blues (As The Devil Intended) and the up-tempo rocker Nochevieja, provide a place for Tino Johnson’s inspirations of old-school blues, hard rock and psychedelia to intermingle, catalysed by the sullied sound of slide guitar. Whilst Portrait In Black, the penultimate song, has more than a whiff of stoner metal about it, other parts of the EP are far bluesier, with a soupçon of faux naïf guitar lines à la White Stripes. Released: 05.11.21

WAX HEART SODALITY I WOULD LIKE YOUR FACE Words: Kate Murphy The fourth single from Wax Heart Sodality is another atmospheric, self-assured and moody piece of aural cinema. It’s wonderfully self-contained and perfectly preserved, as if they’ve been kept inside a jar for the last year, with plenty to give to you if you just open the lid. With a pop and a twist they’re into the air, filling it like thick, creamy smoke. They’re a portal to another world, with ghostly harmonies and dark lead vocals that drift low along the ground like Joy Division before them. Once they’re out of that jar, they’re never going back in: the track ramps up to a kind of steel worker paradise, all sparks and cries, and guitars like slow-motion chainsaws. Go and get swallowed up in it. Released: 12.11.21

FOLLOW HOME BEYOND THE RIVER Words: Kate Murphy This is a caring tribute to James Crozer, a reclusive, benevolent chemist who worked in Victorian Newcastle, and Joe Barton’s debut solo release follows in Crozer’s footsteps, with all of its proceeds going to The People’s Kitchen. Of the very few possessions he was found to have in his cottage when he died in 1888, some were musical boxes, and this humble and thoughtful instrument leads the piece. It is a near six-minute walk through somewhere quietly colourful and completely peaceful, joined by lamenting strings. The strings slowly break away at the end of the piece to leave that simple, rotating twinkle on its own, a gentle flicker of light, like the flames of the candles that lit the never-shuttered windows in Crozer’s Clayton Street chemists. Released: 15.11.21


2nd-5th December

Stewart Park, Middlesbrough A curious feast of colour and an illuminated adventure to the end of the rainbow. A family friendly light trail of beautiful art works with music, performance, storytelling and magical moments. To sign up to mailing list and buy tickets visit: 58



4/5 Image by Mia Mala McDonald


Words: Luke Waller Things Take Time, Take Time – even the album’s name offers different possible interpretations to leave you pondering amongst your thoughts for longer than you expected. But this is typical of Courtney Barnett, whose every other line seems to have this effect. Her third album outstrips its predecessors; revealing a more personal, more vulnerable and more tender portrayal of the artist than ever before. By 2019, Barnett found herself at the end of the cycle of her last album, Tell Me How You Really Feel, tired of life and close to burnout. It was clear that things needed shaking up. In order to do this, she decided to take a little time out back in her native Australia, collaborate with long-time friend Stella Mozgawa, and thereby find a new perspective on songwriting and everyday life. It was this atmosphere in which Things Take Time, Take Time was conceived – and it’s clearly audible, especially when juxtaposed with its antecedent. Musically, this latest release is something of a departure from Courtney’s past two albums. For the most part, it lacks the punky bite of songs such as Elevator Operator and Pedestrian At Best from her 2015 debut album, and is far more uplifting than Tell Me How You Really Feel. More subtle and restrained, the album is also perhaps more sophisticated, perfectly weaving together acoustic and electric guitars on songs such as the single Before You Gotta Go, and contrasting synthetic sounding drum machines, pure piano chords, strangled grungy guitar and Courtney’s genuine and unrefined vocal style on tracks such as Turning Green. In ten songs, Courtney delves down to the deepest depths of the psyche, digging up the formidable effect of the little things. From the album’s opening song and first single, Rae Street, an acoustic ode to the triflings – whether good, bad, or bittersweet – of daily modern life, through to Oh The Night, a melancholic piano-centred piece about nights that last too long, her songs almost hit too close to home. It’s this piercing perceptiveness, alongside Barnett’s unique brand of nigh-on musical observational comedy, which remains present since the early days of Avant Gardener, that makes this album a classic in waiting. Released: 12.11.21

ALSO OUT THIS MONTH Converge – Bloodmoon: I (Epitaph Records, 19.11) // FUR – When You Walk Away (777 Music, 05.11) // Palm Ghosts – The Lost Frequency (Ice Queen Records, 19.11) // Mira Calix – absent origin (Warp, 05.11) // Joan As Police Woman/Tony Allen/Dave Okumu – The Solution Is Restless (PIAS, 05.11) // Joel Vandroogenbroeck – Far View (Coloursound, 12.11) // Chris Liebing – Another Day (Mute, 19.11) // Hard Feelings – S/T (Domino, 05.11) // Callum Easter – System (Moshi Moshi, 19.11) // Curse of Lono – People In Cars (Submarine Cat Records, 19.11) // HOO – We Shall Never Speak (Big Potato, 19.11) // Marconi Union – Signals (Just Music, 05.11) // Union Of Knives – Endless From The Start (Three Hands Records, 12.11) // O’Connell & Love – Will You Be There? (Mountmellick Music, 26.11) // People Years – XIV (Cornelius Chapel Records, 05.11) // Foxx Bodies – Vixen (Kill Rock Stars, 05.11) // Penelope Isles – Which Way To Happy (Bella Union, 05.11) // Cedric Noel – Hang Time (Joyful Noise, 12.11) // Holm – Why Don’t You Dance (PNKSLM Recordings, 12.11) // Daydream Club – All Our Born Days (Poco Poco Records, 05.11)

Words: Robin Webb Our very own Geordie troubadour has collaborated with Finnish prog metallers Circle, unveiling a right bobby dazzler that’s both unique and genuine. The mutual admiration felt by both parties for each other has resulted in a heartfelt and luscious organic union where each track, named after historically important plants, nurtures into precious multi-faceted seeds that as a whole become a glorious bloom. Like no other metal release heard before, it’s eminently greater, a progressive folk-inspired genre-hopping opus that not only enhances Richard Dawson’s understated vocals but intensifies his delivery and intent. Lead track Lily’s video remarkably features Steve Davis on the green baize as a surprisingly haunting counterpoint to lyrics of ghostly visions at the RVI. Brilliant! Released: 26.11.21

5/5 IDLES CRAWLER (PARTISAN) Words: Conor Roy Idles fourth LP Crawler is a bold and brash, career-spanning record from the Bristol punk giants. Lifting sounds from their first EP right through to 2020’s single filled smash Ultra Mono, Crawler is full of mosh pit starters, soulful groovers and emotional deep cuts as Joe Talbot, shouts, sings and croons his way through the 14 tracks. With world renowned producer Kenny Beats at the helm, the distortions are harsher and the lows are lower, as Talbot uses aggression as a force for good exploring trauma, addiction and recovery. Standouts include grindcore epic Wizz, foot stomper The Wheel and decidedly unhinged, Death Grips-esque anthem Car Crash, all forming parts of a tapestry that’s as rich as it is raw. Released: 12.11.21









Words: Mark Corcoran-Lettice After a series of records which found Emma Ruth Rundle pushing her strain of gothic Americana to heavier, denser places (reaching an apex with her excellent recent collaboration with sludge metal giants Thou), Engine Of Hell is a dramatic reversal that also magnifies the underlying strengths and thematic concerns of her songwriting. Ditching full band guitar arrangements for a set of subdued, primarily piano-driven songs, Engine Of Hell is at once her most conventionally melodic release yet confrontational in its starkness and candour: see the way the opening Return slides away from catharsis to murmured sing-speak, or how Body delves into childhood trauma by way of Emily Dickinson. As hushed as this album is, there’s something primal and purgative at its core and the way it finds Rundle burying preconceptions and past selves to clear a path forward. Released: 05.11.21

Words: Mark Corcoran-Lettice Recorded in one day at the start of 2021, Open The Gates is the sound of one of the best groups working in music today (on one of the best labels out there, no less) reacting to and embracing tumult, chaos and possibility, maintaining the communal ethos that has fuelled them whilst casting their scope further. The increased role of synthesisers on pieces like Keys To Creation and the side-spanning epic Water Meditation might be the headline change, but the increased exploration of space within their playing and the bold post-bop melodicism found on tracks like Lágrimas Del Mar, makes this expansive collection perhaps their most accessible studio release whilst retaining the fire, fury and poetic might of their live show. Released: 12.11.21

Words: Paul Broadhead Valentine, the title track of Lindsey Jordan’s sophomore record, lands like a wrecking ball with a triumphant chorus, hitting a high that the rest of the record never really flirts with, but never really tries to either. This is a more reflective collection, chronicling Jordan’s stint in rehab on the sassy Ben Franklin and the heartbreak of a lost lover on the delicate, folky, Mia. Still only 20-years-old, much of Valentine was conceived during that rehab stint without instruments, Jordan tabulating by memory the arrangements on the likes of the synth-heavy Madonna and Forever (Sailing) which bubbles along nicely, avoiding the more troubled waters of the mournful acoustic guitar of c. et al. All-in-all, an understated triumph. Released: 05.11.21







Words: Elodie A. Roy Abdullah Ibrahim’s solo recital was recorded live at the Hirzinger Hall in South Germany, sometime during lockdown. The octogenarian South African pianist, almost alone in the concert hall, is playing for no one in particular – or perhaps for the absent ones. What is the most striking is the joyous, radiant loveliness infusing each of the twenty tracks – these are dreamy yet never unfocused, soulful without being sentimental, and beautiful in a plain, unadorned way. Ibrahim repeats patterns and fragments from old compositions, getting entirely absorbed in their repetition – to the point of disappearing. But the threat of disappearance makes the performance all the more poignant. And if music is time, Solotude gently suggests it is also timelessness – the quiet knowledge that beauty always survives itself. Released: 26.11.21


Words: Lee Hammond As with so many records of the present, the effects of the pandemic are evident in The Future. Tracks like Survivor and I’m On Your Side resonate with a bleak period that has affected so many. Nonetheless, this latest offering maintains Rateliff’s soulful Americana sound and both opening track The Future and Love Don’t channel his more upbeat nature. The true depth of The Future, though, shines with impassioned tracks like Oh, I and Face Down In The Moment, setting this record apart. Rateliff’s heartfelt tones come alive when the instrumentation is stripped away, particularly on Oh, I. The Future demonstrates a step up in class for Rateliff, with soulful grooves evident throughout, it feels effortless. An exceptional record. Released: 05.11.21

Words: Damian Robinson Opening with two pop bangers, Timing and Lie to Myself, Liverpool’s Zuzu sets a real statement of intent on her long-playing debut. Filled with well-produced, guitar-based dance pop tunes, Zuzu’s central strength is her ability to be completely open and brave, not only in her deeply reflective lyrics, but also in her choice to sing in her native Scouse accent; a performance choice that works perfectly to reflect a young artist standing up and saying “this is me, this is who I am”. Highlights Lie To Myself and Bevy Head showcase an artist who works best inside of upbeat pop compositions supported by Charli XCX style nods to the dancefloor. Punk in the way that it shows an honest profile of the artist, and pop in terms of its sound, this is great. Released: 12.11.21








Words: Damian Robinson Whilst the electronic chaos of Internal Forecast (Parts 1 and 2) feel like an Andy Kaufman type of prank for the digital music age, there’s nothing slapstick about the debut album from Leeds-based PEAKES. Harking back to the 80s with a compelling electro-synth undercurrent, Peripheral Figures wears its influences on its sleeve as it moves from an initial explosion of electronic 80s neon colour (An Infinite Divide) through downtempo, theatrical, electronic pieces (Control) and into stomping dance floor beats (Day And Age). Standout track Lately, with its beeps and baps, intentionally distant in the vocal mix, Peter Hook high bass and Kate Bush theatrics offers the perfect example of what PEAKES are aiming for; they have big ideas, mostly they’re emotive, sometimes they’re humorous. Released: 19.11.21

Words: Michael O’Neill The long-overdue follow up to 2014’s Everyday Robots finds national treasure and relentless polymath Damon Albarn weaving together a vivid and awe-inspiring tribute to Reykjavík, the ethereal Icelandic capital which has had a profound impact on his work ever since portions of Blur’s 1997 self-titled LP was recorded there. It is a rich and varied LP featuring euphoric, introspective pop (Royal Morning Blue), abrasive avant-garde noise rock (Combustion) and pensive, cerebral left-turns (Polaris). After the kaleidoscopic jumble-bag of Gorillaz’s previous Song Machine LP, The Nearer The Fountain... finds Albarn delving into the side of his songwriting that has long been neglected since the hazy, unforgettable introspection of Blur’s magnum opus 13. It is brave, bold and deeply engrossing. Released: 12.11.21

Words: Robin Webb Verdant new age hothouse ambience, heavenly drones and tropical Ecuadorian cave atmospherics, abundantly populated by undisturbed feathered wildlife, amongst cascading water in a rainforest buoyed by futuristic flights of soaring electronic grandeur. Intimate, intensely immersive and very often breathtaking as exemplified by the epic track Deep In The Glowing Heart, which has a grandiose scale resplendent with harmonic voices, uplifting sweeps and enormous overwhelming swells. It’s a beat-less suite throughout and comes to a mind quietening conclusion with the single release Sit Around The Fire with spiritual guidance courtesy of the late Ram Dass opening up multi-layered planes of understanding from the glowing embers. This is a beautiful contemplative sixth solo album from an increasingly sophisticated electronic guru. Released: 12.11.21



4.5 / 5




Words: Jason Jones I could waste your time and mine by telling you all about Kills Birds’ new album Married. I could tell you about how Dave Grohl – yes, THAT Dave Grohl – had them record it on the same sound desk that Nirvana recorded Nevermind, or that the band count the likes of Sonic Youth’s Kim Gordon and Paramore’s Hayley Williams among their avid fans. I could tell you that opener Rabbit is a snarling, eyeball-rattling whirling dervish and that the album barely misses a step in the 10 tracks that follow, masterfully delivering euphoric knuckledusters to the gut, blow after blow after blow. But I won’t. Instead I’m just going to tell you to go and listen to this bewitchingly crafted, stunningly vital piece of work. Released: 12.11.21

Words: Robert Nichols An unexpected surprise, in fact a series of treats; Phantom Island rises triumphantly above the murky waters of 2021 to deliver a sun-kissed package of joy with sweeping instrumental vistas. Sometimes dirging gloriously into Krautrock, driving electro, disco and pop. Often cinematic, and at times with a firm nod to the spaghetti western themes of Ennio Morricone. Even ghostly whistling that would have set Lee Van Cleef on his toes. Phantom Island is the brainchild of Swedish producer/writer/performers Joakim Åhlund and Björn Yttling. Guests include Primal Scream’s Andrew Innes and Swedish singer Robyn, notably singing on the super catchy single Call My Name. Pop melodic throughout, this Phantom Island will not disappear without leaving behind a strong after taste and a warm glow. Love it. Released: 19.11.21

Words: Tracy Hyman A culmination of improvisations between the three musicians in a Parisian studio, the opening track in itself is a daring eleven minutes long, laid-back with jazzy bass lowlights and highlights of piano, string and percussion, driven forward by the gentle clockwork ticking of the drum. Joan As Police Woman’s familiar vocals brood over the top. There are no catchy three-minute hit songs here, but a delicately crafted emotional journey starting from late, great, Afrobeat pioneer Tony Allen’s first tap on the drum. Take Me To Your Leader is a powerful melodic song inspired by New Zealand prime minister Jacinda Ardern, in which America asks her for advice on running the country. Elsewhere, beautiful, seductive strings and brass combine to provide a soulful, rich tapestry. Released: 05.11.21



Hiya, my name is Rowan McCabe and I’m a poet and general gobshite from Newcastle. In 2019 I went to 12 places around England as the world’s first Door-to-Door Poet. Knocking on stranger’s doors, I wrote bespoke poems for 30 people, for free, on any subject of their choosing. Some of the places I went to included the UK’s ‘Most Divided Town’, a village with the highest concentration of Nobel Prize winners in the world, and an isolated island with a population of 28 people. In November I’m going to be bringing a show all about it to ARC Stockton (Wednesday 24th), Arts Centre Washington (Thursday 25th November) and Live Theatre, Newcastle (Wednesday 2nd February). It’s a mixture between a poetry show and a play. There’ll be some chit chat, some poems, but there’s also bits where I act out scenes on the stage. I’m hoping it will make you laugh and that you’ll enjoy hearing about some of the eccentric folk I met. It’s also a show about identity, the rise of nationalism and the social and political issues which have stayed with us throughout the build up to the pandemic and beyond. Music has always been a big passion of mine. One of my favourite things to do is come up with a mixtape to play as house music before my show starts. I think the show begins the minute the audience walk in the room. If the house music is good, I usually know I’m in for a good night. I’ve been having fun picking out songs on the theme of ‘England’. Here’s some of them:

THE WATERBOYS OLD ENGLAND I only used to know The Whole of the Moon, which is unfortunate. What a surprise to learn that the vast majority of their stuff is actually loads better.

PJ HARVEY ENGLAND When I visited an anti-fracking occupation camp as part of my Door-to-Door project, I borrowed the title of this album to write one called ‘O England, Don’t They Fear the Way You Shake?’ I read it out at a demonstration on the side of a motorway in the snow. This always brings back memories.


BILLY BRAGG NEW ENGLAND I saw Billy Bragg on the day the Brexit results came out. Me and, let’s be honest, all of the liberal, lentil sucking crowd that were there were properly gutted. But being with thousands of people who felt the same made it feel a little bit better.

THE SMITHS PANIC I’ve got this idea right, so long as nobody ever gives any money to Morrissey ever again, maybe it’s OK to listen to The Smiths. Sometimes. It’s a bit like a band with Hitler on vocals and John Lennon on guitar. Would you completely stop listening to John Lennon just because Hitler is on vocals? I’m not sure. I might need to get back to you on that one…

I don’t know anything about Steeleye Span. But their name reminds me of Spam and I like this version of the song.

VERA LYNN WHITE CLIFFS OF DOVER Someone who knew a lot about Hitler was Vera Lynn. Although she definitely wasn’t in a band with him.

THE CLASH SOMETHING ABOUT ENGLAND Sandinista! is such an underrated album. I love the way this one man’s story sums up everything that’s wrong with the nostalgia of nationalism.

BABYSHAMBLES ALBION Whether you love him or hate him, Pete Doherty was one of the reasons I got into poetry. Sometimes you’ve just got to stick your winkle pickers on and go back to your roots.



Book now for Autumn events


Freestylers: Everybody with Me, Always Fri 12 Nov / 6pm Sat 13 Nov / 3pm FREE Booking essential


Make More Market Sat 6 & Sun 7 Nov / 11am-4pm £2 entry on the door, under 16s go free


Becoming CLIMAVORE: Talks & Tasting Evening Wed 24 Nov / 6pm £12 Booking essential


In Conversation: Phyllis Christopher Wed 8 Dec / 6pm FREE Booking essential


Inspired by the Human Cell Atlas scientific research initiative

With body>data>space

One Cell at a Time Visit Online exhibition 29 October – 30 November 2021 This work was supported by the Wellcome Trust Grant 218597/Z/19/Z