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Our pick of the best events in October






Live performance, theatre shows, comedy gigs, art exhibitions, film screenings and so much more – let us guide you through the North East’s glut of alternative entertainment! Featuring live shows from Ceschi, Me Lost Me and Nathalie Stern, Beabadoobee, Plastic Mermaids, Martha Hill, Galaxians, Gender Roles and loads more. There’s arty goings on at BALTIC and the newly relocated NewBridge Project, theatrical wonders at Alphabetti, Northern Stage, Dance City and Live Theatre among others, plus more comedy than you can shake a hilariously shaped stick at!



Jay Moussa-Mann talks with the baroque pop artist about her debut solo EP, being a pioneering voice for young disabled people and how perfection is overrated

Having found myself somewhat grounded over the last 18 months due to you-know-what, I’ve tried to throw myself into work to fill the travel-shaped hole in my life; replacing Skyscanner and guide books with expanding my digital skills and buying patronising books on local walking routes. Most of this distraction has yielded positive results – the advent of NARC. TV being one of them, and this month sees another addition to our digital family that promises to offer you, dear Constant Readers, even more entertainment. The NARC. E-Zine will launch this month on our website, and will contain all manner of diversions – from exclusive video interviews and sound clips, to curated playlists, reportage, reviews, performance and much more, spanning music, theatre, comedy, film, art and everything in between. Designed as an antidote to doom-scrolling and with the aim of entertaining and informing, the bi-monthly E-Zine will be a constant source of exciting, surprising and unusual content continually evolving throughout its lifespan. Keep an eye on the website for its arrival! On a final, personal note: we’d like to dedicate this issue of the magazine to Dave Harper, who sadly passed away at the end of August. The musician and Pop Recs’ driving force was a singularly unique human being with a much lauded (often disgraceful!) sense of humour and whose love for Sunderland was truly inspirational. Dave continually fought to represent those whose voices often weren’t heard, and in his passing the region’s music scene is a poorer place indeed. We will miss him very much. 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 Iam Burn / Carl Chambers / Idene Roozbayani / Victoria Wai Contributors Jake Anderson / James F Anderson / Mark Corcoran-Lettice / Laura Doyle / Lee Hammond / James Hattersley / Jon Horner / Tracy Hyman / Eugenie Johnson / Jason Jones / Beverley Knight / Evie Lake / Lizzie Lovejoy / Ben Lowes-Smith / Hope Lynes / Tom McLean / Jay Moussa-Mann / Michael O’Neill / Ikenna Offor / Kate Relton / Damian Robinson / Idene Roozbayani / Elodie A Roy / Steve Spithray / Leigh Venus / Luke Waller / Robin Webb / Ali Welford / 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


Reports from the front row, including Club Six Twenty, Shine, The Magpies, Arab Strap, Jarpsy, Don Coyote, Black Honey, Sea Power, Róisín Murphy, Waxa Belta Helta Skelta and more

55 | DEMOS

Featuring Jack Aaron Greensmith, M Data, Vibetank, Third Bloom and Isabel Maria


Reviews of singles by North East artists including Crux, Ren Lawton, The Moth Trust, Scrug, Kieldfal, Last of the Fallen Angels, Floral Detectives, Weekend Faithful, Gwailo, Arcade Skies, Church Honey and Philip Jonathan


New releases from Deerhoof, Vanishing Twin, Self Esteem, Liily, Don Broco, Archie Brown & The Young Bucks, Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes, Sun Atoms, Clinic, Hayden Thorpe, BADBADNOTGOOD, Shannon Lay and more


Lisa Lovebucket from The Red Room talks about some of her favourite tunes

Next Issue Out 27th October




Si Beckwith by Ben Smith





THE UNREMARKABLE DEATH OF MARILYN MONROE A radical reinterpretation of the iconic

WEDNESDAY 6 THE PSYCHEDELIC FOX The upstairs room of a tapas bar may

be an incongruous place to find cutting-edge theatre and comedy, but Laurel’s is fast making a name for itself as the best place to see exciting work. The Psychedelic Fox presents a chaotic mash-up of spiritualism, misguided adventure, sketch and character comedy. Runs until Friday 8th October. Laurel’s, Whitley Bay



ESCAPE VELOCITY: THE HUMAN SPACESHIP Helen Schell’s superb solo exhibition Escape

Velocity is informed by both the breakthroughs and dilemmas of modern space travel. Typified by bold and expressive paintings and geometric optical illusions, the artist asks searching questions about the environment and technology. Runs until Sunday 31st October. The Moving Gallery, The Athenaeum, Sunderland


Hollywood legend, Elton Townsend Jones’ production takes a look at the star as we’ve never seen her before. Performer Lizzie Wort reveals Monroe’s biting intelligence and frustrated talent as the story leads inevitably to her tragic death. Also at Arts Centre Washington on Thursday 21st October. Bishop Auckland Town Hall

THE LAUNDERETTE COMEDY CLUB Durham’s Old Cinema Launderette is

the cosy location for a night of belly laughs and rib tickling, thanks to keen-eyed promoters Felt Nowt. Headliner Seymour Mace is supported by an equally as experienced supporting cast which includes Louise Young and Neil Harris, all ably compered by local gem Si Beckwith. Old Cinema Launderette, Durham




THE COLEVILLE MANUSCRIPT Written in 1865, the Coleville Manuscript is a

Tunnel Club


NORTHERN EXPOSURE It may be 17 months later than

originally planned, but live electronica band Tunnel Club finally get to host their Northern Exposure event, which shines a light on the best live electronica and techno in the region. They’ll be joined by the deep rhythms of Rohli, bass artists Kovert, producer Sonomac and Boss Level. Little Buildings, Newcastle

sketchbook detailing a trip taken around the pastoral coast and countryside of Redcar & Cleveland. The archival document, never before seen by the public, shows the joys of holiday making in the 19th Century, with the exhibition also featuring newly commissioned works. Runs until January 2022. The Redcar Palace



TEESBEATS ALLDAYER Teesside promoter Teesbeats welcomes a host of local favourites including catchy indie punks Salsola, hardcore rockers Rare Breed, the new project from acclaimed songwriter J.P. Riggall entitled Weathership, grungy beatmaker Thought Trumpet, funk rockers Undivine Telephoneline, contemplative indie rock band Nice Guy and more. The fun kicks off from 3pm. NE Volume Music Bar, Stockton



JANINE HARRINGTON: SATELLISER A durational performance realised by an

THE SHERLOCKS Sheffield alt. rockers The Sherlocks have been


intergenerational group of co-working dance artists, which has been developed through online rehearsals spanning five time zones and multiple stages of lockdown. Satelliser: A dance for the gallery promises to be a surprising and shifting performance. Also on Sunday 17th October. BALTIC, Gateshead



SNAPPED ANKLES Queasily titled genre-benders Snapped Ankles return to the region thanks to super promoters Wandering Oak, showing off their unashamedly dance-friendly post-punk performance-art rock. Highly acclaimed for their experimental style, they’re quite likely to be sharing the stage with a plethora of foliage to play homage to their recent album Forest of Your Problems. Newcastle University Students’ Union



keeping the indie vibe alive and well in their hometown, and thanks to their rapturously received live shows and youthful exuberance, they’ve become a hot prospect on the live scene. The band also play Independent in Sunderland on Friday 22nd October. KU Bar, Stockton





WEDNESDAY 27 DYLAN CARTLIDGE Having released his keenly awaited

debut album, Hope Above Adversity, back in July, Teesside’s alt. rap star Dylan Cartlidge finally gets to show off his technicolour pop and intelligent soul-filled style on a live stage. A consummate performer with charm and wit in abundance, this exclusive local show will be one of 2021’s ‘must-see’ events. The Georgian Theatre, Stockton



VULA VIEL Vula Viel play music based around the


sound of the gyil, a wooden xylophone from West Africa, fusing their sound with elements of improvisation and minimalist music. Highly regarded in the London jazz scene, their sonic explorations draw from post-punk to classical styles, making them an intriguing live act. The Globe, Newcastle

Newcastle’s proggy post-punk revival band Phase invite you to a “Halloween piss up” (their words, not ours) in celebration of their recent single Floral Effect. They also welcome hardcore horror punks What Evil? and DJ and producer Louis DeLarge. Prepare for a night of barely controlled chaos! Little Buildings, Newcastle Image by Reuben Hester


WEDNESDAY 20 NORTHERN GIRLS A series of monologues exploring what it means to be a Northern Girl in 2021, the project run by York-based Pilot Theatre brings together new and professional writers with local communities, representing the joys, frustrations and complexities of women and girls from Redcar. Runs until Saturday 23rd October. TunedIn!, Redcar

SATURDAY 23 PHILTH LIKE Sunderland-via-Manchester’s Philth

Like has been a staple of the region’s hip-hop and cypher scenes for several years; his 2019 EP World Wide Waster saw him gain plaudits for his poetic bars and ability to channel difficult themes. Support acts include chaotic Mackem four-piece Dead Wet Things and multi-instrumentalist and rapper Jack Fox. Independent, Sunderland




Fusing ska, reggae and infectious melodic pop, London septet The Kubricks bring their irresistible sound to Newcastle’s Globe, which has made a name for itself as the home of wondrously diverse folk, blues, roots and everything in between. The live set will be followed by the region’s longest running dub night, Dub Inna Pub. The Globe, Newcastle



Image by Rosie Carne



Words: James Hattersley Hot off the back of their latest single Golden, Bristol-based queer punk trio Grandma’s House will play Newcastle’s Little Buildings on Thursday 21st October for what is sure to be an absolutely manic affair.


The band will present their raucous post-punk furry that’ll knock your socks off, rip them up and bury them in a nameless grave. Spurred on by the criminal lack of female representation in the punk genre, Grandma’s House combine the endless energy of the Slits and the vocal styles of The Raincoats, while channelling the spirit of riot grrrl. What you’re left with is dense and murky punk surf melodies, relentless and suffocating bass and an onslaught of pounding drums, all topped with a throat wrenching howl that invites you to criticise at your own peril. Support is local and at this time unknown, but

the band are reaching out to any band that consist of female, non-binary, LGBTQ+ and ethnically diverse members, which is something the North East should adopt more of in the future. Uncompromising in their ideology and sound, Grandma’s House are slowly becoming one of the UK’s most invigorating punk bands and now is your chance to be part of the evolution. Grandma’s House play Little Buildings, Newcastle on Thursday 21st October




Words: Ali Welford One of the pandemic’s more peculiar consequences is the clutch of emerging artists whose careers feel jumbled; performers who’ve broken through, enjoyed acclaim and success yet scarcely made a dent on the live circuit. Tor Maries – aka Billy Nomates – is case in point; a newcomer behind one of 2020’s finest

debut albums whose cult status grew further after featuring on one of last year’s definitive singles, Sleaford Mods’ Mork n Mindy. A terrific EP, Emergency Telephone, followed in March, but it’s only now that she’s embarking on a maiden UK tour – including a keenly anticipated visit to The Cluny on Thursday 7th October. Moved from Think Tank? due to the initial involvement of a certain disgraced promoter (a factor which likewise prompted her withdrawal from last month’s This Is Tomorrow festival), the Cluny show offers fans a first in-person glimpse of a truly idiosyncratic performer. Set to bare post-punk instrumentals, trademark cuts such as No, Hippy Elite and Heels confront


societal issues with barb, wry humour and no shortage of compassion, bristling with defiance yet never shy of self-examination. Her stage act is equally expressive – who needs a backing band when you can act on sheer impulse, busting moves which are equal parts awkward, angular and involuntary? She’s back on Wednesday 24th November too, opening for Sleaford Mods at O2 Academy. Billy Nomates plays The Cluny, Newcastle on Thursday 7th October, and supports Sleaford Mods at O2 Academy, Newcastle on Wednesday 24th November



Plastic Ray 2020 Oil Acrylic and Oil Sticks On Canvas, 132x106x4cm, by Juliet E P Gibbs



Words: Kate Relton The relationship between humans and the natural world has been a creative stimulus for countless generations, but for artists like Juliet E P Gibbs, viewing the world through the lens of a global pandemic provided new levels of inspiration. Fascinated by the conflict of man vs. nature, she was chosen as the winner of The Biscuit Factory’s Contemporary Young Artist Award in 2019, and her latest exhibition at the venue explores the exotic and highly curated environment of glasshouses. Inspired by English garden estates, Gibbs says the recent health crisis has heavily influenced her latest work: ‘’I often look at the push-and-pulled effect occurring between man-made architectural forms and the dominance of nature. I think it’s safe to say with the past few years we have all had, nature has shown itself to be the more dominant force.’’ Showcasing her characteristically bold use of


colour in oils and acrylics, the exhibition features close-cropped botanical paintings, the lush and vibrant greens contrasting with steely man-made structures and architecture. Running until Friday 26th November, the exhibition is free to attend and offers a window into the development of Gibbs’ work over the past three years, including a painting shown at her degree show in 2018. Juliet E P Gibbs’ exhibition is at The Biscuit Factory until Friday 26th November



Words: Hope Lynes Shoegaze meets Nick Cave when it comes to The Agency… Prepare for an album launch like no other. The Newcastle rockers released their new album In The Haunted Woods in October 2020 and have been patiently waiting to bring the music to the live stage ever since. The celebration will take place at The Cluny 2, Newcastle on Sunday 17th October, where

audiences can expect mellow rock with powerful lyrics from the eclectic collective. The Two Pennies Choir, a full community-orientated ensemble from North Shields, are also joining the band on stage, providing a previously unseen level of experimentation from the Newcastle band. In The Haunted Woods is a dystopian album which is strange and intriguing, particularly on the passionate album opener, Numb. Having already received plenty of acclaim, including a recommendation on Steve Lamacq’s BBC 6Music show, and a beautiful set performed for BBC Introducing Newcastle, their live show promises to be uncompromising realisation of the recorded material, which will be available on exclusive vinyl at the gig. Support comes from Meiosis, who create dreamy guitar fused with electro beats, and psych solo act Spider Noises, whose musical style can be encapsulated by the iconic song title Mac DeMarco Might As Well Retire. The Agency… and The Two Pennies Choir, Meiosis and Spider Noises play The Cluny 2, Newcastle on Sunday 17th October


Chintzy Stetson

Pelican Theatre’s Blue Mind


Words: Evie Lake Dance City present their popular Dance Edits night, previewing fresh and exciting work from the North East’s performers and creators, on Saturday 16th October. Each work sets out to immerse us in their themes through various mediums, disrupting our reality and enveloping us in their concepts. Stress is a product of modern life, one we cannot shake easily. Often, we find ourselves seeking the natural remedies: the singular

Here For Gigs


feeling of being outside, away from emails, Zoom and social media. Pelican Theatre’s Blue Mind offers an antidote to the over-stimulating world we find ourselves in. An immersive hybrid of performance and installation, Blue Mind uses the meditative and healing properties water boasts as its inspiration. Through images, sound, movement and light, water becomes a remedy to the load of our monotonous routines. Choreographed by Ester Huss, Stairwell – Or Other Things We Climb sees three artists merge their individual imaginations, extending their personal journeys on stepping up with the audience. Self-proclaimed as “abstract, absurd and accessible”, the piece explores self-growth at the human level. Beth Veitch’s Waiting On It investigates the transitional moments we exist

in – waiting for a bus, for the storm to clear, or the right time to make a decision. You Can Take Me Home Toni by Lorraine Smith explores the experience of having a not-so-great role model when growing up, transporting us back to our younger years through a fusion of music video recreations, costume performance and choreography. Using 80s pop artist Toni Basil as its inspiration, the show is set to feature upbeat bangers, warped through the personal stories and experiences of Lorraine Smith. Dance Edits is at Dance City, Newcastle on Saturday 16th October

October Highlights

Saturday 16 Oct Sage Two Triptych plus Lisa Delarny

Friday 1 Oct Sage Two

The Rheingans Sisters plus Heather Ferrier

Saturday 2 Oct Sage Two

The Slow Readers Club

plus The Clause and Tom Mouse Smith

Saturday 9 Oct Sage Two

Nikki Isles Jazz Orchestra

Thursday 21 Oct Sage One Billy Bragg Thursday 21 Oct Sage Two Courtney Marie Andrews plus Memorial

Thursday 28 Oct Sage Two From The Glasshouse #1 feat. Nadedja, Balter and MG Boulter

Head to on for our full gig listings. @Sage_Gateshead



Lyra Pramuk by Joseph Kadow



Words: Claire Dupree Newcastle’s Cobalt Studios is a special place for many reasons; developed as a nurturing and welcoming home for creatives of all kinds, their approach to programming aims to keep audiences as their core focus, and they strive to bring innovative, interesting and diverse artists to the region – many of whom would likely have skipped the North East altogether if it wasn’t for Cobalt’s dedication to discovering them. Their FRESH nights take place every Thursday and are where Cobalt really show off their eye for talent. Comprising of performances from new and established musicians who often take the left-field as a matter of course, plus a home-cooked veggie meal thrown in for good measure, all for a tasty tenner (or splash out on a season ticket, which nets you 13 gigs and dinners for £100). Like many of us, they’ve been itching to get back to live music, so their autumn season of FRESH shows are more than worth making a beeline for. October sees performances from Norwegian cellist Maja Bugge and Theo Alexander, whose use of piano, tape loops and synths is beguiling and original (Thursday 7th); there’s more looping genius and raw pop vibes from Hyperdawn, who are supported by experimental duo ‘upsetters and activists’ Mermaid Cafe (Thursday 14th); and futurist folk act Lyra Pramuk and synthesist and producer Toby Lindenbaum perform on Thursday 28th. Later in the season, highlights include classically trained cellist and gossamer vocalist Alice Robins with support from local artist Haar (Thursday 4th November); electronic soul quartet Noya Rao and North East neo-soul band


Lyras (Thursday 18th November) and much more besides. Nights like FRESH are what make Newcastle’s music scene the exciting and vibrant place we’ve been missing for so long – embrace it! FRESH takes place at Cobalt Studios, Newcastle every Thursday



Words: Cameron Wright A personal, nostalgic romp through the life of a children’s performer, the energetic and exhilarating show opens up the curtains on the life of Lewis, an enthusiastic and eager Redcoat. Dripping in charm, the dynamic theatre piece sparkles with vibrant dance routines, balloon modelling and iconic songs, yet despite this Redcoat focuses on the humanity and tenderness hidden behind the bravado and smile. Written and performed by Lewis Jobson, the one man show will debut at Live Theatre from Wednesday 27th-Saturday 30th October, and has been influenced by the hoards of stories, experiences and memories he has amassed from his years as a Butlin’s performer. At its heart, Redcoat is a fun, indulgent and immersive experience that provides an infectious and enchanting evening. Created in collaboration with Newcastle-based theatre company The Six Twenty, the production explores the role of the performer and our pursuit of happinesses, striving to not only entertain, but to touch and inspire. Redcoat is at Live Theatre, Newcastle from Wednesday 27th-Saturday 30th October



Words: Kate Relton Could you decide someone else’s fate? If they’d committed a crime against you, would it affect your choice? These are the questions at the heart of Debbie Tucker Green’s dark drama entitled hang. Opening at the Alphabetti Theatre on Thursday 28th September, this intense production follows the victim of a crime and two officials as they wait for her to choose a fitting punishment for the man responsible. With her characteristically black humour and poetic style, Tucker Green examines the themes of morality, justice and revenge in forensic detail. Directed by Yolanda Mercy, hang was first performed in 2015, moving and challenging audiences with its stark look at complex emotional dilemmas. Though we never discover the details of the crime, the clinical setting allows audiences to relate to the experience of wrestling with ethics and morality, and serves as a timely reminder that if we consider every side of a story, we might be more inclined to forgive. Ultimately, hang leaves us contemplating our definitions of right and wrong. hang is at Alphabetti Theatre, Newcastle from Thursday 28th September–Saturday 16th October. Tickets are pay as you feel, with accessible performances every Wednesday and Saturday




Words: Jake Anderson Glueland might sound like an untrustworthy theme park but unfortunately, it isn’t. It is, however, the name of Nottingham’s alt. indie band Do Nothing’s latest EP and their upcoming




tour, which pulls in to Newcastle’s Cluny 2 on Monday 11th and Stockton’s Georgian Theatre on Friday 29th October, which is equally as exciting. The band haven’t been living by their name, as since Do Nothing last played in the region in November 2019 they’ve released their acclaimed EP and collected new fans thanks to tracks like the dark Gangs. Their sound blends art rock, no wave and post-punk into a rock-based concoction, and it’s a soundscape that has seen a sharp rise in popularity, with bands like Black Country New Road, Squid and

Protomartyr leading the way. The influence from legends of these genres, including the likes of David Byrne and James Murphy, can be heard being channelled through the deadpan performance and lyrics of frontman Chris Bailey and the band’s avant-garde instrumentation, as evidenced on the likes of rhythmic single LeBron James and the roaring Handshakes. Do Nothing play The Cluny 2, Newcastle on Monday 11th and The Georgian Theatre, Stockton on Friday 29th October


Thursday 7 October | £22

Friday 8 October | £15

Saturday 9 October | £15 - £18

Monday 18 October | £15 - £20

Tuesday 19 October | £10 - £25

Friday 29 October | £14 - £16

Cloudbusting: The Music of Kate Bush


Shazia Mirza: Coconut

Caroline Criado-Perez: Invisible Women

Ballet Cymru: Giselle

Haddock and Chips

03000 266 600



Gender Roles



Words: Luke Waller Gender Roles – the Brightonian alt. rockers in all their absurd and pink-mulleted glory – are due to take their often heavy yet upbeat sound to the stage at Middlesbrough’s Base Camp on Thursday 21st October. If you’re looking for a good rowdy night out to get the party out of your system, they’re likely to be just your cup of tea. The three-piece has been consistent in their loud, fun-loving sound, having released their debut album PRANG in 2019, alongside two EPs in the previous two years, followed this year by their new double A-side, Dead Or Alive/ So Useless. In addition to this, there is no shortage of witty lyrics and wordplay to be found in their back catalogue, their somewhat poppier track Hey With Two Whys being a case in point. This excitingly fresh group draws fans from a broad range of musical tastes, having played the Leeds/Reading festival in August, and being booked for next year’s Donington Download festival. Accompanied by their off-the-wall style, Gender Roles embody the hip and happening air of their native Brighton – the


perfect band for a night out a bit different to most. Gender Roles play Base Camp, Middlesbrough on Thursday 21st October



Words: Claire Dupree Artist-led community The NewBridge Project celebrate the opening of their new home at the Shieldfield Centre this month. Having become known as a supportive community for creative practice, offering curatorial opportunities to artists and providing artist-led programmes of exhibitions, commissions and events, NewBridge’s new home will provide their hands-on team with an opportunity to engage with local residents and encourage them to interact with art in their communities. Rebecca Huggan, director of The NewBridge Project, explains their focus: “We will work with artists, communities and residents to shape the space and our programme so we can be responsive to the interests and needs of those

around us and will continue to produce an ambitious programme of exhibitions, off-site project, events and artist development. We want to continue to create new work that is experimental, responsive to its environment, builds solidarity and places communitycentered, collaborative and socially conscious programming at its heart.” Blazing New Worlds is the well-titled first exhibition in their new space and also serves to celebrate their 11th birthday. In turning the lens on themselves, they’ll explore the current and future role of artist-led spaces within their communities with a series of open calls and funding opportunities, with commissions by artists Graeme Hopper (Grassi Art) and Cassie Thornton, as well as a residency on Slack’s Radio. Also located within the space, The Radical Reading Room will provide access to books, reading groups and talks with authors on a variety of subjects, with the aim of becoming a catalyst for creative thinkers and critical minds. The NewBridge Project opens at the Shieldfield Centre, Newcastle on Friday 22nd October. Blazing New Worlds runs until Saturday 29th January (open Weds-Fri & every other Sat)


The Old Pink House by Alex Robson



Words: Michael O’Neill The Old Pink House, Newcastle’s premier purveyors of cosmic pop are back, ready to pick up where they left off before the pandemic hit with their upcoming release Digital Romance. After initially starting life as a bedroom project founded by frontman Christopher Brown, the quartet have been on a steady ascent over the last few years, releasing a stream of quality singles and bagging prestigious support slots with the likes of Foals, Manic Street Preachers and The Cribs. They consider the upcoming six-track EP to be a change of pace which, despite sharing some musical DNA with their previous releases, opts to go to more introspective, darker corners both musically and lyrically. The title track goes to task on the soulless monotony and subterfuge of online dating, and highlight The Crack is inspired by, in Brown’s words “a dead cheery dream” in which he died in a plane crash (not that you’d realise, given how much of a filthy

banger it is). The band are celebrating the EP’s release with a headline Halloween show at Ouseburn’s Cobalt Studios on Saturday 30th October, with support from local neo-soul wunderkind DELPHii, whose recent release Lilac is a subversive and soulful world of sound, and a brilliant match to TOPH’s otherworldliness. The Old Pink House release Digital Romance on 22nd October. They play Cobalt Studios, Newcastle on Saturday 30th October



Words: Lizzie Lovejoy Northern Stage is sharing a new adaptation of the Jim Cartwright play Road from Friday 8th-Saturday 30th October. Northern Stage’s new Housewarming programme sees audiences welcomed back to the venue and brings attention back to this culturally important piece, which was originally written and performed in the 80’s. Director Natalie Ibu takes on the challenge of

keeping the party alive on stage while making sure reality isn’t too far from our grasp, in her debut production for the venue since her appointment as artistic director last year. Acting as both a criticism of Thatcher’s Britain, but also a celebration of intersectional working-class culture, this show is both gritty and uplifting. By exploring the world of Britain under a conservative government, high unemployment and a clear disregard for the working-class North, it’s a way of ensuring our people do not become forgotten. Considering the personalities and experiences of the everyday people, Road shows the beauty in the ordinary. Although originally based in Hull, this production has been re-set the Northumberland town of Blyth, and paints an abstract portrait of these Northerners using poetry, protest, painful honesty and moments of humour. Road is at Northern Stage, Newcastle from Friday 8th-Saturday 30th October, with BSL signed performances on Thursday 21st and Saturday 30th


rehearsals £12ph recording £20ph

0191 265 3879 JULIET E P GIBBS

24 September – 26 November

THE BISCUIT FACTORY Wed–Sun 10–5 | Free Entry @thebiscuitfactorygallery



Kema Kay and Kay Greyson



Words: Jon Horner Having joined forces with regional arts promotion charity Northern Roots to seek out the best new hip-hop talent in the North East, local MCs Kema Kay and Kay Greyson host an evening of fresh talent at Gosforth Civic Theatre on Saturday 2nd October. Kema Kay’s words are grounded in the Tyneside streets that he grew up on. With razoredged production and a fierce delivery, he rages against inequality and intolerance and encourages his peers to join together rather than fight amongst themselves. Multi-talented Kema has just finished another successful run of his autobiographical play, Shine, and audiences may also recognise him as neighbour and friend to Daniel Blake in Ken Loach’s Palme d’Or winning movie.

With bright bouncing fanfare behind her, Kay Greyson’s music showcases her lyrical skill and infectious message of hope; a veteran of the Tyneside music scene, the recently released EP Paris saw her gain praise for her optimistic outlook and joyous sound. Together they’re ideally placed to nurture the talents of fresh new voices, and they’ll introduce performances by new and emerging acts including Nitro Nick, Fabz and R3. An exhibition will also run at the venue throughout October, featuring portraits of Kema, Kay and many of the young people they worked with as part of the Youth Music and Community Foundation-run programme. Kema Kay and Kay Greyson present Nitro Nick, Fabz, R3 and more at Gosforth Civic Theatre, Newcastle on Saturday 2nd October


BETHANY BLACK @ THE FORUM MUSIC CENTRE Words: Michael O’Neill Over fourteen illustrious years, Hilarity Bites have consistently succeeded in bringing some

of the biggest and best names in stand-up (including the likes of Russell Kane and Reginald D. Hunter) to venues throughout the region, and their upcoming line-up at Darlington’s Forum on Saturday 2nd October is no exception. Leading the bill is the legendary Bethany Black, actor, stand-up comedian and trans activist who, in a prolific career, has performed alongside the likes of Alan Carr and Tim Minchin and starred in No Offence, the Cucumber/Banana/Tofu trilogy and Doctor Who, as well as receiving a great deal of acclaim for her debut show Beth Becomes Her (which was nominated for Best Debut at the 2008 Leicester Comedy Festival). Support comes from Liverpool-hailing comedian Adam Staunton, who has performed with John Bishop and Sarah Millican (alongside performing as part of the Big Value Comedy Show at the Fringe Festival), and the evening will be hosted by Pete Otway, whose razor sharp wit has seen him bag acclaim, win the BBC New Comedy Award and perform as part of Just The Tonic’s prestigious Big Value Showcase. Bethany Black, Adam Staunton and Pete Otway perform at The Forum Music Centre, Darlington on Saturday 2nd October





Words: James Hattersley We’re gonna have a TV party tonight! Alright? Well, maybe not tonight, but soon! More specifically, on Wednesday 13th October, psychedelic proto-punk adours TV Death will bring their ferociously trippy rock ‘n’ roll show to Newcastle’s Bobik’s. Sounding like the Doors being mashed together

in a blender with the Stooges, TV Death replicate their intense and darkly groovy 2021 spring EP Isolation, named of course, after the last eighteen hellish months. Formerly known as Radio Silence, the four-piece have a little something for any early rock savant. Expect songs like Repo Man; an all out swinging assault that blasts riff after riff while quickly stalking your ears, and The Hanging Tree, which is a nightmarish jaunt and middle finger to the government’s handling of the pandemic. If TV Death’s live show has half of the vivid frenzy

displayed on their studio work, then some people are going to get their faces melted. Supporting are Galway-based post-punk rowdy noise makers Turnstiles, who promise to bring their own brand of social political muddy slog of jarring guitars and thumping rhythms. Newcastle will be on fire by the end of the night. TV Death and Turnstiles play Bobik’s, Newcastle on Wednesday 13th October


Thursday 14 October, 7.30pm | 0191 261 0505


£13.50 | £11 | £8


Alex Rex



Words: Ben Lowes-Smith Since Trembling Bells disbanded a couple of years ago, drummer, songwriter and auteur Alex Neilson has ploughed a prolific and unique furrow under the moniker Alex Rex. Dipping into the psych folk he is known well for while incorporating glam rock and choral music amidst his releases, Alex Rex is an altogether more direct affair than Trembling Bells. His CV is unparalleled as a drummer too, having played with Bonnie Prince Billy, Shirley Collins, Jandek and Current 93. Bringing his genuinely mesmerising show to the Cumberland Arms on Thursday 14th October, he’ll be playing songs from his already enviable catalogue. Alex’s presence as a magnificent drummer and a fervently passionate singer are significant, and the band’s performances are truly a force of nature and something to behold.

Support comes from Yakka Doon, aka Claire Welford, who has become known for her work in Bad Amputee as well as her exquisite solo work, which is gorgeously melancholic and poetically incisive. Alex Rex and Yakka Doon play The Cumberland Arms, Newcastle on Thursday 14th October



Words: Evie Lake Summer may now be well behind us as the nights grow darker and longer, but luckily Leeds-based disco band Galaxians are set to combat the onset of the winter blues, synths and lasers blazing, as they bring their irresistible disco boogie to the Cumberland Arms stage on Friday 15th October. Promoted by the well-regarded Endless Window, Galaxians are touring off the back of their

sophomore album Chemical Reaction, with a mix of headline shows, such as this one, and support slots for indie funk heavyweights and local heroes Field Music. Galaxians’ undeniable 80s disco tunes would be mighty as instrumental stand-alones, thanks to the music of Jed Skinner and Matt Woodward. However, vocalist Emma Mason refocuses the funk and soul and demands it revolve around her energy; her gravitational pull transforms the retro electronics into anthems of female emotion and joy. Support comes from Leeds-based Straight Girl, the self-proclaimed ‘grave rave succubus’, who is guaranteed to hypnotise with their dark synths and moody performance, and John Dole, whose cerebral lyrics and emphatic beats have an established hold over the North East hip-hop scene. Galaxians, Straight Girl and John Dole play The Cumberland Arms, Newcastle on Friday 15th October



Thursday 7 October

Nabil Abdulrashid


Jordan Duchar me Nina Gilligan

Tom Ward

Dan Tier nan MC Ian Smith

MC Mike Wilkinson






Tom Binns as Ian D. Montfor t Ivan Brackenbur y Omar Abid MC Matt Reed

Saturday 27 ARC | STOCKTON ON TEESNovember | TS18 1LL

01642 525199 (lineups subject to change)




Plastic Mermaids



Words: Michael O’Neill Fresh from the release of the brain-melting single Disco Wings, Isle of Wight-hailing five-piece outfit Plastic Mermaids are taking their delightfully wonky psych-pop show on tour (which has previously drawn acclaim from figures as esteemed as Wayne Coyne for its use of costumes, lasers and glitter cannons) taking in Stockton’s Georgian Theatre on Monday 18th October, for what promises to be a chaotic evening of hyperkinetic psychedelia. If the chameleonic delights on offer in 2019’s Suddenly Everything Explodes LP are anything to go by, I can guarantee that they’ll make for a totally transcendental live act, with a heavy emphasis on groove, melody, dissonance and batshit left-turns; their music rarely stays in the same place for too long, and it is utterly fresh and relentlessly entertaining. Guitarist Chris Newnham is thrilled to be back in the region,

“We’re so stoked to be playing back in Stockton. We were lucky enough to play this venue on our last tour and it’s got such a rad vibe and the audience always provides such good energy. We can’t wait to try some out some new tunes at our Northern second home.” Support comes from singer-songwriter Maja Lena, whose recent LP The Keeper is a rich collection of astral folk with a strong emphasis on atmosphere and intricate melodies, making for a satisfyingly eclectic and profoundly forward-looking bill of talented and daring acts. Plastic Mermaids and Maja Lena play The Georgian Theatre, Stockton on Monday 18th October



Words: Laura Doyle A moment of silence, please, for comedians trying desperately to salvage what they can from routines that have suffered from eighteen months of irrelevancy. Imagine having a full

show written, memorised and rehearsed only for the world to practically end? Writer and comic Shazia Mirza had that exact problem when the country went into its first lockdown back in March 2020. But, instead of leaving the routine in the garbage, Mirza instead tried to salvage what she could of the shreds and reform them into something that could work for an (almost, but not really) post-pandemic audience. Like a phoenix rising from the ashes, she’ll bring her new(ish) show Coconut to Durham’s Gala Theatre on Friday 8th October. Our priorities and tastes have changed a lot over these past few months; where Mirza once would have poked fun at celebrities and reality TV, she instead wants to do what a lot of us have learnt to do recently: focus on the bigger picture. Social injustice, starving kids and institutional racism were second on the news, only behind Miss Rona’s ongoing shenanigans. With all this, as well as an impending climate crisis, what better subjects are there to make light of than our planet’s imminent destruction at the hands of its dominant species? Shazia Mirza is at Durham’s Gala Theatre on Friday 8th October



Image by Steve Gullick



Words: Ali Welford When musician Richard Walters and poet laureate Simon Armitage first crossed paths a decade ago, their intention was a one-off collaboration; the latter providing words to match the former’s lush melodic sensibilities. Nevertheless, the result – Walters’ solo track Redwoods – left its mark on both men, to the point that neither hesitated some years later at


the prospect of picking up where they left off. With multi-instrumentalist Patrick Pearson also in tow and Armitage taking up vocal duties, the trio set about establishing a fully realised band-focused project; “not just poetry with music underneath.” Presented under the guise of LYR, this meeting of minds manifested in resplendent fashion on last year’s Call In The Crash Team, an album of cinematic soundscapes hewn from all manner of sonic components, focused thematically on personal crises in an age of post-industrialisation, relentless austerity and recurring recession. “I think it’s open-ended as to what we do,” Pearson states. “There’s no

set of rules.” Now, the trio are finally poised to showcase this synergy on their inaugural string of live dates; a tour which swings by Newcastle with a date at The Cluny 2 on Thursday 21st October. With local multi-instrumentalist and neo-classical composer Benjamin Fitzgerald added as support alongside his spellbinding Ensemble, an evening of serene, enriching sounds lies in wait! LYR and Benjamin Fitzgerald perform at The Cluny 2, Newcastle on Thursday 21st October


Simon Amstell



Words: Cameron Wright Rising to fame through his devastatingly rapid wit and cutting humour, Simon Amstell made himself a household name through his hosting spots on shows such as Popworld and Never Mind The Buzzcocks. The scathing jokes and whirlwind put-downs were always delivered with a smug charm and bravado, yet through the years Amstell has revealed layers of tenderness and vulnerability that consume his life. Stepping behind the camera, Amstell directed the 2017 mockumentary Carnage, which focused on the necessity of veganism and held a lens up to the brutality of the meat industry. Following this, Amstell directed the 2018 nervous romance film Benjamin, and his 2019 Netflix special Set Free was lauded in praise, as Amstell delivered something introspective, sobering and delicate. The show revolved around the pain of living, the difficulties of mental illness

and his pursuit to live a healthier, happier life. The introverted comedian fused candid observations with heartbreak and humour beautifully. Coming to Newcastle’s Tyne Theatre & Opera House on Saturday 2nd October, Amstell’s new tour Spirit Hole is set to be the next step in his self-help journey. As an exploration of love, beauty, sex and shame, Spirit Hole is an intimate but unmistakably personal show that is sure to be spellbinding. Simon Amstell is at Tyne Theatre & Opera House, Newcastle on Saturday 2nd October



Words: Lizzie Lovejoy After two years of waiting, rapper and singer Ceschi Ramos will finally return to the stage, brought to Stockton’s Green Room on Friday 22nd October by alt. spoken word/rap band Ceiling Demons and their dual tree promotions arm.

US-born Ceschi blends folk and punk with his genre-bending style. Baring his soul in his music, and frequently using the whole venue as his stage, this night is bound to be an engaging experience. Taking a listen to his single The One Man Band Broke Up, I found myself reminded of the emotional honesty of Amanda Palmer and the experimental style of Astonautalis. North Yorkshire’s Ceiling Demons will be will be sharing their latest studio album, Snakes & Ladders, which was recently released via Darlington’s Butterfly Effect records. The band are known for their powerful performances, with a unique style that is caught somewhere between beautifully haunting melodies and hard-hitting slow rap. During the shows, Art Demon will join the crew, creating art whilst the band are playing. Supporting these acts is Teesside-based performer stebee whose raw sound is manifested in punky acoustic songs tackling themes of mental health and the impact of trauma. Ceschi, Ceiling Demons and stebee perform at The Green Room, Stockton on Friday 22nd October



Phyllis Christopher, Castro Street Fair, San Francisco, 1989. Image courtesy of the artist


PHYLLIS CHRISTOPHER @ BALTIC Words: Beverley Knight San Francisco’s lesbian community during the 1990s is the subject of the first major institutional survey of photographer Phyllis Christopher’s work, taking place at BALTIC and curated by Laura Guy, the editor of a new book dedicated to Christopher’s work, Dark Room: San Francisco Sex and Protest, 1988-2003. Beginning to document the lesbian community in her home town of Buffalo, New York, she moved to San Francisco in 1988 to continue her visual study of the ever-increasing voice of women’s and gay liberation. Victories and changes were acknowledged from the previous decade, and Christopher was one of several artists who felt a magnetic pull to capture the next period, honing in on an increasing group of people who protected, understood and looked out for each other. Christopher’s tenderly hand-printed and tinted pieces present a look into the lesbian and queer politics of the time, when tensions were high in a period of homophobic violence and


state censorship amid the US AIDS crisis. Her work incorporates pro-choice protests and demonstrations against pharmaceutical profiteering to the queer punk scene and lesbian-run sex clubs, all representing political activism in their way. Christopher encourages thought on what it means to be presented and observed as lesbian, both then and now, and shares her representation that truly came straight from the source. Phyllis Christopher: Contacts is at BALTIC, Gateshead from Saturday 23rd October-Sunday 20th March


ADAM BUXTON @ TYNE THEATRE & OPERA HOUSE Words: Cameron Wright Having been rescheduled once again, Adam Buxton’s new show Rambles is set to finally arrive at the Tyne Theatre & Opera House on Wednesday 13th October. The night will involve

Buxton reading from his book of the same name, elaborating, expanding and ultimately rambling on an array of topics and themes, in a personal reflection on his life and the influences that have affected his journey and career. Rising to fame through his sketch show The Adam & Joe Show (alongside Joe Cornish) as well as numerous panel show appearances, podcasts and a role in Hot Fuzz, the charismatic conversationalist will bring his observations, achievements and tribulations to the stage. Touching on his childhood, the show will talk about his upbringing, family and his obsession with pop culture. The laughs are inevitable as the comedian rambles away on his fascinations and his experiences, yet will also touch on serious and intimate subjects as Buxton reflects on the questions he has asked throughout his life, and settles on the answers he has learnt through time. After the show, Buxton will be signing books and engaging with fans. Adam Buxton is at Tyne Theatre & Opera House, Newcastle on Wednesday 13th October


Me Lost Me by Amelia Read



Words: Ali Welford We’ve a diverse range of musical and cultural preferences here at NARC. towers. One thing we’re pretty unanimous on though, is Me Lost Me representing one of this region’s very finest gems – a collective conviction which receives further affirmation this month with the arrival of yet another dazzling release. Putting paid to any question of last year’s astonishing The Good Noise being her artistic ceiling, new EP The Circle Dance paints an optimistic and utopian image; a future planet and society built from the idyllic bedrock of balance and harmony. Conceived during her stint as Artist in Residence at Sage Gateshead, and unveiled on 1st October, the five-track release reflects this delicate equilibrium with her most textural and sonically adventurous music to date. That sonorous, crystalline vocal remains as prominent as ever, but here her electro folk experiments are spun into a captivating drone and jazz-fuelled melange – thanks in no small part to contributions from two local stalwarts in

double bassist John Pope and clarinet player Faye MacCalman (both of Archipelago, John Pope Quintet, Ponyland). The Circle Dance’s release precedes a UK jaunt alongside similarly transcendental electro-dronefolk extraordinaire Nathalie Stern – a stellar double-bill which calls in at Middlesbrough’s Base Camp on Saturday 16th October. For those not yet acquainted with either artist, now is high time to take the plunge. Me Lost Me releases The Circle Dance EP on 1st October. She performs alongside Nathalie Stern at Base Camp, Middlesbrough on Saturday 16th October. Me Lost Me also performs at Karma Coast in Tynemouth on Saturday 23rd October, Songs From Northern Britain at The Georgian Theatre, Stockton on Saturday 20th November and at Brave Exhibitions at The Cluny on Sunday 21st November



Words: Elodie A. Roy Ever since graduating from The Northern School of Art, illustrator Lizzie Lovejoy has been drawing

people and the neighbourhoods where they live, work and meet. Lovejoy’s previous work as Artist of Change at ARC explored aspects of Northern working-class identity and their new curated exhibition, opening at ARC on Monday 4th October (and also accessible online), focuses on home – a particularly resonant and fragile concept in an age of uprootedness. Lovejoy explains: “I’ve asked 15 different Northern-based creatives to fill up a sketchbook I’ve provided to them, specifically looking at their journeys. It’s a consideration of the concept of Home in relation to travelling around, asking if home comes with you, if it’s region based, or if it’s even more localised than that.” Drawing from ethnographic methods, the illustrator has also meticulously documented the physical journeys of the sketchbooks, collected stories through interviews and transformed them into spoken word poems which can be heard throughout the gallery. Lovejoy’s social art practice shares affinities with that of Glasgow visual artist Mitch Miller who, for many years, has been drawing ‘dialectrograms’ charting the movements and everyday routines of people in urban places. Like Miller, Lovejoy knows that every image may tell, disrupt or produce a story, and concretely draw us together. Home: Revisited is at ARC, Stockton from Monday 4th October-Monday 1st November









Max Fosh



Words: Cameron Wright Forging himself a name in the British YouTube community for over three years, Max Fosh has cut out a niche as the pedantic yet affable southerner. His 455,000 subscribers have watched him interview the drunken and confused nightlife of various towns and cities through his viral series Street Smarts, as well as his increasingly elaborate challenges, such as running for mayor of London or hunting down the identity of the model in an old stock image. The YouTuber has collaborated with some of the biggest names in the community, working alongside The Sidemen and appearing on the Happy Hour Podcast, yet now Fosh has set his sights on something outside of the world he has developed. Zocial Butterfly is his brand new stand-up tour and has been years in the making. Arriving at Newcastle’s beloved comedy venue, The Stand, from Monday 11th-Wednesday 13th October,

Fosh’s debut stand-up show has been refined and adapted for years, and is certain to present a fresh, daring and undeniably posh take on unpredictable and exciting live comedy. Max Fosh is at The Stand, Newcastle from Monday 11th-Wednesday 13th October



Words: Kate Relton Stories of kindness and solidarity saw us through the darkest moments of a global crisis, and as theatre doors reopen, the CaroleW production of Haddock & Chips delivers a much-needed dose of humour and hope. Embarking on a tour of the North East, Janet Plater’s play is a moving exploration of human kindness and irrepressible community spirit. A snapshot of British seaside life, the action takes place in Frankie’s, a Whitley Bay chippy. As news breaks of a missing girl, the community must work together to find her. A poignant tale of enduring hope, the production

is accompanied by an original soundtrack by Bridie Jackson, and dance scenes by Lee Proud. Despite the unfolding drama, director Jake Murray believes it’s a story of optimism: ‘’The play has a big heart, a shrewd eye for human character and a real community spirit.’’ The tour will showcase artwork by Newcastlebased Michael Davies based on the play’s themes, and theatregoers will take home a limited edition salted chocolate from Gosforth’s North Chocolates. Haddock & Chips offers a heart-warming night of theatre and a reminder of the power of hope. In October, Haddock & Chips comes to Gosforth Civic Theatre (Thursday 21st-Saturday 23rd) Alnwick Playhouse (Tuesday 26th), Queen’s Hall Arts Centre in Hexham (Thursday 28th), Gala Theatre in Durham (Friday 29th), Frosterley Village Hall in Bishop Auckland (Saturday 30th). In November, see the play at The Witham in Barnard Castle (Wednesday 3rd), Arts Centre Washington (Thursday 4th), Ushaw, Durham (Tuesday 9th) Saltburn Community Theatre (Wednesday 10th) and The Exchange in North Shields (Thursday 11th-Saturday 13th)



MAKING WAVES A Festival of Sound An exploration of the use of sound on Tyneside including online exhibitions about the history of music technology in the home, highlights from the British Library’s Understanding Our Sound Heritage project, family event programme and audio museum trails.

16 October 2021 ~ 22 March 2022 For the full programme visit: Discovery Museum, Blandford Square, Newcastle upon Tyne NE1 4JA Central Station or St James Donations welcome (free entry)



Bobby Mair



Words: Hope Lynes Stockton’s independent treasure The Georgian Theatre is the home of the monthly comedy night Shoe Cake Comedy Club, who this month host The Last Stop to Edinburgh Festival. The comedy weekender will feature brand new shows, family-friendly performances and festival favourites, with familiar faces seen on the likes of Never Mind The Buzzcocks and 8 Out Of 10 Cats. Taking place on Friday 22nd and Saturday 23rd October, the event will feature nine shows taking inspiration from the famous Fringe Festival. Included on the line-up are the interactive Discount Comedy Checkout troupe, who have been a presence on the comedy scene for 12 years – their improv stints will feature both family and adult shows. The festival also welcomes local talent, as Teesside comedian Fran Garrity and Middlesbrough sensation Ted Hanky will make appearances, alongside award-winning

Teessider Catherine Young. Catch big names too, with absurdist TV comedian Tony Law in his new show, Bobby Mair presents a first look at his dark new show Cockroach before it tours, and John O’Sullivan offers up his sophisticated comedy comeback. Each show is capped at 120 capacity, creating an intimate atmosphere to watch great talent up-close. Tickets are available per show, with flexible multi-tickets to catch all the action, and free tickets available for low-income families. Last Stop To Edinburgh takes place at The Georgian Theatre, Stockton on Friday 22nd-Saturday 23rd October



Words: Eugenie Johnson From Thursday 7th-Saturday 23rd October, a double-bill of productions at Live Theatre (originally slated for a 2020 airing) will put the spotlight on growing up in County Durham, both tackling concepts of place and identity.

In Braids, longlisted for the Alfred Fagon Award 2018 for best new play by a Black British playwright of Caribbean or African descent, writer Olivia Hannah and director Chinonyerem Odimba introduce us to Abeni and Jasmine, as the former weaves purple braids into the latter’s hair. She’s given ‘the talk’, which opens Jasmine’s mind to other perspectives and ways of seeing the world around her. Crucially, she’s also opened to the ways in which the outside world might see them, tackling the issue of trying to fit in while also standing out. In the second work, Cheer Up Slug, we’re transported to a tent in County Durham, the location of part of Will and Bean’s Duke of Edinburgh trip. There, the friends realise that their childhoods are behind them, a fact that complicates their adventure in ways they couldn’t have imagined. Writer Tamsin Daisy Rees imbues their story with an examination of behaviour and boundaries both personal and geographical. The productions both serve as a riveting exploration of identity and place, from some of the region’s most exciting emerging creatives. Braids and Cheer Up Slug are at Live Theatre, Newcastle from Thursday 7th-Saturday 23rd October



Martha Hill by by Darina



Words: Claire Dupree Few local artists can boast of a career trajectory as rapid as Martha Hill over the last three years. Since the launch of Spiders – a deliciously claustrophobic dive into creeping insecurities – in June 2018, Martha’s trademark husky vocal and storytelling style has endeared her to audiences in the region and beyond. Martha’s time spent as a busker on the streets of Newcastle, as well as a touring musician with folk ‘n’ rollers Holy Moly & The Crackers, has seen her hone her considerable talents to become a sophisticated yet playful songwriter, capable of producing ear-worms like the simple brilliance of Blindfold, with its vocal acrobatics and percussive genius, and lockdown release Grilled Cheese from 2020’s Summer Up North EP, which saw her gain the attention of BBC 6Music. The arrival of new EP Dog Hearted Man this June not only came with Radio 1 airplay, a Radcliffe & Maconie appearance and 6Music playlisting, but also showcased her versatility as a songwriter. Tracks like the sultry Boom rub up alongside stone-cold anthems like Change


and 151, which soar with sprightly strings and gigantic choruses, while the likes of 25 and Alter Ego are introspective and satisfyingly catchy. 2020’s enforced downtime prolonged the anticipation of live shows, and displaying a commendable work ethic Martha and her band spent the majority of the summer zooming around festivals. A full-on tour commences this month, with several stops in the region, where she’ll finally be able to show off her considerable talents. The last three years may have seen Martha hit her stride, but we can’t wait to see where she’ll be within the next three. Martha Hill plays The Cluny, Newcastle on Sunday 17th, Westgarth Social Club in Middlesbrough on Friday 22nd and Old Cinema Launderette, Durham on Saturday 23rd October


COMEDY WEEKENDER @ VERTU MOTORS ARENA Words: Jake Anderson Newcastle is a pretty funny city. From the

comedy clubs to the metro prices, there’s always something to have a good laugh about. But on Saturday 16th and Sunday 17th October, Fingers and Fringe plan to make that good laugh become a great one with their Comedy Weekender, held at the Vertu Motors Arena (the home of Newcastle Eagles), and the event features some of Britain’s most witty and clever comedians. The Saturday show will be hosted by Jarred Christmas with acts including Lost Voice Guy, Flo and Joan, Andy Parsons and more. Certain to be a highlight of the programme, Lost Voice Guy gained fans across the UK when he won Britain’s Got Talent in 2018. His comedy style is a unique one; having lost his speech due to cerebral palsy at six months old, his refreshing take on disability uses a voice synthesiser app. The second show on the Sunday will be hosted by comedian Laura Lexx, known for her appearances on Mock The Week, with performances from Rachel Harris, Paul Sinha and more. For those of us that have our tea in front of the telly, The Chase’s Paul Sinha should be instantly recognisable, he’ll be gracing the North East with his presence after showcasing his skills in every major comedy club in the UK. The Comedy Weekender takes place at Vertu Motors Arena, Newcastle on Saturday 16th-Sunday 17th October




Words: James Hattersley It’s impossible to skirt around the fact that the last year for musical artists has been trying. However, it has been rejuvenating to see others

rise from the ashes of despair and break through to the mainstream consciousness; and none has been more gratifying to witness than that of alternative pop singer-songwriter beabadoobee. After receiving rave reviews for her Leeds/ Reading performances and in true postpandemic fashion, beabadoobee will be hitting the UK motorways to support her 2020 breakthrough debut album, Fake It Flowers, and will drop in to Newcastle University Students’ Union on Saturday 2nd October. Although she has since shed her humble DIY bedroom indie beginnings, Beatrice Laus has

connected to her audience with her 90’s influenced slacker retro pop which wouldn’t feel out of place at the start of late decade teen flick. Soaring vocals are matched with intimate lyrics backed with a bubblegum grunge aesthetic of anthemic choruses, with luscious string arrangements that never intrude on the main chuck of the guitar. One can’t help but be whisked away in the hazy dream world that beabadoobee creates. beabadoobee performs at Newcastle University Students’ Union on Saturday 2nd October

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: 29


L-R Kate Bond, Frankie Jobling, Phibi, Georgia May, FALLU. Image by Victoria Wai amalgamations, artists such as John Dole and Hartlepool-based band LYRAS, to name just two, have striven to broaden horizons. Newcastle venue Hoochie Coochie is a fine place to witness this explosion of talent, as they play host to an evening of soulful sounds featuring five of the region’s hottest female soul artists. Entitled North East Women In Soul Music, the event on Thursday 28th October showcases a collection of artists who may have roots in the soul genre, but who each bring something new and exciting too. Georgia May’s unique and luscious vocal timbre reveals poetic lyricism and notes of the 90’s



Words: Claire Dupree Over the last few years the North East has seen a burgeoning cohort of young and exciting soul artists take the genre to new and interesting places. Bristling with contemporary cool, and often blurring genres to create wondrous new

A Live Theatre Production World Premiere

Thu 7 - Sat 23 Oct 2021

A double bill of debut plays about young women growing up in the North East. A new play about fitting in and standing out Written by Olivia Hannah

A new play about boundaries and behaviour Written by Tamsin Daisy Rees



Cheer Up Slug

Tickets £10 - £20, concs from £6

(0191) 232 1232 30

hip-hop and R&B she’s influenced by; neo-soul and R&B artist Kate Bond explores intersectional feminist perspectives; fast-rising Durham-based songwriter and producer Phibi digs for inspiration amid the sounds of metal, folk and rap; alt. soul artist FALLU’s unique sound features notes of psychedelia and funk; and Frankie Jobling’s contemporary vibe echoes with old school soul and jazz. NEWISM featuring Georgia May, Kate Bond, Phibi, FALLU and Frankie Jobling takes place at Hoochie Coochie, Newcastle on Thursday 28th October


John Lydon by Paul Heartfield



Words: Cameron Wright Indisputable rock royalty, enigmatic anarchist John Lydon became the archetypal face of the punk movement, fronting the revolutionary musical uprisings that were The Sex Pistols and Public Image Limited. The legacy of John Lydon’s music is carved into the evolution and upsurgence of rock music, dismantling the foundations of musical niceties and holding a megaphone to the furious adolescent voices of the nation. 50 years on from the rise of The Sex Pistols, Lydon’s wit is as devastating as ever and his voice refuses to quiet with age. The outspoken, anarchic and insightful mind of Lydon has been spilled across the pages of his newest novel, I Could Be Wrong, I Could Be Right. The ramblings, anecdotes and hysterical observations of a man who has experienced, endured and altered the world are transcribed in detail, yet Lydon is ready to share more. In support of the book’s release, John Lydon is launching into action, touring the country with a

string of conversational gigs that encourage audience questions and unscripted, honest dialogue (which may nor may not include his recent legal spat with Sex Pistols bandmates). Coming to a couple of venues in the region this month, this unique experience is guaranteed to be an eye opening and poignant event, as Lydon recounts the adventures of his phenomenal career. John Lydon brings his Q&A tour to Whitley Bay Playhouse on Wednesday 13th, The Forum in Northallerton on Friday 15th, Gala Theatre in Durham on Sunday 17th and The PAA in Yarm on Tuesday 26th October



Words: Luke Waller Nick Drake, the fabled folk singer-songwriter of the late 1960s and early 1970s, revolutionised the genre with his uniquely sage and sophisticated style of music. In a short span of time, producing just three albums including 1972’s legendary Pink Moon, Drake would send

ripples through music from his obscure corner of experimentation of the period. It’s this which I Saw Nick Drake, a three-night event taking place across the North East, will be honouring; with five contemporary musicians and groups performing songs written and inspired by Nick Drake. Katherine Priddy made her debut in 2018 with her much-esteemed EP Wolf, and has earned her name as an accomplished songwriter. George Boomsma, with whom Priddy has collaborated, has gained a similar reputation, including as a member of Kathryn Williams’ band. Meanwhile, cellist Ceitidh Mac’s fantastically modern folk promises to demonstrate the sheer breadth of Drake’s influence, alongside Luke James Williams, former frontman of The October Game, who provides a poppier take on the genre. Finally, appearing only in North Shields, Hector Gannet will bring their folk rock sound, heavily influenced by Northern heritage. Katherine Priddy, George Boomsma, Ceitidh Mac (Stockton & Durham only), Luke James Williams and Hector Gannet (North Shields only) perform at The Engine Room, North Shields (Thursday 14th), The Georgian Theatre in Stockton (Friday 15th) and Claypath Deli, Durham (Saturday 16th October)




JAY MOUSSA-MANN TALKS WITH THE BAROQUE POP ARTIST ABOUT HER DEBUT SOLO EP, BEING A PIONEERING VOICE FOR YOUNG DISABLED PEOPLE AND HOW PERFECTION IS OVERRATED IMAGE BY AMELIA READ There is something about Ruth Lyon that instantly makes you feel at home. For our interview she pops up on my screen radiating creativity, surrounded by colourful throws and tiled baroque art. The PRS Women Make Music awardee is here to talk about her debut EP Nothing’s Perfect, a dynamic collection of catchy pop tunes written by a truly masterful musician. Co-produced with Rhiannon Mair (Laura Marling, LUNA) and Cameron Craig (Amy Winehouse, Katie Melua) Nothing’s Perfect is


ironically an impeccable mix of bittersweet self-reflection, expertly demonstrated on the piano-led fragility of Paper Aeroplane, alongside rhythm and blues-inspired driving tracks such as the funky Fast Food and the experimental stomp of Motormouth. Classically trained, Ruth’s musical background has stood her in good stead, previous material (released under the name Ruth Patterson) saw her receive support from BBC 6Music and earned her a coveted position as Sage Gateshead artist in residence in 2020;



having since changed her name to her mother’s maiden name, Lyon, her debut EP is a masterclass in catchy pop choruses and wry storytelling. I am genuinely surprised when Ruth tells me she’s not sure the EP is very cohesive. “I didn’t really have a really clear theme,” she says, going on to explain that it was born out of wanting to experiment and have fun. Despite her protestations, the individual tracks compliment each other to result in a beautifully balanced and distinctly memorable collection. Lemon Tree is my personal favourite; deeply rich, with a brilliant hook, combining rhythm, soul and pop with Ruth’s velvet voice to create a scintillating earworm. Ruth proudly explains that her own lemon tree has produced three large lemons, but this quirky love song has a double meaning. “It’s a little poppy bop, but it’s about the end of the world!” She says, laughing. As jaded a title as Nothing’s Perfect may seem, for Ruth it means quite the opposite. As a young disabled person with chronic illness, she is a pioneer for inclusivity for disability in the arts. “It’s kind of what propels me to keep doing what I’m doing and try to change things,” she says. “Nobody is perfect, nothing is perfect and that’s OK.” I’m curious how this driven mentality might clash against an industry so charged by image and by achieving an unattainable

perfection. “It does worry me about young disabled people growing up; that they’re taught that they are ‘wrong’. Because we can’t hide the fact that we’re different. For me it’s really, really important to shine a light on that.” Ruth performed earlier this year on the BBC Introducing stage at Latitude Festival, which was a special experience for her. “It felt quite surreal, because it was my first solo show. It was totally overwhelming,” she remembers. “I got asked to do it two weeks beforehand, I had to get a whole band together and we’d never played together before.” Ruth’s stagecraft has been expertly honed thanks to her work fronting the perennially touring folk ‘n’ rollers Holy Moly & The Crackers, but when she’s performing her own material her stage presence is a thing of mesmeric beauty. “Everything felt quite fresh and exciting. I was just like a kid, I was like ‘this is the best day ever!’ The crowd were really amazing. No one knew who I was, but everybody just got up and got really into it – there was just this really great spirit about it.” As well as her other commitments, Ruth is also an artist ambassador for Attitude Is Everything, a charity aiming to create more accessibility for deaf and disabled people in music. “One of the reasons I was really proud to be at Latitude was because they had to build a ramp especially for me to get onto the stage, and that felt so great because they were like ‘We’ve never done this before’. It was really cool they’d done that and made all the arrangements. Disabled artists do exist. It can easily be made adaptable.” To mirror her positive personality, Ruth’s unique brand of baroque pop balances a realistic approach to everyday life with sensitivity and depth. “I first heard that term used with Fiona Apple,” Ruth says of the genre. “I love her world and her contemporaries like Regina Spektor and Alanis Morrissette, these kind of really powerful but quite interesting voices and these women that have a lot to say.” For Ruth the genre is more about what it stands for than what it describes. “It often uses strings, there’s a lot of layers, a lot of emotion,” she tells me. Ruth sees her musical style as a statement of intent, giving her the freedom to write regardless of gender expectations. “I always aim to be powerful and strong in my work. I want to be able to sing about whatever I want,” she says, passionately. Whether that’s what Ruth calls a “silly” track like Fast Food or something darker like Little Blue, a song inspired by her relationship with one of the medications she takes, a little blue pill. So, what’s next for this trailblazer? Ruth will be setting off on her own headline tour in Spring 2022, the details of which she promises are to be released soon. In the meantime, she’ll be performing at Alphabetti Theatre’s Women Are Mint festival on Wednesday 3rd November, with a full band performance coming later in the month at Brave Exhibitions festival at The Cluny. Ruth Lyon’s EP Nothing’s Perfect is released on 22nd October via Pink Lane Records



A Northern Stage Production

Fri 8 - Sat 30 Oct “This is our road, but tonight it’s your road an’ all. Don’t feel awkward with us, make yourselves at home.”

Tickets from £10. Socially distanced seating.

0191 230 5151 | 34



L-R, T-B:Val McDermid by KT Bruce, Willy Vlautin by Dan Eccles, Anita Sethi by Tobias Alexander, Sissay Lemn by Aida Muluneh

DURHAM BOOK FESTIVAL CLAIRE DUPREE DIVES INTO THIS YEAR’S HYBRID EVENT WHICH PLACES ACCESSIBILITY AND DIVERSITY AT ITS HEART If the move to largely digital programming last year taught us anything, it’s that with the world wide web comes greater accessibility and wider opportunities. For those who have the wherewithal to think a little outside the box, the possibilities for creativity are endless. Take Durham Book Festival, which takes place from Saturday 9th-Sunday 17th October – the usually packed programme is supplemented even further with a glut of podcasts, digital events, talks and provocations, making it an exceedingly meaty prospect. The New Writing North-produced programme is too packed to go into at length here. A Digital Weekend kicks off proceedings (Saturday 9th-Sunday 10th October), with more than 20 events accessible from your sofa. Highlights include Pointless co-host turned crime writer Richard Osman; Durham’s own Booker-prize winning author Pat Barker; festival laureate Fiona Benson, whose new poetry is inspired by the history of witchcraft in Durham; author of thriller sensation The Last House On Needless Street, Catriona Ward; and a commissioned collaboration between sound artist Christo Wallers and poet Linda France will make its debut. Also of note is an online screening of Counter Culture, a film from Louise Powell which tells of working-class people, places and voices and filmed among the East Durham coalfield communities (Monday 11th) and there’s a series of podcasts inspired by the theme of sleep. In-person events take place at Gala Theatre (Thursday 14th-Sunday 17th October) and kick off with the announcement of the winner of this year’s Gordon Burn Prize which celebrates bold works of fiction


and non-fiction. Other in-person highlights include readings from politician, Strictly star and author Ed Balls; crime writer extraordinaire Val McDermid; YA author David Almond; the launch of a booklet which celebrates the history of Black lives in Northern England; a North East poetry showcase featuring John Challis, Jo Clement and Jake Morris-Campbell; and Door-to-Door poet Rowan McCabe presents brand new material. Of particular note and highly recommended are events including North East disability activist and author Lisette Auton, who chairs a discussion with poet Jen Hadfield and writer Joanne Limburg which touches on themes of neurodiversity, feminism and disability rights (Sunday 10th, online); writer Kit de Waal chats with author and poet Lemn Sissay about his memoir My Name Is Why, which delves into his quest for identity and belonging after a childhood in the care system (Saturday 16th, Gala Theatre); acclaimed author and songwriter Willy Vlautin talks about his newest novel The Night Always Comes, which reflects on American society with his usual empathy and grit (Sunday 10th, online); Anita Sethi talks about her extraordinary novel I Belong Here, which reflects on the author’s journey through the natural landscapes of the North after becoming the victim of a hate-crime (Sunday 10th, online); Disability and the Politics of Visibility is a series of punchy and powerful ten-minute talks by disabled artists, which has been curated by Little Cog’s Vici Wreford-Sinnott (Monday 11th-Friday 15th, online), and Vici has also written and directed The Unsung, a sci-fi/historic genre mash-up radio performance about four extraordinary disabled women thrust together (Saturday 9th, online). For this hybrid festival accessibility is paramount, with Stagetext captioning in place for all in-person events, and all digital content will be captioned or transcribed. For much more, and to buy tickets, check out the festival website. Durham Book Festival takes place from Saturday 9th-Sunday 17th October




L-R, T-B: Lady Annabella, Phibi by Victoria Wai, Heidi, ETHR, Cortney Dixon, Georgia May by Victoria Wai




WOMEN ARE MINT CLAIRE DUPREE TALKS TO MARTHA HILL ABOUT THE THREE WEEK-LONG FESTIVAL WHICH CELEBRATES FEMALE AND NON-BINARY MUSICAL TALENT “Gender equality in the music industry, specifically this year, has completely been put on a back burner.” If you’re experiencing some deja vu from Martha Hill’s statement, you’ll no doubt be remembering her interview about the May incarnation of her Women Are Mint festival, which gets a reprise this month at Alphabetti. Sadly, things haven’t changed much since she bemoaned the state of mostly-male festival line-ups. “Everyone’s just pumped to get back to gigs and it feels like the PRS initiative for 50/50 line-ups by next year has just been totally scrapped by everybody. Nationally it feels like it’s been totally forgotten about.” While the North East may have some way to go before shonky promoters and all-male line-ups are a thing of the past, Martha praises organisations like Sister Shack, Tracks, Noisy Daughters and Forward NE for making a push towards gender equality in the region. “In the North East I am quite proud to say it still feels like it’s a big thing that’s being talked about and progress is being made.” Thanks to Martha’s own brand of beguiling alt. pop gaining considerable traction this year, she’s made a decent dent in the festival circuit herself, but she comes up against the same problem time and again with many of the headline and better paid slots going to all-male bands. “The sexism in the industry isn’t as black and white as a sign on the door saying ‘no women are allowed in’, it goes so much deeper.” From the gender pay gap to female artists being overlooked while their male counterparts assert their confidence with bookers and agents, the gatekeepers are still ever-present. The recent Gender Data report by equality campaign Why Not Her? analysed the top 20 British artists and bands featured across UK radio stations in the year from August 2020 and it makes for shocking reading, with female artists accounting for 15% or less across stations including BBC Radio 1, 1Xtra, Kiss, Kerrang!, Capital, Smooth, Radio X and Absolute Radio. BBC 6Music fares better at 40% (up from 10% in the previous year), while BBC Radio 2 has seen a significant shift in the opposite direction (40% in 2020, just 25% in 2021). Non-binary musicians fare even worse, and in some cases just 5% of the music played on large commercial and BBC-owned stations was made by musicians of colour. These figures chime with what Martha calls her ‘new theory’. “I think it goes deeper than just artists being booked to what the general public wants to listen to; pop music is all about recognisable music, the best pop tunes are basically like nursery rhymes with a solid beat behind them. I think if people only ever hear male voices then your ears just want to hear male voices. Some people just prefer the sound of a male voice, and I don’t think that’s because men actually have better voices I think it’s because if that’s what you’re

constantly being fed, you want to hear what you recognise.” Sadly, quotas may be one of the main ways to address some of these problems, but where larger events and corporations conveniently use the Covid crisis to avoid tackling the issue, it’s become increasingly down to grassroots organisations like Women Are Mint to address the disparity and actually do something about it. Leading by example, and following on from May’s virtual Women Are Mint festival, Martha has teamed up once again with Alphabetti Theatre, where the festival first started in 2018, to present a three week smorgasbord of musical talent. Taking place from Tuesday 26th October-Saturday 13th November, Women Are Mint boasts a refreshingly diverse line-up which highlights how much amazing female and non-binary talent there is in the region. Spanning genres and performance styles, and including DJ talent as well as live music, as they put it “there is nothing you might want that Women Are Mint doesn’t offer”. Kicking off the first week (from Tuesday 26th October) performers include self-effacing songwriter Lauren Stone; R&B/neo-soul artist Frankie Jobling; producer and vocalist of considerable talent Cortney Dixon; Darlington-based indie pop rock duo ETHR; self-proclaimed ‘eclectic selector’ DJ Lady Annabella; and soulful songwriter Nadedja. Week two sees Holy Moly & The Crackers’ accordionist Rosy take to the D’Addario stage on Tuesday 2nd November, followed by classically trained alt. pop maestro Ruth Lyon; indie rock artist Holly Rees; the stunning fusion of drones, guitar and close-knit vocal interplay of duo Maisie May and Anna Hughes, otherwise known as Northering; alt. R&B songwriter, producer and hotly-tipped talent Phibi; and a Saturday night DJ set from Women Are Mint staple CADI, whose bass-driven funky house will see the week off with a bang. The third week of performances starting on Tuesday 9th November includes Teesside songwriting talent Jodie Nicholson; soulful vocalist and lyrical storyteller Georgia May; North Shields’ melody-driven rocker Heidi; the piano-based powerful sounds of Beccy Owen; electro-punk juggernaut Straight Girl and funk, soul and Motown DJ Paula. “It’s nice to bring it back to Alphabetti because that’s where it began.” Martha says of the venue. “Also, Alphabetti is just one of the most sensitive spaces in terms of being friendly to LGBTQ+ people, people with disabilities and people of gender minorities. They obviously make it a safe space for people, which is really important.” Women Are Mint takes place at Alphabetti Theatre, Newcastle from Tuesday 26th October-Saturday 13th November (TuesdaySaturday). Entry is pay what you feel




An intimate evening of Jazz featuring some of the North East’s top musicians, with supper served up by The Greedy Soul.






L-R, T-B: Jordan Mackampa, Swim School by Rory Barnes, Fatherson, HYYTS



CLAIRE DUPREE TALKS TO ANDY CARR ABOUT THE DELIGHTS ON OFFER AT MIDDLESBROUGH’S MULTI-VENUE FESTIVAL If you thought October was too late to get into the festival spirit, think again! Metropolitan music festival Twisterella returns to venues in Middlesbrough on Saturday 9th October and promoters Andy Carr (The Kids Are Solid Gold) and Henry Carden (Pay For The Piano) are raring to go after last year’s false start. “We were in such a great place after the last Twisterella. We’d picked up a prestigious award and had our first five star review in a national newspaper. In every respect we felt on top of our game.” Says Andy, “Now, as the big day gets closer, it feels as though we can now really crack on and deliver the best possible event once again. In terms of acts rolling over from 2020, pretty much most of them have, which we’re delighted with.” With 2020 seeing many artists remain in stasis, seeing them live will be even sweeter this year. Musicians like alt. songwriter Lauran Hibberd, riot grrrl punks Dream Nails and erudite soul singer Jordan Mackampa have gone from strength to strength over the last year, while their fellow headliners, ‘miserable disco’ band The Howl & The Hum and Scottish rockers Fatherson, remain as popular and as vital as ever. Andy explains that the festival’s booking policy extends beyond just having a great sound – it’s a connection with an audience that’s paramount. “First and foremost, we have to be into the act. If we don’t like their music then it’s not happening. Ultimately, we’re looking for the act to have demonstrated good progress and have a clear plan. After that, it’s about making the bill as musically diverse as possible – we want to expose people to a range of new acts and allow them to make a connection.” Further highlights include the likes of electro pop duo HYYTS, the

shoegaze lushness of Bored At My Grandma’s House, the raw emotion of MarthaGunn, London-based Spanish folk songwriter Odina and angsty songwriter Jack Whiskin. Unsurprisingly, the line-up also features some local heavy-hitters including indie pop band Marketplace, Durham/London’s power popsters Fortitude Valley, ‘sad dance’ artist Straight Girl, synthy favourites Moon Wax, electro gems Twist Helix, the sardonic sounds of James Leonard Hewitson and fast rising R&B songwriter and producer Phibi, among many others. “A number of local acts have made huge progress, not just regionally but nationally, over the past year or so which has been no mean feat in these crazy times. Jodie Nicholson has led the way with Luke Royalty and Mt. Misery also really putting markers down.” Andy says. The 1,250 capacity festival will include four main stages based less than a minute’s walk from eachother at Teesside University Students’ Union, The Townhouse, TSOne and Westgarth Social Club, plus pop-up sessions taking place in cool spaces in nearby Baker Street and Bedford Street. The community aspect of the event is something that Henry and Andy don’t take for granted. “Live events like ours can be inspiring and incredibly uplifting, not to mention bringing in important revenue to the local businesses. We want Twisterella to be the best it can be and we want it to feel like an essential experience for both crowds and artists alike.” Andy is emphatic that the festival is successful because it’s a real team effort. “Twisterella is really rooted in its community and we are incredibly proud of that.” Twisterella takes place at various venues in Middlesbrough on Saturday 9th October






With the power battle that ran between American and British guitar bands across the 90s and into the 2000s dying somewhere in the past decade, it now seems that there’s pretty easy pickings for anyone smart enough to choose the shiniest parts of the past 30 years and pull it into their own original sound. You can make your own mind up about what you’d take, but for me I’d collect the lo-fi guitars, humorous side nods and glories melodies (a la Phoebe Bridgers) and mix them with perpetual progression of sound, honest lyrics and a charismatic frontperson (The 1975). If your collection was similar to mine, you may enjoy indie power-pop band Fortitude Valley; an act sparkling in both a lo-fi sound and glorious melodies. Fortitude Valley are made up of members from a collection of bands NARC. readers may well be familiar with (including Martha, Night Flowers, ONSIND and Tigercats); they make a strong case that whilst genres and scenes come and go, good music sticks around. “We came about for a number of reasons,” confirms frontwoman and chief songwriter Laura Kovic, “partly because I’d written a bunch of songs and didn’t want to be a solo act, and also because we all added really important ingredients and tastes to the songs. Being able to collaborate with other musicians who love music is vital for a band.” Set to release their self-titled album this month, and already being linked to the sound of Belle & Sebastian, Weezer and Pavement, early Fortitude Valley releases showcase both the humour and the love of melodies that are central to their style; recent single Cassini glows with a bubblegum punk vibe, while Baby, I’m Afraid possesses a sassy, intellectual Dandy Warhols-esque pop drive and wit. “The album’s


BEING ABLE TO COLLABORATE WITH OTHER MUSICIANS WHO LOVE MUSIC IS VITAL FOR A BAND quite varied I think,” confirms Kovic, “that’s partly because we all like a number of different bands, and also because we recorded the album with a large Covid break in the middle and I think that the break slightly altered what was influencing us and meant some original songs didn’t get recorded and new ones came in. Things like that can influence a record and make it more varied.” Indeed, alternate moments on the album include the all-out alt. pop banger All Hail The Great Destroyer and It’s Not U, It’s Me with its Lush sounding bounce. Fortitude Valley are now ready to get on the road, with an album tour on the horizon in the near future and a gig at Middlesbrough’s Twisterella festival playing immediate focus: “We can’t wait for that one as it’s local to where we’re based and it’ll be one of the first times we’ve had to get out and play some of the newer songs from the album.” Kovic says the band are looking forward to releasing the record and hearing it’s impact: “Finally it feels like the album’s coming out, and we’ve got shows to play it live, and all of those things are such a great relief as we’re really proud of the album and want people to hear it.” Fortitude Valley release their self-titled album on 29th October. They play Twisterella Festival in Middlesbrough on Saturday 9th October



Image by Rebecca Need-Menear

LAURAN HIBBERD MICHAEL O’NEILL FINDS OUT HOW A PERIOD OF ENFORCED CREATIVITY LED TO LAURAN HIBBERD’S MOST ACCOMPLISHED WORK YET It almost feels like a bit of a tedious cliché to precede an interview piece with a ‘rising star’ such as slacker-pop artist Lauran Hibberd without a brief preamble about the seismic blow that the ongoing pandemic has dealt to the music industry at large. However, in Lauran’s case, it’s hard to avoid. Here we have a quintessential example of an artist being thrown a profound challenge: you’ve reached the point in your career in which people are starting to pay attention, and you’ve put in enough shifts to know that this wave of momentum is not an easy one to ride, and then the industry that this momentum depends on is forced to effectively grind to a halt. How do you overcome a hurdle as colossal as that? For Lauran, the initial frustrations of lockdown-imposed life gave way to an epiphany: “After the initial blow [of lockdown restrictions] I became obsessed with how many songs I could write, because I’d never previously had so much time to invest in writing and experimenting. It influenced my mind to dart to a lot of strange places, and I had more time to ‘perfect’ every lyric and song structure, which was an amazing exercise for me. I learned so much just by not stopping, until I ended up with a Soundcloud playlist FULL of demos.” In the absence of being able to develop these ideas in a live setting, Lauran hit upon an ingenious solution: “[In order to] to ‘road test’ my ideas I mailed out demos to my mailing list for 24-hour periods to gauge reactions. It turned out to be a really cool experiment!”


From this avalanche of creativity, the foundations of Goober (her second EP) were formed. Released in July, the six-track release is an astonishing testament to her powers as a songwriter, tackling everything from the shuddering thought of someone still having old nudes of you, through to hazy dreams of dying in the seventies; it’s a kaleidoscopic statement of intent that is both thought-provokingly introspective and delightfully maximalist. The widescreen production from Suzy Shinn (whose previous credits include Weezer and Dua Lipa) allows the songs to soar to their utmost potential. Although restrictions meant they were never in the same room as they developed the EP, she found this to be of little hindrance: “She rocks and I love her! The recording experience was wicked, because she wasn’t afraid to tear whole songs apart and fill them with even more energy. Recording remotely definitely made for an experience, but [the ability to have] midnight FaceTimes in which we could bounce ideas back and forth was really cool and it gives you more time to sit with the parts as opposed to making snap decisions.” So, with another killer EP in the bag and the live music industry returning to some semblance of ‘normality’, what’s next? “I am fully throwing all my beans and planning a debut full length album now and I cannot wait for everyone to hear it! I’m hoping all of those restless days locked in my bedroom, writing songs like a crazy woman, will pay off. I have a really distinct vision in my head, and so many ideas. It’s a very exciting time, and I can’t wait to get started. So yeah, watch out!” Lauran Hibberd plays Twisterella festival in Middlesbrough on Saturday 9th October. Her Goober EP is out now





Image by Michael Sreenan

JAY MOUSSA-MANN TALKS TO THE SOULFUL EMERGING SONGWRITER ABOUT HER DARING NEW RELEASE A gorgeous blend of alt. pop fused with elements of jazz and electronic fantasy, Nadedja has created something totally new and thrilling with her captivating debut EP Transient. Inspired by stories collected across her native Brazil, North America and the UK, Nadedja has used her experiences of moving through different lives and cultures to create a beautiful collection of songs. “I think Transient is the most ‘me’ thing I’ve ever done,” she tells me. “It definitely feels like the perfect introduction to not only a more genuine, but also a more daring version of me.” The collection has a wonderfully defined sound to it, which was borne out of the collaboration between Nadedja and producer HATi. “HATi and I met during a songwriting residency organised by Tipping Point, back at the beginning of 2020,” recalls Nadedja. The two usually work by building up the tracks using Nadedja’s demos as a base. “I will write the songs and create my demos; and after that, we’ll both work together on building them and making them sound more polished, dynamic and exciting. It’s a real dream to work with her!” An awardee of Help Musicians’ Do It Differently Fund and an alumni of Sage Gateshead’s coveted Summer Studios residency, Nadedja gained national airplay on BBC 6Music, and was shortlisted as a Fresh Fave on Tom Robinson’s Fresh On The Net. As well as garnering support from Amazing Radio, she recently made waves across the pond, performing live on Brazilian TV and gaining followers and thousands of streams from 78 different countries. Bittersweet Move, Nadedja’s latest release, and the critically acclaimed Sand, are both included on the new EP and demonstrate her hypnotic, soothing style of songwriting and also showcase her incredible vocal range and control with mysterious, heartwrenching lyrics. When We Land is a stand-out track, a delicate


TRANSIENT DEFINITELY FEELS LIKE THE PERFECT INTRODUCTION TO NOT ONLY A MORE GENUINE, BUT ALSO A MORE DARING VERSION OF ME piano ballad lifted by HATi’s consistently deft production, with a powerful, soaring chorus. This song showcases all my favourite parts of Nadedja; her unique poetry, captivating vocals and her ability to write memorable songs while keeping them deeply original. Unfold is an instant hook, one of those songs that is equally calming and rousing, dripping piano sitting on top of beautifully arranged synth arps and a desperately catchy chorus. Written during the beginning of lockdown, Nadedja remembers the track didn’t come easy. “Unfold took me a while to write actually. It happened during the very beginning of lockdown and I think my mind was just a bit foggy. It was my very first time experimenting with electronic sounds and it gave me that first taste of hearing myself in the way I’ve always dreamed of hearing.” Transient is a beautiful piece of work which captures Nadedja’s journey in the search for a feeling of belonging. “I’ve learned to be at home within myself,” she says. “This is Transient: an open journal confessing every single step of this endless discovery.” Nadedja releases Transient EP on 15th October. She plays at Twisterella festival, Middlesbrough on Saturday 9th, Sage Gateshead on Thursday 28th and Women Are Mint at Alphabetti Theatre on Saturday 30th October, as well as Waves festival in Sunderland on Saturday 6th November




Image by Tom Kimber Swamped in delicate piano playing and introspective narratives, the first two albums by Jenny Lascelles set off early indications of mature songwriting skills and delightful, delicate vocal ability. By the time Lascelles’ second album, 2017’s Backbone, was released, it became clear that with the right development and level of artistic growth, Lascelles could blossom into a deeply affecting artist. No pressure there then. And so here we are at the start of album three, A Little Louder, with lead single and early summer release Dying 2 Get 2 U having already shown the signs of artistic development that was hoped for. With its piano loops and rousing ruminations on mortality, the track reflected a number of new pallets within Lascelles’ catalogue, both sonically and thematically. “Dying 2 Get 2 U was an important first step for me,” confirms Lascelles. “With this album I wanted to try to change my music and to push myself in a number of ways both musically and personally.” Taken as a brave step towards artistic truth, Dying 2 Get 2 U shone an early light on the direction Lascelles wanted to head in, a move evidenced in spades throughout the rest of the album which glows with adult themes and an understanding of modern life’s complexities. She’s A Peach demonstrates the type of sassy pop move that Kylie pulled off with Confide In Me when shedding her


pop past in favour of a provocateur, Drown Me displays gentle rock textures, while Sea Green is a pop rock anthem which builds into a glorious final explosion of intricate vocal parts and melody lines. These are complex, intricate songs, with huge visions and fine grand details; as Lascelles says, this is not just about new songs, it’s about a new identity. “The title A Little Louder has a few meanings, it talks about the difference in the music and the production I’m looking for, but it’s also a message to me to push myself to use my own voice more and to be more confident in places I haven’t always been in the past, especially with topics such as mental health, loss and exploring what it means be a woman.” The album will get a live outing at Newcastle’s Bobik’s on Sunday 24th October. “It’ll be great to play at Bobik’s, and the idea is to play with the full band and also some backing vocalists, so I’m really excited about how it’s coming together and how I imagine it’s going to sound.” It’s clear Lascelles is up to the challenge of recreating the album’s textures and multi-faceted layers in a live setting. Such challenges, along with developing current ideas for future projects into finished pieces, will ensure she continues to develop artistically and, as a forward-thinking artist who’s ready to embrace change, she can only blossom further. Jenny Lascelles launches A Little Louder on Sunday 24th October at Bobik’s, Newcastle





Image by Clare Hargan

BEN LOWES-SMITH TALKS TO THE PROLIFIC TEESSIDE MUSICIAN ABOUT HIS MULTITUDE OF UPCOMING RELEASES Between October 2021 and January 2022 Oli Heffernan will have released five albums; as Ivan The Tolerable, Houseplants and with his work in King Champion Sounds. It’s an eye-watering work ethic by anyone’s standards, but the energy and inspiration is something that seems to flow freely for the Teesside-based artist. “If I’m working on my own, things come together really fast as I don’t dwell on stuff or stop to think – it’s kind of just stream of consciousness music. If I’m working with other people, which I usually do these days – I get a bunch of ideas down, send them to other folks and they add their parts and send them back and then I build them up further – this takes longer as I have to wait around for people, but I usually start another record while I’m waiting – it stops me being impatient – I’m usually working on two to three albums at any one time.” If this is Oli’s usual work rate, imagine what the enforced downtime due to Covid did to his prolificacy. “I worked on music full time for the first time in my life without any distractions or having to go anywhere. I’ve made 12 albums (and played on a few other people’s albums) between Covid hitting in March 2020 and today, which is pretty good going! There’s basically an LP a month until Spring 2022, and some of it is among my favourite work to date.” Posing the idea that working on so much material in a very condensed period of time must create some commonality between the projects, Oil agrees that the projects share certain sensibilities.



“I like to think that everything I do has a thread running through it – I want it to sound like me, but I also like each record to be its own thing. I think I do that quite well, mainly due to the other brilliant folks that play on my stuff. I’ve whittled down to a core group of about 10 people who I work with a lot on various things – they are all quick, great inventive players and are integral to what I do; they send me in all sorts of directions that perhaps I didn’t know I was going in.” Albums being released over the next month mostly see Oli take the lead, and he explains his creative process: “The process is always the same for projects where I’m the leader, so for Ivan The Tolerable, Houseplants, Detective Instinct, I’ll spend a few days tracking an album’s worth of drones, basslines, guitar parts, sequencers, synths or whatever and them send them out to someone else and when I get their stuff back I refine further and add more layers and develop a structure and then send it out to some other people and I just keep building it until it becomes its own beast. The moods, tempos and feelings shift depending mainly on my mood – it’s all about the weather in my head at the time that dictates which way the wind will blow.” With yet more projects on the go with the likes of Neil Turpin from Bilge Pump and Tom House from Sweet Williams/Haress, fans of Oli’s slightly controlled chaos will soon be even more spoiled for choice. Oli Heffernan’s releases over the coming months include a new King Champion Sounds release on 1st October, several Ivan The Tolerable releases including a tape in October (via Cruel Nature) and two albums in November (via Stolen Body) and January (via LOTO), plus a Houseplants album via Win Big in December




SOMNIUM, PH Filipe Alcada, dancers Ellie Marsh, Lila Naruse

CLAIRE DUPREE TALKS TO CO-ARTISTIC DIRECTORS RENAUD WISER AND MALGORZATA DZIERZON ABOUT THEIR NEW MULTI-DISCIPLINARY DANCE WORKS WHICH FUSE FANTASY AND REALITY Technology and fantasy go hand in hand in Fertile Ground’s new season of dance works, which premiere at Newcastle’s Dance City this month. The repertory dance company headed up by co-directors Renaud Wiser and Malgorzata Dzierzon present an innovative programme which is as forward-thinking in its approach as it is imaginative in its subject-matter. Myths & Dreams combines dance, film and digital sculpture by four choreographers whose work touches on themes of isolation, confinement and individuality. Renaud and Malgorzata have explored multi-disciplinary approaches to their work for many years, as they explain. “Myths & Dreams is a continuation of that interest, situating dance in dialogue with film and architecture, which in this programme enables a deeper exploration of the themes and evokes images that would otherwise be difficult to express through movement alone.” Having found herself living in away from home in Hong Kong during 2020, Malgorzata’s dance film Somnium captures and expresses our dreams, memories, anxieties and desires during this recent period of change. “Some of the ideas for Somnium came out of sleepless nights rather than dreams, as well as the richness of the nature I was surrounded by, the sense of anonymity behind the masks in this densely populated city and my anxieties around border closures.” She explains. “Some of these feelings, as well as the dancers’ dreams shared with me during the creative process, have made it into the film. Dancers navigate between live action and projected image as if moving in and out of their bodies and consciousness.” In the piece, dancers seem to dream of nature, with the plants having a digital, holographic look to allude to the lives we have led through the screen. “There is a scene where masked dancers move through a fantastical landscape freely inspired by Dalí’s surrealist vision The Persistence of Memory and a duet in which performers try to connect across the boundaries of their imaginary bubbles.” While her work may have been made during the pandemic, she seems Somnium as a means of escape, rather than confinement.

MYTHS & DREAMS COMBINES DANCE, FILM AND DIGITAL SCULPTURE BY FOUR CHOREOGRAPHERS WHOSE WORK TOUCHES ON THEMES OF ISOLATION, CONFINEMENT AND INDIVIDUALITY “The films want to capture and give expression to our anxieties at this time but also create an elusive, fleeting space where we can meet and feel free despite lockdowns and restrictions.” Renaud’s production, Labyrinth, is a cross-disciplinary work inspired by the myth of the Minotaur, portrayed by the symbol of hybridity where the dancers are immersed in a virtual environment created by sculptor Marie Lelouche. Using motion-capture technology and projections, the Minotaur’s maze is rendered visible by the dancers’ movements. While his work wasn’t borne directly from the pandemic, the themes of solitude and entrapment will no doubt resonate with audiences. “The technology we are using has been a very important part of the making of the work, from scanning elements of architecture for the construction of the virtual sculptures to the dancers accessing them via virtual reality headsets in order to create a vocabulary closely linked to their forms and volumes.” Renaud explains. “In the work, the technology is there to support the choreography and is discreetly used to bring materiality to the digital sculpture. Audiences will get a sense of Marie Lelouche’s beautiful work by joining us ahead of the performance for a virtual reality experience of the maze and during the show via a projection and sound installation closely connected to the choreography.” Fertile Ground present Myths & Dreams at Dance City, Newcastle on Thursday 14th October, with a further performance in Sunderland to be announced






Image by Rob Blackham


She Drew The Gun came into the national consciousness back in 2016, winning the Glastonbury Emerging Talent contest and attracting the biggest crowd ever to the John Peel tent on a Sunday morning. Five years later, Louisa Roach is on to album number three, preparing for a UK tour, fired up and ready to go. Less than 24 hours after a mini-honeymoon, having recently married her girlfriend, Roach tells me about the process of writing an album during a pandemic, how she is influenced by the current political and social climate and how much she is looking forward to the return of live gigs. New album Behave Myself was written mostly during lockdown with bassist Jack Turner. The unique social and political climate has clearly influenced the themes and messages of the record. “There’s quite a few mentions of cells, prisons or cages. There was a little bit of a feeling of needing to break free. Everything was in a state of flux, and when you write about the outside world and what’s going on around you, you have to take a minute to work out what is going on and absorb it and then you can start to let it seep into your work.” She explains that the pandemic opened many people’s eyes to things they may not have considered before. “[It] definitely highlighted certain things, about how we were blindly living our lives and how


much the government is getting away with and how the wealthy at the top of society have increased their wealth. But, where we are politically, I don’t really think there’s a good alternative to what’s going on right now. I think a lot of re-assessment needs to happen about how we live going forward.” The new album is gritty and determined; a melting pot of psychedelic pop with spoken word and dance influences, featuring synth-laden tracks with smatterings of disco and punk, which paint pictures of a dystopian society. Roach’s spoken word lyrics cut through to the truth on songs like Behave Myself, challenging us all to notice and stand up to the oppression in society. Next On The List takes a darker turn, questioning which marginalised group will be targeted and demonised next, amidst distorted vocals and a dance music vibe clearly influenced by early 90s rave music. In contrast, Diamonds In Our Eyes is a chilled-out love song featuring syncopated guitar and steady beats progressively overlaid with synths to give it a psychedelic quality. Songs like Next On The List, Class War and Behave Yourself stand up for the marginalised, and in doing so Roach empowers her listeners, giving them a voice. She reflects the corruption and injustice in society honestly, with lyrically meaningful and relevant songs. She’s also unafraid to turn the microscope inward too. “I do touch on mental health issues in my songs quite a bit and how mental health issues are not just a personal thing. It’s totally affected by the systems that we live in and neoliberalism is bad for mental health. That’s kinda important for me to have in my work.” She Drew The Gun play Newcastle’s Cobalt Studios on Friday 8th October. Behave Yourself is released on the same day






Image by Maddy Anserson The past 18 months have been both an unbearable drag and flashed by in the blink of an eye. Whether it’s been spent productively, a time of deep introspection, or simply just a period of survival has been up to the individual. For glam-pop ensemble Walt Disco, it’s been a combination of all three. The group didn’t slack off over lockdown, self-producing and self-releasing Young Hard & Handsome in the midst of the pandemic. This summer marked the first opportunity they had to play tunes from their 2020 EP live, and it was certainly a momentous occasion, as vocalist James Potter explains. “There were so many songs on the release [from] over a year ago. We want to keep them exciting to us. In lockdown, Doja Cat did metal versions of Say So. We’ve heavied up a couple and gone full heavy metal with it, which is so fun to play live. I think we’re just wanting to be ‘out there.’ We won’t take any gig for granted any more so we’ll just make it as big as possible for everyone.” Walt Disco have already put out two new singles in recent months, ready for a new run of headline shows this autumn. Selfish Lover is a fun take on an experience a lot of people missed out on in recent months; the camptastic synth-infused romp through post-relations disappointment is an instant classic. “It was early on in lockdown when we decided that we were going to write and record a lot of music. One day, spirits were not as high as we hoped they’d be, we were just dragging ourselves out on a walk, trying to feel normal… We had dinner and wrote the lyrics in half an hour. We thought about, ‘What is not happening in lockdown?’ Well, sex... Bad sex, then talking about the bad sex the next day. That’s a really fun thing to do. So we thought, ‘Let’s write a song about that.’”


IF YOU CAN PUT INTO WORDS HOW YOU FELT ABOUT SOMETHING, YOU’RE PROBABLY NOT THE ONLY ONE Its follow up, Weightless, delves into a deeply personal journey undertaken by James over the course of the pandemic: gender identity. The track documents this internal discussion and their eventual euphoria with their decision to live authentically. “Quite a few years ago I questioned gender identity, but I didn’t truly explore it in day-to-day life. The band was a way to express it, but once a show was finished, I didn’t think about it, but I probably just didn’t know what to think. I knew I had these feelings for a while. In My Pop Sensibilities [2018] there’s a line that says, ‘You make me feel like a man and I hate it.’ I wrote that lyric kind of understanding what I meant by it, but not really. Fast forward to 2020, there was a lot more time to think about how I wanted to come out, to feel better and day-to-day life, how I was gonna live in 10 years or 20 years. What do I picture myself being? I was questioning if I was doing enough to make myself happy. 23 is not too late to do the things that make yourself feel better. A lot of people experience the same thing. If you can put into words how you felt about something, you’re probably not the only one.” It may have been a tough year, but for some it has been a chrysalis to true fulfilment. Walt Disco play KU Bar, Stockton on Saturday 23rd October




Love Spell

JAMES F. ANDERSON DISCOVERS THE SUNDERLAND SHORT FILM FESTIVAL IS BIG ON IDEAS IN THEIR SIXTH YEAR At this year’s upcoming Sunderland Shorts Film Festival, the designation of ‘short’ transcends any such derogatory connotations. The festival brings an excitingly diverse array of independent talent to the region and, after the trials and tribulations of last year, it is sure to enrapture its attendees. Building on the success of their (online only) 2020 iteration, the 2021 event presents a cinematic feast of over 100 films in a wonderfully accessible hybrid format, making armchair attendance possible. However, given the fantastic array of talent that the festival promises, screenings are sure to attract both hardened film buffs and fledgling film fans alike. The festival has grown and prospered since its inception in 2015, with founder Jon Gann at the helm. Now, under the guidance of coordinator Chris J. Allan, the festival continues to bloom. Allan speaks in glowing terms of this year’s proceedings: “At Sunderland Shorts Film Festival we have remained dedicated to bringing the best in filmmaking to the city, and this year is no exception with one of our strongest line-ups to date. With the benefit of also having an online presence this year, we have an exciting opportunity where we share great films from here in the North East and all around the world, but where we also have more accessible means to view them than ever before, with the potential to reach our widest audiences yet and really shine a spotlight on some incredible filmmaking talent.” The festival’s reputation for championing filmmaking across boundaries of genre and ability finds full form this year, with Sunderland University generously contributing to cash prizes for student filmmakers, and online masterclasses hosted by local filmmakers Above The Line and The Film Look will give budding


filmmakers the chance to learn new skills. Festival highlights abound, include the Oscar-nominated short documentary Feeling Through, and Love Spell, a local teen drama which has already garnered award-winning status. A further standout comes from former University of Sunderland student Rob Kilburn, whose Red Coats – a documentary about the contentious anachronism of fox hunting – is eagerly anticipated. Kilburn’s forays into documentary have gone from strength to strength, showcasing an ability to handle an array of topics with sophistication, delivered through a vibrant visual palette, and this latest work promises to do the same. Celebrated British artist and pioneering filmmaker John Akomfrah also makes the line-up, as the subject of a documentary produced last year. Akomfrah’s work with the Black Audio Film Collective in the 1980s resounds as some of the most innovative contemporary film work; a prescient mediation on the discourses of race and class that mark the present. For those that still haven’t been able to manage a sojourn to foreign waters due to recent travel restrictions, the international focus of the festival provides a selection of works sure to satiate the wanderlust of those in attendance, with films from across the globe, including Greece, Australia and the Philippines. The astonishing breadth and scope of the festival makes it sure to be a highpoint of the North East cultural scene, and a perfect event to keep the blues of the encroaching darker nights at bay. Check out the full list of screenings on their website and make the tough decision about what you’re going see first! Sunderland Shorts Film Festival takes place from Wednesday 6th-Saturday 9th October, with content online until Thursday 21st October



Róisín Murphy by Victoria Wai

ARAB STRAP @ BOILER SHOP, NEWCASTLE (09.09.21) Words: Ali Welford Aidan Moffat and Malcolm Middleton’s last outing in Newcastle was, to put it mildly, a bit special. However, even as they smashed their first show in a decade on one of The Cluny’s finest ever nights, you’d have received long odds on them returning five years later, buoyed by one of the finest records of their career. That, though, is precisely where the revitalised Scots find themselves following March’s spectacular As Days Get Dark. If indeed there were any, tonight swiftly puts doubts to rest; the reverence greeting The Turning Of Our Bones, Here Comes Comus! and Fable Of The Urban Fox confirming their status as instant classics. This isn’t a mere re-run of 2016 with new cuts subbed in, though. Yes, the likes of Girls Of Summer, New Birds and Piglet are all present, correct and as magical as ever, yet they’re also flanked by surprise additions omitted from that initial reanimation. Fan favourite Love Detective, for instance, receives a welcome airing in all its paranoid, unnerving glory, but even that’s topped by the colossal Blackness, a lengthy deep-cut recalling the days when Arab Strap and close contemporaries Mogwai formed the impenetrable apex of brooding Lowland misery. That tonight isn’t quite on par with their previous visit is a moot point; joy mightn’t be their forte, but there’s plenty here to leave the Strap hordes mightily satisfied.

RÓISÍN MURPHY @ BOILER SHOP, NEWCASTLE (13.09.21) Words: Ali Welford In a just world, Róisín Murphy would be rounding off the finest 12 months of her career, arriving at the Boiler Shop having slain dancefloors, festival fields and concert halls left, right and centre. Of course, our actual (shit) timeline has limited the Irish star’s outings to a clutch of glitzy TV slots. Fun excursions, no doubt – but it’s testament to this born and bred performer’s character that she rocks up at this first ‘proper’ gig for the best part of two years with a ‘better late than never’ outlook, relishing the energy of her audience, the countless costume changes, and the sheer joy of being onstage which a handful of primetime appearances simply cannot satiate. Beginning on the venue’s mezzanine and ending with an unexpected


flamenco encore, tonight’s set finds room for both established classics and a smattering of Moloko favourites. Really, though this disco-fuelled performance is all about Róisín Machine – last year’s powerhouse album through which Murphy fully indulges her inner diva. The strut throughout is utterly irresistible, from the groovy licks of Incapable and theatrical throb of Narcissus to a reworked Murphy’s Law, an ardent subscriber to one of music’s unwritten rules – that if you must have a de-facto eponymous track, you’d best make it a banger! It’s all tremendous fun, underpinned by the palpable sense that she’s loving it just as much as the rest of us.

WAXA BELTA HELTA SKELTA @ LAUREL’S, WHITLEY BAY (16.09.21) Words: Leigh Venus Tapping into that weird seam of Geordie sublime mined by the likes of Rowan McCabe, Faithful Johannes and Your Aunt Fanny, multi-disciplinary artist and all-around unleasher of inner freaks Serena Ramsey has conjured an irreverent tale of abandonment, cults and mammy issues with Greggs at its dark heart. A deeply Geordie one-person show anchored by a high-octane, physically dangerous performance from Ramsey, Waxa is ostensibly a tale about what becomes of someone whose mother abandons the family to join a cult. Yet, the core narrative is merely the inner sausage around which the surreal and often explosive pastry wraps. If Greggs isn’t sponsoring this thing, then the world’s greatest bakers have missed a trick – there are places here that famous blue logo was never intended to go. Barrelling through set-pieces, monologues, dance routines, religious rituals and audience participation, Ramsay less tells a story than sells a mood, fronting the show with so much glorious physical comedy that it isn’t until the end we realise we’ve been sucker-punched and captivated by the confusion, heartbreak and even joy that washes over us when our world is rocked, and we have to rebuild all that we are. A fearless talent, Ramsay is dead-set on a mission to challenge convention and explode conceptions of how theatre ‘should’ be done. Simultaneously grounded and transcendent, Waxa Belta Helta Skelta is an arresting, hysterical work from an authentically local artist that resonates long after the last flakes of pastry have fallen.


MXYM by Iam Burn

THE MAGPIES @ GOSFORTH CIVIC THEATRE, NEWCASTLE (09.09.21) Words: Luke Waller As autumn begins to dawn upon us, a cosy evening in a setting such as the Gosforth Civic Theatre accompanied by a soothing selection of folk music seems most fitting. Introduced by local accordion-and-fiddle duo Jim Boyle and David Gray were The Magpies, the transatlantic all-female trio who have been making their mark on the folk scene since 2018. On the ninth consecutive night of their September UK tour, they performed a wonderfully diverse set of a mix of traditional and more modern songs, reaching from the classic ballad The Two Magicians to a fantastic encore of Eurythmics’ Sweet Dreams. All of this was complemented by the outstanding musicianship of all three members, who together concoct an incredible blend of banjo, fiddle and acoustic guitar. Though Bella Gaffney, the principal guitarist and vocalist, was suffering from an illness there was no sign of this shown in the standard of their music; it did, however, leave her perching on a stool “like a member of Westlife” (in her own words!) Any who have seen or heard The Magpies expect little less than perfection from them – yet even when set against the highest standards, The Magpies continue to outdo themselves.

SHINE @ LIVE THEATRE, NEWCASTLE (07.09.21) Words: James Hattersley Shine is ultimately a coming of age story told from the source himself, Kema Sikazwe, as he chronicles his journey from his childhood beginnings in Zambia to his arrival and subsequent settlement in Newcastle. While one would be forgiven for the assumption that this would be a simple fish out of water story, with cultural misunderstandings left right and centre – and in some parts it is, pockets of Kema’s upbringing are relentlessly funny; particularly his first exposure to the Geordie accent – it’d be ignorant to believe so. What this story is deep down, is a tale of searching for belonging and navigating through the whiplash of life. Kema masterfully leads the audience

on a rollercoaster of emotions; flipping from jovially jolly to hauntingly harrowing on a dime. Weaved throughout his story are various musical pieces, set to spectacular backlight, that are raw, powerful and perfectly frame each significant event of Kema’s life, giving each moment a further emotive insight. You never know when music is gonna hit but it never truly sneaks up on you. It’s like Kema’s mother always said, “the music is always present, you just have to hear it.” Shine is a fantastically honest account of the human struggle for acceptance and self belief, which is something that everyone can relate to. Shine on.

CLUB SIX TWENTY @ INDEPENDENT, SUNDERLAND (26.08.21) Words: Laura Doyle Clubbing sounds like a great idea – until you’re stumbling down the street at three in the morning after spending five humid hours listening to a hit-or-miss playlist. The Six Twenty have taken the basics of the phenomenon and revolutionised it. Gone are sour-faced bouncers, enter the everwelcoming Ravers flinging glow-sticks and balloon models at clubbers. Club Six Twenty kicked off with aerial trio Uncaged, who instilled in their audience a deep feeling of awe and jealousy at their abilities to swing around hoops and cubes by their ankles. Interspersed amongst local drag legend Gladys Duffy’s cheeky DJ set was the epitome of goth glam extravagance MXYM. Skipping joyously from genre-bending originals to crowd-pleasing party anthems obviously requires no fewer than five costume changes. PICNIC followed a little while later, proving that everything is better with a sax – even energetic funk pop that could bring the roof down. Where Club Six Twenty has a further edge, though, is in its less traditional approach to a night out. Slide to one side and enjoy a UV print-making workshop with Jo Howell, get your face rave-ready with Not Just A Pretty Facepaint, or take a trip upstairs for Ronan’s interactive monochromatic psychedelia that really helps the overexcited clubber chill out for a few minutes. Club Six Twenty was multi-sensory, at times overwhelming, and the shake-up to the clubbing genre that no one realised we so desperately needed.



Black Honey by Idene Roozbayani

I SEE ISLANDS, STILTS FOSTER, PHILIP JONATHAN @ THE ENGINE ROOM, NORTH SHIELDS (12.09.21) Words: Damian Robinson Billed as a solo set, though perhaps really a duo, Philip Jonathan (with consistent backing vocal support from Elissa) opens tonight with an astonishingly high standard thanks to a blend of looped acoustic guitar, gentle violin and the loveliest of soulful folk melancholy you’re likely to hear this side of Ryan Adams’ Love Is Hell. Tracks Fire and stand-out Before The Dawn, set a really high standard for solo acoustic troubadour Stilts Foster to reach, whose opener This Bar Is Not Your Home and the more light-hearted I Don’t Like Being Right build on nicely from Jonathan’s work. Great crowd interaction and song curation sees Foster keep the evening’s momentum alive before handing over for tonight’s master architect. I See Islands weaves lovely falsettos, looped synths and gentle arpeggio guitar into his comforting but heart-breaking songs. With more than a hint of Bon Iver and Spiritualized in new single Living A Lie and standout Education Separation, I See Islands’ set is filled with the type of songwriting which places addiction and heartbreak in the first person, but may also be well constructed storytelling sung from other people’s perspectives rather than his own. Bookended by two fantastic sets, and aided by the excellent venue that is The Engine Room, tonight was the perfect Sunday evening.

ISLE OF TYNE @ THE TYNE BAR, NEWCASTLE (29.08.21) Words: Mark Corcoran-Lettice The weather may not have kept up its end of the bargain, but Wandering Oak certainly succeeded in bringing a stellar line-up to The Tyne Bar’s outside stage to celebrate the bank holiday. Twist Helix start with a short but oh-so-sweet set of punchy, euphoric synth pop, with tracks from their latest album Machinery proving welcome additions to their live show. Crimewave meanwhile has decidedly tilted the balance in his shoegaze-with-beats productions towards the latter, and it’s no bad thing: the hazy sonics remain, but with a newfound bite. A late replacement for Behold A Pale Horse, hotly tipped Leeds newcomers


L’objectif offer plenty of Strokes worship, but when they up the tempo and ante for their closing number it’s not hard to understand why they’re already attracting considerable industry attention. Starting the party firmly however is Straight Girl, whose balance of absurdity and catharsis, matched with some laser-precise sonics, makes them a remarkably compelling and visceral performer. Rave-ready break-up anthems, pounding instrumentals, Tron-ready stage gear and even a conga line – this is a set with everything you could ask for. Closing out the night, the multi-headed beast of Ponyland include members of plenty of local favourites (including Archipelago and Yes Grasshopper), but their heavy double-drummer groove stands proudly on its own. Their blend of psych and Afrobeat-informed jazz proves a hit with the dancing crowd, and a cover of M.I.A.’s Born Free feels suitably celebratory and necessary.

BLACK HONEY, VENUS GRRRLS @ MIDDLESBROUGH EMPIRE (10.09.21) Words: Idene Roozbayani Venus Grrrls bring to mind an unexpected explosion of punk rock mayhem wrapped up in a 90’s alternative nation music video hosted by Toby Amies! Massive in sound and presence, they absolutely smash their first track and leave the audience absolutely buzzing. Their second track thunders through with a lush down beat and great control of dynamics from the musicians, engaging the audience before making a sharp detour into a gorgeous synth breakdown. The rest of their set was filled with further excellent moments and served to showcase a band on the precipice of something great. Black Honey’s blues-inspired rock kicks all ass from the second they take to the stage. Their opening track I Like The Way You Die set the mood and tone for the evening, with Black Honey absolutely commanding their audience from the get-go. Their wall of sound approach to rock music is one of their unique selling points, for fans and newcomers alike; that dynamism is what brings everything together, in an overdriven, slightly gritty melting pot of excitement and fervour, anchored by a commanding performance from lead singer Izzy Baxter Phillips.


John Grant by Carl Chambers

JOHN GRANT, TEDDY THOMPSON @ SAGE GATESHEAD (10.09.21) Words: Lee Hammond Tonight sees the return to full capacity live shows at Sage Gateshead and they couldn’t have chosen anyone better, as the inimitable John Grant returns with his excellent new album Boy From Michigan. Opening the show is someone arguably at the opposite end of the musical spectrum, Teddy Thompson. His delicate folk-tinged Americana eases us gently into the evening’s proceedings. The subdued atmosphere quickly changes with the arrival of John Grant, who receives an immediate standing ovation before he’s even played a note. It sets the tone for an enthralling set as Grant tears through a multitude of tracks from Boy From Michigan, with Mike And Julie and Rhetorical Figure being the undoubted highlights, shining against the plethora of older tracks. Glacier, Marz, GMF, Queen of Denmark, Gerry Tickles and Black Pressure are all exquisite tonight, the fervour of the songs reciprocated by the hyperactive crowd, with Grant feeding off their excitement to the point he looks almost overwhelmed. It’s a show which transcends the music at times. Feeding off the buoyant enthusiasm of this packed crowd, these songs feel elevated with power and passion. The evening ends with GMF and multiple standing ovations, capping off an incredible evening by one of the finest performers around.

JARPSY, DON COYOTE, VICE KILLER @ THE CLUNY 2, NEWCASTLE Words: Damian Robinson The amount of sweat dripping off the audience at the end of Vice Killer’s set might be all that’s needed to show just how much effort both the artists and the audience put into this show’s post-punk/indie opening act. Full of bouncy guitar pop, they start the evening with a strong impetus before a quick breath, and a quicker turn around, sets up three piece pop power trio Don Coyote who add further propulsion. Driven by a killer funky guitar and a bouncing rhythm section, Don Coyote shine brightly, with new song Look After Yourself and post-punk art funkster Don Quixote stealing a show full of

the type of poppy funky guitar moments that nudge in the direction of the Style Council. Sunderland’s Jarpsy finish the night off with moments of loud alternative rock and a crowd full of energetic fans. Whilst the pounding riffs and Kinks style delivery of Eleanor stands out in amongst eight new songs, For The Record steals the show with its heavy pop and moments of guitar wizardry; with Chris Macknight stealing the full evening with his constant smile, interesting guitar licks and obvious genuine happiness to be playing.

SEA POWER @ THE GEORGIAN THEATRE, STOCKTON (11.09.21) Words: Steve Spithray Newly shorn of the British prefix to their name, while the onstage topiary remains, a more mature bent hangs over seminal indie rockers Sea Power (all that is missing is violist Abi who was unable to find a carer for her disabled sheep), but this new iteration of the band is no less inspiring. Never has a band so thoroughly epitomised its own ethos. With a new album in the bag, Sea Power still treated Stockton’s sold-out Georgian Theatre to a greatest hits set from their not insubstantial catalogue, leading out with a surprisingly heavy (and sweary) Who’s In Control closely followed by It Ended On An Oily Stage and fan favourites Oh Larsen B and Doppelganger, all embellished with occasional keys and flugelhorn. A duo of newies, Green Goddess and Two Fingers, already fit snugly into the set while a lone roadie is kept on his toes with a flurry of instrument and mic swaps in the second half of the show as the five-piece show why they are still a force on the live circuit. No Lucifer and Carrion really ramp things up before a closing All In It saw singer Yan carried way out into the audience. It was hard to imagine how an encore could justify the hype but a rousing Waving Flags and the always soaring instrumental The Great Skua wrapped things up before a surprising amount of greenery started making its way to the exit.



St. Nicholas Cathedral


The Side Gallery


Hard Rock Cafe






Jack Aaron Greensmith – Four Walls

Jack Aaron Greensmith, a 26-year-old barber from Guisborough, has recently released Four Walls from his short-but-sweet indie folk debut EP, Stones On A Hill. All four songs being self-penned and all instruments but drums played by Greensmith, the EP is introduced by this melancholic track – its many layers and lyrical profundity demonstrating Greensmith’s influences, which include Radiohead and Leonard Cohen.

M Data – Shoop

Shoop, the fantastically far-out new instrumental single by Newcastle electronic and techno producer M Data, has all the elemental attributes of an absolutely classic dance track. Filled to the brim with trappy drums echoing straight from the early-90s’ rave scene and hypnotic synth lines reminiscent of quintessential trance-type EDM numbers like Faithless’ Insomnia or The Prodigy’s Charly, Shoop keeps the party atmosphere going for over six minutes. Previously this year, M Data has released an album, Tomorrows World, and four accompanying singles, the latest of which being the high-tempo Ricochet and the sensation-tingling Sherbet, available online since September. Just weeks later, the Platforms EP will ensue on local label Kaneda Records, featuring Shoop and three other tracks, returning to classic dance scene roots.

Vibetank – Stand On Everyone

Since Ritchie Murray, the long-time club band bass player, began his new solo project last year under the name Vibetank, he has released several singles – of which Stand On

Four Walls is a wonderfully composed piece, in parts resembling some of David Bowie’s work. Developing from a simple drumbeat maintained from start to finish, crescendoing throughout, it gently fades away into the remaining songs of the EP, which largely bring brighter moods than Four Walls. However, as an introduction to his work, Four Walls is an outstanding track.

Everyone is his latest, and, as the artist has said himself, perhaps most ambitious. Accompanied by his multi-instrumentalist sons, Chris (guitars, keyboards) and Rob (drums), this new track deals with bullying and has numerous fantastically memorable licks and lines throughout. Whilst uplifting and rocky, there is a pervading sound of desperation throughout, enhanced by otherworldly synth sounds. Following this and his previous single, Lone Man Staring At The Sun, Ritchie hopes to release his debut album next year. Though approaching seventy, there is nothing to keep him from rocking on.

Isabel Maria – Catharsis

The heart-rending story of breaking free from an abusive relationship, Isabel Maria’s debut has really taken off, receiving a considerable number of Spotify streams and airtime on BBC Introducing North East. Not at all bad for a fifteen-year-old recording from home in Houghton-le-Spring! Taking influence from rising artists such as Olivia Rodrigo, and perhaps a dash of Billie Eilish, Catharsis is a heartfelt ballad enveloped in a twinkling, shimmering atmosphere. More

than this, the song is filled to the brim with perceptive lines: “Dust collecting on our social skills” and “I said talk and all I hear is shouting” which highlight the claustrophobia of the last 18 months. Altogether, Catharsis is a glittering reflection of contemporary pop.

Third Bloom – Humans

Many long years after having called his career as a poet a day, North East live music impresario and the man behind Wylam Brewery, Dave Stone, has resurrected his old aspirations. Alongside his long-time collaborator, Jel Bloom, spoken-word poetry meets dingy beats in the form of their new project, Third Bloom. With tendencies towards the nihilistic, cynical and absurd, Humans encapsulates the most hard-hitting parts of Third Bloom’s current oeuvre. A harrowingly composed cry of Weltschmerz, Stone maintains his fatalistic sangfroid whilst delivering verses turgid with angst at humankind’s most vital problems, culminating in his decision to “cull the fucking lot”. A hearty stew of heaviness and grooviness.



PHILIP JONATHAN IN THE GARDEN Words: Tom McLean Northumberland-based folk singer-songwriter Philip Jonathan reveals his latest single, In The Garden. It’s a track infused with the artist’s trademark soothing blend of folk, peacefulness and passion, which immediately instils a sense of calm within the listener, wrapping a warm, homely blanket around even the coldest heart. When interviewed, Jonathan has been quick to cite the likes of Icelandic folk rock band Sigur Rós among his inspirations. However, while the Icelanders’ impact is clear, Jonathan’s own timbre shines through superbly as he effortlessly combines balletic, soft violin with a bedrock of warm acoustic guitar and harmonic vocals. If In The Garden is a love letter written to Jonathan’s rugged homeland, upon its release it’s certain to gain many more signatories. Released: 08.10.21

KIELDFAL FORWARD, TO THE LIGHTS EP Words: Laura Doyle You don’t always need words to tell a story. Ambient music project Kieldfal has expertly captured the sounds and soul of Northumberland in a new release, Forward, To The Lights. The EP takes the listener on a journey from scenic countryside to the gritty industrialisation of the region. The birdsong and pleasant timbre of opener Barrowburn transport you to breezy summer walks around Wall Country. It segues seamlessly through Forward, To The Lights Parts 1 & 2, which build incrementally towards that richer, diversified sound as we get closer to bustling streets and city lights. Getting the entire history of the North East into a three-track record is no small feat, and anyone with an iota of knowledge about Northumberland should feel strangely comforted by this auditory representation. Released: 15.10.21



THE LAST OF THE FALLEN ANGELS FEAT. TARA TINE IVORY TOWER Words: Laura Doyle The Last Of The Fallen Angels is Heaton-based multi-instrumental artist Conrad McQueen’s ambitious project which brings together singers from all over to collaborate on his tracks. This global mindset makes for a diverse sound covering diverse experiences. Ivory Tower takes on the establishment with a classic punk flare. Tara Tine’s Celtic twang shines bright in her frustration-filled vocals – a real middle finger to the received pronunciation crowd. If you have the opportunity to check out the video that goes with this release it’s well worth the effort. This is a project as passionate for its visuals as its sound, and serves as a celebration of the unity between artists that the digital age can bring about. Released: 30.09.21

THE MOTH TRUST S/T EP Words: Michael O’Neill Formed without “any specific genre of music, concrete plans or real goals in mind” The Moth Trust are an enigmatic quartet of North East-based musicians who wear their hearts (and accents) on their sleeves, but give little else away throughout a five-song collection of spellbinding, shape-shifting songs, which are as rich in stylistic right-turns and time-signature shifts as they are in sugar-soaked melodies and moments of sheer sonic beauty (particularly in the jaw-dropping splendour of Two Ghosts, and the anthemic euphoria of closer Be Right Back). This self-titled release is a cathartic burst of heart-stirring wonder from four incredibly talented musicians who owe it to themselves to step a little more confidently in the spotlight. An essential listen. Released: 22.10.21

WEEKEND FAITHFUL RANCH DREAM Words: Claire Dupree Let’s hear some praise for the big dumb rock song; Weekend Faithful’s debut track serves to remind us that rock music can still be fun. The band features a bunch of musicians who’ve tasted success in previous acts including Idle Hands, Canyons, Shy-Talk, Drifts, Cauls, Calf and Night Flowers. It’s worth forgiving the influences emblazoned unashamedly on Weekend Faithful’s sleeves – from the Hold Steady-esque phrasing and piano stabs, to the anthemic Springsteen-style middle-eight which culminates in a glorious riot of guitar licks and trumpet blasts – as Ranch Dream serves up a punchy paean to “graceless days of drunken complacency”. Check them out in their full live glory at an afternoon gig at Old Coal Yard, Newcastle on Sunday 31st October with support from Slow Decades and Sakes. Released: 15.10.21

SCRUG THE SOCIAL Words: Laura Doyle Scrug is a simple bloke with simple pleasures – The Social tells you all you need to know. The simple track documents his no-nonsense approach to self care: “When I find myself in times of trouble, and nothing seems to go my way, I take myself down to the Social and all my woes just dissipate.” Such frank autobiography hasn’t been seen since the days of Parklife. A fun ukulele line keeps things light and airy against Scrug’s gruff-bordering-onbleak vocals, and it makes the brown decor and stuffy air of social clubs sound like a premiere experience. After all, good laughs, a comfy seat and a couple of drinks with pals are some of life’s most treasured joys. Released: 22.10.21

THE FLORAL DETECTIVES THE MASQUERADE (MY KINDA GUY) Words: Tom McLean Alternative-rockers The Floral Detectives’ new single, The Masquerade (That Kinda Guy), channels the band’s undeniable rock and roll know-how into a fantastically upbeat social commentary about that ignorant friend we all have. Influences such as The Clash and Sex Pistols have clearly had an impact on the Darlington-based rockers, however, embellishing that recipe are Callum Cresser’s vocals which add a delicious Northern grit that listeners are sure to cherish. Honourable mentions must be made for lead guitarist Bri, basis Tom Dryden and drummer Conor Mcnaughton who provide flawless, high energy riffs and rhythms throughout this toe tapping track. Alt. rockers rejoice, this tune might just be your latest ear worm. Released: 19.10.21

REN LAWTON TODAY TODAY TOMORROW Words: Michael O’Neill The prolific singer-songwriter returns with the second single from his forthcoming debut album. Today Today Tomorrow is bursting at the seams with evocative, finger-picked melodies and washes of brass, strings and piano, all held down by an insistent snare roll and a walking double bass, upon which Ren further stakes his claim as one of the region’s most accomplished songwriters. Repeated listens further enrich the delightfully cryptic lyrics, which hint at a hunger clearly rooted in the desire to see societal inequalities and injustice erode, particularly with the biting “Bring your fork down to the floor / The fat man will fall / Yeah, he’s enough to feed us all”, making the track thought-provoking in its dream-like subtlety. An engrossing listen. Released: 20.10.21

CHURCH, HONEY I’D GO BLIND Words: Michael O’Neill The new release from this Middlesbrough-hailing trio is a melodic slice of indie folk which exhibits a lot of promise and a strong command of pop-inflected songcraft in its lyrics, which paint a vivid, lovelorn narrative. I’d Go Blind comes very close to greatness, but unfortunately falls short by rushing itself too keenly to the finishing line. There is plenty to admire here, especially in the miraculous chorus (which is a colossal earworm). However, I feel that the song’s potential is sullied by the way in which it rushes from the final verse to a climactic breakdown which seems to end before it can truly take off, which is frustrating given the sheer talent that is on display here. Released: 01.10.21

ARCADE SKIES HORIZON EP Words: Damian Robinson When Daft Punk split up this year the socials were full of indie kids moaning that clever, funky, disco sounds wouldn’t ever be as intellectual-yet-danceable again; they’d be left with the nonsense EDM makers who get the beat right, but seldom ‘get’ the humour of dance music. Whitley Bay’s Arcade Skies clearly understands the type of sound, feeling and imagery that the indie kids want – EP opener 2 3 0 belts out the type of funky grooves that get the heart and the head going with both 80s-infused block rocking beats and ‘cleverness’ required in dance, whilst closer Mirrors and Pocket Shrapnel both kick with interesting pulses and nods to something much deeper than looped beats. Get the message to the indie kids that they can return to the dance floors. Released: 01.10.21

GWAILO INNOCENT Words: Damian Robinson Located somewhere in the immediate space between the classic rock sound of Use Your Illusion-era Guns N’ Roses, and the pounding stoner rock of Queens Of The Stone Age, with some sprinkling of the finest rock drawl of The Black Crowes’ Chris Robinson thrown in for good balance, Innocent takes just about every 90’s classic rock combination and combines them into a well-conceived head-banger. Driven by a central Izzy Stradlin punk-meets-rock guitar riff, and a Nick Oliveri styled popping bass line, Innocent kicks straight off into a full-on rocker with its middle finger directed straight towards societal conformity and straight living: “I’m not innocent, you won’t ever take me alive” Angry, edgy and full of identity – this is one for the devil horners. Released: 23.10.21

CRUX DEATH AT THE CASH MACHINE EP Words: Damian Robinson Heavy as hell and sprinkled with combinations of metal, punk and industrial rock, Death At The Cash Machine is a beast of a six track EP. Focused on the North East culture, filled with heavy riffs, yet firmly with its tongue in its cheek, Death At The Cash Machine might actually be the perfect companion piece to Sam Fender’s recent Howdon Aldi Death Queue. Filled with local satirical references (the central character of Radgie Gadgie and the full narrative of Bigg Market), Crux’s EP is an interestingly modern throwback to late 70s punk ability to take the piss out of current cultural norms by using humours references (“slaving away – for the next generation to do the same rotation”) and disposable riffs, all designed to camouflage hard hitting cultural commentary. Excellent. Released: 08.10.21


MORE ACTS ANNOUNCED SOON! Saturday 23rd October 5pm till midnight






DEERHOOF ACTUALLY, YOU CAN (JOYFUL NOISE) Words: Cameron Wright With over 20 years of critical and commercial acclaim, Deerhoof have spent their time creating almost 20 albums that aim to blur genre, demolish limitations and induce some level of chaos. The indie rockers have built a reputation for an ever-evolving sound, that is yet ever rooted in disjointed melodies and abrasive changes in timbre and tonality. The band prove with album after album that they deserve their reputation as one of modern alternative’s most prolific and consistent underground artists. Somehow Deerhoof became established as a force that are at once, versatile yet thoroughly idiosyncratic and recognisable. Despite their time in the spotlight, Deerhoof still carry the energy, charm and potency of a band that are always attempting to challenge themselves and create something ambitious and gripping. Their 2020 release, Future Teenage Cave Artists, saw the band strip themselves down to an almost primitive level, fusing the cynicism and fear of the pandemic with something raw and exciting. A year later, Deerhoof present us with Actually, You Can. Actually, You Can is surprisingly wholesome. The sound launches from thunderous guitars and howling vocals, to a simple plucking of an acoustic guitar, blessed with a hushed vocal; the melodies sound angular and intriguing and at its heart, the album is an adrenaline ride filled with fun. Yet, despite how inevitably Deerhoof this project sounds, the band still manages to surprise. Simply put, this album radiates heart and hope. The lyrics throughout preach of building ourselves with the tools afforded to us through love, beauty, community and positivity. From an onslaught of riotous tracks that feel effortlessly anarchic and liberated, to more communal tracks that breeze across the album with a gentle whimsy and grace. Nothing on the album is too challenging to the pallet, and many of the more experimental tropes of the band’s past have subsided into little twinkles of a memory. Veteran fans of the band will find glimmers of their favourite Deerhoof tracks, yet a new listener will be enamoured by their joyful and triumphant performances. Released: 22.10.21

ALSO OUT THIS MONTH Sam Fender – Seventeen Going Under (Polydor, 08.10) // Ty Segall – Harmonizer (Drag City, 15.10) // Pond – 9 (Spinning Top Records, 01.10) // Gondhawa – Käampâla (Stolen Body Records, 01.10) // Gustaf – Audio Drag For Ego Slobs (Royal Mountain Records, 01.10) // Biffy Clyro – The Myth Of The Happily Ever After (Warner, 22.10) The War On Drugs – I Don’t Live Here Anymore (Atlantic Records, 22.10) // She Drew The Gun – Behave Myself (Submarine Cat Records, 08.10) // Anna Vincent – Under The Glass (Ultimate Blends, 29.10) // Kinder – Different (Lapsang House, 22.10) // Maya Shenfeld – In Free Fall (Thrill Jockey, 22.10) // Efterklang – Windflowers (City Slang, 08.10) // sir Was – Let The Morning Come (Memphis Industries, 15.10) // Tonstartssbandht – Petunia (Mexican Summer, 22.10) // La Luz – S/T (Hardly Art, 22.10) // Julia Shapiro – Zorked (Suicide Squeeze Records, 15.10) // The World Is A Beautiful Place And I Am No Longer Afraid To Die – Illusory Walls (Epitaph Records, 08.10) // John – Nocturnal Manoeuvres (Brace Yourself Records, 08.10)

Words: Jason Jones TV Or Not TV, that is the question? By definition, Liily’s debut full length release is, in a very literal sense, not television, but it still somehow manages to capture the sumptuous, oddball gratification of mindless channelhopping with gleeful poise. Unashamedly janky and unafraid to slink its way through the gutter, TV Or Not TV is a record that revels in its eccentricity and delights in its thumping, cacophonous strut. From the deranged hippy-esque freakout of the title track to the brooding industrial menace of songs like The Yig and Odds Are It’s Blue, every unfurling intro is pregnant with a genuine curiosity as to where the quartet will drag you next, while recent single Easy Bopper proves that there are few bands out there who can match the Angelenos’ knack for frenetic post-punk bangers. Released: 22.10.21

4/5 DON BROCO AMAZING THINGS (SHARPTONE) Words: Laura Doyle The pioneers of lad rock have matured significantly since their early pop days, switching focus from a ‘bros-before-hoes’ mentality to infinitely more pressing concerns. Whether it’s their aversion to materialistic selfishness in the chilled-out summerwave of Swimwear Season, or fearful rage the increasing social acceptance of racism in electronic rap rock track Uber, the Bedford four-piece continue their trend of smuggling unexpectedly deep topics in irritatingly catchy bops. Of course, it wouldn’t be a Broco record without some comedy songs: Bruce Willis might not single-handedly revive the nu-metal genre, but will at least have crowds screaming “Yippee-ki-yay, motherfucker” in sheer euphoria. It’s a bold and potentially egotistical move to outright call an album ‘amazing’, but they aren’t far off. Released: 22.10.21



4.5 / 5






Words: Ali Welford Oftentimes employed as a slur in music discourse, for artists such as Rebecca Lucy Taylor ‘indulgence’ signals something entirely different and decidedly more wholesome – liberation. An emphatic payoff following one of the loudest promotional campaigns of recent years, Prioritise Pleasure is simultaneously a career high and a culmination of the no-holds-barred pop reinvention kickstarted with 2019’s Compliments Please. Brash, unashamed and none-too-subtle, its 13 cuts rock up front-loaded with soaring choruses, voluptuous hooks and pointed refrains – many repeated for further feather-ruffling effect. The sense of triumphant, individualistic catharsis is immediate, impossible to ignore and even more difficult not to feel invested in. That it manifests in one of the year’s very finest pop records is but an added bonus! Released: 22.10.21

Words: Ali Welford If 2019’s The Age Of Immunology highlighted Vanishing Twin as worthy successors in a lineage housing the likes of Broadcast and Stereolab, this third full-length sees the London quartet refine their own increasingly unfettered path. Translated from Japanese as ‘Big Moonlight’, Ookii Gekkou carries the air of a late-night experiment whose allure improbably endures come sunrise. By design, it’s a difficult record to pin down. Shifting strands of Afro-funk and stargazing jazz to the fore, it’s a set rich with intrigue whose ice-cool meanderings nevertheless prove peculiarly accessible. Indeed, be it on exploratory cuts such as The Organism – a genuinely odd amalgamation of astral bloops, scuttling xylophone and mightily satisfied cats – or the delightful psych-pop nuggets Light Vessel, Tub Erupt and The Lift, Ookii Gekkou’s eclectic ventures illuminate throughout. Released: 15.10.21

Words: Elodie A. Roy It is a shock to hear Phew’s six new songs, released exactly forty years after her self-titled debut for Mute. Her visions lie intact. Phew seems to be forever whispering oracles and secret warnings, alternating between English and Japanese. She is a sort of modern Cassandra: someone who sees, hears and says too much. Every now and then, when language bores or fails her, her singing becomes a pure primal scream. New Decade is a terrifying album – for nothing is repressed. The industrial, computerprogrammed beats and electronics act as a counterpoint to her excessive humanity. We hear her erratic breath, her pulse – and it sounds as eerily miraculous as the thousands of heartbeats once recorded by Christian Boltanski, and permanently beating on the Japanese island of Teshima. Released: 22.10.21







Words: Ben Lowes-Smith Hayden Thorpe’s new album is presented as a conscious effort to return to nature and look to the cosmos. The aspiration is geared towards a Big Sensual Energy; and broadly it’s successful. Drawing from a similar sonic palette to the more polished later Wild Beasts material, it’s arguably one of the most laconic records he has ever been a part of. Sometimes this doesn’t quite hit the spot; recent single Metafeeling comes and goes without making much impact, but the forays into the jittery electronica of Rational Heartache really appeals. Thorpe’s gorgeous caramel falsetto is front and centre, but if anything it seems to emphasise what is missing. Wild Beasts were an essential group because of their carnal urgency. Here, that’s almost absent. Released: 15.10.21


Words: Ikenna Offor Twin jazz traditions of reinventive improvisation and polyrhythmic precision coalesce in the form of Toronto’s BADBADNOTGOOD. Funnily enough, across four previous LPs, the fusion-minded trio have revealed a dyadic reverence and disdain for genre conventions, deliberately espousing mercurial experimentation over staid orthodoxy. In this sense, they’re an idiosyncratic hybrid of insider and outsider – auteurs of a sort in the stringently formatted world of contemporary jazz pop. Much like 2016’s IV, Talk Memory sees its authors consciously temper their jam-band impulses, with the brash angularity of records past shrewdly eschewed for emotive virtuosity. Here, psychedelic flourishes sinuously entwine with soulful timbres to engender an air of reflexive consonance – a judicious shift in emphasis that lends the band’s sublime unorthodoxy a deeper grounding. Released: 08.10.21

Words: Lee Hammond The follow-up to critically acclaimed August, Shannon Lay once again shines on an incredibly beautiful and delicate record. At times Geist feels very understated, Lay’s vocals so pure and passionate, yet no less powerful. The only track which really strays away is Awaken And Allow, bursts of synthesiser awaken the record, which otherwise fosters a feeling of serenity and calm. However, it is Late Night which feels the most intense in its heartfelt longing for someone. While somewhat dour compared to the majority of the record, it retains the graceful nature which permeates the rest of Geist. As it comes to a close with the incredible July, you cannot help but be captivated by Geist. An exceptional record. Released: 08.10.21


3.5 / 5






Words: Luke Waller Ever since their debut in 2015, punk rockers Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes have shaken up their music and style with every release. But none have been so fresh as Sticky. A bullish, boisterous ode to hedonistic nights on the town with anti-establishment sentiment woven throughout, this half-hour explosion of punk attitude is far less lyrically heavy than its precursor, End Of Suffering. Perhaps Sticky’s defining new attribute is the presence of featured artists, including Idles’ Joe Talbot, contributing on the bold new single, My Town. But overall, Go Get A Tattoo (perhaps an invite to Carter’s very own tattoo studio in London?) personifies the album’s mood: live out your chaotic, spontaneous nightlife while you still can. Released: 15.10.21

Words: Laura Doyle Archie Brown & The Young Bucks must have had so much fun making Lonesomeville in lockdown that they decided to pump out yet another record amidst these restrictions and practical difficulties. But this lot are professional musicians, which is why you can barely tell that Diddley Bow was recorded towns apart. This record is packed to the brim with feel-good folkish music that demands appreciation paid in foot-tapping and head-bobbing. Old-fashioned harmonica-led instrumentals are reborn for the modern age, and comes as a real palette-cleanser in an era of digitisation and autotune. Diddley Bow simply begs for a live performance and interactive audience, and The Young Bucks will make it to the Cluny 2 stage on Friday 15th October. Released: 15.10.21

Words: Robin Webb Jsun Atoms’ inspirations include Moon Duo, Nick Cave and Spiritualized, an influence which is strongly evident in the opening tracks to this understated debut freak out. It was produced by Dandy Warhols’ Peter Holmström who exchanged mixes with Jsun through the pandemic to complete the album. There’s a dreamlike hippy vibe menacingly disturbed by Atoms’ breathy spoken vocals front and centre in the mix, which occasionally stretches into Cohen-illuminated pop, particularly on the tracks Don’t Take Me To Your Leader, with its child like cut-out animated promo video, and Fell For You with its distinct Yello Euro groove. Atoms’ music also features in many TV shows like Sons Of Anarchy, True Blood and on the award-winning arthouse movie Neolovismo. Released: 01.10.21



4.5 / 5




Words: Robin Webb A difficult ninth album? Oh no, certainly not these guys. Fantasy Island has many sounds that become curious and uniquely Clinic: 80’s electro pop in Fine Dining; 70s glam pop in Take A Chance; liberal space drums and no wave vocals in Refractions and not forgetting Floydian fever dream, white-out paranoia that even Syd would be proud of in Dreams Can Come True. Here they are shimmying into a future fear disco referencing the ludicrous present – Things To Come by H.G, Wells, tribal fluidity of Marshall McLuhan and the naive surrealist poetry of Richard Brautigan. They’ve created a funky sonic groove reclaiming instruments from the past, sheltering in a new generation’s ghost town, chilling in a distorted lizard lounge. Released: 22.10.21

Words: Michael O’Neill It takes courage to attempt to build on the colossal legacy Mark Sandman left behind when a tragic on-stage death stopped Morphine in their tracks in 1999, however, Vapors Of Morphine have done an impeccable job of assuming the mantle with grace, and Fear & Fantasy is a glorious testament to this. Original members Dana Connelly and Jerome Deupree (albeit, only for the LP’s first side) further push Morphine’s trademark sound into newer, bolder frontiers, with frontman Jeremy Lyons brilliantly mirroring Sandman’s penchant for vivid melodies and gritty slide bass without reducing himself to a cookie-cutter tribute act, resulting in an LP is abundant in deep, cavernous melodies and dubbed-out splendour, and it makes for a rich world of sound. Released: 15.10.21

Words: Ben Lowes-Smith Kedr Livanskiy’s music occupies a pretty special space between the ornate and the hedonistic. Ostensibly club music, drawing from lo-fi house, techno and jungle, the Russian musician and producer writes with a grace and melancholy comparable to the likes of Burial – club tunes that radiate the feelings of night buses and the ringing in your ears after a big night out. Liminal Soul is a work of genuine kinetic beauty. Boy incorporates the same sonically nostalgic elements that make Ghost Box records so compelling, and all of the songs speak to a futurism just out of reach. Livanskiy’s music is shaking off the collective memory of the Soviet Union and looking for something more positive than Russia’s present, and it makes for an emotive, euphoric listen. Released: 01.10.21



Hi, I’m Lisa Lovebucket, founder of Arts Lab Teesside, Teesside Rising, The Creative Arts Recruitment Squad and The Red Room, and I’ll be launching The Post Apocalypse School of Teesside as part of Middlesbrough Art Weekender. We have The Sarah Connor Sessions on Friday 1st October at The Auxiliary, and then a sundown forage over the border at St Hilda’s, whilst, in VR, we’ll be fending off zombies and learning to survive in sub-zero conditions. The following day, The Red Room finally returns IRL at NE Volume Music Bar in Stockton with The Post Apocalypse School of Teesside’s Inaugural Freshers’ Ball. The usual music policy at The Red Room is ‘institute of unpopular music, gong-show style’. Which is to say that we seriously mix it up, and anything goes. However, punters are issued with kazoos on arrival and, if two or more people hum out a protest, the track is skipped. You might hear anything from Terry Venables’ version of Bye Bye Blackbird and Nouvelle Vague’s Love Will Tear Us Apart, to Bel Air by Can and Josh Wink’s Higher State of Consciousness. This time the music will be a bit different at The Red Room, with Charlie Thomas giving us a 40-minute set and DJ Horace Zontal in charge of the decks. This Mixtape will give you a flavour of the sort of thing that floats our boats.

CHROMATICS SHADOW From the moment it begins, I can hardly breathe, every single time. The atmosphere of nostalgic longing, for something that never was, perfectly sums up so much of the original series of Twin Peaks, and The Return even more so. Effortlessly cool, an ocean of wonder to drown in.

SPACEMEN 3 TRANSPARENT RADIATION Spacemen 3 regularly fill my ‘fave band of all time’ slot, and Transparent Radiation regularly fills my ‘fave Spacemen tune’ slot. The Spacemen may have de-orbited but, in their stead, we have Charlie Thomas. Described as ‘Nick Cave meets Lou Reed and Spacemen 3 round David Lynch’s house’ Charlie’s a perfect fit for The Red Room and I reckon he can match this perfect musical prescription.

SILVER APPLES OSCILLATIONS One of the best gigs I’ve ever been to was Silver Trees supporting Silver Apples at The Westgarth. It was a brilliantly put together night. I didn’t know Mr Zontal or the rest of the Lost in the Woods crew back then and it was one mighty fine introduction.

ANGELO BADALAMENTI THE PINK ROOM Well, what can I say? The Pink Room is the club we all want to go to – louche, lascivious, seedy, decadent and indulgent – though somewhere you’d definitely avoid taking your little sister. The Red Room emulates The Pink Room scraped free from the dirty underbelly of the evil that some men do. Chug-a-lug punters.

BONGWATER THE POWER OF PUSSY This is the song Donna, Maddie and Laura should have made, after ditching soppy James and hitchhiking their way to New York to sign up to Shimmy Disc. A psychedelic ride into the nether regions. “Some have teeth, some have hair, some have soft sweet petals, some look like Cher...”

GALAXIE 500 DON’T LET OUR YOUTH GO TO WASTE Though I love The Modern Lovers’ original, for me this cover is even better. The title has always reminded me of Laura Palmer but, since The Return, it makes me think of Sarah Palmer, especially with lines like “someone who can share my face” and “I could drink up everything you have”. Mesmeric, arm-swinging, head-swirling majesty.

MOBY GO I’m not a massive Moby fan but every single mix of Go is an absolute belter, with Woodtick Mix and Low Spirit Mix the cream-corn of the crop. I once DJ’d a 23-minute remix of this track and it kept the crowd rocking throughout. Belter.

THOUGHT GANG A REAL INDICATION A Lynch/Badalamenti collaboration and a total full-on, funky, slow hip-swiveller straight out of Fire Walk With Me. Even when I used to DJ peak of the night, whipping out my bangers, I’d still sneak this one in to mix it up a bit before heading back to the beats.




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NARC. #177 October 2021  


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