NARC. #183 May 2022

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Tickets from £10 2

PREVIEWS 4 HIGHLIGHTS Our pick of some of the best events in May





Featuring live performances from Snapped Ankles, Pillow Queens, Sea Girls, Cathode, The Divine Comedy, LA Witch, The Wave Pictures, deeptan, Stick In The Wheel, Man On Man and all-day shindigs courtesy of Songs From Northern Britain and MUNRO. Culture-wise, dig into theatre shows including Gamble at Northern Stage, Whale of a Time at Alphabetti, Hold On Let Go at Arts Centre Washington and My Mate Ren at various venues; there’s stand-up comedy from Si Beckwith, David O’Doherty, Alan Partridge, Chloe Petts, Dylan Moran, Lou Sanders and more, plus arty goings on at Cobalt, Newcastle Contemporary Art and BALTIC among others


32 TALK LIKE TIGERS Cameron Wright talks to the electro pop siblings about their ambitious double EP release which showcases two very different sides of their sound I’m frequently asked what it is that NARC. stands for; it’s not an acronym (although many have tried and failed to come up with one), but instead a statement of intent. Meaning ‘to inform’, our mission is to enlighten and entertain. Taking the question from another angle, what we stand for and what’s important to us as a publication and, in fact, as the ragtag group of individuals which make up the organisation, is a desire to dig into the underground, alternative and unheard sections of the region’s music and cultural scene, to shine a light where talent often grows quietly in dim corners. What’s also important to us is amplifying the voices of those often unheard in society; sometimes that’s a difficult job, and we’re by no means perfect, but we hope to provide a welcoming, supportive and inclusive space. With that in mind, perhaps you – or someone you know – would like to be featured in these pages; no matter your artistic outlet I’m always excited to hear from musicians, writers and creatives of all stripes. What fuels us as a team is a passion for our subject matter, and for the beautiful creativity and individuality that we fill our pages and your screens with. If you’d like to be part of that, come and stand with us.


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 Rob Irish Live Photography Rhiannon Banks / Adam Kennedy / Victoria Wai Contributors Jake Anderson / Tom Astley / Jade Broadhead / Paul Brown / Mark Corcoran-Lettice / Laura Doyle / Lee Fisher / Lee Hammond / Françoise Harvey / Tracy Hyman / Eugenie Johnson / Adam Kennedy / Lizzie Lovejoy / Hope Lynes / Jay Moussa-Mann / Kate Murphy / Robert Nichols / Evie Nicholson / Michael O’Neill / Ikenna Offor / Stephen Oliver / Sara Jane Perovic / Damian Robinson / Elodie A Roy / Conor Roy / Mera Royle / Steve Spithray / Dominic Stephenson / Luke Waller / Robin Webb / Maria Winter / Cameron Wright

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

50 LISTINGS The best of the rest……

REVIEWS 52 LIVE REVIEWS Reports from Thundercat, Wet Leg, Dry Cleaning, Warmduscher, Protomartyr, MXYM, Kay Greyson and more

55 DEMOS Including The Vessel, SMUJ, Gulliver, DeadRelations and Sophie Davis

56 TRACKS Reviews of local releases including To Nowhere, Arcade Skies, Maius Mollis, Amateur Ornithologist, Maria & James, Chop5, Chris Kelly, Frankie Jobling, Cat Ryan, Nalgo Bay, The Incognitos and Kulpa

58 ALBUMS New releases from Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever, Tess Parks, Puppy, Zola Jesus, Sunflower Bean, Peaness, Otoboke Beaver, !!!, Obongjayar, Warpaint, Lykke Li and more

62 MIXTAPE Hannabiell Sanders and Yilis Suriel pick a handful of their favourite tracks

Next Issue Out 1st June





Creative practitioner Sharon Race presents a thought-provoking digital exhibition which ruminates on the lockdown stories of local people. A series of workshops with younger and older people in Newcastle resulted in a unique spectrum of work in a variety of mediums, from film, performance, drawing, painting and creative writing. Runs until 19th May. Newcastle City Library



KARANJIT PANESAR Leeds-based multimedia artist Karanjit


UNTIL 9 JULY Panesar presents an exhibition comprising of film, sculpture, drawing and CGI animation. Parts of Wholes investigates ideas of artifice, constructed truth and an interest in the potential of the ‘behind the scenes’ space, focusing on Panesar’s film Actor, Container, which explores looping paradoxes. Workplace Foundation, Newcastle


TUESDAY 3 A new monthly film club designed to create community through cinema experiences, Hexham’s Forum Cinema host a screening of Academy Award-nominated film The Worst Person In The World, followed by a post-film discussion in their cafe-bar with special guest speakers and hosts. Forum Cinema Hexham


WEDNESDAY 4 SUNDAY 1 SLEEPER Here’s one for the teenagers who

spent the summer of 1996 in a park with a bottle of MD 20/20 and a boombox – pop rock band Sleeper celebrate the 25th anniversary of their seminal album, The It Girl, in what promises to be a night of nostalgia and damn fine tunes. Boiler Shop, Newcastle


GENERAL SECRETARY Thick N Fast, also known as

celebrated theatrical duo Cassie Symes and Georgina Thomas, explore what would happen if the planet took the unexpected decision to appoint them in charge of everything. Watch as they attempt to find creative solutions to the biggest global issues. Also on Thursday 5th. Laurel’s, Whitley Bay


FRIDAY 6 PENYA London-based band Penya’s sound is a melting pot of ancestral rhythms, rooted in Afro-Cuban melodies and bursting with lyrical expression. Their name derives from the Spanish word ‘peña’, which describes a meeting place for musicians, music lovers and celebration, so expect a joyous evening of chant-filled delights. Cobalt Studios, Newcastle



New music aficionados This Feeling bring Manchester indie quartet Garden Party to KU, where they’re sure to raise the roof with their epic guitar tunes and singalong choruses. They’re ably assisted by the North East’s escapist indie band Sugar Roulette, North Yorkshire duo Sunbeam and Hartlepool’s dark rock two-piece Giraffes. KU Bar, Stockton



Image by Chris Shaw

THURSDAY 12 PRESTON ARTS CENTRE For the month of May, Eston Arts

Centre will be renamed as Preston Arts Centre and working with Rhian E Jones – a writer on history, politics, popular culture and their intersections – looking at the Preston Model, a term applied to how the council, its anchor institutions and other partners are implementing the principles of Community Wealth Building. Runs until 4th June. Eston Arts Centre, Middlesbrough




SATURDAY 14TH LUKE ROYALTY A dream team collab from BBC Introducing Tees broadcaster Rianne Thompson and Independent Venue Week, Darlington’s hottest prospect Luke Royalty brings his soulful alt. hip-hop sounds to a line-up which also includes the dark ‘brat-pop’ stylings of ZELA and fast rising songwriter Sarah Johnsone and her band. The Forum Music Centre, Darlington



SATURDAY 14TH TYNESIDE VEGAN & MUSIC FESTIVAL North East Animal Rights present a day of performance, live music, stalls featuring cosmetics, gifts and animal rights info and plenty of food and drink. Performances come from poets Bevin Korsan and Kev Parke, plus live music courtesy of Kieran Gallon, Sophie Gordon, Whisky Business Ceilidh Band, Sweet Goose, Julie Grant and Barbara Helen. Northumbria University Students’ Union, Newcastle

FRIDAY 20TH 40 YEARS OF PHOENIX DANCE The Leeds-based dance company present an

eclectic variety of work which spans their 40 year history. Lost Dog’s Pave Up Paradise is a dynamic and sensual duet revisiting Adam and Eve after their fall from grace; Henri Oguike’s powerful Signal embraces the frenzy of the battlefield; and Darshan Singh Bhuller’s Heart of Chaos captures the spirit of Jack Johnson, the first African American heavyweight champion of the world. Northern Stage, Newcastle


SUNDAY 22ND BETWEEN FACT AND FICTION Two best-selling authors will explore the

relationship between fact and fiction at a special in conversation event. North East novelist Daniel James, author of critically acclaimed novel The Unauthorized Biography of Ezra Maas, speaks to Scottish author Graeme Macrae Burnet about his Booker Prize shortlisted novel His Bloody Project, among other work. Newcastle City Library



RICH HALL The boot-scootin’, toe-tappin’, shit-kickin’ king of yeehaw comedy and catchy tunes, Rich Hall brings his Hoedown Deluxe show to Stockton, promising an evening of caustic wit, spit and sawdust alt. country lyricism and utterly unique rib-tickling laughs. ARC, Stockton


BOO HEWARDINE From his work in seminal band The Bible, to Charli Payne - Hair Day Lengthy Actions

SATURDAY 14TH UNDER ONE ROOF Presenting artwork by Newcastle

University’s Fine Art graduates from 2020, the exhibition includes a diverse set of contemporary voices working across disciplines of painting, sculpture, installation, performance and new media, marking an important transition and achievement for students since the pandemic interrupted studies and forced the cancellation of their final degree exhibition. Runs until 19th June. Great North Museum: Hancock, Newcastle

his own solo material and long-time collaboration with Eddi Reader, Boo Hewardine is one of the UK’s finest songwriters, capable of composing masterful melodies bursting with original lyricism. Expect tracks from his currently unreleased new album, lockdown EP Singularities, and interesting chat from the gifted raconteur. Old Cinema Launderette, Durham


FRIDAY 27TH OLD SEA LEGS There’s exquisite storytelling and

quintessential folk songs from Dublin-based songwriter and performer Ian Bermingham, previously of Dublin contemporary country folk band The Eskies. His music brims with colourful imagery, setting pastoral scenes and containing larger-than-life characters, set to a warm and melodic soundscape. The Cluny 2, Newcastle





Words: Jake Anderson Music fatigue hits us all at some point. Sometimes, what we need is something that’s a bit out of our comfort zone, and something that I’d bet doesn’t usually appear on most people’s radar is that of Japanese psychedelic


rock. Which is the genre label that is probably the simplest way to describe three-piece Tokyo-based band Kuunatic. Formed in 2016, each member of the band brings a unique style and expertise, into the soundscape of Kuunatic. Their 2021 album, Gate of Klüna, brought in elements of desert blues, Japanese folk and Shinto ritual into their experimental sonic environments. The band will bring their ethereal atmosphere to Newcastle’s Cluny 2 on Sunday 29th May, where audiences can expect them to perform songs from their positively received debut

album, such as Dewbow, which features ritual-like chanting alongside traditional Japanese keys, or the crescendo-fuelled natural feeling of Titian, as well as tracks from their more heavily experimental 2017 EP Kuurandia, making it the perfect show for those looking for something new to dig into, alongside the die-hard fans. Kuunatic play The Cluny 2, Newcastle on Sunday 29th May.



Image by Hannah Walker



Words: Sara Jane Perovic Northern Stage welcomes back the popular pairing of dramaturg and facilitator Rosa Postlethwaite and autobiographical theatre maker Hannah Walker for a limited run of topical touring show Gamble from Thursday 19th-Saturday 21st May. Billed as glittering and glamorous, Gamble is a

bittersweet multimedia personal narrative that unashamedly challenges compulsive gambler stereotypes and courageously spotlights the omnipresent online gambling industry. Depicting Hannah’s resonant relationship experiences with a recovering online gambling addict, this hard-hitting play is informed by compulsive gamblers’ personal experiences, interviews with industry experts and comment from loved ones. Centre stage are the devastating addiction consequences including family break-ups, home and job losses and ultimately the highest suicide rate of all addictions. In 2020 a House of Lords report, Gambling

Harm – Time for Action, found that almost half the UK’s adult population gamble online with the pandemic leading to a crisis. Post-show discussions with Dr Matthew Gaskell, Clinical Lead and Consultant Psychologist for The NHS Northern Gambling Service are accompanied by trigger warnings and supported by helplines. Online gambling is bigger and easier to access than ever before; Hannah Walker’s Gamble reveals the repercussions are all day, all night, every second, right now. Gamble is at Northern Stage, Newcastle from Thursday 19th-Saturday 21st May.



My Mate Ren by Davey Poremba



Words: Claire Dupree Concerned with creating Queer work from fresh perspectives, brand new theatre company Sticky Theatre was begun by Live Theatre associate artist Tamsin Rees and ARC Stockton associate artist Holly Gallagher in 2018. Aiming to create unpretentious, engaging theatre, their debut production hits the boards of venues across the region this month. My Mate Ren is a coming of age story about growing up in the North East, from first kisses to sex, tinnies, cherry sourz and the power of friendship. Tamsin explains their thinking behind the play and the characters of Alex, portrayed by sole actor Jackie Edwards, and her best mate Ren. “I wanted to write a Queer coming of age story set in County Durham, specifically from a Queer non-male perspective and showing Queer joy, as well as the difficulties and hardships of navigating it in a small North East town. Because you just don’t see it on stage.” Although not an autobiographical tale, Tamsin explains they’ve borrowed from their own experiences growing up a Queer person in rural County Durham. “For my own craft it’s important for me to have a healthy distance between myself as the writer and the story I am telling in order to create the best work possible with space, perspective and not being scared to kill off a couple of characters on the way.” My Mate Ren is performed at Alphabetti, Newcastle from Tuesday 3rd-Thursday 5th, Hartlepool Town Hall on Monday 9th, and Queens Hall Hexham on Thursday 19th May.




Words: Lee Fisher When Jo Hodson from The Cumberland Arms was planning their 20th anniversary events, one aim was to involve people who had played a part in the pub’s recent history. One such person was Steve Jefferis, who as well as being half of the mighty Warm Digits has recorded and performed as Cathode. “I always thought Cathode was on hold rather than over, and so when I got chatting to Jo last year and realised it was her 20th anniversary this felt like the perfect reason to reboot. It was the site of both Cathode album launches and the first gig venue I ever visited when I moved to Newcastle.” Jefferis stresses that this is a one-off comeback for the time being, but who knows… The Cathode comeback gig on Saturday 14th May has, characteristically, morphed into an all-dayer called Inside/Outside, with a variety of electronically-inclined acts and DJs performing in the venue in the evening and out on the terrace in the daytime. Cathode is ably supported by a pretty goddamn stunning line-up upstairs – Nathalie Stern, SL Walkinshaw, Faye MacCalman and Madeleine Smyth – while out in the sunshine you’ll find DJ sets and performances from DJ Kitty, Stagger Lee and Iris Brickfield, with more TBC. Inside/Outside takes place at The Cumberland Arms from midday on Saturday 14th May.



Words: Mera Royle As the latest Cabaret of Dangerous Ideas readies itself for a new show at Newcastle’s Stand on Thursday 26th May, three top-of-their-game academics prepare to enter the debating ring to discuss all things weird and wonderful about the world we live in. Led by comedian Susan Morrison, this show dives into topics that trigger our inner desires for strange facts – is Alexa spying on us? Can criminals hack our toothbrushes? Why do people write in toilet stalls? In a bid to find answers, The Cabaret of Dangerous Ideas provides opportunities for audiences to discuss and debate cutting edge and controversial research with experts. Entering its tenth year, the show is set to bring its wisdom to Newcastle in 90-minutes of rapid-fire research. With the addition of Susan Morrison’s hilarious, tension-breaking compering, the night brings incredibly entertaining and insightful research to our attention. Challenging preconceptions, received opinions and asking tellingly uncomfortable questions of their audience is key to Cabaret of Dangerous Ideas. Do you have a burning question about the peculiarity and magnificence of the modern world? Then this is the place to bring it. The Cabaret Of Dangerous Ideas is at The Stand, Newcastle on Thursday 26th May.




Words: Lizzie Lovejoy Memory is a funny thing. Some things remain in our minds as clear as day, while others drift off into the void. Hold On, Let go considers the power of memory and how we interact with it,

why we hold onto it and who we choose to share our memories with. After debuting at Edinburgh Fringe in 2019, Unfolding Theatre is bringing this introspective show on tour, starting with Arts Centre Washington on Thursday 5th May. Main characters Alex and Luca have wildly different experiences and interpretations of the world. One is 56, the other half that age. There are some memories that Alex will keep forever, and others that have slipped through his fingers. In an age of information overload, Luca worries that she can’t remember what’s important. This show owns how much we

forget, and how easy that is for all of us to do. Featuring original songs composed by Maximo Park’s Paul Smith, Hold On, Let Go forces audiences to consider what memories we truly want to pass on to future generations. Analysing the fragility of memory, but celebrating the wonders of the everyday human experience, this is a piece that challenges us to be more conscious and observant in day-to-day living. Hold On, Let Go is at Arts Centre Washington on Thursday 5th May.




Words: Michael O’Neill Hell hath no fury like a glorious power trio. From Cream to Hüsker Dü and Sleater-Kinney, the format has regularly proven to be the foundation for glorious boundary-pushing in the grand annals of guitar music. Karkara are a phenomenal addition to the power trio

pantheon. Hailing from Toulouse, France, the trio merge the unique stylings of the Middle Eastern psychedelic movement with classic garage fuzz and wonky Krautrock, with the occasional sprinkling of didgeridoo. It makes for a transcendental journey in left-field psychedelic, and a refreshing tonic to hush the “guitar music is dead!” dullards. Joining them at their show at Little Buildings on Tuesday 3rd May are (in my eyes) local astral psych, desert rock royalty Cave Suns, who have carved out a solid reputation as Newcastle’s answer to Kyuss. Their unique brand of stoner blues is gloriously eclectic and perfectly at

Wednesday 4 Spiritualized Sage One

home in a diverse line-up like this. Rounding off the bill is Fuzz Club Records-signings Veik, who centre their experimental post-punk around vintage synths and abrasive instrumentation, taking influence from a multitude of 70’s avant garde movements, such as No Wave and Krautrock. All in all, it’s a delightful three-course serving of phenomenal, boundary-pushing, relentless entertainment at the glorious Little Buildings. Karkara, Cave Suns and Veik play Little Buildings, Newcastle on Tuesday 3rd May.

Friday 13 Katie Doherty and The Navigators with Dave Gray & Grace Smith

Thursday 5 The Shires Plus Kezia Gill & Eric Paslay

Sage Two

Sage One

Sage Two

Friday 6 Hannah Peel and Paraorchestra with Charles Hazlewood

Friday 20 Talisk plus Folkestra

Saturday 14 Juan Martin

Sage Two

Sage One

Stick in the Wheel Sage Two

Saturday 21 Kae Tempest with Shungudzo Sage One

Saturday 7 The Shee ‘Summer’s Promise’ Tour Sage Two

Riverside Ragas: Roopa Panesar and Shahbaz Hussain Sage Two

Head to on for our full gig listings.


May Gig Highlights




Dylan Moran



Words: Laura Doyle BAFTA and Perrier Award-winning comic Dylan Moran returns for another round of psychedelic scathing wit and morose outlooks on modern life, as he brings his We Got This tour to Tyne Theatre & Opera House in Newcastle on Wednesday 25th and Middlesbrough Town Hall on Thursday 26th May. No one looks at things in quite the same way as the creator of acclaimed TV series Black Books; bookstore owner Bernard shares Moran’s on stage sardonic bitterness to a worrying degree. But at long last, it seems like his perpetually bad mood is well placed to provide insightful commentary on the mess of the past couple of years. Sometimes the best way to release tension is just to rip into anything and everything that causes even the mildest of inconveniences. Brain won’t focus on a task for longer than ten minutes? Neighbour’s a pain in the posterior?

Procrastination really getting you down? Maybe instead of dwelling on the myriad of disappointments that seem to make up the diverse tapestry of life, it’s time to bask in life’s small victories, like the knowledge that maybe your life isn’t the absolute worst, and someone probably has it much worse than you. We Got This promises to have you leaving the show if not feeling better, then at least feeling better than Dylan Moran does on the reg. Dylan Moran performs at Tyne Theatre & Opera House in Newcastle on Wednesday 25th and Middlesbrough Town Hall on Thursday 26th May.



Words: Evie Nicholson Crack Cloud are so much more than a band. Initially the solo project of singer and drummer Zach Choy, the Vancouver-based mixed media collective now includes 30 musicians, artists, filmmakers and dancers all living and working together. On Saturday 14th May they take on Newcastle’s Cluny. Where Crack Cloud’s debut LP had channelled a more orthodox post-punk restlessness akin

to Gang of Four and Television, 2020’s Pain Olympics brought in elements of funk and hip-hop. It’s a shared mindset rather than skillset or sound that brings Crack Cloud together. A lot of bands flirt with political outrage and sensitive themes without any real integrity. Crack Cloud take their first-hand experiences of addiction and trauma and create vulnerably moving art out of it. Working closely with social workers, overdose prevention services and their local community, Crack Cloud refuse to create music that has no bearing on reality. Tracks like The Next Fix read like diary entries in the way they intimately expose the reality of getting clean. In interviews Crack Cloud describe their music as a vehicle for recovery, but it feels more radical than that. The collective may have been born out of addiction recovery programmes but its music transgresses the clinical austerity of medical spaces. Defiant and energising, this might just be the soundtrack of the revolution. As they grace the stage, Crack Cloud may look like they’re a seven-member Canadian art punk band. Yet, their music is simply a shadow of something much, much greater… Crack Cloud play The Cluny, Newcastle on Saturday 14th May.




Red Rum Club by Marieke Macklon



Words: Jake Anderson If I had a pound for the number of artists playing 2022’s MUNRO Festival that ALSO released a cover of Wham’s Last Christmas in December 2020, I’d have two quid. Which isn’t a lot, but it is a peculiar coincidence. (I’ll let you figure out which of the two acts.) Saturday 7th May signifies the return of MUNRO Festival to Stockton’s Georgian Theatre and The Green Room. After a socially distanced 2021, the event is charging head on for a safe and thrilling 2022. This jam-packed day starts at 2pm, and features some of the most sensational acts from the nation’s indie scene, with a particularly tasty line-up from the North East too. The all-dayer is headlined by Liverpool’s Red Rum Club, a band that fluently blends indie rock and pop into a joyful concoction, best seen on tracks like the up-beat Eleanor, taken from their celebrated 2020 album, The Hollow of Humdrum, which received much praise. Joining them at the Georgian Theatre will be indie quintet The Rah’s, Newcastle’s own purveyors of electro sounds Motel Carnation, grungy rock act Holly Rees, Stockton Britpoppers The Collectors and Welsh singer-songwriter Megan Wyn. In the Georgian’s bar, catch sets from emotional pop songwriter Sophia, the unique vocal talents of Ruby J and local singersongwriter Jen Dixon. Over at The Green Room, the headline slot is taken up by London’s Cruel Hearts Club, known for their energetic and punk-influenced bangers. They’ll be joined by hotly-tipped locals The Redroom, alt. rockers Abnorm, Hartlepool songwriter Alfie Blue and post-punk newbies Marines.

MUNRO festival takes place at The Georgian Theatre and The Green Room, Stockton on Saturday 7th May.



Words: Laura Doyle It’s crazy to think that the world collectively lost an entire year to the still ongoing but now somewhat controlled pandemic. It’s a year we can’t get back, but The Wave Pictures have perhaps gone some way to supplementing what we missed with their new album, When The Purple Emperor Spreads His Wings. With four sides each representing a new season, the eclectic rock band transports us through a trip around the sun and everything it entails. With each season releasing over the past year to coincide with the turning of the planet, Spring was welcomed in with Never Let You Down, a song out of time which sees psychedelic guitars blend seamlessly with uplifting affirmation – be comforted by the sense of security one feels seeing the first buds turn to blooms. May sees the culmination of The Wave Pictures’ efforts with the unified playlist finally complete and unleashed on the world. In celebration, Sunday 22nd May also sees The Wave Pictures perform at Newcastle’s Cluny in honour of this musical feat. It’s not too late to make up for lost time, and The Wave Pictures are here to oblige. Support comes from Fortitude Valley, an indie rock/power pop band based in Durham and London and featuring musicians from such musical titans as Tigercats, Martha, ONSIND and Night Flowers. The Wave Pictures and Fortitude Valley play The Cluny, Newcastle on Sunday 22nd May.



Words: Sara Jane Perovic Join fledgling North East theatre company Peach Plant for a Whale of a Time at Newcastle’s Alphabetti Theatre from Tuesday 17th May-Saturday 4th June. Familiar faces and fans of Alphabetti, North East actors Lucy Curry and Carl Wylie are a talented team who earlier this year excitedly announced an Arts Council funding award to co-produce their venture with this all-inclusive venue. Peach Plant aim to tell ordinary stories in extraordinary ways, so like his predecessors Jonah and Pinocchio, 50-year-old Albert has spent half his life inside a whale’s belly before being joined by a much younger Robbie. Although an unlikely pairing, their connection develops as the play takes an insightful look at what it is like to be a man living in different generations. Knowing nothing of the modern world, including Google and vegan sausage rolls, Albert desperately misses his wife and longs to escape. But the only route is via the whale’s blowhole. Is Robbie Albert’s way out? And more importantly why are they both inside a whale’s belly? All will be revealed at Alphabetti’s world premiere, that not only imaginatively explores friendship but details how one person can change the rest of your life. Whale of a Time is at Alphabetti, Theatre in Newcastle from Tuesday 17th May-Saturday 4th June.



A-Z Women in Architecture, Janis Goodman. Courtesy of Matrix Open feminist architecture archive



Words: Claire Dupree A fascinating exhibition of work by radical feminist architecture co-operative Matrix will be held at Newcastle Contemporary Art from Friday 6th May until Saturday 23rd July. Having met while studying at Newcastle University, the four founding members of Matrix came together in the 1980s to bring issues of gender centre-stage with regards to the built environment. Passionate that buildings and architecture should not control our lives with their limitations, but instead reflect attitudes, values and politics that affect those creating, living and working within them, the collective’s early work explored ways in which women influenced their environments and how feminist movements opened up possibilities in these fields. The exhibition, entitled How We Live Now: Making Spaces In The North East with Matrix Feminist Design Co-operative, will feature rare films, drawings, photos, architectural models and practice documents to explore the collective’s use of radical methods across a range of projects, past and present. The pioneering group’s legacy has had far-reaching consequences, from enabling more women from under-represented groups to work in the construction and architectural trades, to creating feminist guidance and support in the sector. The exhibition excellently conveys the collective’s approach and explores inclusive ways of designing, building and occupying spaces. In addition to the Matrix group’s work, further installations will offer a contemporary


perspective, asking questions around gender, accessibility, equality and discrimination, with additional projects on display including Natalie Bamford’s Embodied Knowledge of the City; Louise Mackenzie, Kaajal Modi and Ruth Morrow’s Listen with Mother?; Alison Stenning and Sally Watson’s Women, Children and Play on Streets and Rosie Morris, Harriet Sutcliffe and Gayle Miekle’s Undutiful Spirit, among others. How We Live Now: Making Spaces In The North East with Matrix Feminist Design Co-operative is on display at Newcastle Contemporary Art from Friday 6th May until Saturday 23rd July.



Words: Evie Nicholson Take the The Slits, Joy Division and the eclectic disarray of Lizzy Mercier Descloux, blend it all together and you get something akin to deep tan. Yet to release their first album, the East London trio have already making big (dark) waves in the underground music scene. They take on Zerox’s The Shooting Gallery venue on Friday 20th May to mark the release of their second EP. deep tan sound different to the rest of the male-dominated punk roster; they’re bolder and more seductive. Vocalist Wafah Dufour’s trance-like lyrics are punctuated by prickly baselines,and there’s a joltiness to the music that keeps you on your toes. They play around with keys and speed, some songs transcend four different tempos, making for an unexpected and unsettling sound. Yes, deep tan’s lyrics are certifiably socially conscious, but this is music you ultimately feel before you think about. Recently released tracks like beginners’ krav maga tackle violence against womxn and rudy ya ya ya critiques the American alt-right, but the lyrics are so oblique that their content verges more on perceptive satirical wallpaper than anything revolutionary. Above all else, deep tan speak for brooding outsiders. Tracks like hollow scene or

deep-fake indulge in alienation, self-deception and paralysis. It’s dark wave pop for a hopelessly dystopian world, yet I find myself dancing to it nevertheless. deep tan play The Shooting Gallery, Newcastle on Friday 20th May.



Words: Cameron Wright With the world facing unprecedented disarray, as politics spirals into the unthinkable and the climate is teetering on a knife edge, the country is crying out for the comforting touch of wisdom, direction and knowledge. Begging for a natural leader to pick us from the ruins and lead us back onto the straight path, nurturing us to health and rallying us back to a sense of unity, love and compassion, there has never been a time more suited for the return of a hero. Sadly, we’re stuck with Alan Partridge. A man where no introduction is needed, the veteran broadcaster takes to the stage with his new Stratagem tour, pitching up at Newcastle’s Utilita Arena on Tuesday 3rd and Wednesday 4th May. Aiming to inform the general public about his new plan on healing, educating and entertaining the nation in equal measure, Alan welcomes audiences into his new, well-oiled TED Talk-inspired stage show. With decades establishing Alan as the antithesis of the wisdom, knowledge and direction he strives for, the night is sure to collapse into the trademark hilarity and cringe-inducing madness that established Steve Coogan’s character as one of the country’s most notoriously outrageous. Strategem with Alan Partridge is at Utilita Arena, Newcastle on Tuesday 3rd and Wednesday 4th May.


Snapped Ankles by Laura Lewis


SI BECKWITH: BRICKS @ LAUREL’S Words: Mera Royle A seven-minute walk away from Whitley Bay beach, Laurel’s Theatre is soon to play host to a stunner in the world of comedy. Si Beckwith’s newest stand-up show entitled Bricks, which he performs at the venue on Thursday 12th May, is a show about all about the good things in life, from family, Lego and goths, to good trainers, wrestling and people trying their hardest. Compiled together into an hour of daftness, it’ll be hard to resist a hearty giggle at Beckwith’s cheeky and charming way with words. The Newcastle native is no newbie to winning over audiences, as his sharp wit and hilarious monologues have toured the country and he’s performed at some of the UK’s biggest and respected comedy clubs. Through what at times can be hard-hitting narratives, his routines are woven together with silliness and

humour, and he spreads joy with his endearing, relatable stories. Cracking open his latest life chapters on becoming a step-parent and figuring out what it actually means to be a family, Bricks brings Beckwith’s unique view of the world to warm hearts and lighten spirits. Si Beckwith performs Bricks at Laurel’s, Whitley Bay on Thursday 12th May.


SNAPPED ANKLES @ THE GEORGIAN THEATRE Words: Mera Royle Making waves comes as second nature to Snapped Ankles, who since emerging in 2011 have bewitched fans with their stunning visual appearance and swirling, post-punk sound. To describe this band is to describe a sight one might previously think could only exist in a wild dream; forest creatures, doused in ghillie suits, playing hand-made instruments, strapped to

logs – if there was ever a band who knows how to make a memorable show, it’s Snapped Ankles. Having spread frenzied havoc across continents, the band is set to hit the stage at Stockton’s Georgian Theatre on Sunday 22nd May in support of their latest album, Forest Of Your Problems. Filled with ancient forest rhythms, electronica, electric guitars and maniacal beats, this music crackles with energy – it’s too hard to resist a dance along to their ecstatic post-punk colours. As a band, their immersive live performances have also become sites of promoting awareness for the destruction of our planet’s ecosystems and the importance of building a world that looks after and values all people and creatures. These messages are pulled together in a free and unconventional musical experience which will have audiences on their feet all night long. Snapped Ankles play The Georgian Theatre, Stockton on Sunday 22nd May.



Kae Tempest by Wolfgang Tillmans



Words: Françoise Harvey Kae Tempest tours this Spring for the first time since 2019, with their new album The Line Is A Curve, which brings a new, more communicative approach to their performance, with Tempest more willing to both embrace the spotlight and welcome people into the music. Audiences can experience the thought-provoking work, which fuses spoken vocals with beat-driven backing and tackles bold themes of time, growth and love, at the final show of the tour which takes place at Sage Gateshead on Saturday 21st May. Tempest explains their approach to recording, which involved inviting audiences into the studio, recording three vocal takes in one day, to three different generations of people: “a man of 78 who I’d never met, a woman of 29, the poet Bridget Minamore, who is a good friend of mine and then to three young fans of


12, 15 and 16 who had responded to a social media post. What we discovered went beyond our expectations...There were different meanings in the words depending on the generation I was speaking to.” The resulting music “has a beautiful heart,” says Tempest. “It was built on love and there is deep love running through it.” Kae Tempest plays Sage Gateshead on Saturday 21st May.



Words: Lizzie Lovejoy Uncaged Aerial Theatre have been hard at work developing a new show which will be taking place at Arts Centre Washington on Thursday 26th May. After a residency at ARC Stockton in early April, the trio have been finalising their production of Girls, Girls, Girls,

which tackles the complicated question of what it is like to be a woman, from three different perspectives. Emma Bloomfield, Sarah Dobbs and Rosie Vleugels have come together to create a showcase of three unique performances which share their own experiences and understandings of womanhood, with all the challenges and questions that come along with it. Considering all of the pressures from society, as well as the pressures we put on ourselves, Girls, Girls, Girls explores not only the causes but the effects; as they learn more about themselves, this show will ask audiences how a woman can break free from these boundaries. With over 20 years of combined aerial experience, these brilliant Sunderland-based creative practitioners will use their skills to tell emotive and challenging narratives, using both physical strength and emotional power, making for a visually dynamic way of opening up the question of what it means to be female. Girls, Girls, Girls is at Arts Centre Washington on Thursday 26th May.


Hamish Hawk by Gabriela Silveira



Words: Maria Winter If you’re in the market to discover new musical acts from Scotland and the North East, then this

event is for you. Tees Music Alliance and The Kids Are Solid Gold bring back the highly anticipated Songs From Northern Britain to The Georgian Theatre, The Green Room and the Georgian’s Bar on Saturday 21st May, with a full day of endless talent from the deep North. The all-dayer will be headlined by the incredibly talented singer-songwriter from Edinburgh, Hamish Hawk. Recognised for creating a fantastical world of musical diversity, Hawk magically encapsulates his audiences through his artistic and imaginative exploration of music and innate lyricism. This is recognised in his first fully-formed album Heavy Elevator, which emotionally combines characters and

geographical references to enhance his evocative storylines. An abundance of other accomplished artists will also feature on the line-up, including ‘laptop rock’ duo Memes, the observational sounds of Our Man In The Field, Dundee songwriter Theo Bleak, Teesside garage rockers Onlooker, fast rising young Glaswegian artist Connor Fyfe, Yorkshire/London sextet Deadletter, acclaimed folk songwriter Katie Doherty and many more. Songs From Northern Britain takes place at The Georgian Theatre and The Green Room, Stockton on Saturday 21st May.








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Grayson Perry, The Agony in the Car Park (detail), 2012, Wool, cotton, acrylic, polyester and silk tapestry, Edition of 6 + 2 AP, 200 x 400cm. © the artist. Gift of the artist and Victoria Miro Gallery with the support of Channel 4 Television, the Art Fund and Sfumato Foundation with additional support from AlixPartners


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from Alix Partners.


Kathryn Roberts & Sean Lakeman



Carolina Caycedo’s exhibition is at BALTIC, Gateshead from Saturday 28th May until Sunday 29th January 2023.

KATHRYN ROBERTS & CAROLINA CAYCEDO @ SEAN LAKEMAN @ OLD BALTIC CINEMA LAUNDERETTE/ MUSIC GOSFORTH CIVIC SOAP @ LITTLE THEATRE BUILDINGS Words: Maria Winter Long-standing folk partners Kathryn Roberts and Sean Lakeman make a couple of trips to the region this month, with shows at Durham’s Old Cinema Launderette on Sunday 1st and Newcastle’s Gosforth Civic Theatre on Monday 2nd May. Having established themselves as one of the UK folk scene’s most rewardingly enduring partnerships, Kathryn and Sean are celebrating this achievement by revisiting and reinterpreting key songs which have defined their career so far. From the early days of their tremendous folk group Equation, through to their recent release Personae, their sets will take you on an artistic journey representative of their own; the duo’s dynamic relationship is demonstrated through captivating performance and astonishing musical trust, which is a pure joy to witness on stage. Whether they’re performing songs about wicked mermaids or Norwegian legends, the duo’s oeuvre ranges from the bittersweet to the fiercely political, and these shows will provide a perfect set list for fans, or an ideal introduction to their wonderful catalogue. Kathryn Roberts & Sean Lakeman play Old Cinema Launderette, Durham on Sunday 1st and Gosforth Civic Theatre, Newcastle on Monday 2nd May.

Words: Eugenie Johnson London-born, Los Angeles-based Colombian artist Carolina Caycedo’s multidisciplinary works reflect her participation in resistance movements and strong interest in environmental justice. By harnessing participation and collective practice, her works spans sculpture, performance, photography and video to reflect on and interrogate ways in which we construct historical environmental memory, energy transitions and cultural biodiversity. Through her works, she challenges the viewer to reassess our relationship to nature, seeing it not as a resource ripe for exploitation but instead a living, transcendent entity that fosters human connection. Her first survey exhibition in Europe is being hosted at Gateshead’s BALTIC from Saturday 28th May until Sunday 29th January 2023, providing an overview of her works from the past two decades. The collection will include pieces from many of Caycedo’s major series, including the ongoing work Be Dammed, which uses mixed media to take a critical eye to the impact of hydroelectric dams and similar large-scale infrastructure projects on both human lives and the wider environment. Continuing to explore Caycedo’s long-standing interest in humans’ relationship to bodies of water, the retrospective also features a new commission inspired by the Tyne, an expansion to her River Book series. Diverse and thought-provoking, this exhibition will give a unique overview of a contemporary artist dedicated to placing environmental justice at the heart of her works.

Words: Jake Anderson Don’t let the baby blue and pink advert by organisers Neversleep fool you. Their show at Little Buildings on Friday 6th May will be stuffed with harsh and brutal soundscapes from groovy tuned artists Soap, Leeds based three-piece Muckle, Geordie duo Boy Latex and Newcastle’s Gonzo Dog. Boy Latex kick off the night, known for their eerie and disturbing sonic environments. Sometimes their sound feels heavy and metallic, while others it’ll feel gruesome and vexed. The average listener will be able to hear familiar elements in noise rock band Muckle’s tracks, but the distortion suffocates the listener as they’re dragged into an array of harsh sounds. It’s a genre that seems hostile, but once you find the beauty behind the sounds it becomes something truly special. While actual soap might be associated with cleanliness, the band Soap’s noise is grimy and antagonistic. Relentless drums and lo-fi vocals are at the forefront of their sound, especially on bangers like Montreal 1976 with its coarse strumming. Finishing of the night is a DJ set from Gonzo Dog, who will blast their gloomy electronic beats to culminate in a night packed with vicious vibrations. Soap, Muckle, Boy Latex and Gonzo Dog play Little Buildings, Newcastle on Friday 6th May.



Ist Ist



Words: Jake Anderson There are many art forms I’ve mastered. The art of procrastinating. The art of sleeping. But one art I’ve never mastered is that of the art of lying, it’s why I’ve never pursed a career as a politician. But truth is a theme that’s at the forefront of Ist Ist’s sophomore album. The Manchester band will be playing songs from The Art of Lying, as well as their debut, on their UK tour, which will take them to Sunderland’s Independent on Friday 6th May. If you didn’t already need an excuse to go get yourself one of the venue’s blue pints, then seeing the group perform their post-punk anthem, You’re Mine, is a great reason to. The track flaunts repeating song structure which empowers their rhythm section, and it’s an effect the band has carried into their follow-up album, on tracks such as the hazy It Stops Where It Starts. Supporting them will be the North East group Wax Heart Sodality, an elegant garage rock four-piece who are known for strutting on stage


in theatrical outfits, replete with hypnotic vocals and punchy guitar riffs. Their latest single, I Would Like Your Face, is a dark tune that demonstrates a mastering of the art of creating hypnotic bangers. Ist Ist and Wax Heart Sodality play Independent, Sunderland on Friday 6th May.



Words: Eugenie Johnson Celebrating the region’s radical past, present and future, the Star And Shadow Cinema are hosting the very first Newcastle Anarchist Book Fair on Saturday 21st May, in memory of artist, musician and activist Ewan Brown, who passed away in 2019. The event will feature a range of diverse social movements gathering together, with stalls from AK Press, Amorphous Pieces, Borderline Books, Dog Section Press, Earth First, Freedom Press, Kate Sharpley Library, Sisters Uncut and the Tyneside Anarchist

Archive among many others. As well as stalls, there’s also the chance to get involved, from learning how to make your mark with stencil art and an exploration on Chav Solidarity by D. Hunter, to a workshop on mixed martial arts with the Newcastle Fight Center. As if the offering wasn’t already substantial, the event rounds off with music featuring an appropriately anarchistic edge, with punks Slalom D, hardcore outfit Decontrol and anarcho-punk-poet Andy T among those performing. Films made by Ewan Brown will be screened in the cinema from 5pm, including No Pasaran – Resisting Neo Nazis in Magdeburg, and Gentle World, which tells of the veganic haven nestled in the mountains of the far north of New Zealand, alongside film shorts, and at 7.30pm, there’s a screening of Ken Loach’s film Land & Freedom. If you want to get immersed in region’s more revolutionary side, there’s no better place to start than this one-of-a-kind event. The Anarchist Book Fair takes place at Star And Shadow Cinema, Newcastle on Saturday 21st May.


Pet Deaths by Andrew G Hobbs




PET DEATHS @ COBALT MIDDLESBROUGH MAN ON MAN @ THE LOCAL HISTORY MONTH STUDIOS CLUNY Words: Michael O’Neill Taking equal influence from Alice Coltrane, Bitches Brew-era Miles and the sacred duo of Talk Talk’s Spirit of Eden and Laughing Stock, the London-based folk/art rock outfit Pet Deaths are a dream prospect for those who prefer music that challenges the boundaries of the art form, but still remains delightfully unpretentious and wholly enthralling. Consisting of duo Graeme Martin and Liam Karim, their 2019 debut LP To The Top Of The Hill and Roll… won plaudits from the likes of Huw Stephens (who described it as “beautiful, understated and special” – noting it as one of his favourite albums of the year) and bagged them support slots with acts as prestigious as Elbow and Arab Strap. Their upcoming sophomore effort, unhappy ending (due for release 27th May) is a worthy successor, finding the duo further ploughing the depths of introspective innovation. They consider it to be “both explored and sat with [and] deliberately and acutely considered to be a journey of its own; nine new songs but one whole immersive piece for the listener to climb inside.” It’s an ambitious undertaking, and one that will indisputably make for an immersive experience on-stage when they play Cobalt Studios on Saturday 28th May. Pet Deaths play Cobalt Studios, Newcastle on Saturday 28th May.

Words: Robert Nichols This year’s Middlesbrough Local History Month will be really important for the future as well as a celebration of the past. In this Jubilee year, the Teesside town looks back through all seven decades of the reign as they impacted on local places and faces. The month-long focus will look back to the early pioneering years of the new planned town while also peering back through time to discuss tantalising clues unearthed recently by archaeologists from a far earlier Middlesbrough. The will be a diverse programme of events that aims to have widespread appeal; walk in the footsteps of a young James Cook, explore the resting place of some of the town’s celebrated engineers or open a scrapbook of footballing memories. The hidden history of town buildings is unveiled and the roles of women at work and in war are uncovered. Recent social history will also be explored through individuals interviewed in a recent Leeds University Northern Exposure project. Many of the events of this annual festival take place in a town centre that is still redefining itself after the pandemic. It is now vitally important that we get out and about and fully utilise our venues again – this local history month can be an important step to help regenerate Middlesbrough. For all walks, talks, open day and events of the month-long Middlesbrough Local History Month check out the website or Discover Middlesbrough social media pages.

Words: Michael O’Neill It’s slightly difficult, in so few words, to try and surmise the staggering influence that metal auteurs Faith No More have over the last thirty-odd years of left-field riff-laden tuneage, with the likes of the anything-goes opus Angel Dust still being as vital now as it was in 1992. Those with a keen ear will be readily familiar with the key role that keyboardist Roddy Bottum had to play in all this, with his complex, multi-layered washes of keys being a key ingredient in what made them so unique, both in the pantheon of metal, and further afield. That very same anything-goes spirit is alive and well in Bottum’s new project Man On Man, which he co-founded with boyfriend Joey Holman, and will be bringing to Newcastle’s Cluny on Sunday 15th May. The duo’s eponymous LP, written and recorded at home, is an evocative and eclectic exploration of their love, separation, fear and isolation in the face of Covid-19, that deals in euphoria, liberation and introspection. It’s a brilliantly intimate collection of deeply personal and compelling music, which will readily appeal to disciples of Bottum’s past work and anyone who loves their tunes to be eclectic, thought-provoking and euphoric. Man On Man play The Cluny, Newcastle on Sunday 15th May.



Sea Girls by Blackksocks



Words: Cameron Wright Sea Girls have been growing their fanbase for years now. No strangers to a Newcastle audience, the band are stepping up their game with a show

at the Boiler Shop on Monday 16th May. Latest album Homesick doubles down on their love of hook-heavy, crowd friendly indie pop. With big choruses ready to light up a room, the heart and euphoria caught in their music is now balanced by songwriting more earnest than the band have ventured previously. Post-lockdown lyricism looks to the past, dwelling on the peaks and troughs of adolescence, home life and growing older. Candid storytelling means

Hadaway Harry Written by Ed Waugh

Saturday 11 June, 2.30pm & 7.30pm Tickets: £16 (£14 concession) 22

these passages feel very familiar and welcome, allowing the band to become emotionally, as well as musically, accessible. Having already sold out their record shop tour, this extra date is selling fast and is sure to be a night of fun, danceable escapism from the delightful indie group. Sea Girls play Boiler Shop, Newcastle on Monday 16th May.


The Divine Comedy by Kevin Westenberg



Words: Cameron Wright 1993 saw the release of Liberation, the commercial birth of Neil Hannon’s The Divine Comedy. An articulate and well-poised album which, via twee compositions, took the listener on a wry journey through literature greats, chamber pop and even the psychedelic influence of the Kinks. From that moment on, the momentum only built. From Promenade’s phenomenal and ambitious baroque ode to French cinema, to the harrowing and eerie sounds across Fin de Siècle, The Divine Comedy have been challenging boundaries and creating magical realms of sound to the delight of critics and fans alike. With three decades spent curating a stellar catalogue of whimsically sarcastic, educated and infectious releases, reimagining and fine tuning the grandiose nature of Scott Walker, Lee Hazlewood and The Beatles while streamlining it into modern, engaged pop records, it only seems apt to wholeheartedly celebrate. Charmed Life is that celebration; the ‘best of’ album, featuring Hannon’s finest penmanship, was released in February and features such gems as Songs of Love, National Express,

Generation Sex, Everybody Knows (Except You), Tonight We Fly and many more. Saturday 14th May sees this amazing celebration of hits arrive at Newcastle’s O2 City Hall, promising to be an essential experience for anyone besotted with the prolific artist as well as the perfect starting point for anyone seeking an introduction into the wonderful world of The Divine Comedy. The Divine Comedy play O2 City Hall, Newcastle on Saturday 14th May.


NEWCASTLE POETRY FESTIVAL @ NORTHERN STAGE Words: Lizzie Lovejoy Newcastle Poetry Festival makes its return at Northern Stage from Thursday 5th to Saturday 7th May, with a mix of talent both national and local, celebrating the medium of the spoken and written word. If you’re part of the growing audience for audio-based entertainment, then you may enjoy the various performances that this festival has to offer, including live readings from current poet laureate Simon Armitage. The theme in 2022 is EMERGENCY, which is investigated in a myriad of ways. The Poetry Book Society will host The Emergency Poetry

Summit, where a range of creative writers, performers, producers and readers can come together for discussion. Born Lippy, Newcastle’s leading spoken word night, will present an open mic night which shines a spotlight on our local writers and performers, alongside a performance from Door to Door poet Rowan McCabe. The festival will also feature a series of workshops run by writers and performers, as well as various talks and seminars, including In The Poet’s Chair, a chat with with awardwinning poet Roger Robinson hosted by Jackie Kay, a professor of Creative Writing at Newcastle University. Other highlights include readings from Costa Book of the Year Award winner Hannah Lowe, who is joined by former UK slam champion Joelle Taylor; three internationally acclaimed poets, Grace Nichols, John Asgard and Imtiaz Dharker, explore themes of displacement, grief and diasporic voices; and meditations on time, family and memory come courtesy of Linda Anderson, John Challis and Denise Saul. Audiences can enjoy the festival both in person at Northern Stage and online. Newcastle Poetry Festival takes place from Thursday 5th-Saturday 7th May at Northern Stage, Newcastle.



LA Witch by Robin Laananen



Words: Cameron Wright When you think of the comedy scene in Newcastle, there are a plethora of places that jump to mind, but it’s unlikely that The Cathedral Church of St. Nicholas is one of them – until now. The Cathedral of Comedy is a new event coming to Newcastle’s beautiful 14th Century Grade I listed Cathedral. Soon to be known as the hottest comedy joint in the city, the inaugural event takes place on Saturday 21st May and will also include local food vendors Dot Bagels and Bigfatdonutco and a bar. The night will feature performances from some of Newcastle’s comedy veterans including Steffen Peddie, Anth Young, Kelly Edgar and Matt Reed, with the headline set coming from irresistible comic, David O’Doherty. The dishevelled Irish comedian will be bringing his absurd observations and ludicrous songs to the stage; having established himself through QI, Cats do Countdown and his fringe tours, the comedy heavyweight is the first in a series of quality bookings lined up for the 500 capacity venue. Run by Lee & David Promotions, the events will offer a unique way to experience one of the city’s iconic buildings, with future bookings including Phil Wang, Catherine Bohart, Larry Dean and Lou Sanders. David O’Doherty, Steffen Peddie, Anth Young, Kelly Edgar and MC Matt Reed perform at Newcastle Cathedral on Saturday 21st May.




Words: Laura Doyle If any of us could have even half the accidental success that garage rockers L.A. Witch have managed, we’d be well on our way to quite the fruitful career. The trio really did stumble onto a winning formula through allowing their natural creative flow to take them wherever it felt right. That place ended up being their debut self-titled record which catapulted the group into the limelight. With growth comes a need for a more systematic approach: this brings us neatly to their sophomore effort, Play With Fire. The 2020 record was created under very different circumstances to their previous efforts: years of fine-tuning was replaced with a two month cramming session to put together something truly spectacular. The album carries that sense of claustrophobia that goes hand in hand with self-imposed isolation; fuzzy guitars packed with reverb leave you with little escape from the trio’s grime-laden funk. Yet you keep coming back for more – and thanks to L.A. Witch’s tendency for extensive touring, they’re ready to supply that hit more often than you’d think, and bring their fiery show to The Cluny in Newcastle on Thursday 19th May, where they’ll be supported by the North East’s very own firebrand fuzzy garage rockers, Pit Pony. L.A. Witch and Pit Pony play The Cluny, Newcastle on Thursday 19th May.



Words: Jake Anderson Ballad Of A Changing World is a 55-minute film made during lockdown by Norwegian cellist Maja Bugge and pianist Sarah Nicholls, which will be screened at Cobalt Studios on Friday 27th May. Intended to be an immersive wake up call on the urgency of the climate crisis, it features interviews with scientists in both Newcastle and Norway, interrupted by the sometimes hilarious attempts to make a music show in lockdown. While the news might be currently preoccupied with other world threatening stories, we should not forget that still looming over us is the destruction of our planet from the ongoing climate crisis. Something, I believe, might’ve lost its punch. So, reread that first sentence – “the DESTRUCTION of OUR PLANET”. It should be scary. The film is intended to re-ring the alarm bells on the subject matter, with a focus on how the planet is changing; bringing the plight of local wildlife, such as the Quayside’s kittiwakes, into sharp focus, as they change their current migration due to global warming. In the film, poetic moments mingle with musical elements, with an overall hopeful atmosphere. The screening will also feature what’s certain to be an insightful Q&A with the artists and Dr Helen Wilson from Durham University. Ballad Of A Changing World is screened at Cobalt Studios, Newcastle on Friday 27th May.




Words: Lee Fisher Stick In The Wheel emerged with a singularly austere approach to folk, eschewing any kind of crowd-pleasing fusion and simultaneously bucking against the Keepers Of The Trad. Since that year zero approach, they’ve proceeded to

fuck with expectations from one album and mixtape to the next, with the addition of autotune and synths and contemporary electronic textures (but still without every slipping into any kind of fusion). This reached its apotheosis (so far at least) on last year’s stunning Tonebeds For Poetry mixtape, which sees Nicola Kearey’s keening voice autotuned and distorted, Ian Carter bringing metal guitars and eightbit programming into the mix and the whole thing


2ND / 3RD JUNE 2022

K BUSH Night A T E The Kate Bush Experience of your dreams is here, lets get bushy!

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reaching outwards and upwards in redefining what a folk song can be. It is, to sum up, fucking remarkable. And it’s this release they’re touring in May, a run of their biggest dates yet that brings them to Sage Gateshead on Friday 6th May. It’s their first show on Tyneside for a few years, and you really need to come and see where folk is going next. Stick In The Wheel play Sage Gateshead on Friday 6th May




The Stones No.1 tribute to the rolling stones















The Shakin’ Nightmares


FRIDAY NIGHTMARES @ BASE CAMP Words: Claire Dupree Aiming to kickstart your weekend with a night of rock ‘n’ rollin’ goodness, Teesside fuzzy rockers The Shakin’ Nightmares gear up to present a series of shows at Middlesbrough’s Base Camp, complete with some out of town guests and local friends. They promise their regular Friday Nightmares gigs will feature “raw bands and a carefree


vibe”, as Ryan from the band explains: “It’s a place to let loose after a busy week with some kindred souls. The line-ups will be fuzzy, punk, trashy, garagy, high energy and fun.” The inaugural event will take place on Friday 6th May and they more than deliver on their promises with the line-up. Hartlepool’s Marines kick off proceedings with their punk-derived raucous racket, Halifax blues rock duo The Hazy Janes bring their bouncy beats and big riffs, and The Shakin’ Nightmares themselves take the headline billing, topping the night off with a healthy dose of party-starting riffs and rock ‘n’ roll vibes. Ryan explains their thinking behind the line-up.

“Marines have this fresh energy and unlimited creative vision, they’re big and noisy, so it’s gonna be really cool to see what they grow into. The Hazy Janes are a ridiculously good power duo making some cool blues rock tunes and they put on an energetic live show – they’re the ideal band for your Friday night.” With more shows in the pipeline, including a summer special in July, Friday Nightmares will make your rock ‘n’ roll dreams come true. The Shakin’ Nightmares, The Hazy Janes and Marines play Base Camp, Middlesbrough on Friday 6th May.


Pillow Queens by Rich Gilligan



Words: Laura Doyle If Pillow Queens sound familiar, maybe you saw their recent appearance on The Late Show with James Corden. Or maybe you caught their last release, the highly rated debut LP In Waiting. High profile achievements aside, April saw the release of their sophomore album, Leave The Light On, and Saturday 7th May will see them perform at The Cluny; their new material sees the indie rock outfit take an introspective turn that celebrates the romantic side of loneliness. Pillow Queens’ brave concept is that loneliness isn’t always synonymous with isolation: it can give vital time for personal reflection and growth. Where other bands might get comfortable in the niche carved out for them, Pillow Queens have decided to keep fans on their toes with an experimental edge to this next chapter. Recorded in only three months over Spring 2021, making this music must have come as naturally as listening to it does. It’s time for them to lay their heart on their line

with larger than life sounds which maintain a sense of intimacy with the listener thanks to crooning lyricism and carefree beats. Like a venting session with your best pal, let Pillow Queens ease your mind and soul with their cleansing tunes. Pillow Queens play The Cluny, Newcastle on Saturday 7th May.



Words: Cameron Wright I’m not sure there’s a comedian who has caught my eye with such prowess as Lou Sanders. Smashing onto our screens and appearing on everything from her co-host role on Mel Giedroyc’s Unforgivable to the season she won Taskmaster, Lou has been cementing her reputation as the ridiculous, chaotic and utterly disarming comedian next door. At every turn, Lou showcases a keen intuition for speaking the unspoken and veering any conversation

into a complete shambles. The creator and conversationalist fronting the hilarious Cuddle Time podcast is delivering an equally engaging and beautifully derailed show with her latest tour One Word: Wow. Visiting several venues in the North East, the new tour is a romp through the delirious and delectable details of her roller-coaster life. Jam packed with the most abstract, befuddling anecdotes, fuelled by a charmingly unleashed energy and pizazz, there are few comedians providing the same delightful carnage as Lou Sanders. Moments away from becoming one of the country’s brightest shining stars, One Word: Wow showcases a brilliant, albeit deranged mind, primed for a fantastic career of laughter and perfectly harnessed lunacy. Lou Sanders performs at The Forum, Northallerton on Thursday 12th, The Witham in Barnard Castle on Friday 13th, Alnwick Playhouse on Saturday 14th and The Stand, Newcastle on Sunday 15th May. She returns to Newcastle Cathedral for a headline show on Saturday 16th July.



Infinite Ways Home by Jack Thomson Photography



Words: Eugenie Johnson Internationally renowned for his choreography rooted in collaboration, emotional connection and notions of co-authorship within dance, Richard Chappell has created works for theatres including the Royal Opera House, National Dance Company Wales and the English

National Ballet as well as leading his own ensemble since 2013. His company’s latest work, Infinite Ways Home, which comes to Dance City in Newcastle on Friday 27th May, continues to draw upon the theme of community that has been a running thread in his work, taking it to new heights. Featuring a pulsating electronic soundtrack from experimental duo Larch and live violin by soloist Enyuan Khong, Infinite Ways Home takes six people on a journey that emphasises humans’ innate need for connection. Combining traditional ballet, contemporary dance and improvisational

passages, the work also takes inspiration from both connection with the natural world found in Druidic practices and the human bonding of rave culture. In synthesising its influences into an exhilarating 55-minute piece, Infinite Ways Home takes the audience on as much of a multisensory, ritualistic trip as its leading figures. After the turbulence of the past few years, Chappell’s work acknowledges that finding home can be restorative and reflective. Infinite Ways Home is at Dance City, Newcastle on Friday 27th May.


0844 477 2000^ 28


Michael Kiwanuka by Olivia Rose



Words: Ikenna Offor There’s no denying that Michael Kiwanuka is one of the brightest lights on the vastly talented yet maddeningly undervalued contemporary UK soul scene. Across a trio of acclaimed albums over the last decade, the 34-year-old British-Ugandan troubadour has been a persistent testimony to individualism, and he brings that talent to Newcastle’s O2 City Hall on Wednesday 18th May. From the jump, Kiwanuka’s protean ability and non-restricted approach to everything his musical tastes favour – from fuzzy indie tones to shapeshifting psychedelic flourishes and inescapable melodies – have made perhaps the most clear-cut case for why analogue textures still matter in an increasingly digital world. Whilst the high bar set by both of his first two albums led to slightly reductive comparisons to Bill Withers and Terry Callier (Black man + supple voice + acoustic guitar = go figure), Kiwanuka’s defiant, self-titled third LP – which earned him a well-deserved Mercury win after two previous shortlistings – saw him fully come into his own. Following on from his Mercury

triumph, Kiwanuka’s stirring new single, the ethereally melancholic yet indelibly exultant Beautiful Life, further builds on his well-honed penchant for vividly abstracted yet intuitively coherent songcraft. Kiwanuka’s gospel is simple yet profound: true strength of spirit springs from finding beauty in all situations, even difficult ones. Can I get an ‘Amen’? Michael Kiwanuka plays O2 City Hall, Newcastle on Wednesday 18th May.



Words: Jake Anderson One of Newcastle’s best alternative spaces, the Side Gallery, finally reopened its doors in late April. Run by the Amber Collective, the gallery is devoted to showcasing documentary photography, and strives to give a voice to those who find themselves on the edges of society, telling stories of those often marginalised. Running at the gallery until Saturday 16th July will be a joint exhibition between

photojournalist Gary Calton, Izabela Jedrzejczyk and Amber Films. Gary Calton’s Citizens Of Our Time focuses on the communities that feel forced to protest, influenced by the ongoing ‘Kill The Bill’ movement and exploring their motivations. Representing everyday people, Calton’s powerful selection of images focus on the personal reasons behind campaigning, and covers a wide range of issues which have engaged the UK population over the last 25 years. One of the most important stories featured is that of Richard Ratcliffe, the husband of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, who rallied for their partner’s release for six years from an Iranian detention centre. Audio-visual installation What Happened Here incorporates prints from Izabela Jedrzejczyk’s Striking Women series, which documented the women in Easington Colliery who supported the miners’ strike of 1984. Amber’s own contribution comes from the 2019 film which gives the exhibition its name, and which remembered the women’s efforts 35 years later. Citizens Of Our Time and What Happened Here are exhibited at Side Gallery, Newcastle until Saturday 16th July.



Chloe Petts by Matt Crockett



Words: Laura Doyle Comedy is a career often pursued not for the recognition, but for the love of the craft. Luckily for some, they get to enjoy both. Chloe Petts is one fortunate individual who has managed to turn her dedication to comedy into an


emotionally profitable venture. The creator of London-based all woman and non-binary queer comedy night The LOL Word brings her debut stand-up tour, Transience, to Newcastle’s Stand on Sunday 29th May. It’s an apt name, since we’re living in such changeable times that it’s often difficult to remember where we’re at as a society. Transience therefore suits her own comedy, which focuses on the trials and tribulations of life. Petts is so desperate to live in the moment that she sometimes ends up sending very

much the wrong vibe to male pals who sometimes fail to grasp the concept of interaction without ulterior motives. Seriously guys, some women really don’t want to get in your pants. For one so supportive of her local comedy scene, it’d be so nice to reciprocate with some equally platonic support as Chloe Petts takes her first tentative steps into the nationwide circuit. Go see. Chloe Petts is at The Stand, Newcastle on Sunday 29th May.




Nelly Ben Hayoun and her Doppelgangers by Jan Zappner


CLAIRE DUPREE HEARS ABOUT THE OUT OF THIS WORLD FESTIVAL WHICH INVITES AUDIENCES TO THINK RADICALLY ABOUT ALTERNATE FUTURES Taking the Earth’s celestial companion the Moon as its inspiration, a unique and immersive free festival of events will land in a variety of venues in Newcastle from Friday 27th-Monday 30th May, in what promises to be an out of this world experience designed to provoke radical thinking and instigate change. Tour de Moon aims to provide a platform for youth counterculture, inviting audiences to think about radical approaches to challenges in the global climate and imagine alternate futures. The project is the brainchild of polymath Dr Nelly Ben Hayoun, who is founder of NASA’s International Space Orchestra and the tuition-free University of the Underground; a radical thinker whose large-scale multi-dimensional experiential projects intersect science, theatre, politics, music and design, her work has included collaborations with Noam Chomsky, Pussy Riot, Massive Attack and Kid Cudi to name a few, and her reputation as an instigator and challenger of institutions makes Tour de Moon, and the potential for what may result from it, an exciting prospect indeed. Providing a “platform for fresh thinking and new ideas” the festival is committed to “plurality, decolonial practices, social and racial justice, solidarity and equity”. Dr Nelly Ben Hayoun explains further: “Our main objective of Tour de Moon is to prompt radical imagination, support pluralistic thinking to offer alternative futures developed by and with youths. With this festival we decided to redistribute our funding and to use our platform to celebrate the nightlife sector and young adults – demographics which have been hit especially hard by the impacts of Covid and funding cuts over the last few years. Tour de Moon travels with the night, seeking new beginnings to empower others to create, initiate and innovate with new thinking and pluralistic practices so that history does not repeat itself on and beyond Earth.” Chief among the attractions will be the Moon Convoy, a fullysustainable armada of vehicles parading down Nelson and Grainger

Streets which will elicit cosmic transformations through the mediums of live music, DJ sets, talks, film screenings and a giant squid (of course). At Star & Shadow Cinema, a selection of short films will introduce new concepts and important messages on care and youth countercultures and their experiences with nightlife; they advise audiences to expect “unique discourses and non-linear narratives on science subjects”. In the Ouseburn warehouse spaces on Lime Street, Moon Experiences aims to repurpose buildings to create a surreal and unusual theatrical space; a highlight of the programme includes Soundbath by Loss><Gain, which features music and compositions from a stellar line-up of musicians and composers including Anna Meredith, Kae Tempest, Jarvis Cocker, Riz Ahmed, Oliver Coates, Rival Consoles, Gruff Rhys, Cosmo Sheldrake, Yelfris Valdès, Jatinder Singh Durhailay & Suren Seneviratne and Roella Oloro. Across the weekend at World Headquarters, Moon Music will showcase rising musical talent and feature North East artists including Alannah Lamb, Weston, PDT, RENOK, 9000, Westy, Georgia May, Knats and Nadedja. Moon Talks aims to engage and rouse, with a series of panel discussions with multidisciplinary nightlife workers and policy makers around how attitudes can be rethought and policies reshaped. Panellists include Ruby Kearney, Jack Heath, Nicola Mantalios-Thompson, Tom Bailey, Geoff Kirkwood, Lee Kyle, Scott Turnbull, Richard Little aka Faux King Dik, Gabriel Day, Sammy Dobson, and Dami Fawehinmi among others, taking place across World Headquarters, Discovery Museum and Star & Shadow Cinema. Entry to events is free, but ticketed. See the website for more info. Tour de Moon takes place at various venues in Newcastle from Friday 27th-Monday 30th May.



TALK LIKE TIGERS CAMERON WRIGHT TALKS TO THE ELECTRO POP SIBLINGS ABOUT THEIR AMBITIOUS DOUBLE EP RELEASE WHICH SHOWCASES TWO VERY DIFFERENT SIDES OF THEIR SOUND IMAGE BY ROB IRISH If you’re craving the elegant dreamy haze of Glass Animals, the otherworldliness of Björk and the elated, pop charm of Kylie, all wrapped up with a sense of North East fun, look no further than electro duo Talk Like Tigers. Newcastle-based twin sisters Charlotte and Stephanie are the rising stars of the North East’s pop scene. Their sound is rooted in accessible and endearing pop tendencies, but sparkles with enough tight harmonies, introspective lyricism and swirling synths to really establish this sound as their own. “We always aim to have an original sound that takes people away from the real world. Somewhere they can be themselves and believe in themselves.” They proclaim.


The duo are poised to release a double EP this month, which will act as a collection of everything the twosome have achieved up to this stage. They explain that the double release acts as a showcase for two distinct sides of their personalities and sound. “The songs on Passion Fruit are about love, lust, vulnerability, possibilities, love games and taking back your heart from people who don’t deserve it. Feminine Power is a collection of songs about power, following your dreams, femininity and strength.” This division between the two sides of the duo is palpable throughout the releases, both lyrically and musically, with each EP brilliantly utilising a different selling point of the band’s appeal, they craft two separate yet very compelling sounds.




Entering into Passion Fruit, you are greeted by a blanket of warm harmonies weaved over growing and shrinking wells of drum machines and synths. As the instrumental dances around the vocals, the track is lyrically forward, placing the emphasis on the duo’s songwriting and harmonies. As the song addresses themes of brokenness and rebuilding, the tender song is indicative of the EP’s following tracks. “We are passionate about our songwriting and we hope that our songs inspire and connect with people.” They explain. “We want our music to make people FEEL, whether that’s admitting their love for someone, celebrating their self love or allowing themselves to be vulnerable. It’s sometimes scary to write such personal songs. It’s amazing when people really connect with them and sing the lyrics back to us when we perform live.” With vulnerability such a prominent theme in the band’s opening EP, the stark change of contrast in the second chapter is a thrilling change of pace. “We wanted to explore the two quite opposite feelings and see how we could put them together. We definitely believe you can be strong by showing your vulnerabilities.” The themes established of love, loss and vulnerability are still present, yet now they’re crafted into an asset; self love, openness and power are the dazzling headlines across the release. “They are really authentic feelings for us and we think people can identify them within themselves. A good love song resonates, it comes from an authentic place and stays away from cliches. It expresses feelings you’re feeling right now, have felt in the past or you would like to feel.”

The project allows for these universal experiences to be explored for both the pain and the power they can bring. Vulnerability is never seen as a weakness, love is never seen as damning. The duo work at giving all the subjects they address a sense of respect, patience and understanding which demonstrates their skill as songwriters. The music on the second EP shows the project’s character arc growing to its most confident. Inundated with pounding drums and glitzy, shameless glamour, opening track Annabel’s Calling captures attention from the go and is a triumphant example of the duo at their most fun; channelling Marina & the Diamonds and shades of every bubblegum diva before her, the track is utterly euphoric. “When we made the music video with Eddy Maynard, we had so much fun and we’re really happy with the outcome. Annabel’s Calling is based on two people, a character in This Is The Place by Maggie O’Farrell and also our sister, Annabel! We loved the character so much and really relate to her and our sister has worked really hard in her career, following her dreams like the character in the book. We planned for the song and the video to reflect Annabel, so it had to be glamorous, fun and super entertaining with lots of smoke and dance moves! We absolutely adore synths and wanted it to be an upbeat anthemic song!” After the release of the double EP, the duo jump into action taking the songs on tour, with big shows at iconic venues including Shepherd’s Bush Empire, Salford’s The Lowry and Glasgow’s Glee Club, the twins promise a night filled with “lots of vocal harmonies, synths, drum pads, dance moves, neon and sparkly outfits and maybe even some live looping!” They’ll bring the show back to their home turf on Friday 16th September with a headline gig at Newcastle’s Tyne Theatre & Opera House. Talk Like Tigers are quickly establishing themselves as one of the front runners in Newcastle’s pop scene, gaining traction with plays on BBC Introducing and garnering attention from their performances across the country. With their credentials established, the sisters are poised and ready for big things, and with the EP’s release and upcoming tour, 2022 is undoubtedly the year of the tiger. Talk Like Tigers release the Passion Fruit/Feminine Power EPs on 27th May. They play Tyne Theatre & Opera House, Newcastle on Friday 16th September.



Friday 27 May, 7.30pm £13.50 | £11 | £8 34 | 0191 261 0505




Image by Ste Bardgett

MERA ROYLE TALKS TO THE NORTH EAST SONGWRITERS AND STORYTELLERS ABOUT THEIR IMMERSIVE NEW ALBUM After their spellbinding Wake For The Dreaming release in 2020, North East storytellers Nel Unlit are bringing more enchantment with their latest album, Ephemera; or, Tosh and the Girl. Placing emotion at its core, this album tells the story of floundering single father Tosh, exploring his co-dependent paternal partnership with his teenage daughter and his fractured relationship with her estranged mother. Speaking about the beginnings of the project, singer and guitarist Jon Horner explained that the story originally began as small, personal pieces that he’d written, which the band picked up and worked on together. As many major structural elements of the record came together during lockdown, threading together a narrative, building characters and the swapping of initial recordings took place via regular meet-ups on Zoom. As drummer Daniel Allan tells me, this came with benefits. “It forced us to all go away separately and think about it. It gave the story room to breathe and gave us time to take out things that had maybe gone a bit too far.” Starting out as phone recordings and Garageband demos, the band gradually shaped their record remotely until lockdown eased, and they could finally get together to do some recordings. Now, the album is a completed studio record, ready for listeners to experience its chillingly emotive sound. Unlike Wake For The Dreaming, which was based on Neil Gaiman’s fantastical Sandman series, this record presents a narrative that as listeners we can perhaps more ably relate with. “I think people can certainly relate with family drama,” said Jon, “there’s been some kind of trauma in a family and it’s caused a rift


or fracture, and it’s about each person developing ways to cope with that.” As a band, their musical influences span not only across musical genres and styles but also into different art forms, and they take a lot of inspiration from film. The release of the record will be accompanied by a lyric video which audiences watch and read along with, becoming fully immersed into their dark, magical sound world. In addition, they’re building an art installation of the flat where the story takes place in the attic of Westgarth Social Club, where they’ll be screening the film. Their hard-to-pin-down style boasts an eclectic blend of musical textures and rhythms, connected through feeling as a central theme. The title track White Gods immediately creates a spooky, unnerving environment, with its head-rocking rhythms and abrupt changes in mood setting the scene for the deep, soul-felt story that is to come. Beautiful melodies, emotive lyrics and a ruthless electronic drive reveals the band’s masterful folk rock tendencies. Later on, Mirror brings a new energy and addictive beat to the music. Its dark, inner meaning is revealed through an unsettling monologue prevalent through the track: “You’ve always suffered from stage fright, now you couldn’t even die right.” Their poetic way with words, unique musical colours and clear artistic vision creates a truly powerful, absorbing sound. The band have become adept at weaving narratives into their work, and the new release more than shows off their skills as songwriters and storytellers. “For me, it’s giving yourself a world to live in whilst you’re writing music,” said Daniel. “If you have an overall concept, it’s like a world you can inhabit while you write.” Nel Unlit release Ephemera; Or, Tosh And The Girl on 13th May. They play Cobalt Studios, Newcastle on Sunday 8th and Base Camp, Middlesbrough on Sunday 22nd May. Film screenings at Westgarth Social Club, Middlesbrough take place from 6pm on Friday 13th, Friday 20th and Saturday 28th May.




L-R, T-B: BERWYN by Frank Fieber, Heidi Curtis, Second Thoughts, Sam Tompkins

A STONE’S THROW FESTIVAL CLAIRE DUPREE FINDS OUT MORE ABOUT THE INAUGURAL COASTAL MUSIC TRAIL We love a good multi-venue festival here at NARC. – they allow audiences to get their fill of loads of live music in a short space of time in one location, and also provide an ideal opportunity to try something new. The region has its fair share of big hitters – Stockton Calling, Generator Live, Twisterella and Last Train Home to name a few – and now there’s a new kid on the block, this time taking over the coastal gems of North Shields and Tynemouth. Taking place on Saturday 28th May, A Stone’s Throw festival is run by Notion Live Events, Shin Gigs and 456 Live, and will bring 60 acts to 11 venues in the towns, making for a delightful coastal music trail. The route between venues, which includes The Engine Room, Karma Coast, Salt Market Social, BARCA, Three Tanners Bank and Tynemouth’s Grand Hotel among others, will be plied by a special double-decker bus provided by Go North East, meaning you don’t even have to walk between venues if you don’t want to. “Everyone enjoys spending a day at the seaside, right?” Says festival co-founder Anthony Thompson. “Tynemouth and North Shields are lovely towns with stunning scenery and fantastic independent venues. We’ve all gone to a concert in the city centre – this is a completely different experience.” The line-up includes a superb mixture of established names and up and coming talent. Headliners include contemporary pop artist Sam Tompkins, rapper and producer BERWYN, slacker pop sensation Lauran Hibberd, highly rated singer-songwriter Frankie Beetlestone, North East indie star Heidi Curtis, synth pop band Deco and indie maestros Second Thoughts, with further performers including wych elm, Rudie Edwards, The Michaels, The Gulps, Swannek, Hi Sienna, Ellur, Bandit and more. “We wanted to curate a line-up centred on showcasing artists at critical junctures in their careers. Since booking the first artists, Sam Tompkins has had a number seven album, Berwyn has been


WE’RE VERY PROUD OF OUR FIRST YEAR LINEUP, AND WE HOPE TO CONTINUE SHOWCASING THE NEXT GENERATION named ‘Best New Act in the UK’ at this year’s NME Awards, and other acts have sold out tours. We’re very proud of our first year line-up, and we hope to continue showcasing the next generation.” There’s a healthy dose of North East artists performing too, with sets expected from the likes of Benjamin Fitzgerald, Jango Flash, Kate Bond, Club Paradise, FEVA, LYRAS, Hector Gannet, Lizzie Esau, Luke Royalty, Moon Wax, Frankie Jobling, ZELA, Pave The Jungle, Ten Eighty Trees, Finn Forster and heaps more. Anthony is emphatic about the importance of giving a high profile stage to local artists. “It is, in my opinion, critical. We worked hard to strike a balance between touring and local talent. We hope to contribute to the long-term development of local artists by providing a platform for them. I hope that this encourages artists to stay in the region rather than moving to cities like Manchester or London for opportunities.” Anthony refuses to be drawn on his personal highlights, and is keen for audiences to broaden their horizons and take a chance on something new. “I wish I could catch every performer! Unfortunately that’s not possible, but I believe that is part of the festival’s charm. Every punter has the ability to plan their own day. My advice would be to see a mix of locals and touring acts.” A Stone’s Throw Festival takes place at various venues in Tynemouth and North Shields on Saturday 28th May.



Rebecca Glendenning by TJMov


SARA JANE PEROVIC TALKS TO REBECCA GLENDENNING ABOUT ADAPTING LUKAS MOODYSSON’S CULT MOVIE FOR THE STAGE The best of times is now for Northern writer Rebecca Glendenning, as this month marks the world premiere of her stage adaptation of cult movie We Are The Best!, which comes to Live Theatre, Newcastle from Thursday 26th May–Saturday 18th June. Bradford-born and Newcastle-based, Rebecca is an engaging theatre maker whose passion for devising original creative content is infectious. Describing her writing as “very much Northern,” she has been setting the scene in Newcastle since graduating from Northumbria University with Masters and Honours degrees in Theatre Performance, Script-Writing and Visual Arts. She’s no stranger to these pages, as co-founder of North East theatre company Bonnie & The Bonnettes her previous work has been loud, fun and unapologetic. Beginning a new chapter of her career, Rebecca exudes enthusiasm for adapting Lukas Moodysson’s Swedish movie, We Are The Best! Based on his wife Coco’s comic book, Never Goodnight, it’s a high energy anarchic comedy set in 1980’s Stockholm and follows the friendship of teenage misfits Bobo and Klara who start a band with Hedwig, the shyest girl in school. Rebecca relates and says: “I don’t entirely think I have ever gotten over being shy but I am able to manage it better now.” As a teenager Rebecca spent a lot of time on the Leeds’ punk scene: “It gave me a place to out all that teenage angst, as politically and socially I felt that Bradford had been forgotten. The first time I


ever saw a professional show it was a John Godber play at Leeds Playhouse and as a teenager it blew my mind wide open. So, the sooner we can make that experience possible for young people, only good can come from that.” Teenagers can watch the show for free at selected performances, which is clearly something close to Rebecca’s heart: “It’s often assumed that you can only go to the theatre if you have the money. I feel we’re very used to hearing white, middle-class, straight, heterosexual male voices, so I would tell young people to come into the industry and add your voice to the pot. The more different voices we can have, especially Northern, is the best.” The production launches Live Theatre’s new season and will be Artistic Director Jack McNamara’s first time directing at the Quayside venue. “Jack really wanted to do this show. He loved the film. I didn’t know Jack before but when we started talking it was a match made in heaven.” Rebecca enthuses. “This is my first time adapting and it has been a massive learning curve. I fell in love with the idea of putting the film and novel together. Jack has been very good at knowing what I need and when, I have felt really looked after throughout this whole project. It has been a real gift. It has been lovely translating moments and emotions which transcend language; I think theatre has such a lovely way to challenge what you think. To learn more about yourself and the world. Theatre gives you a language that you didn’t necessarily have before.” When asked what audiences can expect from the event, her excitement shines through: “It will be a joyous, riotous evening. It’s the glorious bubble bit as an invincible teenager before you realise what the world is, so the audiences get to celebrate that with the characters.” We Are The Best! is at Live Theatre, Newcastle from Thursday 26th May–Saturday 18th June.





CAMERON WRIGHT TALKS TO THE AMERICAN SONGWRITER ABOUT HIS IMPROVISATIONAL APPROACH AND CONNECTING WITH HIS AUDIENCE THROUGH DARK HUMOUR What can you expect from a Ryley Walker live performance? As he approaches almost a decade of writing and performing his own unique blend of folk, jazz and prog rock, the ever-evolving stylings of Walker are difficult to encompass in a single genre or phrase. This elusiveness is only exacerbated by the colossal transformation that begins when transposing his studio recordings into a live setting. Heavily steeped in sprawling, meandering periods of improvisation, Walker surrounds himself with outrageously talented musicians who radiate spontaneity, constantly spiralling off into undiscovered territory. “I’m not musically trained at all, when I started, it wasn’t called improvising. I was jamming. Starting off in dank, disgusting basements, it was all about the crowd and being entertaining. It was never a calculated choice to make us a jam band, it just felt intrinsic, we just kept riding the wave. I try not to get bogged down in the grandiose mathematics of it, I do it because it’s fun and the band are all phenomenal improvisers.” This innate sense of fun is very central to the Ryley Walker live experience, citing that the whole purpose of his music is “to show gratitude for humanity, entertain the clientele and provide a break from manual labour.” Fun hasn’t always been the central focus though, as Walker laments about the previous endeavours and battles that sully his memories of the early stages of his music. “It’s not nearly as



folky any more. I feel like that was a definite costume, it was all marketing and branding,” and later admitting “a lot of the songs are muddied by self-sabotage. I’ve been lucky travelling and playing but the drugs and alcohol came first all too often. Much of what I did live was theatre, I wanted to be some nihilistic and tortured artist, it’s all ego.” Yet now, with his 2021 release Course In Fable, produced by music legend and Walker’s personal hero, John McEntire, Walker has entered his most focused, confident and joyous stage of his career. The record oozes euphoria and charm, as well as developing the stunning and textured soundscapes he creates so well. Anyone familiar with 2015’s Primrose Green album will confirm Walker’s talent as one of our generation’s finest fingerpickers, and everyone who’s followed his career since then will attest to the serene, serpentine melodies his guitar and lyrics have provided, yet it’s only after an encounter with the man that you learn how fundamental comedy is to his performance. “Maybe it’s a defence mechanism, I’ve always been loud and irritating, so it bled in when I was filling dead air. I’m the least funny friend in my group, but they all fix pipes or whatever now, I’m the only one given the mic. It might be annoying to some people but it helps keep the vibe fresh and personable. I live in New York which is the home of artists loving the smell of their own farts, it’s just not me. I ramble onstage because it’s all about connection and community!” Following a fantastic album, feeling eager and energised, all while enhanced by a newfound clarity, there has never been a better time to get caught in the fun mastery of Ryley Walker’s magic live shows. Ryley Walker plays The Cluny 2, Newcastle on Friday 20th May.





I FEEL LIKE A LOT OF PEOPLE TURNED TO NATURE IN THE PANDEMIC AS A WAY TO COPE WITH WHAT WAS HAPPENING IN THE WORLD Alt. electronic pop artist Madeleine Smyth is to release her second EP, Brigid, this month. The musician, originally from Hartlepool and now based in Newcastle, has created a stunning collection, combining synth sounds and viola with her own soulful vocals. With a penchant for electronic beats and strings, her songs are an audible painting of an entire landscape. The first track, Goldman Sachs, is mysterious and aching, beautifully dark, full of layered vocals that feel raw and gritty yet delicate. The title of the song is curious. “I started writing the song in the first lockdown,” reflects Madeleine, “Goldman Sachs is a multinational investment bank, I think I saw something about it on the news and I just thought it was a cool sounding name, and it just stuck! After completing the song, the lyrics kind of nod towards the futility of capitalism during a pandemic and the imminence of climate change, so I kept the name because I thought it sort of fit in a weird way.” Lyrically, the themes in Goldman Sachs also tie into the rest of the EP, with thoughts around climate change, landscapes and religion; one of Madeleine’s hopes is that people will take something away from these themes. Madeleine’s debut EP, Covert, was released in December 2019, and listening back to it you can already hear her defining sound coming through. Brigid builds on her first works to create a much stronger, meticulous presence that still creates those stunning vistas but with even more precision. In all the tracks, there is a feeling of wide-open space, drawing the

listener into some deep forest or cold Northern lake. The opening few notes of Stubborn sound exactly like its name; eerie, melancholic against a driven, electronic beat, with frustrated strings and syncopated lyrical vocals. The title track will make your hair stand on end with its dramatic, tense vibrato riser and earthy voices crying in the distance, like strange sirens on the sea before a dance beat enters underneath. Madeleine also works with the moving image to create visual art pieces, with a short film about the wildlife found around the Tees Estuary and its relationship with the industry there screened in March. “I also made the music/soundtrack for the film,” shares Madeleine. “For this I went out and did field recordings, recording the sea, birds etc. I then used these to create sounds and added music to it. I also interviewed people talking about the area and incorporated that into the music/soundscape, and kind of formed a narrative. I think the sound and images were very intertwined in this project, but I would like to do more narrative-based filming in the future too.” Themes of nature and environment are clearly recurring motifs in Madeleine’s work. “I feel like a lot of people turned to nature in the pandemic as a way to cope with what was happening in the world. I have always enjoyed wildlife and flowers but the pandemic made me realise how important it is to appreciate and respect the natural world, because it is essential to life. I also had more time to appreciate and reflect the environment around me. I think the pandemic also highlighted the seriousness of the climate change crisis and how imminent it is.” Madeleine Smyth’s EP, Brigid, is released on 27th May.




JJOSEPH BROWNN Image by Maria Ferrie

DAMIAN ROBINSON TALKS TO THE INNOVATIVE NEWCASTLE-BASED ARTIST ABOUT HIS IMMERSIVE AUDIOVISUAL RELEASE When it comes to expression and self-expression, the choice of which creative medium to use can be a difficult one for artists. Whereas pre-internet this choice was limited by resource, ability and access, our digital age has provided so many potential creative tools for an artist to use that often we are influenced by the paradox of choice; there are so many options and tools to choose from that projects may stall at the idea generation stage as we get overwhelmed by possibilities. Trying not to restrict his art into one form, but also placing self-imposed boundaries on his work to ensure an end result, innovative Newcastle artist jjoseph brownn is taking a multi-media, multi-disciplined, approach to his new album, Chalk Flint Remains, and supporting his new music with various audio visuals in the form of an interactive web zine which the viewer can explore as a 3D landscape. “Yeah, it was quiet a project!” Laughs brownn. “At one point there were so many different ideas that it was hard to keep up with the project and not let it get so broad that it could never be finished.” Using time as the key boundary for the project – “I had a chunk of time in between university and starting a new project and those drop-dead dates helped with my focus and clarity about how to end the project” – brownn chose to focus on the music first and then surround it with visuals exploring themes of home, metamorphosis, distance and friendship.



“I think coming from a punk background really helped with the whole project,” confirms brownn, when asked about the challenge of the multi-layered release. “What I take from punk is the DIY ethic of doing things for yourself and pushing yourself into new places even if you’ve never worked in that space before. In some ways, exploring new music can be limiting and frustrating, but in other ways it means you don’t play around with too much gear or have too many ideas, which helped me.” Full of the type of ambient, beautiful electronic compositions made popular by the likes of Brian Eno and The Grid, Chalk Flint Remains would be a stunning listen by itself, though the layering of media adds a beautiful depth in contextualising and staging of the piece. brownn would rather not be drawn on the boundaries of the complete work, rather letting the viewer/ listener decide their individual favourite interaction style. “I don’t mind if people listen to the record by itself, or if they view the content at the same time, and in a way both parts of the project can be separate or brought together; the project works on both terms. It seems most common for people to listen to the album first, and then to watch the content afterwards, which offers further context behind the material.” Layering images and text over, under and around the album seems an interesting way to bring out the core themes of Chalk Flint Remains. “I guess the album is about the idea of home and the visuals are some of my dreams and childhood memories, so in a way it becomes autobiographical if you piece the two parts together,” brownn comments, although he’s emphatic that the decisions about the art remain with the audience. jjoseph brownn releases Chalk Flint Remains via The Luman Lake on 16th May.




Image by Graeme Baty


Set in the hot, droughty summer of 1989, Benjamin Myers’ new novel The Perfect Golden Circle follows two men as they spend summer nights creating crop circles together. It’s richly and beautifully written, pulling the reader along in a gentle flow of humour and anger, musings and creativity, with layers that even the author is still discovering. “I thought I was writing a book about crop circles,” Durham-born Myers says, “but it’s really about the people who make them and the landscape at night, and it’s about class and how we treat the landscape, and the trauma of war as experienced by one of the characters. It’s only now that the book’s coming out that I’m starting to realise what it’s actually about.” Though he researched crop circles, Myers knew he didn’t want to “go down the fantastical route” of aliens and conspiracy theories when writing about them: “What’s fantastic to me is the idea that two men, in this case, would dedicate so much of their lives to creating these huge scale artworks. I don’t think crop circles have been fully appreciated as the sort of landscape art that they were at the time. Also, what interested me was the fact that there’s no ego involved. The power of the art is that we don’t know who did them. Even Banksy signs his art works.” As with Myers’ other books, relationship with the land is an important theme, but he’s stepped away from the harsh and violent depictions of landscape that are the hallmark of his earlier books. The Perfect Golden Circle, like The Offing before it, is suffused with warmth: “I don’t think just to write dark, brutal books


I LIKE THE IDEA OF TRESPASS; I LIKE THE REBEL NATURE OF WHAT PEOPLE WHO MAKE CROP CIRCLES DID. IT’S A CELEBRATION OF THAT diminishes what you do, because there’s sides to everything – to people and to life and to the landscape as well. My earlier works were about the harshness and brutality of the landscape... but there’s also something really uplifting and inspiring about it. I think a lot of people discovered that during the lockdown: it’s free, and it’s on our doorsteps.” Myers is keen to point out that the The Perfect Golden Circle is not a lockdown novel. The idea for it arrived fully formed in 2019. “[I was struggling with] a low spell of anxiety and exhaustion, and just burnout, I think. I went up to Durham and I walked out into a field of crops near the housing estate where I grew up, and in 10 seconds, I just had this idea.” He was in a bad state – “the last thing I wanted to do was write” – but he completed the first draft the day before the first lockdown. Still, the finished book encapsulates a lot of mid- and postlockdown feeling, with the note-perfect descriptions of anxiety and of having one’s personal space or peace invaded by others. It also highlights something that was particularly critical during lockdown: trespassing and people’s access to green space. “I like the idea of trespass,” says Myers, “and it raises questions as to who owns the land and what rights we have as non-landowners. Most of Britain is owned by aristocrats and corporations and the Crown, so I like the rebel nature of what people who make crop circles did, really. It’s a celebration of that.” The Perfect Golden Circle by Benjamin Myers is published via Bloomsbury on 12th May.




Image by Krzysztof Furgala

JAKE ANDERSON TALKS TO THE ETHEREAL SHOEGAZE QUINTET ABOUT THE THRILLS OF TOURING AND THEIR NEW SINGLE Newcastle’s shoegaze-influenced, alternative rock band Palma Louca are set to release their next single, Disappear, on 21st May. The release of this new crescendoing hypnotic banger coincides with the band playing at Sunderland’s Independent, kicking off their UK wide tour and it’s a chapter of their careers they’re excited to begin: “Writing and recording music is definitely the thing that motivates us the most. We can’t wait for people to hear our new one. We are feeling better than ever as a band so really looking forward to playing it live too.” “Disappear describes the downward spiral of a man who has taken the wrong path in life, turning him to addiction and depravity. The track sees the pressure build into a state of euphoric despair, culminating in a frantic end section that echoes the manic state of mind of a man who is living on the edge.” Guitarist and vocalist Joe explains. “Sonically, we wanted the track to have a raw and more human feel than our recent releases, as we felt this was more suited to the subject matter. This is reflected in the tribal verses beats and symphonic play out.” Touring is a huge part of any band or artist’s life, and it’s something that can be both stressful and cathartic, and the band mention an affinity with the North West as well as their local area. “It’s always so fun experiencing somewhere new so it was really cool to do this with gigs. Apart from our hometown gigs in Newcastle, Liverpool has been spot on. It has a really good



scene and lots of class venues. It feels like the live music is a bit more at the forefront there, probably still one of the lasting effects of Beatlemania.” But nothing quite beats the atmosphere the group receive while playing on their home turf. “Our most notable moment so far was the excitement we got from our recent co-headline tour alongside Everything After Midnight and Juno which involved our sold-out show at Little Buildings. We had a really great time playing gigs in other cities and it was a really good learning experience for how touring is. It definitely has us really looking forward to our next gigs coming up.” The band have been playing together for nearly half a decade, and time crafting their sound is beginning to pay off. “Over the last few years, we have gotten a lot tighter as a band which allows us to have more confidence on stage and enjoy performing more. We’re feeling really happy with how we sound at the moment.” When asked what fans can expect from their live show, the band tease the performance of some as yet unreleased material. “The Waves is definitely our favourite live. It’s quite slow with a big atmospheric chorus. It’s one of the oldest songs we play and has been refined the most to the point where we are really happy with how it sounds on stage. It’s all about the drum fill!” The band’s upcoming string of live dates isn’t the only thing fans should be excited about, as the band are in the early stages of a new release. “We are hoping to record our first EP over the next six months, and this will really give us chance to focus on our sound and hopefully release something people enjoy.” Palma Louca launch their new single Disappear on Saturday 21st May at Independent, Sunderland.



L-R, T-B: Lady Nade, Ceitidh Mac, AK Patterson, Elle Chante

WOMEN ARE MINT CLAIRE DUPREE TALKS TO MUSICIAN, ACTIVIST AND PROMOTER MARTHA HILL ABOUT THE INCLUSIVE FEMINIST FESTIVAL Martha Hill’s Women Are Mint festival has been beating the drum for gender equality since 2018. Returning to Cobalt Studios from Friday 20th-Sunday 22nd May, this year’s line-up is as strong as ever and includes electronic experimenter AK Patterson, extraordinary songwriter and cellist Ceitidh Mac, alt. folk duo Good Habits, Americana songwriter Lady Nade, the uplifting dub of Coalescence Sound System, singer/MC Eva Lazarus, vibrant performer Mina+Bryte, Cumbrian DJ Naomi Carole, the ethereal sounds of Elle Chante, soulful North East artist Nadedja, the spectral folk sounds of Northering and inclusive community choir She. “Each day is so different!” Martha enthuses. “If you love live music, especially alternative folk and Americana, then the Friday night is for you. If you love dancing to Afrobeat, reggae and dub then Saturday is going to be unreal! If you can’t go out to night time events any more for whatever reason, or you can’t afford tickets to gigs, then the Sunday line-up is beautiful. It’s all based during the day and tickets are Pay What You Feel.” Aside from being a cracking way to spend a weekend, the festival also plays an important role in highlighting the continuing normalisation of sexism in the music industry. “So many people look at a festival line-up and just see names of acts, they don’t look beyond it to who is actually being booked and represented. The more light we can shed on the matter, the more apparent it becomes.” She insists.


It’s a big subject, and one that’s easy to feel overwhelmed about, but Martha has some tips on how audiences can get their voices heard. “Initiate conversations, comment on posts/contact festivals and events that are promoting inequality, support events that are trying to make a change and be vocal about why, question your own behaviour and the behaviour of those around you. The internet can be a very powerful tool for activism and spreading awareness when utilised en mass, so even just tweeting a festival and questioning their line-up can be important.” Equally as important to Martha is inclusion and intersectionality. “It is really important to us that we make it clear our festival is a trans-inclusive feminist space. There are no women’s rights without trans rights, and of course men are invited to join the fight towards a safer world. The issue of sexism runs a lot deeper than just a gender-based problem. We have to look at these imbalances from an intersectional perspective – we can’t have conversations about women’s rights without also talking about LGBTQIA+ rights, racism, ableism and the many other issues that are tied in with inequality.” A panel event on Intersectional Feminism and Creating Safe Spaces will take part on the Sunday afternoon, which promises to be an important and informative conversation for those looking to find out more. Good work is being done in the region already; both BBC Introducing North East and Tees, hosted by Nick Roberts and Rianne Thompson respectively, champion a 50/50 playlist, organisations like Sister Shack, Tits Upon Tyne, NEWISM and Forward NE are fighting to make a difference. “There’s still a long way to go, especially in terms of the larger organisations, but I really feel like the North East is at the forefront of the fight for gender equality within the industry, which is amazing to be part of.” Women Are Mint takes place at Cobalt Studios, Newcastle from Friday 20th-Sunday 22nd May.







Image by Piers Allardyce

CAMERON WRIGHT TALKS TO THE ROCK HEAVYWEIGHTS ABOUT THE RELEASE OF THEIR DEBUT ALBUM After a plethora of teased singles, it is finally time for the blistering release of Newcastle’s heavy prog rockers Giant Walker’s debut album. All In Good Time is quintessentially heavy. Crunching guitars churning out punchy riffs over pounding drums which waste no time capturing attention, and the commanding, snarling vocals drive each of the tracks into the stars. The first single, doubling as the album’s opener sets the ball rolling, immediately acting as a synopsis of the band’s powerful sound. “The Fact In Fiction was never meant to be the first single, we were originally going to use Katoomba, as it was the first song for the album we fully realised, but using the opening track as the first single is so exciting.” says vocalist Steff Fish. “It really is the introduction to Giant Walker. With streaming it’s so important to instantly capture people’s attention!” Where the single might be the perfect sound-bite for the digital age, All In Good Time is much more than that. The conscious and meditated approach to the more finite details of track order and thematic concepts weaving across the album mark it out as a truly fluid experience. “We love to think of this as an album, in the traditional sense! Obviously people now just click shuffle, but it’s a nice bonus when it works well as an album. All of our favourite albums have that. I remember my first time hearing Pearl Jam’s 10, it blew my mind! The album runs through seamlessly and it’s beginning and end merge so beautifully, it has all those elements that make it flow and repeat effortlessly. We wanted to capture that.” A reference to the grunge heavyweight isn’t as unexpected as you may anticipate. The lyricism across the debut beautifully harks back to that era, making it no surprise they cite Chris Cornell as one of their greatest influences. “Heavier music often seems to tackle huge issues with a subtlety and nuance in the songwriting. Cornell’s lyrics don’t lie, you can feel and hear

PEOPLE HAVE GREAT BULLSHIT DETECTORS, IF MUSIC IS GENUINE IN THE WAY IT ADDRESSES EXPERIENCES, TRAUMA AND EMOTION THEN IT’LL ALWAYS RESONATE WITH PEOPLE his demons, that’s why people turn to it for catharsis. People have great bullshit detectors, if music is genuine in the way it addresses experiences, trauma and emotion then it’ll always resonate with people.” With the album’s writing process taking form throughout lockdown, the lyrics tackle themes of loneliness and isolation, as Steff explains. “It was never consciously an album about lockdown, the wheels had been turning back in 2019, but ultimately the process was a victim of the Covid chronicles. During the pandemic you had nothing to do except be introspective, so it bled in.” Finally nearing the release date, the Geordie quartet are brimming with anticipation to get the record out in the world. With the singles garnering attention from Rolling Stone, Planet Rock and Classic Rock, All in Good Time is gearing up to deliver a suitable impact. Jumping back on the road, Giant Walker are embarking on a tour which will see their gnarled riffs and booming choruses entertain across the country. Making their way back home, they will play the intimate Bobik’s on Tuesday 7th June. “Being back to gigging non-stop is so exciting, it’s us at our best. I can’t wait.” Giant Walker release All In Good Time on 13th May. They play Bobik’s, Newcastle on Tuesday 7th June.






This month sees the release of World In Flames, the 17th album by Teesside singer-songwriter Rojor. It is an album crafted to give you a warm pop embrace, despite tackling conflicts and world strife head on. You would be hard pressed to find a more committed musical artist and social commentator; Rojor also happens to write and perform superb songs that have made him a mainstay on BBC Radio 2 playlists for several years now, and this album is guaranteed to enhance his reputation and earn more national radio play. I had to find out what continues to inspire Rojor and how he keeps those creative fires burning. “I just love picking up the guitar or sitting at the piano, so the fire still burns strong – I’m curious and I love to learn. I learn everyday as a musician and a writer,” he continued. “If it’s the music you’re interested in (rather than being famous or whatever) then music is a friend for life.” Rojor explains that the subject matter of his songs are often very contemporary. “I see my albums as a sort of diary and World In Flames was largely written in the last 12 months, so as a writer you can’t ignore what’s going on around us. The pandemic, the climate crisis, the food banks. I think it was important not to ignore these issues.”



Rojor’s sound is a smooth and accessible one, created in the songwriter’s own studio. “I guess over the years I’ve crafted a sound around the classic indie rock combo of bass, drums, guitar and keyboards. Rhodes piano often features, and that warm sound is something I cultivate. I love the idea that the notes you don’t play are as important as those you do – I like to leave space so the words and melodies can really cut through. The songs are central to what I do. When I started out, I just wanted to write songs – learn how to do it – the craft of it. To tell stories. I’m still learning.” In Rojor’s capable hands issues are discussed sensitively and sensibly but in no way is this a depressing listen, in fact quite the reverse. “I am a positive person. I think all positive change comes from people working together. The solutions are always humanitarian. Anger and aggression are dead ends.” The final song is Eston Hills, and I have a confession to make here as back in the last Century both Rojor and myself attended the same sixth form college nestling beneath those hills. “Many Teessiders will have that memory of climbing Eston Hills to the nab and looking out across the Tees Estuary and beyond. The song is about remembering all those who have gone on ahead, those who have walked the same streets and asking for their guidance. We are all just passing through.” As an artist, Rojor is definitely enriching the lives of all that his music touches as he passes through. Rojor launches World In Flames on Friday 6th May at The Georgian Theatre, Stockton.




HOPE LYNES TALKS TO DREAM WIFE’S RAKEL MJÖLL ABOUT FINALLY GETTING TO TOUR THEIR SECOND ALBUM, WORKING WITH A TALENTED FEMALE-LED TEAM AND WHY ACTIVISM IS SO IMPORTANT TO THEIR SOUND Brighton punk rockers Dream Wife have a clear manifesto when it comes to their music and live shows. Highly outspoken, with an activism streak which perfectly suits their forthright sound, vocalist Rakel Mjöll insists that their forthcoming tour – which drops in at Newcastle University Students’ Union on Sunday 1st May – will be a fun and safe event, where abuse and discrimination will not be tolerated, and everyone will be encouraged to have a good time. “We’re all here to look out for each other, respecting each other’s boundaries…so let’s not let any arseholes ruin it!” The rescheduled shows will promote the trio’s second album, So When You Gonna…, which was released back in 2020, and hasn’t had a chance to be played live. The band mixes the sounds of riot grrrl with a modern arty twist, and while their 2018 released self-titled debut album hit a high intensity, with tracks like Hey Heartbreaker establishing their noise rock credentials, the new album is much more playful, adding tinges of art rock and punk. Rakel comments about the differing experiences of creating the releases. “Our first album was written quite fast, we only had like a week in a studio. It was super stressful, and not a very joyous experience. The second album we were like ‘Alright, we are not doing that again!’ We got a studio for a month, and had a wonderful team of women around us.” Rakel is enthusiastic about the all-female team the band put together for the new album. “We were so fortunate. We had this incredible team around us, and it felt so safe to experiment and try things out. There are so few credited female producers because it’s such a boys game. When we went into this chart battle, we realised out of the top 40 albums that had potential to be in the top, this was the only

IT’S SO IMPORTANT THAT EVERYONE HAS A PLATFORM, AND WE REALLY HAVE TO USE THAT PLATFORM TO SUPPORT OTHER PEOPLE album to have a credited female producer. We didn’t pick her because of her gender, we picked her because she was the best.” This is one way in which the band merges their activism with their music, as Rakel explains. “That’s very much the ethos of Dream Wife…something that we had deliberately done, a small thing, creates a conversation. It’s so important that everyone has a platform, and we really have to use that platform to support other people.” That supportive aspect of the band’s personality also comes through in their live shows thanks to their Tour Support Reimagined concept. “For this and our last headline tour, we did call outs asking for local bands which featured a member that is female, non-binary or trans to apply. Last time we did it we had 500 applications! Everyone needs an opportunity – if we do this, hopefully others will follow.” The support for the Newcastle gig comes from the self-proclaimed ‘grave rave succubus’ noise of Straight Girl, who Rakel admires as “a force of nature. They start the show out by saying ‘Hi, I’m Straight Girl, and I’m not straight, and I’m not a girl’, and everyone’s like ‘yeah!’” Dream Wife and Straight Girl play Newcastle University Students’ Union on Sunday 1st May.




Gaia at Life Science Centre

THE LATE SHOWS AFTER TWO YEARS AWAY, THE AWARD-WINNING LATE-NIGHT CULTURE CRAWL RETURNS! TRACY HYMAN CHECKS OUT WHAT’S ON OFFER... Across Friday 13th and Saturday 14th May, The Late Shows will see Newcastle, Gateshead and the Ouseburn Valley come alive with music, performance, art and some bizarre and intriguing interactive events. Facilitated by Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums, and sponsored by The Biscuit Factory, this year features over 40 cultural venues across Newcastle and Gateshead, with over 35,000 visitors expected to this 14th instalment. Friday’s activities focus on the Ouseburn Valley. The Biscuit Factory leads the way with an evening of art, craft, literature, theatre and disco. You can join artist Megan Randall to mould and shape ceramic forms to go in an installation to mark The Biscuit Factory’s 20th anniversary, get involved in the friendly urban venues experiment, watch flash-mob Shakespeare in the gallery or simply sit on the roof terrace for food and cocktails. Shieldfield Art Works explores the importance and interconnectedness of bees to nature’s diverse ecosystems with their continuing Bee Lines Through The City exhibition. Art, music, dance and crafts explore how bees relate to us through food, culture and our environment. Try your hand at Japanese raku pottery at Northern Print with Muddy Fingers Pottery, where a selection of pots and tiles will be available for you to decorate using stencils and metallic crackle glazes. The Flea Circus is hosting an exhibition by Byker-based artist Russ


Coleman, who uses skills and practices he learned as a Monumental Mason and letter carver combined with his experience in the construction industry to create works that celebrate the world around us. There’s several print-based activities around the Valley, including at The NewBridge Project, who host drop in screen-printing and risograph printing activities, with new work presented by first year Newcastle University students and an exhibition by artists Igor Tavares and Rebeca Romero, exploring ancestral knowledge, cultural identity, belonging and the future. They also have a bookshop, gallery, print studio and project space to explore. Immerse yourself in the world of print and the history of dance at the Tyne Bank Brewery Taproom, where workshops and demonstrations will be on offer from four fantastic local print artists. Biscuit Tin Studios’ exhibition by their printmakers showcases a variety of printing techniques and processes, while also providing an opportunity to have a go at printing your own linocut, quick collagraph or monoprint. You can also visit artist studios at 36 Lime Street, the largest and oldest artist studio building in Newcastle. Check out a range of art and crafts, buy some art, chat to the practitioners and enjoy live music performances. For something more lively, Cobalt Studios look at the topic of Escape, whether that be through artist projections, silent disco,


L-R, T-B: The Hub, Arcadea, Northern Print Late Shows - Muddy Fingers Raku, JohnnyX - ‘Madhouse’ - displayed at Gallagher & Turner

the Shunyata Improvisation Group’s distinct acoustic music or even by joining in with the performance. Line dance your way to some family friendly Americana down on the Ouseburn Farm, with live music, barbecue, animals and a good ole barn dance with straw bales and dancing. Other events around Ouseburn include circus skills and performances at Christ Church, Victoria Tunnel taster tours (no need to book), a murder mystery walk with the Time Bandits and a night of magic and storytelling with Seven Stories. See the artistic processes of Jim Edwards in his new gallery space, view and purchase the art of Network Artists North East at the Bottleworks or view the exhibitions and short films down at the Star and Shadow Cinema, with its minimalist café and refreshments. Saturday’s activities take place around central Newcastle and Gateshead, and provide a myriad of diversions. In Gateshead, take part in a mindfulness art workshop or simply visit the galleries at night at BALTIC. Sew, make and craft at Gateshead Central Library on the theme of birds and bees. Explore the Maker Space, visit the Archive or make your own collage inspired by Simon Terry’s exhibition. Shipley Art Gallery is all about recycling and sustainability – try your hand at making clippy mats, quilts and weaving whilst listening to music from West Newcastle Symphony Orchestra and the Low Fell Singers. Orbis Community brings open studios, exhibitions and a night of creativity with something for everyone and there’s performances by students of the Academy of Music and Sound. Over the river, experience the Life Science Centre after hours with its seven metre replica of planet Earth, see the brand new live planetarium show or take part in one of the many hands on activities in the Making Studios. There’s an open studios event at Newcastle Arts Centre, with the Royal Photographic Society Documentary Awards Show in the gallery. Be part of the action via the Protest Portraits Photo Booth at Side Gallery and tell them what you care about (all participants will receive a free photobooth portrait print to take home and share online). Experience and participate in music, performance, creative

challenges and crafts at The Common Room, a historic Grade II* listed building, formerly known as The Mining Institute. Explore innovation and your own curiosity with a creative mini-mission from Unfolding Theatre and be part of the band and sing-along at the speakeasy, with host Jennifer Hastings. Check out the How We Live Now exhibition of work from the ground-breaking Matrix Feminist Design Co-operative, and explore their work around gender equality and discrimination at Newcastle Contemporary Art. There are screen prints and multimedia down at Gallagher & Turner, with an exhibition by JohnnyX – Panic Picnic and Bleed, Blend, Block Out, Burn featuring a selection of screenprint artists. Laing Art Gallery will be exploring your treasures, inviting you to tell them about your objects of personal significance and their connected histories. You’re welcome to make a noise at the City Library where there’s live music from the 1950s, craft beers from Anarchy Brewery, punk memorabilia to browse and a silent disco to boogie the night away. Other events include exhibitions at the Great North Museum: Hancock, Hatton Gallery and Robert Stephenson’s locomotive designs at The Pattern Shop; explore the concept of friendly urban venues at Tea Sutra; view an immersive exhibition of life-sized animal busts or try your hand at Scalextric at The Hub, Arcadea; stop for refreshments and live music at The Black Swan Venue Bar and embrace your inner child at the Discovery Museum with an 80s inspired evening. History buffs will enjoy finding out about the history of the Assembly House, look at the impressive stained glass and ornate wooden furniture of the Maple Terrace Masonic Hall and visit the magnificent Lantern Tower in Newcastle Cathedral. There are also tours of the Bessie Surtees House, and ceramics, glass and wire workshops at Bensham Grove Community Centre. The Late Shows take place on Friday 13th and Saturday 14th May across venues in Newcastle and Gateshead. Events are free entry.




Extraordinary jazz and swing band // The Globe, Newcastle


Sci-fi lover, writer and broadcaster Bob Fischer presents a night dedicated to his acclaimed book, Wiffle Lever To Full // The Waiting Room, Eaglescliffe


Iconic indie rock band // Newcastle University Students’ Union


Folk/spoken word duo Isobel and Anna Hughes present a lyrical journey of storytelling and song // The Cumberland Arms, Newcastle


My Name Is Paul

Spoken word artist Dominic JP Nelson-Ashley explores the ups and downs of Black fatherhood in the North East, in an educational, emotional and entertaining show // ARC, Stockton


New comedians performing new material, featuring Ben Lowes-Smith and Catherine Scott // The Cumberland Arms, Newcastle


Guitar pop from Hartlepool’s Mt. Misery, joined by brooding Edinburgh collective Mt. Doubt // Bobik’s, Newcastle


World-famous prankster and creator of character Lee Nelson // The Stand, Newcastle


A double bill from Dance City’s MA Advanced Dance Performance company // Dance City, Newcastle


Catchy electric grooves and guitar hooks // Bobik’s, Newcastle


The Scottish artists combine their individual practices, techniques and inspirations. Runs until 30th June // The Biscuit Factory, Newcastle


A double bill of new theatre // Laurel’s, Whitley Bay


These Montreal-based Japanese psych rockers make a cracking racket // Head of Steam, Newcastle


Left-field pop artists // The Engine Room, North Shields


The Unfolding

Composer Hannah Peel performs alongside Paraorchestra to present a cyclical journey from the very atoms of human existence to our eventual re-folding back into the elements // Sage Gateshead


Featuring MC Danny McLoughlin, Jimmy McGhie, Allyson June Smith and President Obonjo // Middlesbrough Town Hall



Combining dance, film and digital sculpture in an imaginative evening from North East emerging professional dancers // Gosforth Civic Theatre, Newcastle



The celebrated author and musician celebrates his new novel. Support from Kathryn Williams // Gosforth Civic Theatre, Newcastle


The Idlewild frontman performs a solo show (also at Middlesbrough Town Hall on Sunday 15th) // Old Cinema Launderette, Durham


Folk songwriter whose multilayered tales are defiantly beautiful // The Cluny 2, Newcastle


The dance company explore themes of time, reason and change in a double bill of exquisite dance // The Fire Station, Sunderland


A remarkable film which captures Nick Cave and Warren Ellis’ exceptional creative relationship // Gala Theatre, Durham


The witty musical comedian ponders life’s big questions // The Globe, Stockton



Synth rock duo // Alphabetti, Newcastle


Alt. rock duo // Head of Steam, Newcastle


Hard-hitting indie rockers // The Central Bar, Gateshead


A double-bill of stand-up, featuring Stewart Lee’s shows Snowflake and Tornado (also at Theatre Royal, Newcastle on Sunday 8th) // Gala Theatre, Durham Brooklyn electro-pop duo // Cobalt Studios, Newcastle

Heavy rock. With support from Kylver and OMITBA // Trillians, Newcastle New act, new material night featuring Noel James, Gareth Mutch, host Sammy Dobson and more // Hops & Cheese, Hartlepool


Euphoric electro dance party! // The Cluny, Newcastle


Two-piece math rock // The Cluny 2, Newcastle


Raucous alt. rockers. Supported by The Strays and Ceramic // The Globe, Newcastle



Entrancing drone // Cobalt Studios, Newcastle





Catchy riff-based rock // Boiler Shop, Newcastle


Alt. rock four-piece. Supported by White Collar Rebel // The Dirty Habit, Whickham Featuring headliner Stephen Bailey, Glen Roughead and more. Also on Saturday 7th // Customs House, South Shields


Stand-up comedy, also featuring Anja Atkinson, Jack Fox and MC Hal Branson // Laurel’s, Whitley Bay




Rap metal band // The Cluny 2, Newcastle Brutal death metal. Supported by Visions of Disfigurement and Cutterred Flesh // Little Buildings, Newcastle

Rooted in the North East, Katie Doherty’s fresh take on contemporary folk is sublime // Sage Gateshead


Featuring improv troupe The Discount Comedy Checkout plus stand-up comedians // The Georgian Theatre, Stockton


Work from the Dumfries-based ambitious, rural visual art and craft development organisation, Upland. Runs until 24th July // The Biscuit Factory, Newcastle


Solo show from the Terrorvision frontman // Old Cinema Launderette, Durham


Showcasing exciting grassroots artists including Feed The Elk, Crux, Uno Mas, Holiday in Tokyo, SQUARMS, PSiMiTAR, Jon Doran, Lily Brooke and Aley V // The Dirty Habit, Whickham


Art rock collective. Supported by Cat Ryan // Little Buildings, Newcastle


Part circus, part serenade, part cinema, Human is about the small moments that shape us // The Fire Station, Sunderland


Post-grunge four-piece // Base Camp, Middlesbrough


Indie rock band. Plus support from Plastic Glass and Michael Gallagher // Westgarth Social Club, Middlesbrough


Captivating songs and fiery instrumentation on mandolin, fiddle, guitar and banjo // The Globe, Newcastle


BUDDING COMEDY WRITERS GET THEIR SKETCHES performed by a group of leading local comics // The Exchange, North Shields



Featuring David Hadingham, Susan Riddell, Raj Poojara and MC Lee Kyle // Bishop Auckland Town Hall


Genre-fluid guitar rock. Supported by Ponyland // The Globe, Newcastle


Genre-bending and enthralling folk group // Sage Gateshead


Featuring Louise Young, Mike Milligan, Dean Moore and host Lee Kyle // Base Camp, Middlesbrough


The odd-pop band are joined by Charts & Graphs // Little Buildings, Newcastle


The hilarious, award-winning drinks experts host a hilarious pub quiz // The Stand, Newcastle


Engaging protest songwriter // The Cluny, Newcastle


Heavy rockers (rescheduled date). Supported by Nova Twins and Dinosaur Pile-Up // Middlesbrough Town Hall


Multimedia artist Laurie Anderson uses remembrances of her late dog as a stepping off point for reflections on life, death and loss // Star & Shadow Cinema, Newcastle


A riot of ‘raging guitar and perverted drums’ from the duo who’ve worked with the likes of The Pretenders, Elton John and The Pogues // The Cluny 2, Newcastle

L.A. psych band // The Cluny, Newcastle


Co-created by playwright Eve Leigh and Northern School of Art students, Incense & Bleach asks questions around how we live together. Also on Wednesday 18th // ARC, Stockton


Tales of travel and comedy in the danger zone // Playhouse Whitley Bay


Blues rockers // The Cluny 2, Newcastle


Hyperactive grime // The Cluny, Newcastle


Alt. indie quartet // Newcastle University Students’ Union


Stand-up comedy, also featuring Nick Cranston, Kelly Edgar and MC Matt Reed // The Engine Room, North Shields


Folk star // Darlington Hippodrome


Punk-funk-Celtic-dub-ska mutants release their new album // The Peacock, Sunderland


A culmination of Northern School of Art’s Film, TV & Theatre Production students to present their final short films // ARC, Stockton


London-based folk rockers // Newcastle University Students’ Union


A night of grumbles and petulant jokes from the award-winning comic (also at Gala Theatre, Durham on Saturday 21st) // Middlesbrough Town Hall


Musical comedy duo (Also on 19th May at Gala Theatre, Durham) // Tyne Theatre & Opera House, Newcastle


Andrei Tarkovsky’s Stalker embarks on a metaphysical journey through an enigmatic post-apocalyptic landscape // Star & Shadow Cinema, Newcastle


Catchy alt. pop rockers. Support from Hannah Robinson // The Dirty Habit, Whickham


Featuring Alun Cochrane, Jenny Hart, Eshaan Akbar and MC Nina Gilligan // ARC, Stockton


Exhibition of work by the University of Sunderland glass and ceramics students. Runs until 11th June // Shipley Art Gallery, Gateshead


Grace Petrie

Protest singer, songwriter, folk artist and social activist, Grace Petrie’s sound is utterly charming and highly engaging // The Georgian Theatre, Stockton


Instrumental riff rockers // Pop Recs Ltd., Sunderland


A blisteringly funny new stand-up show filled with horrendous life advice, cheery nihilism and reluctant self-discovery // The Stand, Newcastle


Eccentric rock band // Northumbria University Students’ Union, Newcastle


Electric Six frontman performs an acoustic show // The Cumberland Arms, Newcastle


The comedian presents his new show, Cerebral Lol-sy // Tyne Theatre & Opera House, Newcastle


Swansea shoegaze band. Supported by Blackout The Arcade and Gone Tomorrow // KU Bar, Stockton


Grammy-nominated blues maestro // The Cluny, Newcastle


The true story of Harry Clasper, the man the Blaydon Races was written for // Northern Stage, Newcastle


The North East premiere of this compelling psychodrama, in which an elderly woman nearing death reflects on the earlier stages of her life. Runs until Saturday 4th June // People’s Theatre, Newcastle



MXYM by Victoria Wai

MXYM, ST. BURYAN, MICHAEL T OGILVIE @ BOBIK’S, NEWCASTLE (01.04.22) Words: Damian Robinson Fair play to local promoters Shin Gigs for yet another solid all-rounder featuring three of the best at tonight’s Bobik’s gig. Starting off with electro popper Michael T Ogilvie, tonight is a celebration of all things pop; Ogilvie’s fine set standing out with current single The Weather. A quick jump across to still-one-of-the-best-hidden-secrets St. Buryan provides a moment of The 1975 meets the Red Hot Chilli Peppers’ pop guitar, with the band on sparkling form – they really do keep getting better and better. Headliner MXYM finishes the night on blistering form; completing a set that pushes their artistry to its zenith. A complete artist, MXYM takes control of the songs, the songwriting, some piano parts, the outfit, as well as the visuals in a show that is a complete presentation of artistic sensibility. Full of grimy electro pop, including a cover of Pull Up To The Bumper as well as his own glorious Pageant, it’s nevertheless the slower, more soulful track Closer that stands out with its vocal intimacy and precision. A deviance into a few piano tracks provides a final insight into a talented, theatrical, creative artist who does exceptionally well inside of the Bobik’s space and shows serious potential for larger, bigger budget moments that hopefully will come, leaving the audience to only imagine where MXYM could go.

PROTOMARTYR, RATTLE @ THE CLUNY, NEWCASTLE (18.04.22) Words: Mark Corcoran-Lettice Even for those familiar with their work, there’s still something startling about seeing Rattle’s set-up: two drum kits facing each other, two vocal microphones and absolutely nothing else. Katherine Eira Brown and Theresa Wrigley’s work excels in repetition; the precisely tuned, metronomic percussion and echoed coos landing close to the haunted, ghost in the machine groove of the most austere dub. With their shift towards extended song structures, over the course of their set they convince you that their ultra-minimal duo work is truthfully the most logical route for a band to pursue imaginable. Finally able to tour their superb fifth album Ultimate Success Today, Protomartyr’s performance here acts as a bizarro, no-hits-please overview of their catalogue: with the likes of A Private Understanding


and My Children notable in their absence, it’s the churning rarity Blues Festival, the jackboot soul of Processed By The Boys (a song whose visions of disease, authoritarianism and unrest made it an alarmingly accurate mirror of the 2020 it was released into) and intriguing new track Elimination Dances that highlight how far they’ve progressed from the ranks of the assorted Fall copyists. If Joe Casey might remain an unusual, reluctant frontman, his lyrical voice has become a powerful, bathetic howl from the void, and even with the almighty flex of being able to call upon Kelley Deal’s services to add synth textures and backing vocals, it’s the blend of venom and beauty with which he delivers Worm in Heaven and Wheel of Fortune that spotlights what a remarkable band they’ve grown into.

KAY GREYSON, DAYNA LEADBITTER, JAMILAH @ SAGE GATESHEAD (13.04.22) Words: Damian Robinson Picking up for their fifth outing, Sage Gateshead’s dynamic From The Glasshouse shows have remained consistently strong; full of inspiring young artists with different musical backgrounds, tonight’s show maintains that high bar, blending showcases by local talent with an enthusiastic audience. Opener Jamilah starts the show with a cool breeze, performing lovely acoustic soul inflected with RnB and showcasing a gifted voice. Set closer Not My Only, with its Michael Jackson sample, stands out as a well-constructed pop track. Next up, Dayna Leadbitter heads straight to the top of the ‘one to watch’ list with a rocky yet soulful pop set which shines with the confidence of a genuine star in the making. Recent track Time’s Up sparkles with the help of Leadbitter’s three-piece band, who provide a musical support for her to prowl around the stage. It’s a superb set. Those who’ve seen headliner Kay Greyson will be aware of her trajectory, and tonight she proves she’s an artist that keeps growing. Standouts Pretend, Hold and Call The Police, as well as recent remixes of Carly Simon and Adele, showcase the level of stagecraft, confidence and ability Greyson now holds. Complete with background breakdancers and some scintillating stand up comedy, Greyson’s set is impeccable.


Dry Cleaning by Rhiannon Banks

DRY CLEANING, AUDIOBOOKS @ BOILER SHOP, NEWCASTLE (02.04.22) Words: Lee Hammond With a debut album steeped in critical acclaim and album of the year awards, the excitement surrounding this evening’s show is understandably high. Dry Cleaning are continuing to ride the crest of a wave of praise, and rightfully so. It falls to off-kilter electro pop act Audiobooks to ably provide support this evening. Evangeline Ling’s vocals fill the room and intensify with every song, paving the way for Dry Cleaning to take the Boiler Shop by storm. The band set off in seemingly unrelenting form, with Florence Shaw last to take the stage in somewhat unassuming fashion. Opening with Leafy, it’s a set which rips through the majority of aforementioned debut record New Long Leg, with the likes of Scratchcard Lanyard and Strong Feelings being particular crowd favourites. However, it falls to the band’s older tracks to truly captivate the crowd’s excitement, with Magic of Meghan and Traditional Fish proving to be the highlights tonight. Their upbeat tracks are often offset by Florence’s delivery, the spoken lyrics are dryly delivered and feel almost opposed to the excitement playing out behind her. This juxtaposition is what sets Dry Cleaning apart from so many other bands in what remains an oversaturated genre. The band close out with a brilliant rendition of Conversation to top off an excellent set. They effortlessly justify their accolades tonight.

ALEX CAMERON @ NEWCASTLE UNIVERSITY STUDENTS’ UNION (13.04.22) Words: Cameron Wright For a shtick so clearly performative, the performance of Alex Cameron’s Newcastle gig felt rather restrained. Infamously committing to the sleazy, debauched characters detailed across his music, outside of a dirty vest and a smoulder, there was surprisingly little performance throughout the show. Setting the character somewhat aside, the show spanned across the entire Alex Cameron catalogue, delivering the goods from each of his four albums. Plucking only occasionally from his newest release, fans expecting an indulgent foray into Oxy Music may have left disappointed, as may anyone expecting a more expansive set list. Leaving the audience eagerly begging for more, Cameron’s short set was chocked full of the biggest hits he has curated over the years, certainly delivering on quality over quantity. What sets Cameron’s music apart, aside from his sordid caricature, is

how brilliantly accessible these pop songs are. Shrouded in the dirty musk of the squalid subject matter is an undeniable penchant for endearing hooks, exhilarating choruses and acerbic lyricism. Each of these insatiable qualities were on display as Cameron and the band romped through hit after hit, furthered by the talents of saxophonist Roy Molloy, whose injections skyrocketed each of the tracks. The hilarious, cutting and poignant pop songs of Alex Cameron have always been deserving of more acclaim and tonight he proved that he has the chops to take on the world.

METZ, PSYCHIC GRAVEYARD @ THE CLUNY, NEWCASTLE (04.04.22) Words: Dominic Stephenson Where the fuck did that come from? Unless familiar with the previous bands of the Psychic Graveyard quartet, I don’t think anyone would’ve expected what was to come... Comprised of former members of Arab on Radar, Chinese Stars and All Leather, Rhode Island supergroup Psychic Graveyard let loose a cacophony of squelching, slithering, experimental noise. Howling synths flashed from the right-hand side of the stage with a mad man at the helm, as Nathan Joyner carried major Jim Carrey-on-acid energy. Paul Vieira’s guitars are condensed to his sampler but used to devastating effect, while Charles Ovett’s pulsating drums channel this crackling, sonic menace together. Frontman Eric Paul’s towering presence commands the stage, his vocals elasticated and totally unhinged, as they revelled in the curated lunacy. Psychic Graveyard make tunes that feel viscerally primal and unnervingly deranged; a refreshing reminder of how exciting and unpredictable live music can be. Fans of noise heavyweights METZ had waited a long time to witness their latest LP, Atlas Vending, in the flesh. The Canadian three-piece wasted no time in flurrying up a deadly wall of noise, charging through abrasive tracks Blind Youth Industrial Park and Hail Taxi from said album. Hayden Menzies’ pummelling drums bordered on earthshattering and are the backbone of their muscular sound. Vocalist Alex Edkins has claimed absolute proficiency in his guitar work, while Chris Slorach, now also a full-time member of The Armed, showed no signs of slowing his signature jagged lines at the forefront throughout. The blistering set was as tight as Menzies’ drums and concluded with the epic finale A Boat to Drown In, as the searing rhythm sections lacerated through the room. It was pure bliss to finally hear these songs live, as METZ illustrated exactly why they’re one of the most pivotal influences on contemporary punk and noise rock.



Thundercat by Adam Kennedy

THUNDERCAT @ NORTHUMBRIA UNIVERSITY STUDENTS’ UNION, NEWCASTLE (30.03.22) Words: Cameron Wright If you book tickets for Thundercat, you go in expecting phenomenal, funky bass lines and sprawling improvisations. You walk into the venue fully aware that it’s going to be a night filled with humour, positivity and joy. A Thundercat show is a giddy affair that has each member of the audience eagerly anticipating a night of delicious, rich musicianship, spearheaded by the charismatic virtuoso and multi Grammy winning bass legend. It’s no secret that Thundercat is the bass master of a generation, and tonight he effortlessly fulfils the title. With fingers diving across the fretboard, the flawless jam sessions see the icon breezing through a myriad of runs, licks and scales while always sounding fully indebted to the music. The monumental performance of Thundercat surpassed even the most lofty of expectations, yet the jaw dropping showcases refused to stop here. Justin Brown’s tenacity and ruthless sense of groove, momentum and energy behind the drum kit was inspired. Matching the wild antics of his two band mates, Brown’s prowess behind his instrument was an insurmountable effort that propelled every idea into a new dimension. Thoroughly a team performance, the three-piece provided a night of hits that doubled as a celebration of community, improvisation and most importantly, musicality. There was nothing not to love about this masterclass from three of the world’s finest.

WARMDUSCHER, NUHA RUBY RA @ THE GEORGIAN THEATRE, STOCKTON (01.04.22) Words: Steve Spithray Sometimes you walk into a venue and it already seethes with energy, maybe before the band are even in the building, such is the wave of anticipation that precedes them… So, by the time tour support Nuha Ruby Ra takes to the stage, mic in each hand, accompanied by pulsing strobe lit beats with only occasional ambient respite, hypnotic mantras, reverb-drenched late night howls, and discerning parps of brass, Stockton’s Georgian Theatre is already full to bursting. “That one was about love, this next one’s about fucking.” Subtlety is not Warmduscher frontman, Clams Baker Jr’s forte as he introduces their track, Lady Eggs. Tonight Warmduscher are incredible. Two years after


tickets first went on sale and serendipitously on the day new album, At The Hotspot, is unveiled, the show serves as an unofficial album launch and the band seem intent on enjoying themselves. The Salamander is a punk funk behemoth of nihilistic barely rap, with Clams on top-form interacting with the audience almost constantly, while newies Hot Shot and Fatso are equally well received. With guitar, bass and synths constantly jostling for prominence there is an air of breakneck unruliness throughout, before Nuha makes a reappearance for a mesmerising Disco Peanuts. Which just leaves time for guitarist Adam Harmer to uncork some champagne over the first few rows and a quick rattle through fan favourites Standing On The Corner and I Got Friends.

WET LEG, HONEYGLAZE @ NEWCASTLE UNIVERSITY STUDENTS’ UNION (16.04.22) Words: Conor Roy Just over 24 hours after being awarded a number one for their self-titled debut record, the Isle Of Wight duo opened the first night of their UK tour at Newcastle University with support from Honeyglaze, whose sound falls somewhere along the musical spectrum between Black Country, New Road and Real Estate. The openers brought melancholic alt. indie with hints of both twee and bedroom pop and their closing wall of noise track began to see rumbles of movement amongst the crowd. Having seen a meteoric rise to prominence as 2021’s biggest breakout band with ear worm Chaise Lounge. Wet Leg’s Hester and Rhian took to the stage of the venue which already feels too small for them, with visibly giddy excitement. The set is speckled with the band’s own take on indie pop anthems, supplemented with fresh album tracks and a particularly special take on Ronan Keating’s Life Is A Rollercoaster. Crowd reaction was as expected to the band’s hits Angelica and Wet Dream, while hidden gem album tracks in Supermarket and the Hester-sung Convincing also shone through. The spectacle of the night came in the form of the whole venue completing the “longest scream” taken from latest single Ur Mum and the highlight of the set was, of course, closer Chaise Lounge, which saw the whole venue ignite. A strong mission statement from a band that already seems to be worthy of the hype.





Sophie Davis – In My Head

Though only 16, Sophie Davis’ In My Head is an intimate, candid telling of the innermost emotions of a teenager, and shows off her ample talents as a songwriter. With its isolated acoustic guitar, honest and unaffected voice and lilting rhythm giving the song a balladic quality, the track seems like a conversation, which its lyrics reflect. It’s a stream of consciousness about feelings of

DeadRelations – The Line Is Dead

Brand new Newcastle rock duo DeadRelations’ track opens with a morose descending pattern – almost where an unanswered phone’s tone might meet a hymnal organ. Considering the song’s title, it’s most appropriate. Indie guitar lines accompanied by passionately heavy drums and rhythmic riffs provide the atmosphere of a perhaps hopeless situation; ambiguous phrases that stick in the mind, such as “You often seem so motionless”, invite the listener to create a story in the scene the track sets. The Line Is Dead is one of four pieces recorded at home by the duo, who plan to begin gigging as soon as possible.

Gulliver – Off Guard

Gulliver, a 21-year-old student at Newcastle University, describes himself as a visual person whose imagination runs wild when hearing music. Though having longed to explore music and experiment with its power since the age of 15, Off Guard is one of his first ‘proper’ attempts at doing so. In line with his aim of creating music which

loneliness and rejection, taking twists and turns through daily life and contemplations, building and crescendoing before landing deftly on the title line. Sophie has played numerous shows, but aspires to perform and release more of her self-penned music, some of which is available on Spotify, including the powerful Marla, which showcases the stirring strength of her voice.

allows his audience to break free and escape the confines of their minds, this new track has an inherently dreamlike vibe about it. Although just over 90 seconds long, its combination of tonally intriguing electric guitar arpeggios, distorted tunes, trappy rhythms and reverb-drenched vocals conveys the artist’s conceptualisation with ease. As short as it is sweet, Off Guard lays fertile ground for hazy daydreams.

SMUJ – In The Middle

Frantic, hectic and chaotic, but vibrant all the same, In The Middle is the latest release from self-proclaimed “skatty no wave/post-punk quartet” SMUJ. Brass-infused post-punk – perhaps taking a leaf from the book of X-Ray Spex – the track even uses a xylophone amongst the staccato electric guitar intro (if I heard rightly). Unrelenting and intricate basslines are reminiscent of Joy Division in parts, with similarly boggling drum patterns leading the track’s knotty feel amid the maniacal shouts of singer and guitarist Cameron Cutts. In The Middle is an eruptive burst of everything jarring and discordant.

Some would call it an acquired taste; not for the meek is more deserving.

The Vessel – Closing Doors Concrete-solid, heavy as lead: Newcastle drum and bass duo The Vessel drop their latest track, Closing Doors. Fronted by barrages of dynamite riffs interspaced with head-on strong drum lines and fury-fuelled vocals, this two-and-a-half-minute endurance exercise is the perfect catharsis for anyone who may need it. The Vessel were formed during the pandemic to fend off boredom by former members of other groups, including Tooms, Blunt Wound Trauma and Nails of Christ, with both members having been in various local bands since the late ‘90s. But this new project is as fiery as it is explosive; the fuse has just been lit as they begin playing their first gigs at venues such as Ouseburn’s Little Buildings and Bandito’s Kitchen at Gateshead’s Downcast Studios.





Image by Kristoff Photography

Words: Hope Lynes Quaint in its nature, this upbeat song is rooted in laid-back songwriting, dreamt up by songwriter Mary-Anne while visiting her rural family farm with no distractions. This is a happy track that is easy to listen to, yet hard to get out of your head. The Newcastle-based art rock band have perfectly crafted a piece that is artistic in nature, with style and meaning emerging within the two-minute listen. The speed and agility of a greyhound (the titular Rex Mundi) is used as a metaphor for strength and character, with themes of resistance and adopting alternative mindsets prevalent throughout, making for a smart tale of symbolism all wrapped neatly within a quick and quirky song replete with upbeat drums and a fast-paced bassline. Released: 06.05.22


Image by Ellen Walker

Words: Tom Astley Maius Mollis’s stunning new track The Tide Turned offers a contemporary folk sound of brilliant colours. The centrepiece is a vocal which demands multiple listens to uncover lyrics that are poetic and guarded, telling a story both familiar and unique. The accompanying track is a lesson in restraint. From the modest guitar that adds feeling without intruding, to cymbals that add tone without constraining the track into strict tempo. Having set such a foundation, the pay-off when the drums flicker fully into the mix, replete with grounding bass, feels immense. Even here in release, there is a sense of holding back information, a barely audible spoken word Dictaphone voice in the right ear murmuring something to someone. Quietly golden. Released: 20.05.22


KULPA RIGHT HERE Words: Jake Anderson Kulpa made their debut this year, and their second single already shows the promising future the band have. ‘Short but sweet’ was the phrase spinning round my head after my initial listen, although I wouldn’t quite call the instrumentation of Right Here sweet… The track features a deeply layered alt. rock soundscape, with elements of metal. The listener is assaulted by dominant drums and dynamic guitar riffs immediately, which are overpowering yet pleasant. The prominence of these instruments does hide the vocals back in the mix, which is a shame when so much care was placed into the lyrics. Easily the highlight, the track culminates at the peak, only to unleash a seductive guitar solo to cap off the track, leaving a perfect final impression. Released: 06.05.22

CHRIS KELLY BETTER DAYS Words: Luke Waller A soft-hearted ode to moving forwards into brighter times by singersongwriter Chris Kelly – although decidedly optimistic in its hope-tinged tunes, lyrics and backbeat-stabbing guitar, there is something bittersweet and perhaps sadly nostalgic hidden away underneath. The emotion involved in the track’s composition is almost more audible than any single part of it in isolation – this is championed by the moment the song breaks into the chorus like a heavy but relieved sigh. Kelly has been gigging and recording now for almost a decade, and has played as a solo artist since 2016, with an ever-expanding back catalogue since then. His greatest influences are clearly heard in this latest single: a Traveling Wilburys palette applied to a Sam Fender-esque canvas. Released: 06.05.22

CHOP5 BUG STOMPER Words: Luke Waller Clocking in at six-and-a-half minutes, the trance and techno influences on this latest release from North Shields’ very own electronica maestro Chop5 are plain for all to hear. Continually layering looped phrases – from laser-gun stomping beats and intricate drumlines to distorted vocal lines which seem to resemble a dog’s twisted metamorphosis into a cat – much of which may send you whirl winding back to late-’80s acid house. Ever-industrious Chop5 has had a busy year, with numerous releases gaining airtime on local radio stations, including BBC Introducing North East. But on their way are a series of singles, beginning with Bug Stomper – which, for those wondering, is a film reference, not an incitement of violence against our hexapodal friends, says the keen environmentalist. Released: 18.05.22

FRANKIE JOBLING GRATEFUL Words: Hope Lynes My favourite thing about this new Frankie Jobling track is how her voice sounds like an instrument, perfectly complimenting the melodic, soothing backing instruments to create a soulful soundscape that is both catchy and smart. Grateful is rooted in ending a difficult relationship, and has plenty of self love. The lyrics “I took a date with myself / it was the sweetest breakthrough”, root this otherwise melancholic and somewhat toxic tale in a newfound happiness. It’s a real treat to witness such an open and honest expression of prioritising loving yourself. Mastered by BBC Radio 1 favourite Bob MacKenzie, the soundscape is beautifully layered into a summery tune that will no doubt be relatable and genuine for Frankie’s growing army of fans. Released: 29.04.22

NALGO BAY RIOT TOWN Words: Jake Anderson The influence the 2000s is having on the 2020’s is monumental. A great deal of the music is nostalgia-based, but a lot is taking the best of the decade and repurposing it into something new. That’s clearly the approach taken by Cayton band Nalgo Bay on their newest single, Riot Town. The song features the same groovy and ear twitching guitar riffs that permeated 2000s rock, along with the punk rock inspired vocals, but used less chaotically and more strategically. The song perfectly understands the best moments of satisfaction in its instrumental, bringing the energy levels down to a two until suddenly crashing them back up to 11. It’s incredibly effective, and a song that could soundtrack a thriving mosh pit. Released: 20.05.22

THE INCOGNITOS LET GO EP Words: Jake Anderson The Incognitos’ EP Let Go is stuffed with textured sonic environments and catchy guitar riffs, keeping the listener on their toes constantly with its ever-shifting genres. The track Don’t Let Go includes subtle additions in the mix, such as a flute, making for a jovial atmosphere. In contrast, the track Money features a harsher, more hard rock or post-punk inspired sound and a distortion which also features heavily on Top Banana, albeit with a more dance-inspired drum pattern and minimal vocals. Top Banana is the standout of the EP for me, as the lack of lyrics let the intricacies of the instrumental flourish. Despite it being a valiant effort, the EP’s collage-esque soundscape results in a mixed up release, which does little to reveal the band’s motives. Released: 21.05.22

AMATEUR ORNITHOLOGIST HERMIT PHASE Words: Kate Murphy You can’t help but smile from the very start of Daniel Clifford’s new track. There’s a touch of The Monkees in its blissful rise and fall, warmth and ever-forwardness, as it carries you along like a carousel with more bounce and a definite destination. When the world gets too much, sometimes the only sense of comfort or sanity that can be found is by briefly burying your head in the sand, and this is the ode to it. It’s like looking at a cereal box while on drugs that are being kind to you: “Start a brand new day / Cobweb blown away /Deal with my malaise / In my hermit phase”, Clifford sings, and you can almost picture the chorus of cartoon cockerels helping to deliver the message. Released: 06.05.22

MARIA & JAMES LITTLE ISLAND DREAM Words: Kate Murphy Described by the duo’s lead vocalist and songwriter Maria Winter as a love song to Lindisfarne, this is exactly how Little Island Dream translates. Winter’s voice and intentions are pure, singing of the safety and magic of this small place and its mind-blowing sunsets. “It’s the simple things that mean the most” Maria sings, and the philosophy certainly works in the song, as the duo’s feelings for Lindisfarne wouldn’t have come across half as well in a big-production piece. There are no overdone echoes or lengthy instrumentals here: just a guitar and harmonies, and an honestly and effortlessly penned song, talking about a place that does most of the speaking for itself. Released: 12.05.22

ARCADE SKIES SUGAR SUGAR Words: Tom Astley Whitely Bay’s Arcade Skies’ new track Sugar Sugar has a dreamy, bleached-out summer sky feel to it. The track is fuelled by a melody on acoustic clarinet, drenched in reverb and delay, which swoons in and out of the consciousness of the mix, pushing its way to the fore past drum loops, 80s-inflected synth pads, a female vocal that equally washes itself watercolour with delay and a male vocal, subliminally low in the mix. There’s an obvious sonic reference to the Little Fluffy Clouds of The Orb in the let-it-wash-over-you ambient dance feel. A perfect track for driving past The Spanish City on one of the few blisteringly hot summer days Whitley Bay might have, eating melted Opal Fruits. Released: 02.05.22

TO NOWHERE LOW Words: Tom Astley Riff-heavy anthem Low is the debut single from reinvented rock band To Nowhere. Returning with a much-changed line-up, Low opens with chorus-laden bass and crisp drums which underpin lyrically sparse vocals that melodically outline a relationship turned sour. The track explodes in a chorus of chunky distorted guitars and cymbals that is no less enjoyable for being inevitable. The band cite You And Me At Six and Nothing But Thieves as influences, but there’s a definite slice of 90s grunge in there too, especially in the vocal style, which has a Stone Temple Pilots-esque quality. Equally, the guitar solo, the quiet-loud structure and the thumping kick drum over howling harmonics before the outro all pay homage to the grunge palette. Released: 06.05.22



4.5 / 5 Image by Nick Mckk

ROLLING BLACKOUTS COASTAL FEVER ENDLESS ROOMS (SUB POP) Words: Lee Hammond A band that feels synonymous with superb jangly slacker pop, Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever have done it again. Endless Rooms is an album paved with exquisite songs, just in time for the summer. The opening instrumental Pearl Like You sets the precedent immediately, this short track immediately lifting the mood in the way only they can. At times it feels rawer than previous material, a more considered tone shows through in the title track and Caught Low in particular. In the former, the vocals really take the fore, and the track as a whole is much more subdued than you might expect. It finds the band in search of a meaning, the track feeling at odds with their usual upbeat driving guitars. It sets itself apart from the rest of the record in somewhat dramatic fashion. Equally, there is a lot of what you would expect from Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever, with Blue Eyed Lake and Tidal River standing out. Their sound is well honed now, and Endless Rooms really builds upon it, a welcome variation in their repertoire which could have easily stagnated. This is helped in part by the fresher sound which permeates through Endless Rooms. Where this sound is compounded is on tracks like My Echo, from its rainy opening, it quickly picks up pace with the ever-present driving guitars, but with an unexpected and welcome warmth. The whole record fosters this same feeling, while it harks back to their early rawness, there is a newer tenderness and poise. Whilst many records from the genre can easily slip into this trap, happily, Endless Rooms doesn’t feel over polished. There is a real change of pace on Endless Rooms, but there is still little doubt that it will be an album that soundtracks many people’s summers as these tracks ring out from festival stages. With such warm tones punctuated by suitably jangly guitars, you really cannot help but fall in love with it. Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever have really hit their stride with this record, a truly excellent document of an accomplished band pushing themselves further than ever. Released: 06.05.22

ALSO OUT THIS MONTH Craig Finn – A Legacy of Rentals (Thirty Tigers, 20.05) //Pink Mountaintops – Peacock Pools (ATO Records, 06.05) // C Duncan – Alluvium (Bella Union, 06.05.22) //Soft Cell – Happiness Not Included (BMG, 06.05) //Belle & Sebastian – A Bit of Previous (Matador, 06.05) //Florence & The Machine – Dance Fever (Polydor, 13.05) // Bear’s Den – Blue Hours (Communion Records, 13.05) //Michael Head – Dear Scott (Modern Sky UK, 27.05) // Uffie – Sunshine Factory (Company Records, 20.05) // Hater – Sincere (Fire Records, 06.05) // Alfie Templeman – Mellow Moon (Chess Club Records/AWAL, 27.05) // Matmos – Regards/Ukłony dla Bogusław Schaeffer (Thrill Jockey, 20.05) // Leyla McCalla – Breaking The Thermometer (ANTI-, 06.05) // Will Joseph Cook – Every Little Thing (Bad Hotel/The Vortex, 20.05) //Vero – Unsoothing Interior (PNKSLM, 06.05) // Emilie Sande – Let’s Say For Instance (Chrysalis Records, 06.05) //Sister Ray – Communion (Royal Mountain Records, 13.05) // Ben Talmi – Berkshires (Greylock Records, 20.05) // Stars – From Capelton Hill (Last Gang Records, 27.05)


Words: Lee Fisher Cotton works in a loosely similar field to artists like Laura Cannell, Hawthonn and David Terry, taking the starkness and exploration of drone and minimalism into what is very loosely folk music. Her Rocket debut expands on the sound of her earlier releases – haunting, often wordless vocals accompanied primarily by her viola – creating music that is rich in texture and mood and a sense of place (for most of these tracks, her native North East). Violet May is the most conventional piece here, and is an absolute heartbreaker, her voice ringing clear and sad over mournful, unsettling strings. Cotton’s marriage of folk tradition and deep listening – Shirley Collins meets Pauline Oliveros, say – is unique and powerful and growing in richness and confidence with each new release. Released: 20.05.22

4/5 JUST MUSTARD HEART UNDER (PARTISAN) Words: Jason Jones Like the Emerald Isle itself, Ireland’s alt. scene is lush and verdant. Heading up the emerging cohort, as sophomore effort Heart Under proves, are Just Mustard. The Dundalk quintet return with ten tracks of enthralling breadth and rare invention which are, in short, nothing less than a triumph. From the scuttling mesmerism of opener 23 to the howling release of later cuts Early and Sore, there’s an entrancing, shamanic quality to the album, characterised by a subtle mastery of brooding, ethereal soundscapes and a downright rejection of orthodoxy. At times propulsive and almost nightmarish, at others lullabying and soft, Heart Under is an uncommon amalgamation of the sweet and the unsettling, the gentle and the ominous. More than anything though, it’s really, really good. Released: 25.05.22








Words: Mark Corcoran-Lettice It would have been perfectly understandable if, after the release of Final Transmission, completed in tribute to the late Caleb Schofield, Cave In had decided to call time. Instead, with Converge/Old Man Gloom member Nate Newton stepping in on bass, they’ve returned with the defiant Heavy Pendulum. Their first double album, while there are tilts towards their Jupiter/Antenna-era space rock pomp, it’s the heavier end of their catalogue like Until Your Heart Stops and especially White Silence that the band reference here. Fans will rejoice at the likes of midpoint highlights Careless Offering and Blinded By A Blaze, but the unnecessary length of the thing (not to mention the suspicion that a lot of this sounds like Mutoid Man offcuts) keeps Heavy Pendulum from the band’s top tier. Released: 20.05.22

Words: Mark Corcoran-Lettice Arriving five years after their debut album A Prayer For The Unemployed, First Hate make a welcome return with Cotton Candy, with the Danish duo having evolved but – thankfully – not really grown up in the intervening years. Anton Falck and Joakim Wei Bernild have retained their sense of absurdity and a taste for plaintive melodrama in their parallel world pop visions, but also found ways to bring their synth pop sound more up to date and to keep the baying hounds of formula at bay. The splintered acoustic guitar loops of the title track aren’t a million miles from Dean Blunt’s work on Black Metal 2, while Vampire Boi finds the band at their most lurid and playful. A delightful work of emotional hedonism. Released: 27.05.22

Words: Ikenna Offor A veridically singular voice, Obongjayar (aka Steven Umoh) has spent the last few years honing his genre-evading sound across an undeniably stellar string of eclectic releases, whilst also racking up a bevy of blistering features for heavyweights like Little Simz, Giggs and Moses Boyd. Peppered with vividly conjured images of lucid dreamscapes, Umoh’s long-awaited debut weaves a potent melange of Afrobeats, hip-hop and soul influences into a cohesive cornucopia of audacious musicality. The delights here are bountiful: Message In a Hammer proffers a searing gospel of political dissent deftly buttressed with bombastic bursts of Fela-esque urgency, elsewhere, the intuitive vulnerability of both Wish It Was Me and Wind Sailor assuredly bespeak the emotional fluency of Umoh’s songcraft. Simply sublime. Released: 13.05.22



3.5 / 5




Words: Paul Brown First class pop music is one of life’s great pleasures, and its most gifted exponents make it seem easy. Just look at Peaness, who have already made a lot of friends by consistently making heartache sound like the funnest party ever. Their debut album has been eagerly anticipated in my house for a number of years, and dear reader, my high hopes are not dashed. World Full of Worry is brilliant, displaying Peaness’ insanely tight harmonies and apparently endless supply of naggingly catchy riffs from start to finish. If you force me to pick a highlight, fine, I’ll say it’s Kaizen, but this whole blooming thing is a joy. Summer is coming, so roll your car windows down and treat passers-by to this scorcher. Released: 06.05.22

Words: Robin Webb The rock solid ninth long form outing from Warp Records’ resident US dance rebels begs to be played loud to fully appreciate its wide eyed danceability. The opening acoustic track is no false dawn, coaxing you to crank it up, and what follows entrances you to lose it in the rhythm, bass and pristine production courtesy of Patrick Ford, who wrangled the band’s stems remotely during lockdown resulting in an efficient sound which manages to be both not minimal yet also not crammed, as the band have admitted to previously being guilty of in the studio. The album closes with the truly anthemic This Is Pop 2 and I can just imagine those sweaty club nights to come, punky dance party away my pretties! Released: 06.05.22

Words: Robin Webb An intriguing blend of shoegaze with strong Jesus & Mary Chain vibes and weary Americana turns out to be a perfectly natural mix. As is the case with many artists over the last few years, it was constructed at a distance with the title Arcola being a halfway location between the two artists – Minneapolis-based Nora Button and Cash Langdon in Birmingham, both formerly of power pop band Saturday Night. They exchanged voice memos and demos, constructing tracks full of woozy, fuzzed out guitar driven through a wave of expansive reverb, electronic percussion and harmonised and delayed lyrics. Stand out track is The Hand That Looks Like Mine, with its breakneck rapid fire beats and call and response vocals. Shoes are looking good. Released: 20.05.22



4.5 / 5

4.5 / 5

4.5 / 5




Words: Robin Webb Champon is the Japanese noun for a jumble of different things, Super could well be a descriptor for the gloriously vital and anarchic sound emanating from the foremost four-piece punk garage band from Kyoto. Featuring blistering guitars and drums, wildly rampageous lyrics and masterful musicianship that bobs and weaves like a flyweight on speed, Accorinrin, Yoyoyoshie, Hiro-chan and Kahokiss deliver 18 short tracks of total randomness. Songs with obtuse and wacky titles such as Dirty Old Fart Is Waiting For My Reaction, First Class Side Guy & Leave Me Alone! No Stay With Me! all zip ferociously along and before you know it it’s gone, flashing by at just over 21 minutes, Super Champon truly is a masterpiece of chaos music. Released: 06.05.22

Words: Stephen Oliver The instrumental opening track, with a heavy slab of distorted guitars, gives the impression that Puppy’s second album feels like it is going to be a very heavy affair. Quickly, the mood changes as the twin lead vocal gives the trio’s output a very distinctive style. So whilst the guitars crash in a wonderful metallic landscape, the listener is given a treat of sing-a-long lyrics that wouldn’t be out of place in a classic slab of 90s Britrock. Each song is distinctive and this gives this release enough variety to make it one that you want to play from start to finish rather than just set to shuffle. There is a sweet timeless melancholy which cascades throughout to make it an enjoyable listen. Released: 06.05.22

Words: Stephen Oliver Clearly METZ guitarist and vocalist Alex Edkin has had a number of musical ideas and melodies gestating for the last few years that he needed to unleash on the world in his debut solo album. Strong distorted guitar hooks leap out on each of these ten tracks. The songs are very much about feel – some distortion and feedback can be heard so the sounds have not been cleaned up or reprocessed within an inch of its life. Indeed, this is much more listenable as it feels ‘live’. The result of this alchemy is an enjoyable authentic collection of alt. pop emotions that are performed with passion and feeling rather than technical perfection. Weird Nightmares will bring a little noisy sunshine to your day Released: 20.05.22







Words: Elodie A. Roy I am unsure whether Say Sue Me’s third album – home-recorded in Busan, South Korea – marks the end, or the beginning, of a season. There is something transitory and hesitantly jubilant about these ten new tracks. Outwardly, it is paint-by-number indie pop – a patchwork of generic (and, therefore, compulsively resonant) images – fuzzy electric guitars, boy and girl vocals, tales of yearning, bliss and teenage heartbreak. There are echoes of The Concretes, and something, too, of the rash romanticism of Standard Fare. Beyond the familiar patterns and worn storylines, however, the album timidly generates a light of its own. It may go out any moment, but for now it exists – and the sense of suspension makes the songs precious and singularly endearing. Released: 13.05.22


Words: Stephen Oliver Nika Roza Danilova, the singer, songwriter and producer who creates music as Zola Jesus, wields a voice that has an angelic quality. Layer over the top of the vocal performance some loops and rhythms in the opener Lost, and the listener is cast away on the start of an emotional journey. This project has brought in some collaborations, such as drummer and percussionist Matt Chamberlain and violist Louise Woodward, that have expanded the musicality of songs. Having said that, this is clearly Danilova’s personal journey that you are following as you go from each soundscape to the next. From the vibrant track Dawn through to the simpler piano composition that is Desire, Arkhon is a series of beautiful compositions. Released: 20.05.22

Words: Mera Royle Glowing with electric colours and woozy rhythms, Tess Parks presents a charming insight into her world with And Those Who Were Seen Dancing. Straight from the off, her masterful creative power is revealed through her enchanting vocals, mixed with the buzzing electricity of 80s rock, influenced by Parks’ love for Oasis, chilled beats and groovy riffs. Her mastery of poetic lines breaks through in tracks such as Suzy And Sally’s Eternal Return, with lyrics “Heaven is deep as a well / I’ll see you there”, expressed beautifully through Parks’ soft, yet striking voice. Merging nostalgia with empowerment, her well-crafted harmonies and blurry, distorted sound immerses listeners into a mystical, dream-like reality. This album will swing Parks’ straight to entrancing our hearts. Released: 20.05.22








Words: Jade Broadhead The New Yorkers’ third LP sees them dust down the 70’s influence and innocence of Twentytwo In Blue to embrace the madness and badness of the modern era. Transitional opener Who Put You Up To This? sees the egg cracking and a band reborn, shackling off expectations and outside pressures with drummer Oliver Faber at the engineering wheel. Their psychedelic past is evident on the widescreen Otherside, but this is a full-on in-your-face high adrenaline record with stomping tracks like Roll Your Dice and Beat The Odds declaring their intent in more than their titles alone. “I just wanna win…” cries singer Julia Cummings, and it would be a very foolish being that bet against her or her band. Released: 06.05.22

Words: Adam Kennedy Warpaint returns with their first studio album since 2016. The pandemic introduced logistical challenges with the recording of the album, it also allowed the US-based indie rockers time to finesse the release. That approach has certainly paid off. Lead single Champion takes the listener on a musical journey that builds throughout, whilst the Latin rhythms of Hips, the melancholy and somewhat heartfelt Hard To Tell You, and the acoustic love song Send Nudes highlight the diversity of the release. For the old school Warpaint fans, Altar is reminiscent of the group’s early output. It may have taken six years for a new Warpaint album to be released, but it was worth the wait. Released: 06.05.22

Words: Lee Fisher After 2018’s So Sad So Sexy, a move into Coachella R&B that many (okay, me!) saw as a misstep, hearing No Hotel as the fanfare for EYEYE was sheer delight. EYEYE was recorded under a Dogme-style series of strictures keeping it lo-fi and spontaneous and it comes with a set of video loops and some palindromic concepts that needn’t trouble us here. What matters is that our queen of girl-group goth melodrama is back! No Hotel – all heartache and rain – is the platonic ideal of a Lykke Li and the rest of the album keeps to a similar vein of woozy, low-key, yearning balladry with occasional production flourishes. It’s magnificent stuff, even if it doesn’t achieve Wounded Rhymes-levels of greatness (but what does?) Released: 20.05.22



Hello! Hannabiell Sanders and Yilis Suriel here. We are the Ladies of Midnight Blue, an Afro-Latin percussion and brass duo. We also perform with and manage the Hannabiell & Midnight Blue Collective. We are the directors of Harambee Pasadia CIC, a cultural organisation who create, organise and manage activities and events showcasing music, dance, arts, theatre and film from the African diaspora. Collaborating with artists, activists, cultural and learning institutions, venues, and community organisations is at the core of our philosophy. We’ve got some great events coming up over the next few months which include Roots Rhythms All Tribes One Vibe Gathering on Saturday 28th May at ARC in Stockton, at which we encourage audiences to get together and celebrate our diversity at a unique party of global beats! Later in the year, Hannabiell Transmuted is a new stage show featuring Ladies of Midnight Blue and Hannabiell & the Midnight Blue Collective, which is part of Hannabiell’s artist residency at Sage Gateshead, taking place on Thursday 16th June. The joyful party that is Harambee Pasadia, an Afro-fusion music and arts festival, takes place from Thursday 23rd-Sunday 26th June at TCR the Hub in Barnard Castle, and will be the seventh Edition of our four day music and arts extravaganza in celebration of diverse cultures, foods, music, artists and fusions of the African diaspora. For more information visit: Here are some of our favourite songs which inspire Harambee Pasadia, they remind us to choose love, hope and to be the change that we want to see.

ALICE COLTRANE JOURNEY IN SATCHIDANANDA This song was our introduction to the brilliance of Alice Coltrane and Pharoah Sanders.

PHAROAH SANDERS LOVE IS EVERYWHERE We blast this song whenever we want to transmute sad or negative energy into joy and positivity.

LADIES OF MIDNIGHT BLUE FEATURING CLIMBING POETREE PROTEST CULTURE We love Climbing Poetree and were honoured to have them collaborate with us and write the lyrics for this song. It truly represents what we believe in.

SWEET HONEY IN THE ROCK FOOTSTEPS ON MY JOURNEY NOW/ BREATHE This song is always on rotation. It almost acts as a meditation and has a grounding effect.

KOFFEE TOAST This is an inspirational banger that makes us dance as soon as we hear the intro riff. It makes us sing along to “Blessings all pon mi life and/Mi thank God fi di journey, di earnings a jus fi di plus”.

BEYONCÉ FEAT. NIJA CHARLES, MOONCHILD SANELLY, BUSISWA GQULU, DJ LAG, TIERRA WHACK, YEMI ALADE MY POWER Oh my goodness this tune is powerful and empowering and is always played at full volume!

CALLE 13 FEAT. TOTO LA MOMPOSINA, SUSANA BACA, AND MARIA RITA LATINOAMÉRICA The song tells a story of Latin America, the pride of its people, the richness of the land and also offers a critique of the government.

JOE ARROYO & LA VERDAD REBELIÓN Salsa music and dancing brought our

circles together, formed the foundation of our friendship and our musicking together. This song tells a story about slavery, respect and rebellion. When it plays Hannabiell always sings the trombone and trumpet parts and Yilis sings along to the lyrics.

THEON CROSS, MOSES BOYD, NUBYA GARCIA PANDA VILLAGE These three artists are amazing and we listen to their musical outputs for inspiration.

CHILDISH GAMBINO THIS IS AMERICA RESIDENTE FT. IBEYI THIS IS NOT AMERICA As activists both This is America by Childish Gambino and This is Not America by Residente are great examples of why we continue to strive to help make this world a better place and remind us to not become complacent.