NARC. #184 June 2022

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ISSUE184

JUNE22

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RELIABLYINFORMED

HANNABIELL SANDERS & YILIS DEL CARMEN SURIEL LIZZIE LOVEJOY GENERATOR LIVE RUBBER OH RUMAZ


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

6 JUNE PREVIEWS ISSUE184

JUNE22

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Dive in to live music courtesy of Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever, Cro-Mags, Blk Jks, Flat Worms, Kris Drever & Rachel Baiman, Yama Warashi, Queer Folk, Dizraeli, Mirna Ray and alldayer Heelapalooza; plus comedy from Daliso Chaponda, Amy Matthews, Steve Bugeja, Josh Berry, Allyson June Smith among others; theatre shows including Zinzi Minott, The Secret Garden, A Way Home, The Guilty Feminist, Eliot Smith Dance, Snatched, Ankles and All White Everything But Me among many more; not to mention exhibitions featuring Lubna Chowdhary and Bobby Benjamin and literary delights at Hexham Book Festival and Crossing The Tees

INTERVIEWS 34 BECCY OWEN & MARTHA HILL 35 GHOST//SIGNALS 32 HANNABIELL SANDERS & YILIS DEL CARMEN SURIEL Claire Dupree talks to inspirational musicians Hannabiell Sanders and Yilis del Carmen Suriel about their ethos of empowerment, collaboration and inclusivity Hello there. Me again. It seems like barely any time at all since my last missive – these months are going faster now I actually have things to do. I’m currently experiencing something that I’m sure will ring true for many creatives – a strange phenomenon I’m calling ‘the double “oh shit” factor’. Let me explain. As a freelancer, particularly in the creative sector, we do all we can to secure a heap of work so we can afford to pay our bills and buy wine from the second supermarket shelf from the bottom (everyone knows the bottom shelf is mostly gut-rot). This is a carefully balanced trick – take on just enough work to earn money, but not so much that you have zero time for anything else. During the pandemic, I – along with pretty much everyone I know – got The Fear that everything was gone forever and we’d never have any work or interesting things to do ever again, so we doubled our efforts to get that work in, dreamt up wondrous schemes and far fetched ideas that we never usually had the time to think about Before. You can tell where this is going… Over the last six months all the usual work I’m used to dealing with and that I have the personal capacity to handle has come merrily trotting back (yay), AND all the other stuff I thought would never happen/had gone forever/was too mental to consider doing, also came back. Like I said: “oh shit”. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining about loads of work (well, I am a bit!), I’d just quite like to leave my desk at some point. I’ll update you next month! Editor Claire Dupree info@narcmedia.com Website David Saunders narcmagazineonline@gmail.com Creative El Roboto Advertising Claire Dupree info@narcmedia.com Stay social, connect with us NARC.magazine @narc_magazine @narcmagazine NARCmagazineTV

Cover Image Amelia Read Live Photography Jay Dawson / Victoria Wai Contributors Jake Anderson / Tom Astley / Jade Broadhead / Paul Brown / Jonathan Coll / Mark Corcoran-Lettice / Laura Doyle / Lee Fisher / Françoise Harvey / Lee Hammond / Paul Jeffrey / Eugenie Johnson / Jason Jones / Adam Kennedy / Evie Lake / Lizzie Lovejoy / Ben Lowes-Smith / Robert Nichols / Evie Nicholson / Michael O’Neill / Ikenna Offor / Helen Redfern / Damian Robinson / Steve Spithray / Adelle Sutheran / Leigh Venus / Luke Waller / Ali Welford / Maria Winter / Cameron Wright

VISIT US ONLINE WWW.NARCMAGAZINE.COM NARC. Magazine, Tel: 07748 907 914 Email: info@narcmedia.com Web: www.narcmagazine.com 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

36 GENERATOR LIVE 38 LABYRINTHINE OCEANS 39 LIZZIE LOVEJOY 40 SAINT ETIENNE 41 RUBBER OH 43 LUCY NICHOL 44 THE LUBBER FIEND 46 SALT HOUSE LAVISH 47 BOUNDARIES FESTIVAL 48 RUMAZ 49 IAN ROBINSON LISTINGS 50 LISTINGS The best of the rest...

REVIEWS 53 LIVE REVIEWS Reports from the front row of Foals, Hannah Peel & Paraorchestra, Michael Kiwanuka, Dilettante, Man On Man, Sea Girls, Frankie And The Witch Fingers and many more

56 TRACKS Reviews of local releases including Slobo & Khabs, Soever, Tired Trace, The Dawdler, NGTB, Nadedja, The Avelons, Cosial, Patrick Gosling, Heyman Aums, Sam Thomas and Succour

58 DEMOS Featuring Gloamer, Tin Ribs, Eve Kills The Sun, The Fabulist and Jack Rae

59 ALBUMS New releases from Hercules & Love Affair, Robocobra Quartet, Hatis Noit, Joyce Manor, Bartees Strange, Hollie Cook, Petrol Girls, Harkin, Horsegirl and more

62 MIXTAPE Broadcaster and writer Bob Fischer picks out some of the songs that scarred him for life…

Next Issue Out 29th June

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PREVIEWS JUNE’S DIVERSIONS INCLUDE TALENTED UP AND COMING MUSICIANS, OPEN MIC POETRY AND FLASH FICTION, ACCESSIBLE DANCE FILMS, INTROSPECTIVE PHOTOGRAPHY AND LOADS MORE. ENJOY!

ART & LIT

SATURDAY 18 MUSIC

ART & LIT

SECRET SOUND Stockton-based youth-led movement Bright

MEET THE AUTHOR, MEET THE ARTIST Author Mark Iveson discusses his obsession

WEDNESDAY 1 Minds Big Futures provides a platform for young people in the town. Their sixth showcase event will bring the brightest and best new talent to the Georgian stage, with sets from The Collectors, Eve Kills The Sun, White Noise and Erin Frances + Finley Dobing. The Georgian Theatre, Stockton www.facebook.com/brightmindsbigfutures

ART & LIT

TUESDAY 7 INKYLAB The North East publishers present a night of open mic poetry and flash fiction at North Shields’ intimate The Engine Room. The free entry event will showcase the work of local creatives, wordsmiths, poets and writers, with the aim of increasing exposure for writers in the region and offering audiences access to brand new work. The Engine Room, North Shields www.inkylabpress.com

COMEDY

THURSDAY 9 CHARLOTTE JOHNSON – MY DAD & OTHER LIES Charlotte Johnson is a rising star in the comedy world who avoids political content, which is tricky when your dad might be THAT Johnson. Her current show grew out of a mock audio documentary commissioned by the BBC and is more concerned with growing up and family life with a debatable amount of siblings. Laurels, Whitley Bay www.laurelswhitley.co.uk

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THURSDAY 9 with the horror genre and his book Vincent Price: The British Connection, which dives into the actor’s long and distinguished career. Joining him will be impressionist and expressionist landscape painter Lucy Dawlish, whose nature-driven work is spiritual and inspirational. Newcastle City Library www.meetauthor-meetartist.eventbrite.co.uk

JOHN GRINDROD – ICONICON Grindrod’s debut Concretopia was

seen as a landmark work in examining the UK’s built environment, and his new book Iconicon develops some of those themes (from Thatcherism’s Right To Buy through to Brexit). He delivers a talk and Q&A at BALTIC, one of the buildings mentioned in the book. BALTIC, Gateshead www.baltic.art

MUSIC

MUSIC

FRIDAY 10 PLASTIC GLASS Sunderland’s musical landscape has been a janglier place since indie four-piece Plastic Glass came on the scene. The quartet’s fusion of honest lyricism, anthemic choruses and cheeky charm has seen them become a firm favourite, which makes this final show a touch bittersweet as they move on to pastures new. Independent, Sunderland www.facebook.com/plasticglass1

MUSIC

FRIDAY 10 TQLIVE Northumberland alternative ‘zine TQ begins a foray into live shows which will showcase established experimental, DIY performers alongside up and coming acts. Their inaugural event will see an evening of music from local artists including the layered and looped vocals of Mobius, the improvisations of Shunyata Improvisation Group and found soundscapes from HEN. The Lit & Phil, Newcastle www.tqzine.blogspot.com

MONDAY 20 POUND A typically noisy line-up from

promoters Byker Grave brings Seattle’s instrumental sludgy math duo POUND to Trillians, renowned for their experimental sound which incorporates elements of grind and dbeat with thrilling rhythmic explorations, their live show promises to be an ear-punishing delight. Support comes from local shouty emo hardcore band Ballpeen. Trillians, Newcastle www.pound.bandcamp.com


WHATS ON

JUNE HIGHLIGHTS MUSIC

Reality Boots by Shaho Omar

WEDNESDAY 22 REALITY BOOTS Reality Boots is a musical project

from Skimstone Arts made up of an eclectic mix of young people with learning disabilities, poor mental health or from disadvantaged backgrounds. They bring their powerful songs encompassing a variety of genres on tour across the region, with this Newcastle show featuring a support set from rapper Kema Kay. Brinkburn Street Brewery, Bar & Kitchen, Newcastle www.facebook.com/realityboots

MUSIC

FRIDAY 24

STAGE

KKETT

Kkett are a hyperactive, hyperreal collision of indie rock, dance rhythms and a splash of metal married to absurd/provocative lyrics. They bring their special blend of inclusive mania to Zerox’s increasingly on-the-money Shooting Gallery venue. Support comes from the delicious icon of emo Queer art rock, MXYM. The Shooting Gallery, Newcastle www.kkett.bandcamp.com

ART & LIT

Hold On To The Steering Wheel by Francisco Gonzalez Camacho

SUNDAY 26 JULIUS CAESAR This production of Julius Caesar marks the first time Shakespeare’s Globe have performed in Sunderland. The politically charged epic tragedy is a brutal tale of ambition, incursion and rebellion which seems as relevant now as it did in Shakespeare’s day. The venue will be standing only, reflecting how audiences first watched the production in the 1600s. The Fire Station, Sunderland www.thefirestation.org.uk

FRIDAY 24

FILM

WEDNESDAY 22 FEELING THING & SELECTED WORKS A fully accessible evening of film curated by dance maker and performer Lizzie Klotz. Feeling Thing invites audiences to retrain their sensitivity to the liveness of everyday objects; All Bodies Dance Project’s Sanctuary searches for calm in urban landscapes; Forest Floor considers access challenges in rural locations; and Ashleigh is an inspirational portrait about the pursuit of dance. Dance City, Newcastle www.dancecity.co.uk

WAX: WORK IN PROGRESS After two years of development (and

lockdown frustration), Middlesbrough art collective Wax are finally able to present Work In Progress, a photography exhibition that examines the nature of photography itself, using work from an array national and international photographers to look at how photos tell a story and the creative choices behind them. The Auxiliary Project Space, Middlesbrough www.waxwork.org.uk

MUSIC

THURSDAY 30 WARD

Having been on the Teesside scene for many years under different guises, former members of bands Velma and Tickety Boo will share the stage once again with their newest projects. Expect ethereal shoegaze from WARD, while The Artisans present a warm line in jangly guitar pop. Base Camp, Middlesbrough www.soundsofward.co.uk

COMEDY COMEDY

SATURDAY 25

THURSDAY 30

MATT REED: COME IN & LOST VOICE GUY COMEDY GET YOUR TEA Ahead of his much-discussed, hugely SHOWCASE ambitious Tyne Theatre show next year, local Lost Voice Guy – who in his ten years in comedy has won Britain’s Got Talent, the BBC Radio New Comedy award and landed a Radio 4 sitcom – is also a local (Consett) hero. This comedy showcase features a headliner ‘too big to name’, with support from Steve Royle and Lauren Pattison, with our host MC-ing. Gosforth Civic Theatre, Newcastle www.gosforthcivictheatre.co.uk

stand-up Matt Reed previews his new show, Come In & Get Your Tea, at Stockton’s ARC. Using local familiar faces and some professional chefs, this live cookery-and-chat show gets stuck into childhood teas – the delights, the horrors and all points in between. ARC, Stockton www.arconline.co.uk

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PREVIEWS

STAGE

EVERYDAY @ NORTHERN STAGE

Words: Helen Redfern Combining British Sign Language and spoken English in a unique bilingual style for deaf and hearing audiences, Deafinitely Theatre presents Everyday, a curious gathering of four people performing a ritual of community and catharsis, at Northern Stage on Tuesday 24th-Wednesday 25th June. Drawing on interviews with women and

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non-binary people exploring domestic abuse in the deaf community, nationally acclaimed writer and director Paula Garfield creates a witches’ coven like no other – with a cauldron of newts’ eyes and butterflies, deep scars and blazing signs. The cast of Fifi Garfield, Kelsey Gordon, Zoe McWhinney and Bea Webster together create a visually-rich, playful and pulsatingly urgent performance, proclaiming “We are warriors. We are survivors. If you need our help, let us know.” Commissioned by New Diorama Theatre, this defiant and empowering new work from Deafinitely Theatre marks the company’s 20th anniversary. Deafinitely Theatre has always been, and continues to be, a field leader in the

promotion of deaf led theatre. Artistic Director Paula Garfield believes there is much to celebrate: “We’re so thrilled to be breaking down taboos and stereotypes of deaf people and showing what we can achieve and what makes up our rich and diverse deaf community in 2022 and beyond.” Everyday will not be an everyday performance. Far from it. More like a revelatory glimpse into the everyday lives of the warriors and survivors who live amongst us. Everyday is at Northern Stage, Newcastle on Tuesday 24th-Wednesday 25th June. www.deafinitelytheatre.co.uk


PREVIEWS

OCTOBER HIGHLIGHTS

STEVE BUGEJA @ THE WITHAM/THE STAND

Words: Laura Doyle Even if you’ve never heard the name Steve Bugeja, you’ve probably heard the words of Steve Bugeja. With writing credits scattered across TV shows from the Russell Howard Hour to the Now Show, Bugeja is one of the most prolific comedians on telly right now

In Residence

without you even knowing it. That means there’s a high probability that you already love his work – so maybe now is the time to put that theory to the test to see his latest stand-up show, Tried To Start His Own Nickname, which comes to The Witham in Barnard Castle on Saturday 18th and The Stand in Newcastle on Thursday 30th June. We all knew that kid at school who thought of a potentially amusing pun on their name all by themselves. But no matter how hard they try, a self-applied nickname simply won’t stick (even if it’s as good as Moulin Booj). Be careful what you wish for anyway, because does

Saturday 4 June Midnight Skyracer Sage Two

Thursday 2 June Martha Hill presents songs from ‘Dracula the Musical’

Sage One

Friday 10 June Jacob Collier - DJESSE WORLD TOUR Sage One

Sage Two

Thursday 16 June

Hannabiell ‘Transmuted’ Sage Two

Saturday 18 June ARQ (Alison Rayner Quintet) Sage Two

Thursday 9 June Macy Gray

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Saturday 11 June Beccy Owen ‘The Amplified Sanctum’

anyone actually recall someone gaining a nickname that wasn’t via some horrendously embarrassing life event… Or was that just me? Hopefully Steve Bugeja hasn’t suffered badly from nickname-related trauma – although given that tragedy + time = comedy, it wouldn’t be the worst thing for his show if he had. Steve Bugeja performs at The Witham, Barnard Castle on Saturday 18th and The Stand, Newcastle on Thursday 30th June. www.stevebugeja.com

Friday 10 June Emma Fisk’s Hot Club du Nord Sage Two

Thursday 16 June The Lost Words: Spell Songs Sage One

Friday 24 June Kathryn Tickell & The Darkening Sage Two

Saturday 25 June Queer Folk Presents: The Pride Tour Sage Two

Saturday 25 & Wednesday 29 June Rumours of Fleetwood Mac

June Gig Highlights

COMEDY

Sage One

Head to sagegateshead.com/whats-on for our full gig listings.

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PREVIEWS

Bobby Benjamin, Feckless + Drunk, 2022, mixed media

ART & LIT

BOBBY BENJAMIN: OBJECT @ VANE GALLERY

Words: Steve Spithray Newcastle’s Vane Gallery celebrates its 25th anniversary with a new gallery space on the Gateshead side of the Tyne alongside the Orbis Community. Teesside’s Bobby Benjamin has the honour of opening the new space with his celebrated Object show. Object challenges cultural hegemony while embracing the history of found objects and the materiality of paint. Benjamin’s work is site specific and transient, with deinstallation and destruction often going hand in hand. Object features such found items as flyaway footballs, metal hoops from old beer barrels, snooker balls and discarded fast food (something of a recurring theme in the artist’s work), all articles that symbolise his keen advocacy of the role art has to play in the lives of young people and their communities. Bobby explains: “the show is called Object because the word’s dual meaning captures the ‘how’ and ‘why’ of what I do. I make art from found objects about things that piss me off. It’s weird how going to the opera is more prestigious than going to a football match. Why are we so hierarchical about culture? I live on a council estate, I work in the art industry; this show is about me trying to reconcile the two.” Bobby Benjamin: Object is at Vane Gallery, Gateshead from Thursday 9th June-Saturday 2nd July. www.vane.org.uk

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MUSIC

MIRNA RAY @ THE CUMBERLAND ARMS

Words: Ali Welford Now firmly back in the swing of things, promoter Endless Window kicks off a series of summer gigs with a characteristically eclectic feast of internationalist psychedelia at The Cumberland Arms on Friday 3rd June. With just a couple of EPs – 2015’s 22 and 2019’s III – to their name, Mirna Ray nonetheless carry a palpable word-of-mouth stature on the back of stints supporting the likes of Acid Mothers Temple, Wax Machine and The Cult of Dom Keller. What’s more, this London-based collective of Polish and Argentinian musicians achieve the improbable through crafting a fresh, distinctive sound amidst a congested field. With foundations hewn from hefty dollops of garagey crowd-pleasing fuzz, their pot is stirred further with splashes of experimental percussion, desert woodwind and subtle yet influential electronics – a heady brew primed to make a lasting impression on their maiden North East outing. As with every EW show, there’s a similar level of care and enthusiasm poured into the choice of supports. Causing quite the stir with their aptly titled recent EP The New Nuisance, chaos merchants No Teeth bring the ruckus wherever they land with inimitably maximalist Fall-meets-Beefheart stupidity. Less unhinged (though only by a whisker!), Emergency Librarian 2’s peculiar take on folk song materialises via a meandering melange of primitive psych, modular synth squall and Reed/Cale-recalling indulgence – an ever-morphing racket that’s well worth early admission! Mirna Ray, No Teeth and Emergency Librarian 2 play The Cumberland Arms, Newcastle on Friday 3rd June. www.mirnaray.bandcamp.com

STAGE

ANKLES: A BOOK OF SPELLS @ NORTHERN STAGE

Words: Michael O’Neill Based upon a wealth of real-life experiences amassed from interactive workshops with young women and non-binary people from both East End schools and Newcastle’s Shieldfield Youth Project, BRASH Theatre Company have conjured up Ankles, a multi-disciplinary production which explores the complexities of how the educational system, with its oft-demeaning school uniform policies, enables a culture of victim-blaming and sexual harassment. The production, which comes to Northern Stage on Thursday 9th and Friday 10th June, makes a compelling argument that children need to be discouraged from thinking that the responsibility of preventing gendered violence should only fall upon girls, and instead emphasising the part that every person, of every gender and age group, has to play in preventing these behaviours from persisting in society as a whole. As BRASH’s Artistic Director Bethan Kitchen makes clear: “It forces adults to sit up, listen and make the changes necessary to make the world a safer, fairer place for people of all genders.” All roles within the production are handled by actor Brogan Gilbert (who’s previously starred in the BBC’s The Dumping Ground and Inside Out), rapper/performer Kay Greyson and a debut co-lead performance from India Barnett, with sound design and scoring from Roma Yagnik. Ankles: A Book Of Spells is performed at Northern Stage, Newcastle on Thursday 9th and Friday 10th June. www.brashtheatre.co.uk


PREVIEWS

Image by Amelia Read

MUSIC

THE OFTEN HERD @ THE CLUNY 2

Words: Maria Winter Acclaimed North East bluegrass band The Often Herd prepare to unveil their highly anticipated debut album, Where The Big Lamp Shines, at The Cluny 2 on Friday 3rd June. Known for their American string band style, The Often Herd’s transatlantic sound is intensely shaped by the natural and industrial

landscapes of Northern England. The band’s songs are often manufactured through both varied personal experience alongside an array of musical influences, from retro pop to folk rock. Where The Big Lamp Shines is a superb representation of those assortments, providing a taste of various instruments, textures and harmonies, whilst still remaining true to their bluegrass-inspired background. With exquisite musical and vocal technique, the album emanates a sense of beauty and joy. Composer and mandolinist Evan Davies elaborates: “This record is a melting pot of all of our experiences and influences. We reflect

JUNE 2022

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on our lives as musicians, stories we hear around us and try to convey a sense of our place in the world whilst also being somewhat introspective.” Having received praise from musical connoisseurs and with an abundance of achievements under their belts, The Often Herd’s fiery sound ensures this upcoming album is definitely not one to miss. The Often Herd launch Where The Big Lamp Shines at The Cluny 2, Newcastle on Friday 3rd June. www.theoftenherd.com

POP TART SHY BAIRNS KIWI (CROSSBREED) L.A.D’S PRESENTS: SNO + ECHO JULIET LOVE SUMMER ’22 JUNE 4TH

JUNE 11TH

JUNE 18TH

JUNE 25TH

COBALTSTUDIOS.CO.UK

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PREVIEWS

Lubna Chowdhary Erratics 25 June – 9 October 2022 This summer we present an exhibition of new sculptures and installations by Lubna Chowdhary. Chowdhary combines industrial manufacturing technologies with hand-making techniques in works in clay, wood and construction materials. Chowdhary draws on dialogue between varied visual languages and art histories. Join our summer programme of events, socials and family activities. Erratics is a partnership with PEER with thanks to Jheveri Gallery and Rockwool Limited. Image: Bind 1 2021. Rope and ceramic. Courtesy Lubna Chowdhary and PEER. Image Stephen White & Co.

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@mimauseful mima.art


PREVIEWS

Yama Warashi

MUSIC

YAMA WARASHI @ THE WAITING ROOM/ COBALT STUDIOS

Words: Ben Lowes-Smith Formerly of proto-Melt Yourself Down outfit Zun Zun Egui, Yama Warashi is the kaleidoscopic musical vision of Yoshino Shigihara. In support of her third record Crispy Moon, Shigihara graces the quaint intimate confines of The Waiting Room in Eaglescliffe on Sunday 12th and Ouseburn’s cutting-edge Cobalt Studios on Thursday 16th June. Yama Warashi produce Anglo-Japanese psych music, which is outward-facing and ambitious; Shigihara draws on free-jazz, freak folk and African high-life to truly scintillating effect. Her new record has been recorded by Capital K, who in recent years has produced work by Thurston Moore, Dry Cleaning and The Comet Is Coming. She has had praise and radio play from NTS and BBC 6Music, and found a real patron in Stuart Maconie. Having been on tour with psych favourites Vanishing Twin, Shigihara and her band are embarking on their own European tour. Take the opportunity to catch Yama Washari in venues this intimate while you still can, as their trajectory is guaranteed to rise. Yama Warashi performs at The Waiting Room, Eaglescliffe on Sunday 12th and Cobalt Studios on Thursday 16th June. www.yamawarashi.com

MUSIC

GIGGLE WATER COMEDY @ PROHIBITION CABARET BAR

Words: Steve Spithray Giggle Water Comedy is an exciting new ‘pay what you feel’ comedy night at Prohibition Comedy Bar in Newcastle. Founded in April by Rachel Selkirk, Giggle Water is an open-mic stand-up night that positions some of the best rising stars in comedy alongside more experienced acts. The event has already hosted an array of exciting new acts, and saw some brilliant, experienced comics from the North East comedy scene trying new material. The laid-back nature of the nights mean anything can happen, no two shows are the same but all are in the safe hands of an experienced compere each month. On Thursday 2nd June Giggle Water present a Pride Special hosted by Sunderland’s quick-witted Matt Reed, a touring stand-up of nearly twenty years’ experience. He will be joined on the night by comedian and musician Eppie Brilliant, funny man Bryan James, Northumbrian Stew Simpson as well as Deborah Healey, Kathryn Cardose and Isabelle Evans. The Pink Lane venue is fast becoming something of a mainstay of Newcastle’s underground circuit, subsequent events take place on the first Thursday of every month, with future shows featuring hosts Bryan James (7th July) and John Scott (4th August). Giggle Water Comedy takes place at

Prohibition Cabaret Bar, Newcastle on Thursday 2nd June, and the first Thursday of every month. www.facebook.com/gigglewatercomedy

MUSIC

JEFF BECK @ SAGE GATESHEAD

Words: Adam Kennedy You would have to look back to 2004 for the last time Jeff Beck performed in the North East. And much like a lot of tours, fans have had their wait extended by two years due to Covid. But finally, the guitar virtuoso performs at Sage Gateshead on Thursday 2nd June. Throughout his distinguished career Jeff Beck has played in groups such as the Yardbirds, where he replaced none other than Eric Clapton; he fronted the Jeff Beck Group performing alongside esteemed peers Rod Stewart and Ronnie Wood; and subsequently formed the power trio-come-supergroup Beck, Bogert and Appice whilst simultaneously pushing the boundaries of rock guitar. The award-winning artist and Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee has shared the stage with countless legends, as well as being a musical icon in his own right. With a career spanning over fifty years, the gifted axeman has been ranked by Rolling Stone as one of the 100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time, and with a career like his who could argue with that sentiment? Jeff Beck performs at Sage Gateshead on Thursday 2nd June with support from Sharon Corr. www.jeffbeck.com

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PREVIEWS

Joan As Policewoman by Lindsey Byrnes

MUSIC

JOAN AS POLICE WOMAN @ WYLAM BREWERY Words: Lizzie Lovejoy On Sunday 26th June, revered songwriter and musician Joan As Police Woman will be taking over Wylam Brewery in Newcastle as part of her 2022 tour. Audiences can expect a blend of alternative folk and indie pop, with a smidge of rock ‘n’ roll thrown in for good measure, from the brilliant mind of this American musician. Starting her early career with classical music, playing violin and piano, Joan Wasser expanded her experience collaborating with a range of creative people such as Tony Allen, Rufus Wainwright and Beck, to name just a few. Following the release of her 2021 album The Solution Is Restless, which tackles the experiences of lockdowns as well as the relationship between mathematics and sexuality (because nothing is off limits), this show will celebrate Joan’s new music as well as some older classics from the full Joanthology. Joan As Police Woman plays Wylam Brewery, Newcastle on Sunday 26th June. www.joanaspolicewoman.com

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STAGE

MUSIC

ALL WHITE NEUROFEST @ NE EVERYTHING BUT ME @ VOLUME MUSIC BAR ALPHABETTI Words: Tom Astley The one-person play All White Everything But Me comes to Alphabetti from Tuesday 14th June until Saturday 2nd July, promising a fascinating insight into the life of an often overlooked sporting great. The play recounts the life of American tennis player Althea Gibson, one of the first athletes to cross the colour line in tennis. Gibson won the French Open in 1956 – the first Black female to win a Grand Slam – and went on to win both the US Open and Wimbledon twice in ‘57 and ’58. Gibson also had a career in professional golf and in Hollywood, both hindered by the persisting racial prejudice rife in late-50s America. Though Gibson’s success in two separate sports provides a dramatic sporting narrative in itself, All White Everything But Me, the work of acclaimed actor-writer Kemi-Bo Jacobs, insightfully raises questions that have resonances well beyond the niche worlds of tennis and golf. Jacobs’ work asks the still-pressing questions of who is remembered, immortalised in sporting narrative, and who is forgotten, bringing back to public consciousness a true sporting hero in the process. All White Everything But Me is performed at Alphabetti, Newcastle from Tuesday 14th June-Saturday 2nd July. www.alphabettitheatre.co.uk

Words: Jason Jones Stockton’s NE Volume Music Bar plays host to Neurofest this month, with a day of live performances from local acts looking to raise money for a good cause. Organised by local musician Jamie Sample, proceeds from the festival will go to Tees Valley Buddies, a neurodiverse self-advocacy and peer support charity network helping to provide assistance and services to people living with neurodiversity across the region. Starting early afternoon on Saturday 18th June, the all-day event will stretch well into the evening, with a stacked bill that should provide a little bit of something for everyone. From the up-and-coming indie rock of Eve Kills The Sun, to the ‘80s-influenced balladry of Lost State of Dan and the no-nonsense prog rock of ManFrog, Neurofest’s line-up promises to be a varied celebration of exciting local talent, capped off by sets from Brass Eyed Dragons, Screemplay, Nicky Chapman, and Thought Trumpet. A full day of excellent live music at one of Stockton’s best independent venues, all in the name of charity – what’s not to like? Neurofest takes place at NE Volume Music Bar, Stockton on Saturday 18th June. www.facebook.com/nevolumemusicbar


PREVIEWS

Menstrual Rage

STAGE

GET LOUD @ VARIOUS VENUES

Words: Steve Spithray Menstrual Rage is a feminist theatre company that strives to explore issues that universally affect women by aiming to create a safe and inclusive place that celebrates positivity and womanhood. If there is anything more punk rock than that in 2022 I would like to see it, even their press pack reads like a micro-zine. By creating innovative shows that challenge femininity and stereotypes, Menstrual Rage

strive to make work that is accessible to all. Their latest production, Get Loud, is about four girls and their fight against the patriarchy, accompanied by live riot grrrl-inspired punk music. The show aims to tackle a sense of hopelessness while finding empowerment in the places you would least expect by turning it into an inspired piece of gig theatre, which will tour the region, coming to Base Camp, Middlesbrough (Monday 27th-Tuesday 28th June); The Central, Gateshead (Thursday 30th June-Friday 1st July) and The Peacock, Sunderland (Wednesday 6th-Thursday 7th July) Companion piece, And Me, will also be performed alongside Get Loud at Base Camp, as well as at Durham Fringe Festival in July,

and explores sexual harassment through movement, spoken word and music. The group have stated: “How young do you start experiencing harassment? Why are young girls sexualised so much from an early age? And Me showcases the real-life stories of the micro harassments young women experience every day.” Get Loud by Menstrual Rage is performed at Base Camp, Middlesbrough on Monday 27th-Tuesday 28th June, The Central, Gateshead on Thursday 30th June-Friday 1st July and The Peacock, Sunderland on Wednesday 6th-Thursday 7th Jtakes place at Base Camp Boro on June 27.uly.June 27. www.facebook.com/menstrualrage

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PREVIEWS

Blk Jks by Brett Rubni

MUSIC

STAGE

BLK JKS @ THE CLUNY MAGNOLIA WALLS @ NORTHERN STAGE Words: Jonathan Coll South African art rock band Blk Jks take to the stage at The Cluny on Tuesday 21st June. They’ve been honing their craft since the early 2000s, though the band initially had somewhat of a changing cast having been founded by childhood friends Mpumelelo Mcata and Lindani Buthelezi in their native Johannesburg. They received huge critical acclaim in early 2008 after the band were signed to the record label of international superstar DJ Diplo, and an extensive US and European tour ensured they were dubbed “Africa’s best new band” by Rolling Stone magazine. For a band of their longevity, their discography is smaller than you might expect. Their debut album After Robots was released in 2009, and was Dave Grohl’s record of the year. The album is an infectious mix of ambience, ska, reggae and jazz, and one which captured the attention of an international audience. What followed throughout the 2010s is more complicated, however, with the band splintering off into several separate musical projects. The good news is that the original iteration is still going strong, and last year’s album Before Humans is a fantastic return to form, carrying the sort of energy that makes their live show so unmissable. Blk Jks play The Cluny, Newcastle on Tuesday 21st June. www.blk-jks.bandcamp.com

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Words: Jason Jones Tyneside-based company Workie Ticket Theatre return to Northern Stage on Friday 24th and Saturday 25th June with their first production since the start of the pandemic. Written by JoJo Kirtley, Magnolia Walls is based on research undertaken by Dr Alice Cree and Dr Hannah West of Newcastle University, and aims to challenge broadly-held stereotypes surrounding military spouses, while also exploring how home life and personal relationships are impacted by war. Set in Northumberland, the Corinne Kilvington-directed play focuses on a blossoming friendship between two military wives, Roxie and Pen, who look to step out from the shadow of their husbands’ careers to shine, or rebel, in their own right. Starring Rachel Brownstein and Alexandra Tahnée, alongside a specially pre-recorded ‘chorus’ performed by the loved ones of military personnel, Magnolia Walls brings together shared experiences from interviews, focus groups and theatre-based workshops to address themes of racism, suicide, domestic abuse and the trauma of war, all with a commitment to opening a discussion on the long-term consequences of conflict and service on families associated with the armed forces. Newcastle University will also be hosting a Q&A session to accompany Friday’s performance of the play. Magnolia Walls is performed at Northern Stage, Newcastle on Friday 24th and Saturday 25th June. www.workietickettheatre.com

MUSIC

HEELAPALOOZA @ PLAY BREW CO.

Words: Michael O’Neill After a long three year wait, Teesside’s almighty answer to Perry Farrell’s Lollapalooza empire returns with a gloriously diverse line-up that offers a staggering who’s-who of local musical powerhouses, boasting 18 acts across two stages in Boro’s Play Brew Tap Room on Saturday 18th June. Headlining proceedings is phenomenal rapper and musician Dylan Cartlidge, whose rapid ascent since the release of 2021’s Hope Above Adversity has been nothing short of extraordinary, including extensive features on Danger Mouse and Black Thoughts’ upcoming Cheat Codes LP. He’s joined by Darlo’s genre-hopping Luke Royalty; brat-pop siblings ZELA; soulful six-piece Moon Wax; almighty alt. quintet Pit Pony; indie pop savants Motel Carnation; groove popsters Club Paradise; psych pop octet Ronald Raygun; singular noise-makers Kkett; the vivid delights of quintet Marketplace; indie mainstays Deep.Sleep; the spectral funk pop of Picnic; rapping polymath Jack Fox; DIY duo Regal Cheer; post-punk quartet Marines; singer-songwriters Josh Newell Brown and Cosial, and rounded off with the crystalline pop quartet The Lulas. All this for a staggering £12.50, over a whole day, with no clashes guaranteed and a wealth of street food too. All in all, it’s a staggering showcase of our brilliantly talented and diverse region, and it’s glorious to see a phenomenal local festival back at it again. Heelapalooza takes place at Play Brew Co. Tap Room, Middlesbrough on Saturday 18th June. www.facebook.com/heelapalooza


PREVIEWS

STAGE

ELIOT SMITH DANCE: LIFE @ VARIOUS VENUES

Words: Jason Jones Eliot Smith Dance celebrate a full return to live performances this month by touring LIFE, a four-part contemporary show with an emphasis on increasing awareness surrounding the ongoing global climate crisis,

at venues across the region. Centred around an eponymous key piece, created by ESD’s creative director Eliot Smith himself, the show will also feature original music by award-winning composer Adam Johnson, and stunning backdrops from renowned artist Bernadette Koranteng. Further performances include works by award-winning guest choreographers Martin Hylton and Balbir Singh, as well as ESD Rehearsal Director, Yamit Salazar. Speaking of the forthcoming show, Smith says: “I have never been more convinced that the powerful sense of movement that identifies this season’s performances will help

our audiences make a more conscious connection to nature and the climate crisis, and that the dancers will draw inspiration from the personal and emotional connection that results from being in the physical presence of a live audience.” LIFE will be performed at Hexham’s Queen’s Hall on Thursday 23rd June, with further shows at The Maltings in Berwick on Friday 24th June, The Bowes Museum on Wednesday 29th June, and Gosforth Civic Theatre on Saturday 7th July. With an additional online screening taking place on Saturday 25th June. www.eliotsmithdance.com

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PREVIEWS

Amy Matthews by Matt Crockett

COMEDY

AMY MATTHEWS @ ALPHABETTI

Words: Jake Anderson A relatively new face on the UK’s comedy scene, Amy Matthews has previously been on the BAFTA winning Scot Squad and presented on BBC Radio 4. Performances of her highly anticipated debut comedy show, titled Moreover, The Moon, has had audiences in stitches, and this month sees the show head to Newcastle’s Alphabetti Theatre on Saturday 18th June. Moreover, The Moon centres around the curious phenomenon of ‘main character syndrome’, a predominant trope on social media sites like TikTok used to describe self-centred people who see their lives taking centre stage, with other people merely supporting extras. Matthews places herself in this mindset, and takes a somewhat sympathetic look at the trials of modern living.

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It sounds a little egocentric, and that’s because it is, but it is currently one of the funniest shows touring, being considered one of the highlights from the Glasgow Comedy Festival. Amy Matthews performs at Alphabetti Theatre, Newcastle on Saturday 18th June. www.amymatthewscomedy.com

MUSIC

TV GIRL @ NEWCASTLE UNIVERSITY STUDENTS’ UNION

Words: Jake Anderson Those caught in the niche Venn diagram overlap of 2010’s indie pop and walletcrippling vinyl record spending habits will get post-apocalyptic flashbacks when someone even mentions TV Girl. The Californian band’s excellent 2010 album French Exit is notoriously difficult to acquire a

vinyl copy of, most likely because the album is pure bliss from start to finish. Blending sampling with their indie pop soundscape in a lush fusion of hip-hop and bubblegum pop, the band create nostalgia-fuelled bangers which feel like happiness in music form. Tracks like Birds Don’t Sing and Lovers Rock radiate a summery energy, while the innate catchiness of Hate Yourself and the upbeat and jangly jaunt of Cigarettes Out The Window is certain to get this writer on the dance floor. The band bring their iconic indie pop to Newcastle University Students’ Union on Saturday 18th June, where they may even play their TikTok hit, Not Allowed, if we’re lucky. Support for the night is Sidney Gish, who blends together twee and bedroom pop in a flawless way, while also tackling quite mature subject matters, making her textured songs a standout of the genre. TV Girl play Newcastle University Students’ Union on Saturday 18th June. www.tvgirl.bandcamp.com


PREVIEWS

Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever by Nick Mckk

MUSIC

COMEDY

ROLLING BLACKOUTS COASTAL FEVER @ BOILER SHOP

DALISO CHAPONDA @ BISHOP AUCKLAND TOWN HALL

Words: Jake Anderson Australia’s much-hyped indie rock band Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever are finally gracing Newcastle while touring their newest album, Endless Room, playing at the Boiler Shop on Monday 6th June. The band are have become one of the most discussed indie bands of late, with their two previous releases, Hope Downs and Sideways To New Italy, receiving much praise. New album Endless Room has seen the band refine their sound even further, with lead singles such as the joyfully upbeat The Way It Shatters and the thumping Tidal River featuring the band’s signature playful vocals and strong guitar riffs. Support comes from another Aussie, Stella Donnelly, whose 2019 album Beware of the Dogs has become one of those ‘if you know you know’ albums in the indie scene. Her album conforms to a lot of the indie pop norms, yet she executes them with such an honest and emotive expression that it’s impossible to not find yourself humming the melodies long after the songs are done. Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever and Stella Donnelly play Boiler Shop, Newcastle on Monday 6th June. www.rollingblackoutsband.com

Words: Cameron Wright Hilarity Bites Comedy Club are determined to bring great comedy to the North East. Bringing some of the country’s sharpest comics to a litany of venues across the North, their latest endeavour at Bishop Auckland Town Hall on Friday 17th June is no exception. Since storming his way to the final of Britain’s Got Talent, Daliso Chaponda has stayed in the public eye in a way very few contestants do. The Malawian stand-up leapt into the nations eyeline when he became a 2017 finalist, with his cheeky routines poking fun at the differences between African and British culture. The hilarious comic has refused to slow down since his time on the show, with his career ascending to remarkable heights; appearing on shows such as QI, the writer stars in his own hit Radio 4 show, Citizen of Nowhere and has just filmed two separate stand-up specials, ready to be released over the course of the next year. The comedian is no stranger to topical news stories, frequently satirising the crazy world of the political and playfully twisting it into something non threatening and teaseable. Having just completed the majority of his Apocalypse Not Now tour, the comedian is a well oiled machine that is determined to make you laugh. Daliso Chaponda performs at Bishop Auckland Town Hall on Friday 17th June. www.dalisochaponda.com

STAGE

SURGE @ SAGE GATESHEAD

Words: Helen Redfern SURGE is all about water, the world’s most threatened resource to life. This immersive performance, which comes to Sage Gateshead on Saturday 4th and Sunday 5th June, brings to life our lost connection with water, that is at once a life-giving and destructive force. SURGE is real-time production, fusing game-engine technology with live performance and spatialised sound, in which the roaming audience will enter a multi-dimensional installation which uses immersive technology, electronic music, dance and poetry to bring the spirit of the surge. Scottish composer and performer of electronic and acoustic music Anna Meredith brings the soundscape, while spoken word performer Vanessa Kisuule – you might know her for her poem on the historic toppling of Edward Colston’s statue Hollow which gained over 600,000 views on Twitter in three days! – brings spoken word poetry. The PappyShow, formed in 2013 to platform “the marginalised identities that we believe society could do better with”, brings live performance. Within this dramatic immersive performance, which makes use of multi-sensory elements including haze, scent and wind, two audience members will play an active role, driving the narrative with full body motion capture and virtual reality headsets. The darkness has descended and the surge is upon us. Monolithic LED screens act as windows into the tumultuous world of SURGE. Are you ready to take the plunge? Surge is at Sage Gateshead on Saturday 4th and Sunday 5th June. www.sagegateshead.com

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PREVIEWS

Lemn Sissay by Hamish Brown

ART & LIT

HEXHAM BOOK FESTIVAL @ VARIOUS VENUES

Words: Jonathan Coll The 16th annual Hexham Book Festival returns to the idyllic Northumberland town between Friday 10th-Sunday 19th June. As always, there is a stellar list of authors scheduled to pop up at venues across the town, which this year includes the Queen’s

Hall and The Spiegeltent (a large, travelling tent brought in from the Netherlands). This year a children’s book festival will also run concurrently to the main festival, with funding being set aside to bring children from the more remote parts of the region into the area to enjoy the festivities. It’s a nice initiative that speaks to the accessible, inclusive nature which has typically embodied the ten day programme. Alongside the other various workshops, shows and opportunities for young authors to perform their work, there is an awful lot to look forward to at this year’s edition. Some of the names to look out for include highly regarded author and broadcaster Lemn Sissay, Vane Women Poets,

bioarchaeologist Cat Jarman, comedian Miles Jupp, poet Hollie McNish, local thriller writer LJ Ross and suspense writer Louise Welch. The festival will look to cater to a wide range of tastes, with additional highlights including a night of comedy, circus and sauve surprises courtesy of Confetti Cabaret, and a comedy evening featuring Ade Campe, Anth Young, Aaron Simmonds, Jonny Awsum and John Robertson also taking place on the opening night. Check out their website for much more. Hexham Book Festival takes place at various venues in Hexham from Friday 10th-Sunday 19th June. www.hexhambookfestival.co.uk

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UNIFIED BY DESIGN. el-roboto.co.uk 18


PREVIEWS

Death Valley Girls by LG

MUSIC

DEATH VALLEY GIRLS @ THE CLUNY

Words: Adelle Sutheran Tripped out, flipped out garage rock with psychedelic undertones on the one hand, upbeat synth dance melodies on the other, AND a bit of everything in between; Death Valley Girls have got it all. With numerous releases at their disposal to draw from (four albums and one remastered), their gig at The Cluny on Thursday 16th June has the potential to be something quite special. This Los Angeles left-of-leftfield four-piece really know how to mix it up; musically indulgent and bohemian in feel, their show promises to be unorthodox and ubiquitous – if The Craft was about a band, it would be about this one. Keep an ear out for Street Justice from 2018 album Darkness Rains and The Universe from 2020’s Under The Spell Of Joy release, which ably demonstrate the band’s often opposing sounds, evolving from dark tones in their earlier material to a somewhat lightness in sound on recent releases. Their sound is expressive, spellbinding and bewitching, and it’s in your interest not miss it. Death Valley Girls play The Cluny, Newcastle on Thursday 16th June. www.deathvalleygirls.bandcamp.com

MUSIC

CROSSING THE TEES FESTIVAL

Words: Steve Spithray Crossing The Tees, Teesside’s biggest literary festival, returns with their first ever dedicated coordinator in author Kirsten Luckins. Lovers of both reading and writing can look forward to a variety of events in-person, and online. The festival launches on Saturday 11th June with Into the Wild Blue Sea by Kate Fox, a short

reading of uplifting poetry at TunedIn in Redcar followed by a writing workshop and a quick chat with the poet. Elsewhere that day, a more eclectic afternoon at Base Camp provides an opportunity to make ‘junk journals’, attend a Zoom watch party with novelist Katie Hale, or mingle at Apocalypse How, Apocalypse When, the launch of a gorgeous photobook of Teesside’s post-industrial landscape, in some of Base Camp’s maze of rooms. In the evening, Stockton’s ARC will host the exclusive premiere of A Time Capsule of Hopes, a short piece created by filmmakers in residence Laura Degnan and Chris Bradburn, followed by a screening of the classic feel-good book adaptation, The Princess Bride. On Sunday 12th June, crime fiction fans are invited to board the Teesside Princess River Cruise for The Plot Is Murder, an interactive murder mystery. Tickets also include entry to Bodies in the Library, an evening with members of the Northern Crime Writers Syndicate in Stockton Library. Further highlights include an evening of poetry with Bob the festival closes with An Evening with Ian McMillan and Lucy Holden, two authors at either side of the generational divide using memoir as a method to look back and laugh at their very different experiences of life. Beagrie, which serves as a launch for Judi Sutherland’s poetry collection Following Teisa (Middlesbrough Reference Library, Monday 13th); in The Women Who Saved The English Countryside, Matthew Kelly traces the lives of four women - Beatrix Potter, Octavia Hill, Pauline Dower and Sylvia Sayer - who preserved the essence of landscape (Cockerton Library, Darlington, Wednesday 15th); quirky indie label Bluemoose presents readings by Devika Ponnambalam and Ronan Hession (online, Thursday 16th); explore the wilderness with Professor Dee Heddon at The Walking Library (Stockton Central Library and South Park Cafe, Darlington on Friday 17th); and the festival closes with An Evening with Ian McMillan and Lucy Holden, two authors at either side of the generational divide using memoir as a method to look back and laugh at their very different experiences of life (ARC,

Stockton). Crossing The Tees takes place at various venues on Teesside from Saturday 11th-Friday 17th June. www.crossingthetees.org

STAGE

THE GUILTY FEMINIST @ TYNE THEATRE & OPERA HOUSE

Words: Eugenie Johnson 95 million downloads across six years, Pod Bible Best Lifestyle and Culture Podcast, and an Apple Best Listen, a spin-off book, as well as plaudits from Emma Thompson and Fleabag star and writer Phoebe Waller-Bridge… it’s not an exaggeration to say that The Guilty Feminist is a podcast phenomenon. Created by Deborah Frances-White and Sofie Hagen in 2015, it splices together comedy, thought-provoking discussion and activism to create an empathetic forum discussing what it’s like to be a 21st Century feminist – including all the insecurities and hypocrisies that might come with it. Frances-White is taking the live podcast on tour this summer and heads to Newcastle’s Tyne Theatre & Opera House on Thursday 16th June. She’s not alone, and after welcoming a huge range of stellar guests to the podcast previously (including Aisling Bea, Dawn O’Porter and Gemma Arterton), it’s no different for the live version. Joining Frances-White is Kemah Bob, star of Netflix’s comedic retrospective Death To 2020, Allison Spittle of Wheel of Misfortune podcast fame, and rising stand-up Ceyla AB. Bringing class and seriously whip-smart wit from the podcast to the stage, prepare for an evening of celebrating and examining the noble goals often aspired to, while also still being able to say: “I’m a feminist, but…” The Guilty Feminist is at Tyne Theatre & Opera House, Newcastle on Thursday 16th June. www.guiltyfeminist.com

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PREVIEWS

Saturday 9 July 8pm (Doors at 7pm) 20

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PREVIEWS

Rag N Bone Man

STAGE

THE SECRET GARDEN @ VARIOUS VENUES

Words: Lizzie Lovejoy Celebrated local writers Lisette Auton and Becci Sharrock return with yet another brilliant, Northern-based piece of work which has themes of kindness and nature at its core. Their newly adapted version of the classic tale of The Secret Garden is set within the more familiar local landscape of Northumberland. Commissioned by Queen’s Hall Arts Centre, the tale is on tour at venues across the region, starting at Hexham Book Festival on Sunday 12th June. When the character of Lennox is sent away to Northumberland and excluded from school, she finds herself lost and alone. Maybe she can find herself amongst the mysteries of a secret garden that no one else knows? The production includes a range of brand new folk songs, bringing to life the magic of this story once again, with themes of friendship, spirit and personal growth shared in a warm, family-friendly performance which has much to teach us all about the magic of nature. Young actors Michael Blair, Sarah Boulter, Ellen Carnazza, Wambui Hardcastle, Zoe Lambert, Shreya Patel and Lauren Waine will between them share the roles of the five main characters, with the driving force of the production aiming to be inclusive and remove access barriers which prevent disabled artists from engaging, making for a forward-thinking piece of theatre. The Secret Garden is performed at Hexham Book Festival on Sunday 12th, Arts Centre Washington on Thursday 16th; Gosforth Civic Theatre on Saturday 18th; Fishburn Youth & Community Centre in Stockton on Sunday 19th;

Gala Theatre in Durham on Saturday 25th; The Word in South Shields on Sunday 26th June; Coundon & Leeholme Community Centre on Friday 1st and Lady Waterford Hall in Berwick-upon-Tweed on Saturday 2nd July. www.carolewproductions.com/ thesecretgarden

MUSIC

RAG’N’BONE MAN @ NEWCASTLE RACECOURSE

Words: Cameron Wright 2017 is the year the Rag’n’Bone Man took the nation by storm. His thick, husky voice and rugged exterior set him apart from his contemporaries and he ushered in a new era of earnest, heartfelt pop ballads that felt mustered from his soul. With his lead single Humans remaining a hit after all these years, the platinum album by the same name was a smash success. In 2021, we were finally treated to more from the Brit-award winning artist. Life By Misadventure was the singer’s follow-up, providing more piano ballads that showcase his raw, unpretentious songwriting and emotional vocals. Featuring a collaboration with pop icon P!nk, the album shows the artist finding his feet and refining his sound. Carrying the torch for a new age of blue-eyed soul, the contemporary artist creates pop music that’s both affecting and hard-hitting. To support the singer’s huge voice, a huge venue is required, and Sunday 26th June sees the chart topper performing at Newcastle’s Racecourse, and the event offers the opportunity to see one of the country’s brightest stars in full flow.

Rag’n’Bone Man plays Newcastle Racecourse on Sunday 26th June. www.ragnboneman.com

MUSIC

DIZRAELI/SQUARMS @ COBALT

Words: Michael O’Neill Poet, producer, Firestarter, songwriter/MC, multi-instrumentalist and raconteur Dizraeli initially gained a frenzied underground fan base fronting the raucous outfit Bad Science, before abandoning that to tour the world, release acclaimed LPs like 2013’s chameleonic Moving In The Dark, collaborate with the likes of Jam Baxter and Kae Tempest, and pick up an Album of The Year nomination from tastemaker Gilles Peterson for 2019’s The Unmaster along the way. To say he’s been on one hell of a journey is quite the understatement, propelled by his sheer passion for the form and his hunger to defiantly experiment and cross the boundaries of genre every step of the way. At his show at Cobalt Studios on Friday 1st July he’ll have quite the act to follow, with local stalwart auteurs SQUARMS supporting. Having made a strong impression with a string of singular offerings, including the unforgettable stomp of What You Doin’ Here? and Could Do, the duo have steadfastly earned a name for themselves with their wholly ground-breaking approach to pushing the absolute boundaries of genre, sound and song, making for a brutal juggernaut on the live stage, and the ideal complement to Dizraeli’s singular sounds. Dizraeli and SQUARMS play Cobalt Studios, Newcastle on Friday 1st July. www.dizraeli.com

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PREVIEWS

MUSIC

YUNG LOTUS RELEASES NEW ALBUM, ELYSIAN

Words: Jason Jones Sunderland hip-hop artist Yung Lotus returns with new album Elysian this month. Following on from a smattering of well-received singles in 2021, the rapper is gearing up to drop his first full length release, and his most

substantial body of work since 2020’s Saint XIV – an EP that represented something of a rebirth following a testing period of mental health struggles and financial hardship. Combining his trademark ethereal sound with a canny ear for stubbornly memorable hooks, Yung Lotus both consolidates and grows his musical palette on Elysian, all while championing a mantra of unrelenting positivity. Looking ahead to his upcoming release, the Wearside artist says: “While staying true to my roots and expanding my sound, Elysian is a positive, thriving piece of art that I hope

resonates with people on an uplifting level. I’ve been working on this project for the best part of a year now and hope it delivers on experience.” Creatively diverse, Yung Lotus’ tendency to pair otherworldly beats with psych-infused melodies and leftfield flows makes for an impressively unique take on an increasingly prevalent sub-genre of hip-hop, and Elysian looks set to take a bold new step in the rapper’s promising career. Yung Lotus releases Elysian on 3rd June. www.linktr.ee/yunglotus

EVENTS 02

T H U R S DAY

4 P M O N WA R D S CUMBERLAND & OUSEBURN TRUST

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PREVIEWS

Flat Worms

MUSIC

FLAT WORMS @ THE CLUNY

Words: Adelle Sutheran In an overdue, COVID-hit and long awaited return to the North East, Los Angeles three-piece Flat Worms will be executing their consistently superior sound on stage at The Cluny, Newcastle on Saturday 4th June. Frenetic and kinetic, with whirling psych guitars which bend and screech alongside fast-paced drums and repetitive vocals, their live show promises to be dynamic indeed. With a further album release, 2020’s Antarctica, and latest single The Guest, under their belts since their last visit, there is definitely a plethora of options to be performed. It’s fair to say their newer music has more direction and seems tamer than 2017’s Motorbike or the earlier release Petulance; which feels fanciful and instrumentally-led without being intoxicating. By far though, Red Hot Sand from their debut EP is the track for me – a euphoria-inducing trip out which takes me back to my youth! All in all, expect a fuzzy, blissed-out garage rock freak out with flares of post-punk genius; you can guarantee this will be a hot, sweaty, sticky one and if it’s not, were you even really there? Flat Worms play The Cluny, Newcastle on Saturday 4th June. www.flatworms.bandcamp.com

STAGE

A WAY HOME @ VARIOUS VENUES

Words: Eugenie Johnson In 1951, a third of villages in County Durham were classified as ‘D’, meaning they were no longer considered to be worthy of further investment, and were expected to quietly fade away over time without any resistance; they were the only areas in the country to be labelled as such. Yet, over the next quarter-century their communities fought to save the villages that 85,000 people called home. It’s this story that Christina Castling brings to life in her new production A Way Home. Castling spent four years researching and working alongside people across the county to ensure authenticity and that their stories and perspectives were a central part of the production. Centring on the journey of a single family residing in one of the ‘D’ villages across the span of a year, A Way Home brings wit, grit and a distinctly human touch to its wider narrative surrounding identity and belonging. By bringing the production to a host of locations across the region throughout June, including both theatres and community centres, Castling illuminates the story of the ‘D’ villages and the true stories of their people 60 years since the pivotal town planning decision. A Way Home premieres at Gala Theatre, Durham on Tuesday 7th June, with performances taking place in village halls and community centres throughout the region, as well as at The Witham, Barnard Castle (Wednesday 8th), Arts Centre Washington (Thursday 9th) and Live Theatre, Newcastle (Thursday 23rd-Friday 24th). See the website for full listings. www.a-way-home.co.uk

COMEDY

JOSH BERRY & RAFE HUBRIS @ THE WITHAM/LIVE THEATRE

Words: Eugenie Johnson On paper, does forty minutes of whingeing and mocking people who went to a marginally more prestigious private school than the act sound like fun? No? Well, that’s probably because it’s on paper and not being delivered by stand-up Josh Berry. A Radio 4 regular and an Edinburgh Fringe sensation, Berry is best known for his online impressions and parodies of the upper classes, which have gained hundreds of millions of views. In his latest show, which comes to The Witham in Barnard Castle on Friday 24th and Newcastle’s Live Theatre on Saturday 25th June, he might do one or two of those impressions alongside his sharp stand-up, even though he likes to think he’s past that now. Joining him on the night is Rafe Hubris, who you’ve probably never heard of, but is really a rather important person. That’s because Hubris is a graduate in PPE from Oxford University (he might remind you of that quite a bit) and is also (by his own admission) “the most promising” special advisor to the Conservative party. He’ll be sharing anecdotes about his role during the pandemic and will also answer some submitted questions from the audience. He might also look a bit familiar too? Can’t quite put a finger on it… Performances by Josh Berry and Rafe Hubris take place at The Witham, Barnard Castle on Friday 24th and Live Theatre, Newcastle on Saturday 25th June. www.joshberryofficial.com

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PREVIEWS

Queer Folk

MUSIC

QUEER FOLK: THE PRIDE TOUR @ SAGE GATESHEAD

Words: Laura Doyle What do you think of when you hear ‘Pride Month?’ Pride marches? Pride events with Queer icons headlining? Social justices and injustices? Maybe every corporation donning rainbow colours in a half-hearted attempt at ‘inclusivity’? Pride means many things to many people, but there are some in the LGBTQIA+ community who don’t feel super represented by the current mainstream approach to celebrating their identities. The fact of the matter is that Pride celebrations should be as varied and complex as the community they represent, which is far more than you’re going to see on TV or in the news. It’s as a result of such chronic under-representation or acknowledgement in all aspects of life that such clear cut stereotypes surrounding the community have formed – and rectification is long overdue. That’s where Queer Folk come in, whose Pride Tour hits Sage Gateshead on Saturday 25th June. This two person team of folk musicians, Sophie Crawford and George Sansome, have curated a night of entertainment featuring the music of some of the nation’s best LGBTQIA+ folk musicians who seek to unearth their often overlooked contribution to traditional music. They’ve traversed the country in the effort to right the wrongs of the genre’s mainstream, and demonstrate the diversity of a community that’s tired of pigeonholing. Local performers at the Sage Gateshead event include Hannah James, Amy Thatcher, Holly Clarke and Maddie

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Morris, as well as Sophie Crawford and George Sansome themselves. Queer Folk: The Pride Tour is at Sage Gateshead on Saturday 25th June. www.queerfolk.co.uk

ART & LIT

LUBNA CHOWDHARY: ERRATICS @ MIMA

Words: Steve Spithray MIMA stages the largest solo exhibition yet of Lubna Chowdhary’s work this month. Chowdhary’s work demonstrates a skilled approach to modern artmaking, referencing multiple cultures and times. With Erratics, Chowdhary brings the ambition of her public artworks into a gallery setting. Erratics constructs a dialogue between various visual languages and cultural references from Northern Europe and South Asia, with the name referring to large rocks that have been displaced from their original geological context through glacial flows. While the rocks retain their material integrity they are permanently settled in a new context. The Tanzania-born artist moved to Rochdale aged five. Often working with materials found in urban environments, Chowdhary’s work builds on years of making architectural interventions in the public realm. The exhibition will occupy MIMA’s internal architecture and invites the viewer to think about the structures of the institution, both physical and conceptual. Lubna has said of the show: “My first visit to MIMA, witnessing the curious sight of the Transporter Bridge on the horizon, felt like an invitation to draw on the language and iconography of heavy industry and to respond to my loyalty to industrial landscapes.”

Erratics by Lubna Chowdhary runs from Saturday 25th June to Sunday 9th October at MIMA, Middlesbrough. www.lubnachowdhary.co.uk

MUSIC

SOFT RIOT @ STAR & SHADOW CINEMA

Words: Adelle Sutheran Think Eurotrash, Sisters of Mercy, Soft Cell and of ALL the synthesisers. If this appeals to you then State Mandated Entertainment presents a line-up at Star & Shadow Cinema on Saturday 18th June that not only compliments one another but is an absolute must for fans of dark synth joy. Serving as the Newcastle debut for the headlining solo artist, Soft Riot has accrued 25 years of musical experience and has established himself as an acclaimed artist, with a catalogue of seven albums to pull from for your auditory pleasure. Elements of synth-based film soundtracks and psychedelic synth pop is fused with a black humour that’ll tantalise and titillate. Local support comes from Vigilance State, whose dystopian dissonance offers a different kind of darkwave-fuelled fun, while Holy Braille’s stark and dark soundtrack is as visceral as they come. And, while both supports compliment the headliner, they bring their own unique sounds to the table; this night should entertain anyone who’s synth head – got to be using MOOGs right? Soft Riot, Vigilance State and Holy Braille play Star & Shadow Cinema, Newcastle on Saturday 18th June. www.softriot.bandcamp.com


PREVIEWS

MUSIC

Papaioannou; a mash up of sinister folk horror and fantastical mythical imagery that draws upon two folkloric texts: Sheffield’s demonic Gabriel Hounds and Kyoto’s miraculous water-weeping ginkgo tree, using looping techniques to merge various online translations of the two texts together until they form a bizarre and spectacular new myth unto themselves, culminating in a mixed-media animation replete with baritone sax and electronics. Local record label and online critical practice journal Felt Beak will add more unusual and surprising elements to the evening with their Wild Cinema project, which will involve experimental artists conjuring up improvised

THAT LONG MOONLESS CHASE/WILD CINEMA @ COBALT

Words: Michael O’Neill As part of their regular FRESH series of events, Cobalt Studios present an evening of enthralling and immersive music and film on Thursday 9th June. Experimental, surreal audio-visual performance That Long Moonless Chase is a collaboration between artists Noriko Okaku and Helen

ELIOT SMITH DANCE

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CK ET S: AN FO R TI

scores in response to a collage of films sent by open submission. The scores will be lead by duo Impossibility Knox, a collaboration between experimental artists Odie Ji Ghast and Gwilly Edmondez, with audience members being actively encouraged to co-score, with auxiliary microphones and Casio keyboards being present for those who wish to make their mark upon what will likely be an enthralling, boundary-pushing and mind-bending excursion into experimental delight. That Long Moonless Chase and Wild Cinema perform at Cobalt Studios, Newcastle on Thursday 9th June. www.cobaltstudios.co.uk

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Friday 7 October

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PREVIEWS

Kris Drever & Rachel Baiman

MUSIC

KRIS DREVER AND RACHEL BAIMAN @ GOSFORTH CIVIC THEATRE

Words: Maria Winter On Friday 3rd June, Gosforth Civic Theatre will welcome the brilliant Kris Drever and Rachel Baiman as part of their joint UK and Scotland tour. Featuring both solo sets and unique collaborations, the pair will play the night away, drawing on their respective original material. Acclaimed guitarist, songwriter and contemporary folk musician Kris Drever has won numerous awards including seven BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards and two shortlist nominations for Scottish Album of The Year with his trio Lau. Drever has also collaborated with many well-respected musicians such as Cream’s Jack Bruce and Julie Fowlis among other. Americana songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Rachel Baiman rose to fame with her 2017 debut Shame, and is now recognised as a courageous voice of the American female experience. By exploring a grittier musical medium within her new full length album Cycles, Baiman expresses her unique songwriting abilities with creativity and skill. This special concert will marry together the valuable sounds of various folk traditions whilst incorporating modern inflections, as the pair unpack their wide pool of musical influence. Featuring impressive vocal harmonies and instrumental techniques, these performances are sure to be appreciated by all. Kris Drever and Rachel Baiman play Gosforth Civic Theatre on Friday 3rd June. www.krisdrever.com www.rachelbaiman.com

MUSIC

CLUBBING @ COBALT STUDIOS

Words: Evie Nicholson I’ve never had a bad night at Cobalt. The idea that you can achieve social impact through fun and creativity seems like a no-brainer, but Cobalt feels like one of the few spaces to really get it right. Its grassroots, not-for-profit approach to celebrating under-represented culture feels heartfelt and genuine. The space is open day and night to all, and with ticketed events often facilitating free, community events — the multi-purpose project is able to take on a meaningful social role in a world still plagued by austerity. Paying an arm and a leg to dance in an anonymous, commercialised club on a Saturday night seems to have become standard procedure. Tired, jet-lagged DJs play to overcrowded audiences. The spaces often feel unsafe. I often wonder if there’s any point in going at all. Since April, Cobalt has been radically challenging this culture. As part of their Summer Season, an emphasis on DIY, grassroots clubbing has witnessed an emphasis on localism, diversity and clubbing history, as evidenced by forthcoming events featuring party planner and founder of the infamous Queer sex rave Crossbreed, DJ Kiwi (Saturday 11th June); Cobalt’s ongoing L.A.D.S (Ladies and Decks) project sees two events promoting gender and musical diversity (Wednesday 22nd June). A film screening of The Kick, The Snare, The Hat & A Clap depicts the Ouseburn clubbing scene as captured by artist and filmmaker Susie Davies, followed by a night of old/new skool warehouse sounds (Saturday 25th June). The Summer closing party (Friday 8th July) sees eight-piece

Hotsteppas present a night of full-on reggae, ska, dub and Afrobeat. As the months get warmer and the urge to dance stronger, I don’t think I can imagine a more positive and progressive safe space to have fun. www.cobaltstudios.co.uk

COMEDY

CRIMINALLY UNTRUE @ LAUREL’S

Words: Adelle Sutheran Heads up Whitley Bay and anyone who loves to expect the unexpected! For the super sleuths, crime buffs and lovers of belly laughs, Laurel’s Theatre hosts the right-in-the-moment improv true crime documentary drama Criminally Untrue, which will be based entirely on the audience’s suggestions, on Thursday 16th and Friday 17th June. Let me set the scene…The crime is yet to be committed, the circumstances have not been written, the characters have not been defined – the possibilities are endless. Co-create your own experience and collaborate with the cast in something that the Edinburgh Fringe Review described as: “Full of infectious energy… It’s ridiculous, and it’s ridiculously funny.” Edinburgh Fringe’s longest running improvised comedy troupe The Improverts (who count Miles Jupp, Maria Bamford, Ewan MacIntosh and Kevin McKidd as their alumni) bring the production to the North East alongside sell-out cult cabaret The Wonder Jam, who are bursting to rustle up some silliness with completely off the cuff hilarity. Tickets are reasonably priced too – g’wan, get along! Criminally Untrue is at Laurel’s, Whitley Bay on Thursday 16th and Friday 17th June. www.laurelswhitley.co.uk

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PREVIEWS

STAGE

ZINZI MINOTT: BLACK ON BLACK @ BALTIC

Words: Tom Astley Zinzi Minott’s solo dance performance Black On Black offers a space in which narratives of Blackness and Queerness are explored, constructed, moulded and retold through the physical work of movement. Minott’s movements positions the body itself as an archive, where such movements are stored, to

be accessed, shared, passed on and remade. The performance will take place on at BALTIC on Thursday 9th and Friday 10th June, and will also be supported by a video installation, running on Saturday 11th, Sunday 12th and from Wednesday 15th-Sunday 19th June. The dance is comprised of gestures and movements donated by a network of Black dancers, creating a constellation of shared kinetic memories. Minott’s own body then constructs a narrative from these borrowed pieces, making a work that, in its own ephemerality, threatens to erode itself in exhaustion and repetition, but in so doing

passes on narratives of Blackness and Queerness that are its central concern. In so doing, the work acts as another link in that vulnerable, radical chain stretching temporally and spatially. It also calls into question the ostensible permanence of other types of archive, other forms of passing on identity, recognising their inherent frailty, their inherent susceptibility to erasure and change. Zinzi Minott: Black On Black is performed at BALTIC, Gateshead on Thursday 9th and Friday 10th June. www.zinziminott.com

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PREVIEWS

Laura Veirs by Shelby Brakken

MUSIC

LAURA VEIRS @ GOSFORTH CIVIC THEATRE

Words: Laura Doyle We’re often so keen to reach new pastures that we forget how daunting unfamiliar territory can appear. Indie folk artist Laura Veirs took quite the leap into the unknown prior to the production of her latest record, Found Light, following the split from her husband and long-time collaborator – dealing with a divorce and a pandemic is surely not a feat undertaken lightly. With independence comes a duality of freedom and responsibility: all decisions are yours, all successes are yours, but so too are all failures. Yet Veirs has been able to overcome her challenges with her newfound autonomy to create an album that best represents the next chapter of her life. Found Light is an ode to solo women in charge of their own destinies, but it is also an ode to Veirs herself as she rebuilt her identities both as an individual and as an artist. Veirs reintroduces herself to her global audience at her (rescheduled from October 2021) appearance at Gosforth Civic Theatre on Tuesday 14th June, with support from indie singer-songwriter Joni, who traverses her personal cosmos of complex inspirations to entrance listeners and take them along for the ride. Laura Veirs and Joni perform at Gosforth Civic Theatre, Newcastle on Tuesday 14th June. www.lauraveirs.com

MUSIC

MUSIC

FLORAL DETECTIVES @ CRO-MAGS @ THE NE VOLUME MUSIC BAR CLUNY Words: Jake Anderson The release of Darlington’s Floral Detectives 2022 album, The Chase, is the perfect reason to buy a leather jacker and just drive. Speeding onto streaming services from 1st June, it’s advertised as a mini album, and will feature seven alternative rock bangers. To celebrate, the band will be going on their first UK tour, where they’ll make a stop at Stockton’s NE Volume Music Bar on Wednesday 15th June. The album is chock full of aural blasters. Highlights include If She Returns, a track that mixes sombre and passionate vibes over climatic crashes and a gorgeous bass line, and Golden Smile, a head bobbing, electric guitar-led piece which makes you want to burn rubber in a cathartic, peace of mind kind of way. Like many artists putting out new material right now, the album came to fruition during lockdown, and sees the four-piece channel their inner speed demons with a rollicking set of high energy rock ‘n’ roll and garage-infused punk. Floral Detectives release The Chase on 1st June. They play NE Volume Music Bar, Stockton on Wednesday 15th June. www.facebook.com/floraldetectives

Words: Laura Doyle To the unfortunate souls unfamiliar with the groundbreaking mash up of punk styling and hardcore sound of Cro-Mags, it might be time for a little bit of education in the New York underground scene. When Cro-Mags formed in 1981, few could have anticipated the twists and turns that would come from their career. From tumultuous line-ups to an ever evolving sound, Cro-Mags have made their mark on the hardcore punk scene. Now, 40 years since the first iteration of Cro-Mags started making noise, the four-piece have taken to the road to pay homage to 1989’s Best Wishes, which they’ll bring to The Cluny on Monday 27th June. Their sophomore record advanced Cro-Mags’ journey into the realm of metal; their experiments with this heavier thrash style garnered attention from all corners of the alt. music scene. With this stylistic change also came a further line-up change: the first album to feature current vocalist Harley Flanagan at the helm showcased his vocal technique better suited to the metal slant invoked. It’s clear why this is the record Cro-Mags have elected to celebrate 30 years on – this tour gives Flanagan the opportunity to blast it out for his cult following across the land. Cro-Mags play The Cluny, Newcastle on Monday 27th June. www.realcromags.com

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PREVIEWS

Shannon Pearl

MUSIC

SHANNON PEARL RELEASES NEW SINGLE, MOUNTAINS

Words: Maria Winter Local folk pop artist Shannon Pearl’s music takes a focus on ecology and climate change; having captured the attention with her recent single Halcyon, thanks to its powerful lyricism and instrumental vision, Pearl’s new release, Mountains, unveils more of the artist’s innate way with melody. Continuing in the same nature inspired, folk pop vein, Mountains reflects Pearl’s admiration for all things wild, as she explains: “All of my music is inspired by wild environments. There’s just something about the mountains that I can’t get enough of.” Recorded in Cumbria in 2019, then mixed and produced remotely during lockdown, Pearl found a new, more personal meaning to the song. “When the pandemic happened and the restrictions were brought in, I was so anxious and thought I’d never see my wild places ever again (at least it felt like that at

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the time). So, the lyrics took on quite a literal meaning after that, and the song became a love letter of sorts, to where I spend a lot of my spare time – the mountains of the Lake District.” Alongside Mountains, Pearl is developing a unique sound art project, Ghosts, which will be released in November. Based on an auditory response to visual stimuli, the work will feature looped audio, field recordings and percussive embellishments to forge meaningful links to historical events, resulting in a truly immersive experience. Shannon Pearl releases Mountains on 14th June. www.linktr.ee/shannonpearl

STAGE

SNATCHED @ NORTHERN STAGE

Words: Lizzie Lovejoy No one is happy with their body all the time, but it’s difficult to navigate a world where every voice tells you what you should and should not be, criticising all of the pieces you are made

from. Snatched is an exploration of being a young disabled woman whose body is placed under the scrutiny of the public eye as her explicit photos are released online. This one-woman performance takes place at Northern Stage on Tuesday 21st-Wednesday 22nd June. With a history of body dysmorphia, actor Melissa Johns dives deep into her personal experiences and lends a voice to the people who have been body shamed and desexualised for their disabilities. Humorous and heartbreaking all at once, this show is unapologetic in its celebration of female bodies, disabled bodies and breaking down the long held taboos surrounding sex and disability. Melissa Johns has been a long time activist for disabled rights, and the show she has written continues her incredible work, taking ownership of her own story. With such heavy subject matter, Snatched is still able to be uplifting with a fast-paced and honest tone set to a live 90’s/00’s soundtrack. Snatched is performed at Northern Stage, Newcastle on Tuesday 21st and Wednesday 22nd June. www.northernstage.co.uk


PREVIEWS

Allyson June Smith by Richard Wood

COMEDY

CATCH 22 COMEDY CLUB @ ARC

Words: Jake Anderson Stockton’s Catch 22 Comedy Club night has featured some of the funniest people the UK has to offer. It’s a wonder why they haven’t reached out to me yet. Happening on the last Friday of every month at ARC, June’s event on Friday 24th will see MC Mike Wilkinson wrangling performers and

audiences with expert zeal. Being a poultry framer by day, dry-wit comedian at night, he’ll make you cluck up laughter (I’m not sorry) as he tells some of the most interesting stories you’ll ever hear. On top of that, he’s known to hand out free vegetables at the end of shows, so your tea will be sorted for the next day too. Aiming to tickle your funny bone will be Njambi McGrath, a Kenyan-born, UK-based comedian, who’s known for the Radio 4 show Njambi McGrath: Becoming Njambi, in which she brings a unique but compelling African perspective to her sets. After her will be Mike Carter, who in just half a

decade has established himself as a veteran of the North West scene, channelling his inner pessimistic Scouse, he puts everything on blast. Ending the night on a high note will be comedy legend Allyson June Smith, describing herself as an “over sharer”, Smith exudes confidence and hooks audience she performs to with her uniquely dynamite material. Allyson June Smith, Mike Carter, Njambi McGrath and MC Mike Wilkinson perform at ARC, Stockton on Friday 24th June. www.arconline.co.uk

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INTERVIEWS

HANNABIELL SANDERS & YILIS DEL CARMEN SURIEL

CLAIRE DUPREE TALKS TO INSPIRATIONAL MUSICIANS HANNABIELL SANDERS AND YILIS DEL CARMEN SURIEL ABOUT THEIR ETHOS OF EMPOWERMENT, COLLABORATION AND INCLUSIVITY IMAGE BY AMELIA READ You’d be hard pressed to find people more generous of spirit and filled with as much relentless optimism as Hannabiell Sanders and Yilis del Carmen Suriel. The duo perform under various guises, including Ladies of Midnight Blue and Hannabiell & The Midnight Blue Collective, and their work doesn’t stop at being highly talented musicians – Hannabiell is a bass trombonist, they’re both African hand percussionists and Yilis also plays mbira – they are educators, artists, activists and inspirational and passionate speakers. In short, I’m a fan. June is a busy month for them both, as Hannabiell embarks on the final stages of her Sage Gateshead residency, which came at an important moment in the musician’s career. “The residency enabled me the space to experiment with new ideas, research and develop new work.” Further explaining she was able to explore

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narrative within her work, experiment with electronics and expand her skills as a soloist, she also worked with West African dance teacher Aida Diop to incorporating dance into their larger productions. Yilis, both as band member and visual director, plays an equally important role. “The bigger vision was inspired by Hannabiell, she was looking to create a larger production that allowed her to explore storytelling through music, dance and an element of theatre.” For the Sage Gateshead show on Thursday 16th June, where all of Hannabiell and Yilis’ various guises come together on one stage, Yilis utilises projections and lightboxes with images inspired by West African and Taíno symbols to enhance the narrative of the compositions. Hannabiell and Yilis’ sound is an embodiment of the women


COVER FEATURE

MUSIC

AS WOMEN OF COLOUR WE CAN’T CHOOSE JUST TO FIGHT FOR BLACK RIGHTS, OR LATINX RIGHTS, OR WOMEN’S RIGHTS. IT IS IN OUR BEST INTEREST TO WORK WITH EVERYONE BECAUSE WE ARE PART OF A LEGACY OF BLACK AND LATINX FEMINIST SUPER-HEROINES, WHO UNDERSTAND THE IMPORTANCE OF THINKING AND DOING themselves; full of joy and power, their music stems from Afro-Latin rhythms and melodic percussion, brass and vocal chants. Their work is inextricably linked with their experiences as Black and LatinX women. Having both moved to the North East to study in 2009 – Hannabiell is New Jersey-born, while Yilis moved to the US aged nine from Santo Domingo – their work as musicians and creatives is intertwined with their shared history and experiences. “When applied to my visual work I like to explore the intersectionalities of my experience as a Dominican who migrated to the United States and now lives in the North East of England, and how my unique perspective as a Black female migrant translates and is shared with other communities that have a similar experience to my own.” Yilis comments. “My performances and composition reflect the aesthetic of the Black radical tradition of freedom.” Hannabiell says, explaining that while improvisation is at the core of all her music, the input and experiences of other musicians are intrinsic to its sound – particularly with Midnight Blue Collective. “Within each piece I allow players to be featured and develop their voice. Each

composition is developed from a melody, bassline, rhythm or a combination of two of these elements. I explain the larger context, social and political meaning, and feeling I want each composition and/or solo to invoke through analogies and visual description. The songs carry characteristics that are particular to the line-up and the individual performer and their personal take on my explanation.” Hannabiell speaks passionately about her belief that music and art is rooted in empowerment, collaboration and inclusivity. “We describe ourselves as activists, and see protest as something that we do in our everyday life. It’s what we do on a daily basis to make our communities better but it’s also taking the time to feel at ease in our own skin. As women of colour we can’t choose just to fight for Black rights, or LatinX rights, or women’s rights. It is in our best interest to work with everyone because we are part of a legacy of Black and LatinX feminist super-heroines, who understand the importance of thinking and doing. Our theory and practice must coexist in our performances, events and our festival.” Which brings us to Harambee Pasadia – Harambee meaning ‘let’s get together’ in Swahili, and Pasadia ‘to spend the day’ in Spanish – an Afro-fusion music and arts festival created in 2013 which brings together the disparate cultures and diverse fusions of the African diaspora in a miscellany of sights, sounds and tastes. Hannabiell explains about the genesis of the festival: “When Yilis and I first moved to Newcastle there weren’t many performance opportunities or artists that looked like us in the region. It was difficult to get gigs so we started organising our own events hosting double bills and film screenings as a strategy to showcase our ensembles, share audiences, to build our following, and to create a platform for other ensembles like ours.” Harambee Pasadia has since evolved into a welcoming and supportive organisation which is dedicated to promoting the arts as a means for social change and civic engagement in the North East, and runs programmes, workshops, residencies and music events. Now a four-day festival, taking place at TCR The Hub in Barnard Castle from Thursday 23rd-Sunday 26th June, the event features a line-up of world-renowned musicians, arts practitioners and DJs playing an eclectic mix of Afrobeat, jazz, reggae, funk, Latin, traditional music and all the fusions in between, with a firm ethos of inclusivity. “The festival is committed to engage attendees through a wide range of arts and learning activities representative of the scope of everyday cultural influences and references of the African homeland in a fun, family-friendly celebration of African philosophies in the 2020s.” Hannabiell expands. Alongside Hannabiell and Yilis’ own bands, performances come from contemporary jazz artist Kevin Haynes and Grupo Elegua, Yorkshire rapper Chiedu Oraka, the North East’s own Voices of Virtue Gospel Choir, Newcastle jazz quartet Knats, neo-soul artist Georgia May, dance theatre company Ella Mesma, Afro-Latin group Colectiva and many more. Attendees can join a multitude of workshops and activities including body percussion and drumming, a variety of dance classes, life drawing and gong bathing, plus enjoy canoeing, SUP, wood carving, nature walks and much more. Talks and presentations will include discussions around leadership, confidence, healthy eating, race and identity, cultural activism and poetry. The Thursday night is dedicated to the collective wisdom, experience and energy of inspirational women of all ages and backgrounds, and perhaps sums up Hannabiell and Yilis’ incredible spirit best. “This day will amplify our vision: to create a community and network of artists, thinkers, activists, community leaders and volunteers of all ages who can come together, inspire one another, and work together in a sustainable way.” I challenge anyone to spend even a few moments in Hannabiell and Yilis’ company and not come away feeling inspired and uplifted. The collective power of their music on a stage, or their ideologies embodied in a festival, is surely the best way to get a dose of this powerhouse duo. Hannabiell Sanders performs solo, as Ladies of Midnight Blue and Hannabiell & The Midnight Blue Collective – both with Yilis del Carmen Suriel – at Sage Gateshead on Thursday 16th June. Harambee Pasadia takes place at TCR The Hub, Barnard Castle from Thursday 23rd-Sunday 26th June. www.hannabiell.com www.yilisdelcarmensuriel.com www.harambeepasadia.com

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INTERVIEW

MUSIC

L-R: Beccy Owen, Martha Hill

BECCY OWEN & MARTHA HILL BECCY OWEN AND MARTHA HILL JOIN HANNABIELL SANDERS AT SAGE GATESHEAD’S ARTIST IN RESIDENCE PRODUCTIONS THIS MONTH, EVIE LAKE FINDS OUT WHAT TO EXPECT FROM THE TALENTED MUSICIANS Sage Gateshead’s Artists in Residence programme offers the luxury of space to artists to dream up and develop creative projects. No topic or thought process is off-limits, as evidenced by two of this year’s Residents, Beccy Owens and Martha Hill, who base their final performances around pretty disparate subjects: the interaction between music and bodies, and Dracula. “It’s been so fun to just write something and be allowed to go as cheesy as you want,” laughs Martha, “you’re not trying to keep things edgy or appealing for the radio, you get to write absolute ridiculousness.” Martha’s project is Dracula: The Musical, a wacky departure from the candour and reality of their usual alt. pop focus. “I was weirdly drawn to Dracula as a character. I imagined him as melodramatic, misunderstood and persecuted rather than an evil character. There’s something about his melancholy that I find intriguing and funny, and it inspired me to write.” The ten-month stint with Sage Gateshead’s resources has allowed Martha to delve into an idea that otherwise would have been sidelined or perhaps not indulged at all. The fertility of exploring new avenues has resulted in whole new realms of creativity opening up for the musician: “It’s definitely opened my eyes to other sides of composition, and new potentials for collaborations or alternative incomes.” Beccy Owens’ residency is set to culminate in an alternative, hopeful and musical ritual dubbed The Amplified Sanctum. Emerging as a hybrid of visual and sonic, installation and performance, Beccy assuredly explains that the development came from looking inwards: “It’s come out of the practices I’ve been engaging with as myself and as an artist, as someone who lives with mental health conditions and disabilities. This means I have to be particularly vigilant and have a certain awareness at all times about my limbic system and how activated it is. I’ve had to find ways of staying well that work for me. I’m not looking to be a guru or a medic, it’s just about being an artist and wanting to share

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THE FERTILITY OF EXPLORING NEW AVENUES HAS RESULTED IN WHOLE NEW REALMS OF CREATIVITY where I’m at.” This project marks a departure from Beccy’s usual autobiographical writing and is instead taking steps in the direction of ambience: “Dropping autobiography is very freeing, I’m really interested in non-narrative structures. I love the idea of moving into something that is less formed and structured. Really, if I’m honest, I’m not quite sure what I am doing or where I am going, but that’s part of it. I’m allowing myself to be less controlled, less poised; I’m trying to just let myself unfold in my work.” It’s important to note that both performances are works-inprogresses, with audiences able to witness the creative process in action, helping both Martha and Beccy figure their projects out in the moment. “I’m really excited to get feedback from the audience on what they think I could do better or change, or even what doesn’t make sense,” concludes Martha, with Beccy concurring that the work-in-progress of it all is written into the performance itself. “I want to work in a non-hierarchical way. I’m trying to break down the barriers between performance, performer and audience by bringing them in to make choices, very simple choices that anyone will be able to make. There’s no musical knowledge needed, I want people to feel vital to the uniqueness of each performance.” Martha Hill performs Dracula: The Musical on Thursday 2nd and Beccy Owen performs The Amplified Sanctum on Saturday 11th June, at Sage Gateshead. www.sagegateshead.com www.marthahillmusic.com www.beccyowen.bandcamp.com


INTERVIEW

MUSIC

Image by Ian Smith

GHOST//SIGNALS

JAKE ANDERSON TALKS TO NEWCASTLE’S DARK INDIE ROCKERS ABOUT THE RELEASE OF THEIR DEBUT ALBUM Inspired by the likes of The Cure and Echo and the Bunnymen, Newcastle’s dark indie rock band Ghost//Signals are finally blessing us with new music. While they’ve always made a huge impact on the live scene, their incoming debut album, Lives Defined By Winter Skies, will be their first released music since before the pandemic, and their first under indie label SwissDarkNights. “I think we were so focused on getting it out there, we probably didn’t take too much time to think about how long we had been away until it was actually out!” Front person Rick Lanning admits. The first single from the album, I Beat My Demons Via Decision, confronts the mental health issues we all face daily. “It stems from my own experiences in my early 20s,” says Rick. “There was just so much desire from others to tell me that my problems were fixed. That’s what the song title is derived from – in a boxing match you try and knock out your opponent to gain victory, but if you can’t manage it a judge steps in and says you’ve won anyway. The world just constantly felt like it was on fire back then.” Themes around the trials of youth are reflected heavily the album’s semantics. “The whole album’s theme is largely about that point in everyone’s childhood. You go from generally not having a care in the world, to realising that the world isn’t always a good place. I believe everyone has that moment, it’s at that point your life

THE WHOLE ALBUM’S THEME IS LARGELY ABOUT THAT POINT IN EVERYONE’S CHILDHOOD. YOU GO FROM GENERALLY NOT HAVING A CARE IN THE WORLD, TO REALISING THAT THE WORLD ISN’T ALWAYS A GOOD PLACE

becomes defined by the winter sky.” This is also reflected in the storytelling of the album’s art, depicting a child wearing a Halloween outfit during dusk. “That’s actually my three year-old daughter Addy anonymised via costume! It was just an image that popped in my head whilst being in the zone of finalising this album which we then recreated. I think there’s something in Halloween being a night of the year where you can shed your own identity and no-one will question it.” Lives Defined By Winter Skies is an incredibly strong LP, and one that will go down as an instant classic. Some of the highlights include the fierce Kill The North, and the reflective and melancholic title track. I asked the band how they’d want this album to be looked at in 100 years’ time. “My uncle was in a punk band in the 70s, you can still occasionally pick up their original 7 inch at record fairs today! 50 years later...it’s like your creativity is immortalised. I hope that will be the same for this album. I would hope in 100 years they would reflect on songs like English Fictions and Kill The North and think ‘I’m glad that attitude doesn’t exist any more’.” The band are capping off the album’s roll out with a UK wide tour that’ll see them travel from Scotland to London, but most importantly Newcastle’s Zerox on Saturday 10th September, where music lovers will be enthralled by tracks new and old, including A Bag For Death and fan favourite Avoid Shit Parties. “If you have a crowd who know it already it’s a really good laugh. We’re not all doom and gloom.” Ghost//Signals release Lives Defined By Winter Skies on 30th June. They play Zerox, Newcastle on Saturday 10th September www.facebook.com/ghostsignalsloveyou

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INTERVIEW

L-R, T-B: bigfatbig, Sisi by Chloe Seamn , Kay Greyson, Firesites

GENERATOR LIVE LEIGH VENUS FINDS OUT WHAT’S IN STORE AT GENERATOR’S CELEBRATION OF NORTH EAST SOUNDS With the pandemic waves still thankfully receding from our cultural shores, the regional music scene is booming as venues continue to throw open their doors and return acts to their audiences. Now, with summer on the horizon, brand-new festival Generator Live is set to launch a cross-genre celebration and exclusive showcase of the very best rising North East talent. The festival has spawned from artist support agency Generator, laser-focused on the needs of individual artists and the fastchanging music sector, and working since 1991 to empower talented individuals and nurture the North East’s music and creative digital industries. A showcase for the artists Generator work with and others tipped as the ones to watch, music fans can look forward to a week of fringe gigs and parties leading up to a blow-out all-dayer on Saturday 25th June at Boiler Shop in Newcastle. The whole thing kicks off on Sunday 19th June at Zerox with the Generator Live Warm-Up Party, a free-entry, one-week countdown celebrating North East Music and offering revellers a chance to bag some festival tickets. Monday 20th June launches the week of fringe events, all curated by North East independent promoters from open call artist submissions, with entry completely free with Generator Live tickets. Collective NEWISM join forces with the KeyChange initiative to

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present soulful songwriters Dayna Leadbitter and Sisi at Little Buildings on Monday 20th; followed by fast-rising indie pop gang Komparrison, synth popsters Firesites and sludgy pop rock from YES CHEF at The Old Coal Yard on Tuesday 21st courtesy of Flat Four Recs and Shout Up!; R&B artist Chloe Castro, rocky noiseniks Ten Eighty Trees and cyber-sound explorers SQUARMS are on at the Head of Steam on Wednesday 22nd, promoted by Eastside and Guitar Wrist; on Thursday 23rd, your very own NARC. Magazine and Youth Music take over The Cluny with the Youth Music First Notes Showcase, featuring Kate Bond, Porcelain, Tom James, Tali, Sam Harris, Sara Heraoua, Alice Elle, Ayzee, and SYP. This is an opportunity to hear from the First Notes cohort, which sees Generator working with 18-25-year-old early-career musicians, providing professional support to produce their first industry-standard release. On Festival Eve Friday 24th, BBC Introducing and Northern Roots present the irresistible and ascendant brat-poppers ZELA, alongside scintillating Newcastle noise rock duo Pave The Jungle at Cobalt Studios. With the organisers committed to creating a platform for the best North East artists and creatives to come together to show the strength of the local music industry, the festival is also supported on Friday 24th by the Generator Live Conference, at which some of the UK’s leading music industry trade bodies will be taking over


INTERVIEW

MUSIC

L-R, T-B: Dayna Leadbitter, Sagaboi, Ruth Lyon by Amelia Reid, Straight Girl by Andrew Benge

GENERATOR LIVE IS SET TO LAUNCH A CROSS-GENRE CELEBRATION AND EXCLUSIVE SHOWCASE OF THE VERY BEST RISING NORTH EAST TALENT Ouseburn’s Biscuit Factory for a day of industry panels, roundtable talks, workshops and exclusive one-to-one meetings, followed by an in-person North East Music Industry Meet-Up at Blast Recording Studios. Generator Live at the Boiler Shop on Saturday 25th June kicks off at midday and offers up ten emerging artists at the tipping point in their development. The radiant Kema Kay, who starred in Ken Loach’s critically acclaimed I, Daniel Blake, hails from Newcastle’s West End, his music describes the trials of his life and journey to becoming the confident and self-assured rapper and actor he is today. Straight Girl is the alias of Teesside-born composer and producer Remy Enceladus, the ‘grave rave’ specialist blazing a trail through the UK’s alternative, electronic and progressive scenes on a mission to prove themselves as the ‘Overlord of Electropunk’. Currently Artist in Residence at Sage Gateshead, Newcastle rapper/singersongwriter Sagaboi is sonically subversive and fearlessly experimental, mixing infectious melodies with eye-opening bars and true Northern grit. Sunderland’s alt. rock girl gang bigfatbig erupted onto the North East music scene in 2019 – as seen on BBC Sounds’ Hot List and at Reading and Leeds Festivals, the group is now pushing their music into naughties-inspired pop-punk territory. Exploring long-dead lounge-Americana alongside bygone bits of the new wave, Lovely Assistant are now pouring their tender vocals and shimmering instruments into their second album as they work from a community centre in the North East. Hailed by BBC Introducing

North East as a sonic force to be reckoned with, cutting his teeth across the region’s hip-hop and electronic scenes, John Dole comes laden with earworms designed to pull you closer. Recently making her American debut at the prestigious SXSW alongside rising stars of the UK music scene, artist, activist and alt. pop troubadour Ruth Lyon mixes homemade beats and mellow keys to deliver a melancholic sound delivered with attitude. An exuberant live performer who has already supported hip-hop legends like The Game and Akala, Kay Greyson has gained a reputation in Newcastle as one of the hardest working artists there is, her sound fusing the flair and style of modern hip-hop with the skill and sensibilities of the golden era. Jodie Nicholson defies genre expectations as a multi-instrumentalist singer-songwriter whose ethereal vocals, delicate melodies and emotive lyrics glide effortlessly between soundscapes of warm folk-pop, soft jazz, indie and electro. Ethereal and tenacious, Leeds-own VENUS GRRRLS implement riot grrrl aesthetics and ideologies, working to eliminate age-old interpretations and preconceptions toward women in rock through hard-hitting alternative rock music infused with electronic and astrological sounds. If all that wasn’t enough, the party continues into the dark and beyond the small hours at World Headquarters, as self-proclaimed Tyne and Wear’s weird radio station Slacks Community Radio showcases a programme of emerging North East DJs tipped as ones to watch, with sets from Becky Woodcock, Georgi Murphy, Listen, Simon leeks, Kitty, Real Terms + Mike Le Taurus and Jon Cornbill, providing the icing on the cake for what is set to be an unforgettable week of blistering music born and bred in the North East. Generator Live takes place at Boiler Shop, Newcastle on Saturday 25th June, with a preceding week of Fringe events at various venues. www.generatorlive.org.uk

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INTERVIEW

MUSIC

Image by Cameron Wright

LABYRINTHINE OCEANS

LAURA DOYLE FINDS OUT HOW THEMES OF LOSS AND CYNICISM CONTRIBUTE TO THE WEARSIDE BAND’S DEBUT ALBUM Wearside newbies Labyrinthine Oceans are all set to take the world by storm. This Sunderland-based ensemble came together organically, growing from the solo project of vocalist Julia O’Neill into the budding four-piece vying for your attention now. “Initially starting as a duo of Julia and Toby, session drummer Jack eventually joined properly after we started doing more band based stuff. We started out by adapting solo material from Julia and began gigging about a year ago. In early 2022, we added Daniel (guitar) to the line-up, who we’d been working with outside of the band for a couple of months. That’s where we’re at now. It’s filled out our sound a lot more and we’re excited to see how we develop.” Their debut album Visions From Below is their weapon of choice, and it doesn’t take much listening to win your affection. With such a relatively new line-up to play with, there’s a real melting pot of sounds and inspirations feeding into the record, and that makes its base of appeal unexpectedly broad. “We’ve found that splitting the songwriting has really helped us with productivity and exploration of different styles and opened up the playing field for experimentation. Due to different musical backgrounds, Toby’s songs have a very different sound to our usual stuff, using more complicated chord progressions and electronic elements. Julia’s tracks have more of what you expect from us, with rock influences, simpler structures and an abundance of melodic lines.” Visions From Below certainly hits these notes. Sultry, subtle

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IT WASN’T WHOLLY INTENTIONAL TO WRITE IT ABOUT LOSS, BUT IT’S THE THEME THAT STICKS OUT THE MOST THROUGHOUT THE TRACKS

dreamscapes make up its tracklist; each song stands on its own two feet, slotting together like a jigsaw made from missing puzzle pieces that happen to compliment each other perfectly. Despite coming together to make a cohesive sound, Visions From Below started with a departure from Labyrinthine Oceans’ established work. “It wasn’t wholly intentional to write it about loss, but it’s the theme that sticks out the most throughout the tracks. During the first discussions we had about what sort of vibe we wanted to go for, we talked about one of our pre-existing songs, Glory. It has a very different feel to a lot of our earlier stuff and we really like it. Glory is about loss and cynicism, but still having hope and a vision of the future. It’s sort of trippy and dazed but very airy. Overall the theme within most of the songs is loss, whether it’s losing something or losing yourself – sometimes it’s fantastical, like The Gap, sometimes it’s literal like All That’s Left.” Labyrinthine Oceans are bearing their soul with their debut release – a risky move but one that can be reciprocated. Their heartfelt style tugs at your emotions and grips your attention, so set aside time to give Visions From Below your full attention. “We really hope for the chance to develop a fanbase and really connect with them. It’s like handing your soul to people and letting them interpret it – we think that’s really cool. Talking to people about our music after gigs and online is one of our favourite things to do. While we aren’t really too bothered about commercial success, we do want this to be our career and we’re really hoping people like what we do and continue to support us beyond Visions From Below.” Please, lend them your ears – it’s the least you can do. Labyrinthine Oceans release Visions From Below on 11th June. The band play Independent, Sunderland on Friday 17th June. www.facebook.com/labyrinthineoceans


LIZZIE LOVEJOY

INTERVIEW

STEVE SPITHRAY TALKS TO ARTISTIC POLYMATH LIZZIE LOVEJOY, WHOSE NEW SHOW EXPLORES CONCEPTS OF NORTHERNNESS AND CREATIVITY

ART & LIT

Image by Matthew Cooper

WE ARE AN AMALGAMATION OF SO MANY DIFFERENT THOUGHTS, IDEAS, EXPERIENCES AND HISTORIES Northernness is an intangible force yet one so acutely felt as to be almost measurable, but what is it and what quantifies it? Who is more Northern? What are the elements of Northernness and what defines it? Esteemed performance artist, mixed-media creative and NARC. Academy alum Lizzie Lovejoy explores all this in their one hour-long show at ARC in Stockton on Wednesday 8th June. We Are Northern is a series of spoken word tracks with an accompanying illustrated book featuring all the poems/pieces. The pieces tackle classism, disability, physical health, local history and family all through a North East lens. A year in the making and pieced together from various other projects, I caught up with Lizzie to find out how it has now come to fruition. “We Are Northern as a stage performance, exhibition and book wasn’t really planned. I had been working at ARC as Artist of Change and created a series of exhibitions after listening to the stories of Northern people. I had been trying to understand all of the various different aspects that make us who we are. We are an amalgamation of so many different thoughts, ideas, experiences and histories. I’m very proud to share my own story and the stories of others. I’ve learnt so much while talking to strangers.” To turn these disparate elements into one fluid performance Lizzie explained how it came together quite naturally. “Although there were three poems in this collection

that were already written prior to the idea of the show, the rest of it was written specifically to be performed in this context. A lot of the images themselves were already part of the foundation of my research into Northernness. I think the images and the words work together because one was based around the other and ultimately the words provide context for the images.” The show is BSL interpreted, pay what you decide and available to watch online. Lizzie understands how important this kind of inclusivity is to contemporary Northernness. “As a workingclass person, I’m incredibly aware of limitations in terms of what we can experience in the arts, not by choice. Over the course of my work at ARC I came into contact with people who widened my understanding of what we really need in this industry. From audio content for some people or transcriptions for others, to physical spaces for some and digital spaces for others. What is the point of art or creative expression if it is inaccessible? This project is a celebration of Northernness, but it is an experience open for anyone. And that is by choice.” I wondered which pieces of this Northernness represented them as an artist, writer and person. “The entire show represents who I am. Northern identity is all encompassing, there is no one right way to be Northern. There is a message that the past is important, but the future is everything. I look at our geography and our landmarks and I find who I am.” So, what’s next creatively for the polymath artist? “There’s nothing next for me creatively because I never really stop. I continue to collect stories. I will keep collecting stories. I will keep talking to strangers. And I will never stop creating.” We Are Northern takes place at ARC, Stockton on Wednesday 8th June. www.lizzielovejoyillustration.co.uk

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INTERVIEW

SAINT ETIENNE

PAUL JEFFREY CHATS WITH SARAH CRACKNELL ABOUT SAINT ETIENNE’S FORTHCOMING SHOW IN SUNDERLAND, THEIR RECENT LEFTFIELD RELEASE AND BONDS FORGED BETWEEN BAND AND FAN

MUSIC

Saint Etienne are the rarest of bands; a credible and cool pop collective who have spent several decades delivering an enviable and frankly spectacular catalogue of singles, high art concept albums, films, soundtracks, books and well, anything else they damn well please. Following the release of 2021’s I’ve Been Trying To Tell You, the band are about to head back out on the road, and will pull up to Sunderland’s Fire Station on Friday 10th June. I’ve Been Trying To Tell You is a woozy, transportive record, sitting perfectly alongside what I’d call their ‘London’ albums – Finisterre, How We Used To Live, Words & Music, Home Counties. I spoke to Sarah Cracknell about the band’s decision to release such a leftfield experimental record at this point of their career. “The idea behind it was the optimistic years: 1997 – 2001, it’s the feeling that things are going to be great and then they don’t pan out as you’d imagined.” Pop bands with a career of 30 years are extremely rare, but by the very nature of being around for decades, a lifelong bond is formed between artist and listener, the music becoming a soundtrack to a life; Sarah comments on how it feels to be completely emotionally entwined with other peoples lives. “It’s quite overwhelming sometimes. You speak to people who have been listening to your music for a long time and you feel quite honoured about stuff like that, we always feel very respectful.” As one of those fans, that connection is very clear, the live shows are always celebratory events, but with so many tracks to choose from, how do they put the set together? “Basically, it’s a conversation between Bob, Pete and myself, and then we’ll go and rehearse a certain amount of songs, probably more than we need with the band, and then we’ll work it out from there.” I enquired if we can expect a few surprises with the latest tour.

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YOU SPEAK TO PEOPLE WHO HAVE BEEN LISTENING TO YOUR MUSIC FOR A LONG TIME AND YOU FEEL QUITE HONOURED “There might be a couple of surprises, songs that haven’t been in the set for a few years, we’re also doing a few tracks from the last album.” With I’ve Been Trying To Tell You so heavily constructed around samples, I was interested to find out how these tracks are developed for a live band. “Well basically, I need to concentrate very hard, but as well as that, we have the brilliant films that Alasdair McLellan did, so you’ve got the visual and the music, so if I make a mistake, I hope no one will notice,” she laughs. The Saint Etienne rumour mill is on high alert with talk of a new record, and Sarah’s pleased to confirm the details. “We’ve got these shows coming up and then we’re going to start concentrating on that. We’ve got songs, and whether it comes out as an album – it probably will, hopefully will – but we’re going to just get down to writing a lot, that’s the best starting point, and then we’ll see. Because of Brexit, the lead times on vinyl pressing – we always put everything out in vinyl – are really long, it’s nine months to a year, which is ridiculous, but hopefully it will come out next year. That’s the plan. We’ll see if the songs are any bloody good first!” Saint Etienne play The Fire Station, Sunderland on Friday 10th June.

www.saintetienne.com


INTERVIEW

MUSIC

RUBBER OH

CAMERON WRIGHT TALKS TO NEWCASTLE MUSICIAN SAM GRANT ABOUT HIS TACTILE AND UNDENIABLY BEAUTIFUL DEBUT ALBUM RELEASE

Sam Grant has been tinkering in the North East’s music scene for quite some time now. As a studio engineer at Newcastle’s Blank Studios, he’s worked on some of the area’s most revered releases including the likes of Richard Dawson, Du Blonde, SL Walkinshaw and Blóm, as well as his own band, metal behemoths Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs, in which he plays guitar. This month sees Grant finally step into the limelight and create a sound that is uniquely and distinctly his own, under the guise of Rubber Oh. “Rubber Oh is basically the anthesis of Pigsx7.” He explains. “When you work with all these different sounds you pick up on all sorts of ideas, but Rubber Oh is my excuse to really explore them shamelessly. I can’t exactly force a band to track two basses on every song they do, so Rubber Oh is my place to really explore. It’s a harmony of everything I’ve done up to this point, essentially it’s a rebellion against homogeneous songwriting.” Using Rubber Oh as a way to scratch deep into the itches he has been waiting to explore, the project is a beautiful indulgence of sound that creates something sonically distinct. “It sounds stupid, but I wanted to make music you could taste. I wanted something you could feel in your jaw, something tactile.” Grant’s peculiar world of sound is undeniably beautiful, with its rich yet dense layers contorting around the listener. “Rubber is just a weird substance, that was the springboard for the album. Rubber is so alien, but so ordinary. It has a weird memory to it, it’s simultaneously firm but soft. I wanted to channel all these abnormalities into the music.” This tactile approach to music is a recurring theme throughout Grant’s discography, who talked about the glass-like transparency of previous projects compared to the sludgy treacle of his Pigsx7 endeavours. This urge to be physically touched by the music is overarching, yet never more palpable than on Rubber Oh’s debut album, Strange Craft.

RUBBER OH IS A HARMONY OF EVERYTHING I’VE DONE UP TO THIS POINT, ESSENTIALLY IT’S A REBELLION AGAINST HOMOGENEOUS SONGWRITING Strange Craft is an album of duality; warping the ordinary and mundane into something wildly peculiar and obscure, it’s an album that celebrates nothingness and yet everything, as Grant relishes his romp through positive nihilism. Duality creeps its way into the writing process of Strange Craft, as this liberal exploration of the crazy and bizarre is anchored by a strict set of rules. “I see rules as a solution to that modern problem. It’s so easy to do anything now, the answers are at your fingertips. If you want a certain reverb or a certain synth, there’s always going to be a million plugins that can sort it, which gets boring. Establishing your own confines allows you to be much more creative, effectively creating your own box to think outside of, or think around.” Ultimately it’s these rules that give Rubber Oh the mesmerising and unique sound it has. Enlisting local luminaries like fellow Pigsx7 bandmates Chris Morley and Matt Baty, as well as Du Blonde’s Beth Jeans Houghton on backing vocals, alongside fellow live bandmates Chris McManus, Luke Elgie, Ceitidh Mac and Johnny Hedley, Grant has successfully toyed with textures and waves of sound to create something freakish, fun and wholly inexplicable. Rubber Oh release Strange Craft on 3nd June via Rocket Recordings. They play The Cluny 2, Newcastle on Saturday 4th June. www.rubberoh.bandcamp.com

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Season Stand Outs

May – Dec 2022

Thu 29 Sep – Sat 22 Oct A brand-new musical odyssey through that very deepest of human feelings

Thu 26 May – Sat 18 Jun A glorious high volume slice of anarchy

Thu 10 – Sat 26 Nov Thu 27 – Sun 30 Oct A live reading of David Almond’s spine-chilling and deeply personal tale for Halloween

Sun 4 – Fri 23 Dec A dazzling and delightful new show for kids combining the words of a playwright with the wild minds of children

www.live.org.uk (0191) 232 1232

Live Theatre, Broad Chare, Quayside, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE1 3DQ

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Rich with emotion but sizzling with high energy and black humour, Ric Renton’s true story of time in HMP Durham and finding an unexpected way through the darkness

Thu 8 – Sun 18 Dec A new play celebrating Northumbrian identity, folk music and family tradition

Supported by:


INTERVIEW

ART & LIT

LUCY NICHOL

FRANÇOISE HARVEY TALKS TO LUCY NICHOL ABOUT 90S NOSTALGIA, MENTAL HEALTH STIGMA AND CHALLENGING PRECONCEPTIONS WITH HER NEW NOVEL Parklife, the new novel from author Lucy Nichol is about the insidious nature of addiction. Set during a bright 1990s summer in Hull, it’s hopeful, sad and funny, and packed with music references. It also has a cast of characters so real and familiar that you feel as though you could bump into them in the street. One reason for that (aside from the excellent writing) is that Nichol is returning to a world she knows well. She grew up in Hull in the 90s, and Parklife is her second novel about 20-something music fans Emma and Dave, who we first met in 2021’s The 27 Club. No spoilers, but Emma has finished the paltry six sessions of counselling available on the NHS, and considers herself fixed. So she doesn’t see how she can possibly be an addict. “I just think mental health is such a complex topic that it shouldn’t neatly finish in one book,” Nichol tells me. “Given what Emma as a character went through when she was younger, six sessions really wouldn’t break the surface. [Parklife] is about acknowledging that, if you have experienced trauma or you have an anxiety disorder, there is ongoing work and recovery is never a straight line.” As well as being a writer, Nichol is a mental health campaigner, and she has her own experience with an anxiety disorder; it’s important to her to open up the conversation about mental health and addiction to everyone. When I tell her Parklife reminds me a bit of Rachel’s Holiday by Marian Keyes, which was marketed as chick lit but carried a serious story amongst the jokes, she lights up. “[Marian]’s a genius, and I could not compare myself. But in

HEAR MORE ABOUT LUCY’S CREATIVE PROCESS IN FRAN HARVEY’S MY WRITING LIFE PODCAST, AVAILABLE ON OUR SPOTIFY CHANNEL WWW.LINKTR.EE/NARCMAGAZINE

PARKLIFE IS ABOUT ACKNOWLEDGING THAT IF YOU HAVE EXPERIENCED TRAUMA OR YOU HAVE AN ANXIETY DISORDER, THERE IS ONGOING WORK AND RECOVERY IS NEVER A STRAIGHT LINE terms of what she’s doing, I think that’s what I want to do, because it’s normalising the conversation completely. Not just in terms of having it out there, but in having it out there in an easy-to-read format. Because when you read stories about addiction and recovery, they’re mainly literary fiction.” Which is not a criticism – Nichol lists several literary books that she loves. “That’s not my writing style. I wanted to write accessibly. And I wanted to work on friendship and bringing a bit of humour into things.” She has more than achieved this with Parklife. It will make you laugh, and it’ll make you want to put on a playlist of 90s bangers and hug your mates. But it also breaks your heart and challenges a lot of preconceptions about addiction and mental health. “Everything that I do is tackling stigma,” Nichol says. “It’s really important to me. I think the 90s, in terms of mental health stigma, were really, really challenging. It’s not great now, but things are a lot better now than they were then.” Is that why the book is set in the 90s, and does she think the pub-and-club, ‘ladette’ culture is partly to blame for Emma’s addiction? “I don’t necessarily think they are the root cause of things – but trends can be damaging because they can hide things.” Mostly, the 90s setting is “a bit of a nostalgic, midlife thing. And because 90s music is just bloody brilliant.” Parklife by Lucy Nichol is out on 1st June

www.lucynichol.com

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INTERVIEW

THERE’S NO GREAT AGENDA HERE EXCEPT TO TRY TO OFFER A SPACE TO THOSE WHO MIGHT OTHERWISE STRUGGLE TO FIND SOMEWHERE FOR THEIR WORK WITH AN ACTIVE AUDIENCE OF SUPPORTIVE PEOPLE

THE LUBBER FIEND

HAVING FINALLY OPENED THEIR DOORS LAST MONTH, TOM, SAM AND BISH FROM NEW NOT-FOR-PROFIT DIY MUSIC SPACE THE LUBBER FIEND CHAT TO CLAIRE DUPREE ABOUT THEIR GRAND PLANS FOR THE VENUE Skyrocketing living costs. Brexit. The cultural industries’ precarious position. Oh, and the little matter of a worldwide pandemic. Any of these challenges alone might be enough to dampen the spirits of the most ardent entrepreneur, but all four together...there can only be one kind of fool big enough to set up a brand new community-based, not-for-profit and totally independently financed music venue in such circumstances, and that fool is The Lubber Fiend. OK, not the Fiend himself – that’s actually a creature from English folklore, “a large hairy man with a tail who will perform household chores and threshing duties in exchange for a saucer of milk and a place to kip by the fire”. As far as we know, Sam Booth, Tom Hopkin and Stephen ‘Bish’ Bishop don’t have tails (we’ll not speculate on their hirsute nature), but together the trio are behind Newcastle’s newest music venue, located on Blandford Street near the Discovery Museum. The trio have a long history in the region’s music community, and are part of the various noisy/punky/electro DIY scenes. Tom even has a PhD around how difficult the last 10 years have been for cultural spaces, so they have their eyes wide open when it comes to the potential pitfalls around opening a new venue. “I’ve spent the past four years or so researching, reading and writing about how crap things are,” Tom says, “but also seeing the benefit of being uncompromising in your ideals and remaining as independent as possible. The Lubber Fiend is a way of putting some of this into action.” Having kicked off with a crowdfunder in mid-2021, the venue’s doors are finally open, and Bish explains it’s all down to the mountain of help they’ve received. “Together the three of us have so much thanks to offer to those folks assisting in electrics,

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digital networking, audio installation, lighting, art and design and general labour and fundraising.” Tom continues: “It’s the result of real community action and mobilisation. We’ve had an incredibly positive response from first floating the idea – people have contributed their skills, knowledge, time, equipment and money to get us to this point. It’s validated our perceived need for a space like this in Newcastle but it’s also brought us into contact with a whole range of people who care deeply about music and DIY culture.” The idea behind the venue is to provide a welcoming and affordable space for audiences, promoters and bands alike, with high quality equipment and a professional outlook. “There’s no great agenda here except to try to offer a space to those who might otherwise struggle to find somewhere for their work with an active audience of supportive people. There’s no point in delivering another night club which is immediately monopolised or an ‘alternative’ venue which never explores real alternatives.” Says Bish. As well as operating as a music venue, finances dictate that The Lubber Fiend will also operate as a bar too, but the venue is firmly a priority. “It is important to our functioning that people feel welcome to come down and have a coffee or a pint or whatever, as the balance between gigs and us being a licenced venue is going to be important to our continuation and hopefully our success.” Bish explains. “I know that increasingly there is a real care shown by many customers to where their drinks are coming from and who they are supporting with their purchase. We will absolutely be representing the wealth of independent producers and wish to collaborate on things in the future. We aim to keep prices fair for all.”


INTERVIEW

MUSIC

When it comes to the music policy, The Lubber Fiend will be eclectic. “We are open to any music and promoter who wants to use the space.” Sam says. “My background is in punk/hardcore/ metal etc., and there will be a fair bit of that, but it’s a space for anyone who wants to use it and gets what we are trying to do. As for our own bookings, we will be putting on a whole range of stuff and putting on some adventurous and ambitious gigs.” With Bish’s background in electronic music (he runs the indie label Opal Tapes), there will be a healthy smattering of underground electro sounds coming from the venue too. “There will certainly be electronics ranging from underground techno and industrial to quiet improvised work to dub, ambient and beyond.” Tom’s love for 60s garage rock (“the snottier the better”), punk and Italo disco adds to the melting pot of influences, but their own tastes by no means limit the scope of what the venue might provide music lovers. Lined up for June are some tasty shows from the likes of DIY radio station Slacks (Saturday 4th); a cracking line-up on Sunday 12th includes Richard Dawson and Sally Pilkington’s Bulbils, plus performance artist Liberty Hodes and Summer;

and a noisy bill on Saturday 18th featuring Mortsafe, Coax, Kamikaze and Diall. So, while the general outlook for the arts may be ominous, there is a relentless optimism in The Lubber Fiend camp that can only contribute to the venture’s success, and Sam, Bish and Tom are more excited than daunted. “You read about stuff all the time that will affect us and it would be easy to say we can’t do it.” Sam admits. “One moment where I really thought this was possible though was the support we got once we went public. The money people have donated is unbelievably generous, but the time and effort people have already put in to help us and have offered going forward means that it is possible. It just means we have to deliver a great venue back to them, that is worth it!” “Things are shaky, there is hostility and there’s not any indication that things will get better anytime soon.” Tom concludes. “So, it seems like the perfect time to stick our necks out and do something risky!” Foolish? Perhaps. Passionate, brave and vital? Absolutely. The Lubber Fiend is located on Blandford Street, Newcastle. www.instagram.com/thelubberfiend

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INTERVIEW

MUSIC

SALT HOUSE LAVISH

MARIA WINTER SPEAKS TO LOCAL MUSIC CREATOR AND INNOVATOR SALT HOUSE LAVISH ABOUT HIS NEW ALBUM OF ELECTRO BANGERS “There’s such a rich amount of influences within this album. It’s truly eclectic.” North East musician and sound engineer Salt House Lavish, otherwise known as Andrew Laverick, is set to release his new album Take A Deep Breath People this month. Exploring a multitude of genres and external influences, the record builds on the musician’s previous releases, in particular 2020’s album Change In Temperature, which combined real-world sound manipulation with electronic production. “This album is a little darker than my previous one, but it’s still kind of upbeat. There’s so much negativity at the moment, I want to put something out there to give at least someone a more positive vibe.” On this release, Laverick finds the perfect balance between sincerity and musical alacrity, producing an album which bursts with passion. Prior to his solo endeavours, Laverick hosted regular open mic nights at his pub in Billingham, encouraging people to enjoy all types of music. He explained how it influenced his own musical journey: “I decided to build a mobile studio to give these guys some experience and in the process I thought I’d use it myself – I created some really cool stuff. This most recent album was me scribbling away for a couple of weeks and finding things to use musically.” With a general thematic focus on persevering with life, Take A Breath People demonstrates an intriguing contrast by lyrically accounting relatable, everyday experiences, yet instrumentally exploring the energetic optimism life has to

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THERE’S SO MUCH NEGATIVITY AT THE MOMENT, I WANT TO PUT SOMETHING OUT THERE TO GIVE AT LEAST SOMEONE A MORE POSITIVE VIBE

offer, and it truly highlights Laverick’s love for using music as a tool to uplift. As a multi-instrumentalist, Laverick worked with both live instruments and sample packs to create the diverse album. Focusing heavily on vocal packs, he explained the versatility of samples, as they can establish the underlying structure of an entire song. Heard particularly in the second track, Staring Off Into Space, ethereal harmonies are used to build upon the initial melody and driving rhythm, which overall generates a captivating sense of mystery. “My musical process changes with each song. I love how adaptable it can be.” Alongside the recording, Laverick also emphasised the importance of post-production within his songwriting process. As an album that relies heavily on this aspect, one of its special qualities are the definitive mastering techniques – and this process is interestingly Laverick’s favourite part. “Getting to the point where you’ve listened to it a thousand times, but then you tweak something and hear an entirely new sound – it creates a whole new passion,” he comments. Comprised of a mixture of genres which span rock and electro pop, Laverick’s new album successfully keeps the listener on their toes throughout the entire musical experience. As an eclectic masterpiece that aims to provide a positive outlook on life, Take A Deep Breath People achieves this through incredible instrumental techniques, musical spontaneity and dazzling manipulation, resulting in Salt House Lavish encapsulating the power of music through his body of work. Salt House Lavish releases Take A Deep Breath People on 17th June. www.facebook.com/salthouselavishmusic


INTERVIEW

BOUNDARIES FESTIVAL

AS THE SECOND BOUNDARIES FESTIVAL APPROACHES, LEE FISHER ASKS GRAEME HOPPER ABOUT CURATING A FESTIVAL WITH A LAVENDER VIBE

MUSIC

L-R, T-B: Rachel Aggs, Tim Shaw by Verena Mayrhofer, Yerba Mansa, Rhodri Davies

Last November, using a combination of determination, magical thinking and a little bit of funding, Graeme Hopper willed a brand new Sunderland-based experimental music festival into being. And now he’s doing it again. In fact, he was already dreaming up this next incarnation before the first even happened. But we’re getting ahead of ourselves: how did the first one go? “It was a huge success, everyone who attended had smiles on their faces and all the artists who performed really enjoyed their time and hospitality.” Effuses Hopper. “Storm Arwen almost put a spanner in the works, with staff not being able to get there and bands arriving super late due to cancelled trains and roads closed coming in and out of the city. There were a few lessons learned, like not asking EVERYONE to play as it got a bit crowded and over booked! I’ve noted a few hurdles going forward this time though!” When we interviewed Hopper last year he said he wanted to “to focus on rhythm for next year, so textural electronics alongside great abstract acoustic ideas and more jazz and metal” and I wondered to what extent that has stayed true. “Yeah. Although not as much as I’d like, basically due to no funding at all this time and the limited space and locations available. I had to tell a few metal bands I’d get them on next time due to no room or budget! There’s still a great mix of the above though – abstract electronics, acoustic tones, noise rock, dissonant jazz, found sound crews and much more.” Hopper is synaesthetic (he sees colour when hearing music) and pronounced a mustardy vibe for last year’s festival. “This year definitely has a more lavender vibe! Sounds silly, but it definitely feels like that!” This year’s festival – while not quite as ambitious as Hopper had hoped (because of the aforementioned funding issues) – still boasts a killer line-up and has expanded. “This year we’re using two locations, which is super exciting. Firstly The

THERE’S A GREAT MIX OF ABSTRACT ELECTRONICS, ACOUSTIC TONES, NOISE ROCK, DISSONANT JAZZ, FOUND SOUND CREWS AND MUCH MORE Peacock, which was used last year and is really at the heart of the festival, and also the brand new Fire Station auditorium which will host Harrga and Rian Treanor on the Friday night. A wonderful hall with magnificent sound and lights. Can’t wait!” It’s traditional to ask festival curators to pick some potential highlights, and equally traditional for them to insist it will ALL be a highlight. This is as it should be. “I genuinely think everyone playing will impress and inspire. On Friday, I reckon Ashley Paul’s intimate jazz, Harrga’s intense political spoken word and then Rian Treanor’s colourful abstract dance sets will blow people away! On Saturday headliners Yerba Mansa will melt the hardened head with free form noise jazzy rock, Helena Celle with her midi electronics, Rhodri Davies’ improv harp! Human Heads are apparently curating a smell alongside their manipulated field recordings!” All this plus local heroes The Unit Ama and Bad Amputee, Prangers, Rachel Aggs, Amy Cutler and Nicola Singh and a piece from sound artist Tim Shaw. Of course, Hopper is already onto the next thing. “I’m currently thinking about a little all-dayer in November, maybe more noisy and louder. And I’m hoping to get Boundaries 2023 announced by the end of the year. Just have fun, right?” Boundaries Festival takes place at The Peacock and Fire Station in Sunderland on Friday 17th and Saturday 18th June. www.boundariesfestival.com

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INTERVIEW

MUSIC

RUMAZ

Image by Benjamin Michael Smith

DAMIAN ROBINSON TALKS TO NORTH EAST HIP-HOP ARTISTS MAX GAVINS AND 90BRO ABOUT THEIR HYPEFUELLED DEBUT ALBUM There’s perhaps nothing more exciting as a music fan than a hook up between two (or more) of your favourite artists (McCartney, Ye, Rhiannon anyone?). Though there’s clearly risks involved, the opportunities for exponential results when strong, independent artists come together is a mouth-watering prospect. Having both built a reputation for strong, individual outputs within the North East hip-hop community, the combination of Newcastle’s Max Gavins and Sunderland’s 90BRO (collectively known as RuMaz) may be as interesting as it gets. Both exceptionally talented in their own rights, their first combined single, 2018’s IANAN (Free Man), was an early indication of the sonic possibilities they could achieve when they put their beats, wit and lyrics together. It may have been a while coming (we’ll get to that) but the wait has been worth it; debut album Songs In The Key Of Hype is an edgy, heavy combination of grime cyphers, modern trap and dub reggae basslines that mix to create an old school block party record. As it turns out, this was a collaboration that well surpassed their individual artistries. “This has been a long, long time coming,” confirms Gavins when we catch up, “it may even be nearly 18 months since the album was complete but because we’re such fans of each other and each other’s work, and because we are so

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WE HAD AN IDEA FOR AN ALBUM OF BANGERS AND HYPE AND WANTED TO CREATE SOMETHING THAT HELD TOGETHER AS A PARTY HYPE COLLECTION

proud of the album, there was no way that we were going to release this in the middle of a lockdown when it couldn’t be heard live.” “I’d agree,” confirms 90BRO, “we had an idea for an album of bangers and hype and wanted to create something that held together as a party hype collection. This wasn’t coming out when people weren’t able to get hype.” Recorded in as much of a live style as possible (“we also wanted to back each other, and then hype each other, so it has a real live sound” confirms Gavins), Songs In The Key Of Hype is as much a hype album as it is perhaps a symbol of Northernness and an expression of the local scene. “I think we, and this album, are unapologetically Northern,” clarifies 90BRO, “we’re as proud of being Northern as we are about this album, and we wanted our energy and dialects to be a part of who we are. We’re proud of who we are, of the scene and where we come from.” Checking across a variety of sounds and styles, Songs In The Key Of Hype may well be an early contender for North East album, let alone hip-hop album, of the year; both artists seemingly fully committed to the sound, feel, energy and narratives of the end product. “The hype is real and the rumours are true,” 90 confirms as a send off, “we’d like to thank everyone from the North East scene who helped in some ways with the final album. This is our best work, there’s more coming, and when you work with Max, and his beats set the standard, you’d better be spitting something good. And we do. And we’ll continue to.” Hype by name, hype by nature. RuMaz release Songs In The Key Of Hype on 10th June. www.linktr.ee/rumaz


INTERVIEW

IAN ROBINSON: APOCALYPSE WHEN, APOCALYPSE HOW HELEN REDFERN TALKS TO THE MIDDLESBROUGH-BASED PHOTOGRAPHER ABOUT HIS PHOTOBOOK DEPICTING TEESSIDE SEEN THROUGH AN APOCALYPTIC LENS

ART&LIT

Having studied filmmaking at uni in Hull in the 90s, Ian Robinson turned to photography when a friend lent him an early digital camera in 2003 and it clicked (his joke, not mine). Having worked as a self-employed photographer since 2015, Apocalypse When, Apocalypse How is Ian’s first creative project, and his photobook and exhibition launch as part of the Crossing The Tees Book Festival was developed through a connection with Lisa Lovebucket and The Post Apocalyptic School of Teesside. Born in Thornaby, raised in Middlesbrough, Ian has lived on Teesside all his life. He didn’t have to go far to find the right locations with a post-apocalyptic, Blade Runner feel (he’s a huge fan of Blade Runner and of course, Ridley Scott was influenced by Teesside early in his life), explaining: “From where I lived, on my walk into town, there was a whole housing estate that had been demolished, at least emptied, so there were a lot of empty and deserted streets. I managed to creep into some of the houses before they were demolished and take photos, but then there’s also a lot of industry around Teesside, the derelict old Town Hall, the old blast furnace at South Gare...with a wide lens and orange filter, it all became different.” Stanley Kubrick’s comment that “real is good, interesting is better” is Ian’s favourite quote; he has always found a beauty in industry and wasteland, in destroyed/demolished things, where others can’t see it. He’s photographing with a sense of urgency, capturing images of industrial landmarks before they’re gone forever, saying: “I mourn the loss of things like the blast furnace. Maybe there should be a memorial or museum or something. There’s an irony about the time and money that’s put into demolishing things but not building things – and how they seem to demolish the wrong things.” For Ian, the apocalypse in terms of environmental collapse and virtually a Mad Max scenario is not far away. “Give it a generation

ART IS THE HOPE WE WILL SURVIVE TOGETHER WHEN GIANT CORPORATIONS AND GOVERNMENTS IGNORE US AND LEAVE US TO OUR OWN DEVICES. ART IS THE BONDING OF PEOPLE TOGETHER and I think we’ll be looking at a vastly different landscape,” he comments, admitting, “I think I read too much science fiction.” However, this photobook and exhibition is as much about the present as the future. He believes that any dystopian fiction is about the concerns of the present. This imagining of a postapocalyptic world invites a tongue in cheek look at austerity. Growing up on Teesside in the 80s and 90s has shaped an idea in him that once you’re not useful, you’ll just be cut off and then Teesside will become the derelict place his fictional photography is warning of. So will there be a space for artists in this post-apocalyptic world? For someone with such a bleak world-view, Ian’s response is inspiring: “Art is looking to a brighter future, when you get into a place of darkness. Art is the hope we will survive together when giant corporations and governments ignore us and leave us to our own devices. Art is the bonding of people together.” And so Ian continues to make art. Look out for his next project, Tomorrow Maybe, a short film set in the near future. Until then, let Apocalypse When, Apocalypse How fire up your imagination and see where it leads you. Ian Robinson’s Apocalypse When, Apocalypse How is launched at Base Camp, Middlesbrough on Saturday 11th June

www.facebook.com/ianrobinsonpictures www.crossingthetees.org

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LISTINGS

THE BEST OF THE REST...EVEN MORE ALTERNATIVE MUSIC, THEATRE, COMEDY, ART AND FILM TAKING PLACE THROUGHOUT THE NORTH EAST THIS MONTH WEDNESDAY 1ST JUNE CLAP YOUR HANDS SAY YEAH

Alec Ounsworth brings his eclectic pop project back to Newcastle // The Cluny, Newcastle

MARY LATTIMORE

Los Angeles-based harpist // Gosforth Civic Theatre, Newcastle

MEMORIAL

Fast rising folk pop duo // Little Buildings, Newcastle

TAROT + CAUTIONARY TALES

Highly rated sketch comedy // The Stand, Newcastle

THREE TALL WOMEN

North East premiere of Edward Albee’s multi-award winning psychodrama. Runs until 4th June // The People’s Theatre, Newcastle

VIDEO MADE THE RADIO STAR

Video showcases courtesy of Firestone Video accompany live sets from local artists Friends Like These, Frankie Jobling and John Dole // The Biscuit Factory, Newcastle

SATURDAY 4TH JUNE FAWNS

Following that night’s performance of punk play We Are The Best!, expect a set from Durham indie folk duo Fawns and two-piece slime rockers The Slugs // Live Theatre, Newcastle

GINGER WILDHEART & THE SINNERS

The legendary artist performs in Sunderland // Pop Recs Ltd., Sunderland

OXJAM FUNDRAISER

Featuring Holy Braille, Set Your Sights, Valley-59, Danica Dares and Fiona Liquid // The Globe, Newcastle

TEZ ILYAS

Host of Channel 4’s The Tez O’Clock Show, the political stand-up headlines a show which also features Liam Farrelly and Andy Fury // Forum Music Centre, Darlington

SUNDAY 5TH JUNE

BLOC PARTY

The indie favourites return // O2 City Hall, Newcastle

The musician and master storyteller performs an acoustic show // The Peacock, Sunderland British 80’s horror in which a scientist (Terence Stamp) and his assistant (Elisabeth Shue) study primates on a remote island // Star & Shadow Cinema, Newcastle

TUESDAY 7TH JUNE

FEATURED //

BO NINGEN

Honest songwriting fusing elements of folk, classical, alt. rock and avant garde pop. Support from Maius Mollis // The Globe, Newcastle

NEWCASTLE UNIVERSITY FINE ART GRADUATES 2022

Dominie Hooper

MICHAEL HEAD & THE RED ELASTIC BAND

Eclectic Liverpudlian songwriter // The Cluny, Newcastle

SPEARS & BODEN

Instrumental duo // The Fire Station, Sunderland

FRIDAY 3RD JUNE DELIGHTS

Mancunian indie rock // Head of Steam, Newcastle

DOWN THE LINES

Takeover Young Writer in Residence Owen Saunders presents the premiere of his play // The Customs House, South Shields

TALES & SCALES FESTIVAL 1952-2022

Japanese alt. noise rock. Supported by Rudi Beatamax // The Cluny, Newcastle A varied exhibition of work by artists completing the BA Fine Art degree at Newcastle University // Hatton Gallery, Newcastle

WEDNESDAY 8TH JUNE ANYTHING GOES

Cross-genre night featuring a variety of sounds from Eve Kills The Sun, Patersun, Common Courtesy and Darren Wilde // NE Volume Music Bar, Stockton

ELVIS COSTELLO & THE IMPOSTERS

Veteran musician // O2 City Hall, Newcastle

MAYDAY PARADE

Powerhouse emo quintet // Boiler Shop, Newcastle

THURSDAY 9TH JUNE LAUREN PATTISON

Celebrating the last seven decades in North Shields, featuring Wor Geordie by Steve Byron, music and storytelling // The Exchange, North Shields

The comedian presents a work in progress version of her new show // Bobik’s, Newcastle

THE OFTEN HERD

A production by Alison Stanley about the family dynamics at play when a family receives an autism diagnoses for their son // Gosforth Civic Theatre, Newcastle

The local bluegrass band launch their new album // The Cluny 2, Newcastle

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Kicking off the first of Generator’s Live At The Amphitheatre gigs as part of South Tyneside Festival, rock ‘n’ rollers Weekend Faithful are joined by songwriter Albert Smith // Amphitheatre, South Shields

FRIDAY 10TH JUNE A NIGHT OF JOY DIVISION

A rare screening of the visually compelling documentary Joy Division, plus live music from Shadowplay // Star & Shadow Cinema, Newcastle

BAJZEL

High energy mix of dance beats, rock riffs, punk attitude and funk sounds // Base Camp, Middlesbrough

DAVID & THE LION: MARC CHAGALL

An exhibition of work by modernist artist Marc Chagall, whose work has been associated with Cubism, Fauvism and Jewish folk art. Runs until 9th July // Gallagher & Turner, Newcastle

MARTIN STEPHENSON & THE DAINTEES

LINK

THURSDAY 2ND JUNE

WEEKEND FAITHFUL

THE LIFE OF REILLY

FEATURED //

Jason Cook Comedy Club

Featuring sets from Tom Stade, Emmanual Sonubi and Sammy Dobson. Also on Saturday 11th // The Customs House, South Shields

HADAWAY HARRY

The true story of Harry Clasper, sporting superstar of the Victorian era // The Exchange, North Shields

THE LANGAN BAND

Pan-European traditional acoustic music with infectious grooves, supported by Le Cafe Parisian and Little Big Blue // Cobalt Studios, Newcastle

SATURDAY 11TH JUNE ARTIST DESIGNER MAKER: GLASS & CERAMICS DEGREE SHOW

Graduating students from Sunderland’s School of Art & Design celebrate their creativity and skills with an exhibition which runs until 20th June // National Glass Centre, Sunderland

DOCKSUNS

Indie rock four-piece // Independent, Sunderland

EMERGENCY LIBRARIAN

A night of musical esoterica courtesy of Emergency Librarian, The Between Space and The Milk Lizards // Little Buildings, Newcastle

JON SPENCER & THE HITMAKERS

The iconic musician presents his complex indie rock // The Cluny, Newcastle

LARRY DEAN

The confessional comic presents his show, Fudnut // Tyne Theatre & Opera House, Newcastle

NORTHERN ROOTS SHOWCASE

Following the We Are The Best! production, enjoy live music from Northern Roots artists,


LISTINGS DJs and dancers // Live Theatre, Newcastle

ROXY GIRLS

The Sunderland post-punks are joined by Pink Poison and Smuj // The Globe, Newcastle

THE FUTUREHEADS

The Sunderland favourites perform acoustic and a capella // The Fire Station, Sunderland

THE ILLICITS

Electric four-piece rockers, supported by The Voluntears and Uncle Dudeman // KU, Stockton

WOJTEK THE BEAR

Smart-casual indie pop from Glasgow // Bobik’s, Newcastle

SUNDAY 12TH JUNE BULBILS

Richard Dawson and Sally Pilkington’s lockdown collaboration gets its second live outing, plus support from Summer and Itching Powder // The Lubber Fiend, Newcastle

JIM WHITE

Professional surfer, comedian, fashion model and gifted Americana musician! // The Cluny 2, Newcastle

MONDAY 13TH JUNE

MANU LOUIS

KATHRYN TICKELL & THE DARKENING

TIM DALLING & THE AANIMALS

PARASTATIC

One-man avant garde composer and impromptu discotheque, supported by Brad Field // Cobalt Studios, Newcastle Good-time trio // The Globe, Newcastle

SATURDAY 18TH JUNE FORAGER

Grunge punk from Manchester // Little Buildings, Newcastle

Contemporary folk with traditional edge // Sage Gateshead The post-rock electronica experimentalists return. Support from Amateur Trepanning and Madeline Smyth // The Cumberland Arms, Newcastle

PRICKS

REALITY BOOTS

Eclectic and inspirational music // The Exchange, North Shields

Jade Byrne’s urgent and funny show which blends engaging storytelling with poetry and original soundscapes, tackling themes of diabetes, families and learning to care for each other // Theatre Hullabaloo, Darlington

RICHARD GRAINGER

WEATHERSHIP

Acclaimed Middlesbrough songwriter // Toft House, Middlesbrough

SHOE CAKE COMEDY CLUB

Featuring the Discount Comedy Checkout and Si Beckwith // The Georgian Theatre, Stockton

SUNDAY 19TH JUNE

The new project from JP Riggall; expect lush soundscapes and stellar songwriting. Support from JR Gray and Harriet Bradshaw // NE Volume Music Bar, Stockton

SATURDAY 25TH JUNE DEAN PARKER

CHRIS DIFFORD

Squeeze co-founder // The Fire Station, Sunderland

Local songwriter launches his new EP, supported by Squire // Little Buildings, Newcastle

LIVE ON THE TERRACE

FIGHTMILK

DÄLEK

Indie pop punk, plus support from The Avelons // Bobik’s, Newcastle

Experimental hip-hop pioneers // The Cluny 2, Newcastle

The popular daytime event features music courtesy of Sister Shack and food from Magic Hat // The Cumberland Arms, Newcastle

WITCH OF THE EAST

POLY STYRENE: I AM A CLICHÉ

Local Americana and folk songwriter // The Exchange, North Shields

Cinematic genre-twisting sounds, supported by Healthy Junkies and LN // Little Buildings, Newcastle

WEDNESDAY 15TH JUNE PATRICK KIELTY

A comedic love letter to the future of our islands from the award-winning comedian // The Stand, Newcastle

THURSDAY 16TH JUNE FEATURED //

Cortney Dixon

Generator present a lush evening of sounds as part of South Tyneside Festival, this week including songwriter and producer Cortney Dixon, plus South Shields’ own indie rockers, District Attorney // Amphitheatre, South Shields

THE DAMNED

Revered English rockers // The Fire Station, Sunderland

THE LOST WORDS: SPELL SONGS

Rescheduled from January. Collaborative songwriting and storytelling project // Sage Gateshead

FRIDAY 17TH JUNE DECREPIT MONOLITH

Northumberland-based metal, supported by Cast In Tephra and Dunes // Anarchy Brew Co, Newcastle

MANIFESTO

Daniel Draper’s third Labour party documentary, plus Q&A with the director and Ian Lavery MP // Tyneside Cinema, Newcastle

Documentary following punk icon Poly Styrene’s daughter Celeste as she journeys to better understand the multi-faceted nature of her mother // Star & Shadow Cinema, Newcastle

THE DELIGHTFUL SAUSAGE

Afternoon work in progress show from the comedy duo // Bobik’s, Newcastle

MONDAY 20TH JUNE SAUTI SOL

Afro-pop from Kenya // The Cluny 2, Newcastle

THURSDAY 23RD JUNE FEATURED //

Dead Cats

The name of the game is spin. Blending new writing, performance and filmmaking to show the truths behind the fictions // ARC, Stockton

SUMMER OF SOUL

Tremendous live music film, featuring performances from Nina Simone, Stevie Wonder and more // Star & Shadow Cinema, Newcastle

WOJCIECH RUSIN

Audio visual artist, supported by acoustic improvisation ensemble Emergency Collective and Tim Shaw // Cobalt Studios, Newcastle

FRIDAY 24TH JUNE INFINITE

Humanhood Dance Company’s visionary theatre meditation. Also on Saturday 25th // Northern Stage, Newcastle

SAM NIX

THE KICK, THE SNARE, THE HAT & A CLAP

Documentary by artist and filmmaker Susie Davies, telling of the 1990s warehouse party scene in the Ouseburn Valley // Cobalt Studios, Newcastle

SUNDAY 26TH JUNE LIM ORION

Atmospheric and textural soundscapes, supported by young songwriter Jasmine Weatherill // The Owl, Hartlepool

LOS CHICHANOS

Pumping Latin sounds from Edinburgh’s underground fiesta scene // The Globe, Newcastle

TUESDAY 28TH JUNE DARREN HAYMAN

Playing the songs of Hefner // The Cumberland Arms, Newcastle

WEDNESDAY 29TH JUNE RAIN HARE

A launch event celebrating the publication of Anna Barker’s new short story collection via Iron Press // The Lit & Phil, Newcastle

THURSDAY 30TH JUNE MT. MISERY

Lush indie pop, with support from Americana/indie artist Memphis Gerald // Cobalt Studios, Newcastle

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Come and see proposals for the North East Emerging Artist Prize. Vote for your favourite.

Seaton Delaval Hall, 27 May – 19 June

nationaltrust.org.uk/seaton-delaval-hall © National Trust 2022. Registered Charity no. 205846. Photography © National Trust Images

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REVIEWS

Sea Girls by Jay Dawson

SEA GIRLS @ BOILER SHOP, NEWCASTLE (16.05.22) Words: Tom Astley Sea Girls ripped through a truncated 45-minute set at the Boiler Shop, visiting Newcastle on the last night of their mini-tour supporting new album Homesick. The band offered a study in professionalised pop rock performance; running through a well-rehearsed set list that felt as though it were carved in granite, rather than written up on the back of a beermat. New tracks and crowd-favourites were greeted with screams and phone screens from an audience eager to bounce along to Sea Girls’ 80s synth pop-inflected guitar band tunes. The night culminated with fan-favourite All I Want To Hear You Say in a moment of collective celebration that has been sorely missed in the Covid-era dearth of live music. Perhaps the most complimentary (and in some ways disappointing) thing about this Sea Girls gig was that the tunes were almost indistinguishable from the recordings in their deliberately, professionally, rehearsed live iterations, belying some of the confessional, in-the-heatof-the-moment honesty of the lyrics. Even the continual rejoinders to crowd cheers of “fuck yeah, Newcastle” from uber-confident frontman Henry Camamile began to sound pre-recorded. The band created a moment of unapologetic escapism from the realities of the world, diving into an ocean of summer festivals and good times. And the crowd seemed eager to swim along.

WILLY VLAUTIN, KATHRYN WILLIAMS @ GOSFORTH CIVIC THEATRE (09.05.22) Words: Lee Fisher Vlautin is becoming something of a regular at Gosforth Civic Theatre and tonight he was here promoting the paperback of his latest novel The Night Always Comes, in conversation with Kathryn Williams. If he was tired arriving right off the back of a Delines European tour, it wasn’t obvious – he was as charming, open and funny as ever. And Williams – now a published author herself with her The Ormering Tide novel – proved a fine companion for the evening. The pair chatted informally about writing, films, gentrification, being in love with a place and a whole lot more besides (there was some bonding over Björk too). Vlautin was quietly angry about the changes to

his adopted hometown of Portland and about the betrayal of the American Dream. He talked about falling in love with small things, about how he writes female characters and how he worries about what happens to his characters after the books have finished. While The Night Always Comes might not be his strongest novel, his relationship to and understanding of its characters and the key themes was no less affecting. We got a couple of songs from each – Vlautin’s version of Don’t Skip Out On Me was particularly lovely, as was an unreleased song from Williams which might end up being called Fallen Arrow – and the whole thing was a warm and welcoming affair.

FRANKIE AND THE WITCH FINGERS, YES CHEF @ THE CLUNY, NEWCASTLE (17.05.22) Words: Lee Hammond Having released their latest album back in 2020, Frankie And The Witch Fingers are finally able to tour the brilliant Monsters Eating People Eating Monsters. Opening up are local noiseniks Yes Chef, who provide an excellent aperitif as they tear through an energetic set, setting a high bar from the off. That bar is raised instantly as Frankie And The Witch Fingers take the stage, and it’s an aural onslaught from the outset. Tight riffs coupled with an even tighter rhythm section ring out through the venue. The crowd in some cases quite literally throw themselves at the stage, a sweaty tight-knit gathering forming at the front of The Cluny. Electricide and Pleasure are undoubted early favourites, which the band rip through at breakneck speed, and at an ear-splitting volume, rarely pausing for breath between tracks. You cannot help but marvel at the garage rock goodness pouring out of the PA, whilst the band barely miss a beat. With tracks blending into one another, blasts of Cocaine Dream and Mild Davis fly by before this manic set culminates with MEPEM, taunting the bodies still tussling at the front almost as relentlessly as the band. There is an unrivalled intensity and passion that courses throughout this garage rock masterclass and proves that Frankie And The Witch Fingers were well worth the wait.

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LIVE

Pillow Queens by Victoria Wai

HANNAH PEEL & PARAORCHESTRA @ SAGE GATESHEAD (06.05.22) Words: Ali Welford In their decade since assembling, Paraorchestra have been no strangers to crossover collaboration. Broadening perceptions of what an orchestra can be in the 21st Century, the Bristol-based collective integrate disabled and non-disabled musicians in a virtuoso ensemble, expertly marrying traditional tropes with contemporary design and instrumentation. After all, in the words of conductor Charles Hazlewood, why pass up on talent, just because somebody doesn’t fit within a certain mould? Composed by Mercury-nominated electronic artist Hannah Peel, latest project The Unfolding is a marvellous testament to what inclusivity and receptiveness to ideas can accomplish. Purposely blending among the company, Peel declines to stand front-and-centre, instead positioning herself as just another soloist under Hazelwood’s direction. Her addition (following an opening rendition of Latent Blue, a suite by Paraorchestra bass clarinet player Lloyd Coleman) makes for a 15-strong ensemble, conjuring pieces penned not for faceless string and woodwind sections, but rather tailored for each individual onstage. From soprano Victoria Oruwari’s ascending opening notes to its ecstatically delivered musical credits – via Passage’s exquisite, electrifying sound design, the swinging dynamism of If After Weeks of Early Sun and a whole lot more – the subsequent performance is sweeping, beguiling and often breakthtaking. Transcending its recorded guise, The Unfolding: Live is as much an exhibit of Paraorchestra’s skill, zest and versatility as Peel’s prolific imagination. A dazzling collective triumph.

DILETTANTE, CAT RYAN @ LITTLE BUILDINGS, NEWCASTLE (14.05.22) Words: Damian Robinson Taking the poppier elements of the New York new wave scene, Cat Ryan’s sound can be described as a combination of funk-driven bass lines, arpeggiated guitar hooks and spiky guitar rhythms. Tonight’s set, consisting of standouts Lost, This Is Like This, Mannerism and Amsterdam, all sparkle with the type of summery pop signatures that create an almost tropical, carnival-esque sound which lands in the same atmosphere as the Beach Boy’s Kokomo; which is, let’s face it,

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almost perfect pop. Changing seasons, Dilettante move us from Summer into Autumn/ Winter with a set that is deliberately dark and moody. Opening with Big Fish and moving though standouts Teeth and The Tourist, Dilettante’s set is an exceptional performance piece, combining an unreal amount of live layering and looping with a musical style that combines jazz drum patterns wi th delicate electronic textures in an end result that is part trip-hop, part jazz and part art rock. Watching these three musicians create, build and layer their live sound is a pleasure in itself. Supporting the presentation of the tunes, frontwoman Francesca Pidgeon brings the musical elements together with a performance style which sees her fixed on the middle distance whilst spitting vocals with deft pronunciation; this level of art wouldn’t work with sunshine and smiles. Exceptional.

PILLOW QUEENS, MERPIRE @ THE CLUNY, NEWCASTLE (07.05.22) Words: Damian Robinson Starting off a fine double-header of country/alternative pop, it’s Australian act Merpire who set the high benchmark with a set full of lush, sparking pop. Stand outs Habit and Dinosaur, both taken from recent album Simulation Ride, contribute to a performance that places the country/pop/rock feel of Sheryl Crow alongside the harmonydrenched acoustic pop of Crowded House to create a set that is confident, varied and full of sun drenched songs. Acting as a superb support for headliners Pillow Queens, it’s a great choice to follow the momentum built from Merpire quickly, which the band do by bouncing on stage and straight into the alt. rocker No Good Woman. Delivering a well performed and curated set, Pillow Queens maintain their standard throughout, regularly switching vocals and instruments in a show filled with a variety of emotions. The poppy HowdoIlook is an early highlight, though the final bow out of Liffey is hard to top both for its vocals as well as overall musicality. With both bands seemingly genuinely touched by the reaction and support they received from the crowd, the gig felt like a good night for both artists and music lovers.


LIVE

Michael Kiwanuka by Victoria Wai

MICHAEL KIWANUKA @ O2 CITY HALL, NEWCASTLE (18.05.22) Words: Ikenna Offor Bathed in the soft glow of a solitary overhead luminaire, Michael Kiwanuka is nothing short of hypnotic tonight. Although dressed in an unostentatious outfit of plaid flannel and jeans, the 2020 Mercury Prize winner certainly cuts quite the hallowed figure, his universal appeal evenly reflected in the robust gaggle of mixed-age revellers here to partake in his soulful liturgy. It’s hard to not catch the spirit as the proceedings get off to a heady start, courtesy of the soaring hymnal that is Piano Joint (This Kind Of Love) – the quietly plaintive lyrics buoyed by Kiwanuka’s supple baritone, as he ponders if it’s the “right time to give in, the right time to lose/to begin again, maybe win again”. After dexterous jaunts through You Ain’t The Problem’s brassy tang, Black Man In A White World’s exuberant defiance and the psych-fuzzed introspection of Hero, things take a winsome acoustic turn for both the palpable wistfulness of Hard To Say Goodbye and Light’s frissoninducing transcendence. It’s then back to gauzy textures for the soul-stirring twofer of Final Days and set-closer Solid Ground – an ecstatic encore call yields both the gratifying nostalgia of Home and breathtaking sprawl of Cold Little Heart, but it’s Love & Hate’s rapturous crescendo that truly blows the roof off. Gently affecting, undeniably dazzling and well-fucking-worth the two-year wait!

MAN ON MAN, TY LEWIS @ THE CLUNY, NEWCASTLE (15.05.22) Words: Damian Robinson Opening with songs from his recent release Not Just Black And White, Ty Lewis kicks this evening off with his fine mix of grand song writing and powerful vocal delivery. Developing a natural confidence on stage, Ty continues to extend his live performance skills, and long may that continue into future releases. A quick turnaround sees Man On Man follow Lewis pretty quickly, opening their show with heavy riffs and sampled audio about Queer politics. Powerful in both riffs and stage presence, Man On Man’s live show takes the literary, New York storytelling skills of Lou Reed and Hubert Selby Junior and wraps up the narratives in a guitar/electro/ drone tour-de-force that pushes not just their music, but also their central themes, in a forceful combination.

Interweaving various combinations of instrumentation, Man On Man players Joey Holman and Roddy Bottum combine in sparkling form across several musical textures; Baby You’re My Everything gently moving into Candy Says’ moments of tenderness, and the heavier Piggy and Daddy both shimmering with a pulsating guitar/electro feel that lands in a place somewhere between the stage performance onslaught of Throbbing Gristle and the art glam stomp of the Spiders From Mars. Combining both the hard edge and the soft heart, this was one for the true artists.

FOALS, GOAT GIRL @ O2 CITY HALL, NEWCASTLE (26.04.22) Words: Luke Waller Plucky, staccato riffs as catchy as they are offbeat and off the wall – the unmistakable sound of Foals has spent the past ten or more years taking Britain’s nightlife by storm, defining its trippy, indie edges. Their vibe has been the birth of a wave of fantastic British indie bands, but one of Foals’ remarkable attributes is that their myriad idiosyncrasies ensure their individuality. Up-and-coming London indie band Goat Girl performed their trancey, post-rock set in support. Although more chilled out than the headliners, they couldn’t fail to get those at the front dancing with tracks like Sad Cowboy and The Crack from last year’s album On All Fours, which was widely heralded as one of 2021’s finest alternative releases. Foals’ show was electric; their rousing music combined with the crowd’s ecstatic buzz of anticipation – and a plethora of floral imagery in psychedelic neon light – touched off an explosion of energy. They kicked off with the dance classic-in-waiting Wake Me Up, the first single from their upcoming album, Life Is Yours – the title song of which graced the ears of fans for the very first time that night. And though the set may have been peppered with other new tracks, 2am and 2001, it was the band’s best-known tracks, such as Inhaler and My Number, which most ignited the night’s excitement.

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TRACKS

THE AVELONS SETTING SONS Words: Jake Anderson A full of life, emotional piece, Newcastle’s The Avelons release their second single – Setting Sons. Sonically much tighter and cleaner than their previous single, with semantics revolving around loss and the pensive feelings such an emotion brings, the track incorporates a nostalgic sound to its sonic environment that further emphasises the themes. I frequently found myself reminiscing while being sucked into the song’s engaging narrative. The held back vocal performance could be seen as a detriment, but it elevates the intimacy of the track, as the band understand the perfect points to raise the intensity in the structure, which culminates in an excellent bridge that truly flexes the artistic strength of this group. Released: 03.06.22 www.soundcloud.com/theavelons

SUCCOUR S/T EP Words: Evie Lake Succour’s self-titled debut EP is a tension-building, chord-bashing blanket of grunge, which is apt considering their final track is entitled Blanket of Misery. Wormhole initiates the EP as self-assured and confident. Leaning towards their softer side, the coolness of the verses cuts through the heaviness of the intro and chorus to create something familiarly accessible in its head-bobbing punk. Cymbals and shouting infiltrate the entire EP, but find interesting meaning in the third song Endo, initially released during Endometriosis Awareness Month to draw attention to the condition. Succour ends with its heaviest track, leaving a lasting, head-tingling impression reminiscent of a live performance. Invasive, weighty and proud, Succour pull their weight and more. Released: 11.06.22 www.facebook.com/succourband

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REVIEWS OF SINGLES AND EPS BY NORTH EAST ARTISTS. WANT YOUR MUSIC FEATURED? EMAIL NARCMEDIA@GMAIL.COM (PLEASE TRY TO GET IN TOUCH 8-6 WEEKS AHEAD OF THE MONTH OF RELEASE)

THE DAWDLER CUCKOO Words: Tom Astley Cuckoo offers a tender folk-inflected song, melded with synthetic, yet nonetheless romantic, sounds. Coming in advance of an EP due in July, Cuckoo’s lyrics are personal, idiosyncratic and hard to pin down. This makes them all the more intriguing. Meanings are hinted at, rather than made overt, and the music supports this ambiguity perfectly. A vast ocean of reverb trails that are both relaxing and slightly disconcerting prop up the delicate finger-picked guitars and falsetto vocals. The machine and the human blur together by the end, the bass synth gaining a sinister edge, and swells of sound eclipsing the guitar, only to evaporate and leave the guitar to end the track alone. This is a beautiful piece of music, well worth multiple listens. Released: 03.06.22 www.facebook.com/thedawdlermusic

NADEDJA HOLOGRAPHIC SICKENING LOVE

Image by Saint Sophie

Words: Tom Astley Nadedja’s latest single Holographic Sickening Love gives a burst of unapologetic, dancefloor filling pop. The track is flawless, really. The shade of palm muted guitars, panned delicately to the right; the eminently danceable drum beat; the shoulder shimmying hi-hats; the a capella title line before the bounce of the sing-alongable “oohs” in the chorus; the little break and build up at the end. The structure is textbook too, hitting all the right emotional points at all the right moments – arriving, announcing itself and leaving the dancefloor jumping in just over three minutes. If you’re in the mood for some well-made perfect pop music (and who isn’t at some point in the day?) then this is the track to go to. Released: 09.06.22 www.nadedja.com


HEYMAN AUMS WHAT IS WITHIN IS ALSO WITHOUT EP Words: Evie Nicholson Debut EPs are often slightly haphazard assemblages of material without much clarity or structure, but Heyman Aums radically challenges this tradition. The Newcastle-based electronic artist’s music is ambitious, multimodal and spiralling. I listened to the EP all in one sitting with the volume turned right up and it was intoxicating in its hypnotism. Inspired largely by Jung’s seminal Psychology And Alchemy, Heyman takes us on an oblique synth-wave journey through the collective unconscious. Jung stresses the relationship between alchemy’s chemical and mystical composition, and here Heyman does the same. The music is both algorithmic and ethereal. Tracks like Whitening and Yellowing contain industrial synths, but also delicate Chromatics-inspired vocals. While this probably won’t appeal to all, for those drawn to a kind of uncanny Lynchian transcendentalism it doesn’t disappoint. Released: 03.06.22 www.instagram.com/heymanaums

PATRICK GOSLING SHE’S A WOMAN Words: Evie Nicholson An ode to the songwriting of the 60’s and 70’s, Patrick Gosling’s latest single seems softer and more vulnerable than his earlier releases. Although still retaining a contagious catchiness and indie jingle, it’s Patrick’s lyrics that draw you in. It shouldn’t still feel refreshing to hear a woman be described as “intellectual and sexual” in equal measure, but alas it does. Patrick proclaims “she’s a woman, I’m just a boy”. It’s heartfelt and charming, void of all indie rock arrogance. The bridge is particularly alluring, with Patrick flirting with warm psychedelic arpeggios that furnish the track with a lustful dreaminess. Recorded, produced and performed entirely by Patrick, She’s A Woman is an honest labour of love. Released: 17.06.22 www.facebook.com/patrickgoslingmusic

COSIAL ALIEN Words: Jake Anderson Character filled lyrics are at the forefront of Cosial’s newest single, Alien. The 18-year old’s words carry a lot of weight, despite the playful tone, expressing the wordless connection that can form in a mixed-race household, becoming a very compelling narrative for such a new songwriter. The deadpan performance couples nicely with the bouncy bedroom pop beat that acts as the base for the single. With a structure akin to a wave, the song never becomes too overwhelming, but constantly changes, building up in intriguing ways. The pieces are all there for the Teesside singer, who is already mastering her skills in the genre, I’d be interested to hear the walls torn down and see how far Cosial can take her sound. Released: 10.06.22 www.linktr.ee/cosialmusic

SOEVER HOT NIGHTS EP Words: Luke Waller Bursting open with Enough To Begin – a heavy, prog-infused polemic against fascism – you instantly know that Soever’s Hot Nights is not destined to disappoint. Though only three songs long, each offers up a very different style, all fronted by the wispy, androgynous voice of Samuel Cornmell: following Enough To Begin (which alone ranges from complex hard rock to spaghetti Westerntinted riffs) comes the indie rocker The Ones You Love, inspired by 1973 French-Italian cult classic La Grande Bouffe. Contrasting with this depiction of the nightmarish and psychedelic is a much more chilled-out (though hardly more sober-sounding) Just Want Out, a gentle acoustic-centred song from Cornmell’s teenage years. You may struggle to find another three songs so simultaneously compelling and diverse; Hot Nights is a journey of its own. Released: 04.06.22 www.facebook.com/officialsoever

TIRED TRACE 14A: HAUNTED BY THE NIGHT EP Words: Luke Waller Tired Trace, already the third musical venture of alternative artist Jake Anderson since 2019, is making its debut with the six-track electronica EP 14A: Haunted By The Night. The idea for the EP was conceived in the wake of an unfortunate random mugging upon Anderson during a brief break from his musical career, in order to make something good of his terrible experience. The result is a collection of tracks exploring Jake’s anger and sadness through a range of beats, synths and samples. Entirely self-produced, but for the mixing of the final track Phoenix Anew, which Anderson says represents a rebirth, Anderson’s third endeavour marks a leftfield foray in its experimental and minimalistic approach to hip-hop. Released: 10.06.22 www.tiredtrace.bandcamp.com

SAM THOMAS YELLOW Words: Evie Lake Yellow is doused in summer; the notion of the warmth and pleasure the season can bring, encompassing a state of mind as well as better weather. Soulful and lo-fi, sunny and breezy, the single mimics the feeling of sauntering down a street with the unassuming beat easily confused with the footsteps made in tandem. The chorus is possessed by mantra-esque statements and convinced “the world is singing” for the listener, getting swept up in the joyousness feels easy. Still, there remains elements of awareness of what’s come before – the vibes of the day aren’t just naturally beautiful, but the result of choices made: “I say hello to the people I like”. A song for when life is good, or when you need that little extra push to remember that it can be. Released: 03.06.22 www.facebook.com/samthomasmusicuk

SLOBO & KHABS SILENCED PISTOL NIGHT CRAWLERS EP Words: Luke Waller Silenced Pistol Night Crawlers is, in its way, the tale of a friendship forged in rural Northumberland between two passionate but divergent musicians. Following three years apart, a rendezvous in a Mancunian flat in the summer of 2021 begot this delicious EP, created in only five days. As Slobo’s acoustic, folk-suffused tendencies encountered Khabs’ dark dub, downtempo production, the two converged marvellously, epitomised by its opening track and first single, To Turn Into Water. An introspective and absorbing song born of a recurrent dream at a deeply personal time, it was released alongside a music video depicting the duo as spacemen exploring the Northumbrian wilderness amidst the destruction of last winter’s storms. Small yet mighty, vulnerable yet indomitable; character oozes from each minute of this wonderful EP. Released: 03.06.22 www.soundcloud.com/khabss www.soundcloud.com/owen-sanger

NTGB THE END WE ALL KNOW Words: Tom Astley There’s a kaleidoscope of Britpop sounds in NTGB’s The End We All Know. A jangle-fest intro that’s part Stone Roses, part The Coral, a Taxman-esque bass riff and driving drums, close harmonies and lilting melodies. A wah-wah guitar solo that’s a little bit Ocean Colour Scene. There’s even some Animals influence in the organ solo. All in all, it makes The End We All Know sound like a song we all know, a song that’s familiar from the first play. That’s not to say that it’s generic. There’s some really ear catching aspects to this song. The harmonies are ridiculously satisfying and the change in feel into the middle eight equally lifts the song. I’d love to see this tune performed live. Released: 03.06.22 www.nt-gb.co.uk

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DEMOS WE WANT YOUR MUSIC!

IF YOU’RE AN UP AND COMING BAND OR MUSICIAN, AND WOULD LIKE YOUR MUSIC REVIEWED IN OUR DEMO SECTION, EMAIL A TRACK TO NARCMEDIA@GMAIL.COM AND TELL US MORE ABOUT YOURSELF! WORDS: TOM ASTLEY

DEMO OF THE MONTH

Tin Ribs by Ethan McLaughlin

Tin Ribs – The Ratman of Hustler’s Bridge Even in a brief review of the musical aspects of Tin Ribs’ new track, it is worth mentioning their background picture is Sunderland’s Kevin Phillips being worshipped by an Elvis impersonator. And I can’t help falling in love with that! The track itself has a scuzzy, lo-fi garage rock feel to it, with acerbically

Jack Rae – Sunset And Flowers

Jack Rae’s Sunset And Flowers follows up on some of the 60s psychedelia that the title evokes. Sample-driven and hazy, reverse guitar, and whirlpools of delay, eclectic and intricate, the track has a flavour of The Avalanches’ more kaleidoscopic works. Again, though, it’s over before it’s begun – the track is less than a minute and half. Am I wrong to think a track like this should be straying into the six minute territory? It certainly has the sounds and ideas to sustain attention that long. www.instagram.com/jack_rae

Gloamer – Nazi-Blade

There are some very accomplished elements in this new track by Gloamer (good band name), Nazi-Blade (scary song title). Particularly impressive is the vocal dexterity, necessary in this subgenre of metal, which travels from thought-provoking verse and belted out melodic lines in the chorus to

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delivered mantra-like vocals. The track is much more accurately visually described by the band pic – cans of Red Stripe in front of a graffitied wall with buddleia growing out of it. There’s a catchiness to this track, and Tin Ribs are certainly worth looking out for if you’re a fan of punchy bedroom-recorded punk. www.tinribs.bandcamp.com

full-on primal screams at the end. The complex, but always head-bangable, drum patterns, the lush distorted guitars and thick bass contribute to a very well-rounded track. All of which gives a sound reminiscent of Tool, an incredibly tough sound to be emulating, which Gloamer do an admirable job of accomplishing, precisely because beyond the drop-tuning djents and full-throated screams there’s some deceptively melodic parts that really carry the track into multiple listens. www.instagram.com/gloamermusic

Eve Kills The Sun – You Got Me

The opening drums to You Got Me by Eve Kills The Sun are reminiscent of the song Maniac from Flashdance, which is a very tough act to follow. The track has a polished produced indie pop flavour to it, and if that’s the mood you’re in, this tune scratches the itch. Jangly electric guitar chords that maybe evoke a more polished early-Arctic Monkeys cement a

backing track that values precision and perfection over anything too flashy, which allows the melismatic vocals to take centre stage. There are some aspects that don’t quite hang together – the drums seem a little at odds with the guitar-driven indie vibe, but it’s certainly worth a listen. www.facebook.com/evekillsthesun

The Fabulist – Toku

Ambient dreamy sounds come in the form of Toku by The Fabulist. Glistening, scratchy synth sounds wander from ear to ear, panned over a solid bass which melts into a pad of synth strings. It’s all very nebulous and dreamy, but at a shade over two and a half minutes, it’s over before the daydream has begun. Definitely one to have on repeat to fully realise that sun in the eyes, half awake feeling. www.instagram.com/thefabulistmusic


ALBUMS 4/5 ROBOCOBRA QUARTET LIVING ISN’T EASY (FIRST TASTE RECORDS)

3/5 Image by Nick Mckk

HERCULES & LOVE AFFAIR IN AMBER (SKINT/BMG) Words: Mark Corcoran-Lettice There’s a certain fascination that comes with seeing an established artist known for a certain style or sound take a sudden lurch off track: sometimes triumphant (the piss and vinegar jazz modernism of Bowie’s Blackstar), sometimes disastrous (Celtic Frost’s failed glam-rock reinvention on Cold Lake remains the nadir), and sometimes just plain baffling (it’s still slightly delightful that Lou Reed’s final statement would be a record as perverse, frequently appalling yet occasionally brilliant as Lulu). All lampshading aside, the advance line for In Amber, the fifth album from Andy Butler’s disco/house project Hercules & Love Affair, is that this would be his non-dance statement, his love letter to ‘80s goth – a darker, meaner effort that takes its eyes off the dancefloor and looks to occupy more challenging, difficult emotional terrain. It’s not that any of this is untrue: the out-and-out bangers of yore are noticeable in their absence, and hiring actual Budgie for drum overdubs is a pretty clear act of signposting as to which part of Butler’s record collection we should be looking to this time. But given that the previous Hercules & Love Affair album Omnion already functioned as an arbitration between dancefloor exuberance and more interior states, In Amber’s rebrand ends up being more gradual than the Peter Hook-esque bass of opener Grace might suggest. Making a welcome return to the Hercules & Love Affair stable is ANOHNI: her vocals light up the sprightly One and the volcanic, percussive Poisonous Storytelling, but the plodding, overlong Christian Prayer is dead on arrival despite her best efforts. Which illuminates In Amber’s main issue, because while the extremes of energy and ambience of the record appeal (closer Repent especially is a genuinely beautiful, minimal piece that shows how this could have worked), too many of the attempts to channel Siouxsie & the Banshees or Dead Can Dance fall just short of truly working. There’s a lot still to enjoy here, but In Amber never quite sticks the queasy euphoria of old or the glamorous melodrama of Butler’s inspirations – falling between stalls, you wish Butler had been bolder with this new direction. Released: 17.06.22 www.herculesandloveaffair.net

ALSO OUT THIS MONTH Baby Strange – World Below (Creating Evil Art, 17.06) // Foals – Life Is Yours (Warner Records, 17.06.22) // Angel Olsen – Big Time (Jagjaguwar, 03.06) // Yaya Bey – Remember Your North Star (Big Dada, 17.06) // Tedeschi Trucks Band – I Am The Moon: I. Crescent (Fantasy Records, 03.06) // Kula Shaker – 1st Congregational Church of Eternal Love And Free Hugs (Strangefolk Records, 10.06) // Sinead O’Brien – Time Bend & Break The Bower (Chess Club, 10.06) // LIFE – North East Coastal Town (Liquid Label, 10.06) // Deliluh – Fault Lines (Tin Angel Records, 10.06) // Automatic – Excess (Stones Throw, 24.06) // The Dream Syndicate – Ultraviolet Battle Hymns And True Confessions (Fire Records, 10.06) // Shearwater – The Great Awakening (Polyborus, 10.06) // Nick Mulvey – New Mythology (Fiction Records, 10.06) // Holy Scum – Strange Desires (Rocket Recordings, 10.06) // Sound of Ceres – Emerald Sea (Joyful Noise, 17.06) // TV Priest – My Other People (Sub Pop Records, 17.06) // O’o – Touche (Infine, 17.06) // Will Joseph Cook – Every Single Thing (Bad Hotel/The Vertex, 10.06)

Words: Mark Corcoran-Lettice A quartet that isn’t a quartet, a pugnacious and wilful humour has always run through Robocobra Quartet’s work: on their third album Living Isn’t Easy, their barbed wit and their eclectic mix of sounds and influences combine to often spectacular effect. Their fusion of post-Mingus jazz and punk informed rhythm finds itself leavened by an increased sense of Slint-ian space, bursting the arrangements apart to grander scales without having to reach for the ornate. Lead single Wellness is a pointed barb at influencer and hustler mindsets, but the mid-section of Chromo Sud – an equally beautiful and grinding rant against the housing crisis – and the disturbing, moving Plant (The Succulent Blues) are where Robocobra Quartet’s deliberate juxtapositions come together remarkably. Released: 17.06.22 www.robocobraquartet.com

3.5 / 5 JOYCE MANOR 40OZ TO FRESNO (EPITAPH RECORDS) Words: Jason Jones At three minutes and six seconds, opener Souvenir might just be the band’s Bohemian Rhapsody. Rarely do their songs make it past the two minute mark, and this svelte record of nine tracks still manages to pack a sizeable punch. Frenetically propulsive, irresistibly catchy, and endearingly earnest, in many respects this is Joyce Manor by numbers – DIY, pop-inflected punk that comes barrelling in with a sense of urgent compulsion before swiftly vanishing into the ether. To an extent, that may be to the album’s detriment. Everything here is great – highlights like NBTSA and Gotta Let It Go burn particularly fiercely – but there can be a fine line between moreish and decidedly malnourished. 40oz To Fresno is a bit like the school summer holidays of your childhood; bright, breathless fun that passes by all too quickly. Released: 10.06.22 www.joyce-manor.com

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ALBUMS

4/5

3/5

4.5 / 5

THE UTOPIA STRONG INTERNATIONAL TREASURE (ROCKET RECORDINGS)

VINTAGE CROP KIBITZER (UPSET THE RHYTHM)

HATIS NOIT AURA (ERASED TAPES)

Words: Robert Nichols The Utopia Strong take us on a beatific instrumental journey. You will not want to check out. It’s electronica, synthesised, sensory overload, an Arcadian paradise. Solar radiance here, angelic harmonies there. Multi-layered opulence. An exhilarating log flume ride. Jostling between glittering, glistening chorus and strident, verdant verse. Much more than the sum of its parts, or perhaps not. With at least one World Champion, snooker’s own Steve Davis, in their ranks, when this ambient, psychedelic trio combine and collide you maybe should expect this resulting nuclear fusion. Revelatory vistas open all around us. It’s like driving headlong into the Northern lights or diving through a whirlpool and arriving in a Balearic paradise. An instrumental treasure trove. Released: 10.06.22 www.theutopiastrong.bandcamp.com

Words: Ali Welford It’s an inescapable fact – there are just too many post-punk bands. Not a problem for those at the top bringing distinctive approaches and fresh ideas, but very much so for the multitude of Vintage Crops making up the pyramid’s midriff. There’s plenty to enjoy in the 10 taut, droll and urgent nuggets presented on the Aussie group’s fourth full-length – the issue is that you’d have to travel back some four decades-plus for any of these sounds (or adjectives) to feel remotely novel. Kibitzer may be the quartet’s most melodic and explorative record to date, yet when any local scene can present its own cast of interchangeable acts, you’re going to need more than the odd perfunctory horn or synth to emerge from the scrum. Lively for sure. Vintage seems a stretch. Released: 24.05.22 www.vintagecrop.bandcamp.com

Words: Ali Welford Constructed entirely from her own voice – save for a coastal field recording taken near the defunct Fukushima nuclear plant – Hatis Noit’s full-length debut is a record for whom striking first impressions provide merely a hint of the rewards sewn within. Inspired by the otherworldly chants of Buddhist monks as much as the classical, folk and choral music of her native Japan, Aura’s wordless collages are electrifying and endlessly evocative; min-opuses whose loops and layers convey a spiritual power transcending language or cultural roadblocks. Astonishing in both its range and the ingenuity required to so masterfully stitch its threads, Aura is an essential listen for fans of exploratory artists such as Holly Herndon, Lyra Pramuk and local treasure Me Lost Me. Released: 24.06.22 www.hatisnoit.com

5/5

4.5 / 5

3.5 / 5

HARKIN HONEYMOON SUITE (HAND MIRROR)

PETROL GIRLS BABY (HASSLE RECORDS)

HOLLIE COOK HAPPY HOUR (MERGE)

Words: Paul Brown So many of us have had to change how we work because of the pandemic, and of course artists are no different. Forced into working from home and deciding to self-produce, Harkin’s second record Honeymoon Suite is a claustrophobic affair, all synths and samples, with less of the expansive chiming guitar which characterised the first record. In the process of its creation, she has managed to channel so many of the emotions we’ve all experienced in lockdown; sadness, defeat, longing, nostalgia and hope all rear their heads on occasion. Harkin is a seasoned songwriter, but the circumstances have brought out the best in her creatively, with the likes of Mt. Merino up there with the best of her work. Released: 17.06.22 www.handmirror.online

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Words: Jade Broadhead Petrol Girls’ third album is a more immediate affair than their intensely personal sophomore record. Tracks like Fight For Our Lives recapture Ren Aldridge at her angriest, demanding change to disturbing femicide trends rather than getting lost in the grief. It’s a more melodious album too. Baby, I Had An Abortion is like the angrier sister of Emmy The Great’s We Almost Had A Baby, both songs made all the more disturbing by their poppy hook-laden choruses. The confrontational Preachers challenges those in glass houses in a time of cancel culture and comments sections, whilst on the high adrenaline Sick & Tired, the band have never felt so vibrant and fresh, confirming there’s still plenty of fuel in their fire. Released: 24.06.22 www.petrolgirls.bandcamp.com

Words: Lee Fisher There have been suggestions that Happy Hour is Hollie Cook’s ‘lovers rock’ album but the steppers rhythm on the opening title track is far tuffer than that suggests; Cook’s sweet, beguiling voice riding some fathoms-deep bass and vintage keyboard stabs, and that’s true for the whole album. This fourth solo set is definitely her strongest yet, due in no small part to her General Roots band, who have really nailed a tough but melodic sound (and shared production with Youth). Even the more sultry, downtempo numbers like Full Moon Baby and Love In The Dark are built on solid rhythmic foundations and while a lot of the lyrical content is born of pain and confusion (and a global pandemic), Happy Hour is pure niceness. Released: 24.06.22 www.holliecook.com


ALBUMS

5/5

4/5

4/5

HORSEGIRL VERSIONS OF MODERN PERFORMANCE (MATADOR)

RUBBER OH STRANGE CRAFT (ROCKET RECORDINGS)

BARTEES STRANGE FARM TO TABLE (4AD)

Words: Lee Hammond Post-punk is rather heavily saturated at the moment, and the first half of Horsegirl’s debut record only succeeds in adding to the mediocrity. However, there are moments where the band break out of their post-punk shackles and come to life, and those are what separate Versions Of Modern Performance from many other records that follow a similar blueprint. The revival of the record begins with Option 8, which sees Horsegirl in a more direct and intense frame of mind. World Of Pots And Pans possesses a similar drive; the album really comes alive throughout these tracks and closes out on the brilliant Billy. When Horsegirl are good, they’re excellent, but those moments are unfortunately few and far between on this release. Released: 03.06.22 www.horsegirlmusic.com

Words: Luke Waller Sight, sound and emotion are perhaps the senses and feelings which most often inspire music – even artists’ entire repertoires. But Rubber Oh traverse new ground with their debut album, Strange Craft. Their quest: to convey the unnatural and alien – yet so familiar – touch of rubber through the medium of sound. Driven and performed by Pigs x7’s Sam Grant alongside a host of guest artists, everything on Strange Craft is new to the ear. From the chest-rumbling double bass guitar arrangement to its surreal and sci-fi-tinged synthetic lustre, pre-released singles like Little Demon and Hyperdrive Fantasy truly display the project’s psych pop, at times even metal-infused elements. Eye-opening, mind-stretching and ear-blowing all at once, the touch of rubber may never feel the same again… Released: 03.06.22 www.rubberoh.bandcamp.com

Words: Lee Hammond The sophomore album from the excellent Bartees Strange picks up where his debut Live Forever left off. Another round of exceptional genre hopping, from funk-tinged indie rock ballads, to chilled out hip-hop, Farm To Table has a bit of everything. The likes of Black Gold demonstrate Strange’s ability to turn his hand to most genres. Equally, Tours and Hold The Line allow his vocals to really shine in a stripped-back setting. Wretched and Escape The Circus are where Farm To Table really comes alive, the power and passion in the former is brilliant, with driving guitars coupled with incessant groove making. Wretched is a truly standout track and the whole record sees Bartees Strange move up a gear. Released: 17.06.22 www.barteesstrange.com

lamplIghtFeStIval.com

FRIday 5

JACK SAVORETTI SaTurday 6

FRinge Festival / Food & dRink TeRRace

Sunday 7

Mowbray paRk, sunderland

DEACON BLUE Eve Cole

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MIXTAPE WORDS: BOB FISCHER

Did you grow up in the 1970s and ‘80s? Was your childhood marred by Worzel Gummidge’s terrifying selection of changeable heads and a nagging feeling that nuclear war was imminent? Come and see the Scarred For Life show, it’s essentially a support group for us all. I’ve spent years mulling over the disquieting nature of my formative memories, so it’s been incredibly therapeutic to host this show with Stephen Brotherstone and Dave Lawrence, writers of the brilliant Scarred For Life books, two huge volumes examining the pop culture of those particular decades in alarmingly fine detail. The live show looks at everything from Doctor Who to Blake’s 7 to Threads. We’re sometimes even accompanied by the Spirit of Dark and Lonely Water, from the horrific 1973 Public Information Film about childhood drowning. I know it all sounds rather dark, but honestly – there are lots of laughs, and we’re bringing the show to the Customs House in South Shields on Thursday 23rd June. In the meantime, here are some little musical nuggets from the Scarred For Life era to put you in the mood… www.hauntedgeneration.co.uk www.twitter.com/scarredforlife2

DAVE AND TONI ARTHUR TAM LIN Toni was a fixture of children’s TV when I was tiny, on Play School and Play Away. But she’d already had an astonishing folk music career with her husband Dave, and their 1971 album Hearken To The Witches Rune is steeped in the occult. They researched it by joining the Wiccan coven of 1970s ‘King of the Witches’ Alex Sanders! It’s a stark and scary album, and has their incredible take on this 16th Century Scottish ballad about a young man kidnapped by an Elfin queen.

THE SETTLERS THE LIGHTNING TREE “Down in the meadow where the wind blows free…” anyone who grew up in the 1970s will recognise this brilliant pop folk song, the theme to the ITV children’s drama, Follyfoot. It’s essentially a show about unwanted horses, but the song alone gives it a weird, dark edge. Singer Cindy Kent is now the Rev Cindy Kent MBE! And I think banjo player John Fyffe still runs the Dunstanburgh Castle Hotel, near Alnwick. I’ve never been, but if you’re passing then buy him a pint from me.

RONALD DUNCAN AND DAVID CAIN OCTOBER In the Scarred For Life show, we look at vintage material that would now be considered wildly inappropriate for young children. There’s no better example than this 1968 album, The Seasons. Discordant electronic bleeps – made by the Radiophonic Workshop’s David Cain – accompany the austere nature poetry of Ronald Duncan. “Like severed hands, the wet leaves lie flat on the deserted avenue…” Amazingly, this was intended to be played to five year-olds in school music lessons.

TELLTALE AUTUMN’S REALLY HERE From a wonderful 1973 Rainbow album I bought for £1 in a Stokesley charity shop…that’s Rainbow as in Bungle and Zippy, not Ritchie Blackmore. These old kids’ albums have some beautiful folk gems hidden on them, and this is a gorgeous, wistful number written and sung by Fluff Joinson, whose band Telltale pre-dated Rod, Jane and Freddy on the show. Honestly, it’s worthy of Vashti Bunyan.

MARTIN CARTHY AND DAVE SWARBRICK LORD OF THE DANCE Who remembers singing “They left me there on a cross to die” at the age of four in their school assemblies? Me. And I wasn’t happy. It’s remarkable how many ancient-sounding hymns were written relatively recently: this was penned by Sydney Carter in 1964, at the height of Beatlemania. Carthy and Swarbrick’s take is from their 1968 album But Two Came By, and is the definitive version for me.

ART GARFUNKEL BRIGHT EYES So many people have told us this is their ultimate 1970s ‘trigger’ music! It’s incredibly touching – and again, I have memories of singing it in school assemblies. Yes, “following the river of death downstream”, with Mrs Mulhern on the piano! It’s from Watership Down, a bleak rabbit-based animation that caused not a ripple of controversy in 1978…but there was an absolute furore when Channel 5 showed it on Easter Sunday afternoon in 2017. And that’s the whole ethos of the Scarred For Life show, right there.

ISS #4 ONLINE

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Newcastle Castle is where the story of Newcastle began and the reason it got its name.

UPCOMINGS EVENTS JUNE

2nd - 4th - Medieval Newcastle Tours 3rd - Film Screening Stardust 11th - Workshop Archaeological Illustration with Mark Hoyle 21st - Evening Tour Summer Solstice Tours 24th - Film Screening Robin Hood: Men in Tights

JULY

2nd - Talk Hell Hath no Fury? Anne Armstrong and the Derwent Valley Witchcraft Accusations of 1673 8th - Film Screening Kingdom of Heaven 16th - Workshop Medieval Manuscript Painting with Mark Hoyle 27th - Tours Kids Castle Adventures

AUGUST

5th - Film Labyrinth 12th - Film Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves 20th - Talk The Resurrection Men: Graverobbing Gangs and how to thwart them 27th - Event Film Behind the Scream:

FOR MORE, SEE ‘WHAT’S ON’ AT: WWW.NEWCASTLECASTLE.CO.UK With the most commanding views over the City and River Tyne, Newcastle Castle hosts all manner of events throughout the year.

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th

20 Birthday Weekend

10am - 6pm 16 + 17 July baltic.art

A weekend of special events to celebrate 20 years of Baltic.

New artwork inspired by the River Tyne

Stunning views Meet the kittiwakes Exhibition + local makers Artist workshops Exhibition + family friendly story sessions

Baltic memories + films

Art Car Boot Fair, DJ sets + Art in a bus

Tours

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