NARC. #189 November 2022

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ISSUE189

NOVEMBER22

BIGFATBIG WAVES FESTIVAL RICHARD DAWSON NARC. MINI-DOCS HARRIET BRADSHAW

FREE

RELIABLYINFORMED


SUNDAY 13 NOV Brit Floyd

Sage One | 7.30pm

Sage One | 7.30pm

Soumik Datta: The Hope Notes Tour

FRIDAY 18 NOV Blazin’ Fiddles

Sage Two | 8pm

Sage Two | 8pm

FRIDAY 4 NOV William Basinski plus Bed Wetter, Brice & Novak + Tom Ravenscroft (DJ)

SATURDAY 19 NOV Brass In Concert: 45th Brass In Concert Championships

November Gig Highlights

THURSDAY 3 NOV The Stylistics

Sage One | 11am

Sage One | 7.30pm

Shawn James

FRIDAY 25 NOV Jesca Hoop

Sage Two | 8pm

Sage Two | 8pm

FRIDAY 11 NOV From The Glasshouse #8

SATURDAY 26 NOV Jean Toussaint Sage Two | 8pm

Sage Two | 8pm

Head to sagegateshead.com/whatson for our full gig listings.

@Sage_Gateshead

At Tyneside Coffee Rooms

With Cheese & Wine

It’s the most wonderful time of the year at Tyneside Cinema! Tickets are on sale now for all your festive favourites.

Book at Box Office | Call: 0191 227 5500 Online: tynesidecinema.co.uk


PREVIEWS 4 HIGHLIGHTS

The pick of the best events in November

6 NOVEMBER PREVIEWS

ISSUE189

NOVEMBER22

FREE

RELIABLYINFORMED

Featuring live shows from W.H. Lung, Rachael Dadd, Jarboe, Whitney K, Bob Vylan, Divide & Dissolve, Lande Hekt, The Orb, William Basinski, Gawjuss and more; plus neurodiverse stand-up courtesy of Lava Elastic at ARC, political comedy from Mark Thomas at The Stand, and techy titters from Dave Gorman at Tyne Theatre & Opera House and Middlesbrough Town Hall; there’s theatrical wonders courtesy of One Off and Tomorrow’s Parties at Live Theatre, Revier – Tales From The Borders at various venues, The Wicked Problem at ARC; literary festival Books on Tyne returns, ceramicist Lucie Rie presents an exhibition at MIMA, and there’s two film festivals in Newcastle, alongside much more!

INTERVIEWS 34 NARC. MINI-DOCS 36 INDUSTRIAL COAST 37 WAVES FESTIVAL

32 BIGFATBIG

Linsey Teggert talks to Robyn Walker and Katie Ryall about the release of their debut pop punk EP, recognising privilege and taking up space At the risk of coming off like a sub-par Game of Thrones trailer, welcome to Autumn… Winter is only around the corner. It feels like the season has been slow coming on this year, and no sooner have the leaves dropped and the clocks turned back, then it’ll be cold, dark and wintry. An ideal time to hide away, cosy in our houses, and wait the season out. Except many of our homes might not be so cosy this year, and the onset of the expensive festive season feels like a threat more than a pleasure. While it may seem crass to suggest you should spend your money on music and culture, and take advantage of warm venues and the comfort of like-minded souls, we mustn’t forget that – once again – our precious cultural venues are facing hardships that many of us can’t fathom, and they need our support now more than ever. Recently, at Twisterella festival in Middlesbrough, I was reminded of the communal joy that live music can bring; the chest thumping bass, the grins of recognition of favourite songs and renewed friendships, the thrill of discovery. I’ll be continuing to seek out these experiences as the winter comes on, in an attempt to beat the seasonal blues. Anyway, you didn’t come here for commentary on nature or politics (thankfully), you came here for the joys of music and culture, and you’ll find plenty within these pages. Enjoy.

38 THE LULAS 39 PHIL SAUNDERS 40 JUMPIN’ HOT CLUB 37TH ANNIVERSARY 41 HARRIET BRADSHAW 42 DRIVEN SERIOUS 43 SORESLAP THEATRE 44 RICHARD DAWSON 46 MAYSHE-MAYSHE 47 GAVIN WEBSTER 48 JESCA HOOP 49 BRAVE EXHIBITIONS LISTINGS

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 Iam Burn / Scarlet Kane / Tracy Hyman / Victoria Wai Contributors Jake Anderson / Tom Astley / Laura Doyle / Lee Fisher / Ewan Gleadow / Lee Hammond / Tracy Hyman / Jason Jones / Lizzie Lovejoy / Ben Lowes-Smith / Robert Nichols / Evie Nicholson / Michael O’Neill / Ikenna Offor / Stephen Oliver / Adam Paxton / Niamh Poppleton / Helen Redfern / Damian Robinson / Steve Spithray / Dominic Stephenson / Linsey Teggert / Leigh Venus / Robin Webb / Ali Welford / Jen Wilson / Cameron Wright / Matt Young

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

50 LISTINGS

The best of the rest…

REVIEWS 52 LIVE REVIEWS

Reports from the front row of Shilpa Ray, Alabaster dePlume, Lemonheads, Divorce, Dunstan Bruce, Kathryn Joseph, Dilettante, The Snuts and more

56 TRACKS

Reviews of local singles and EPs from Faithful Johannes, Hannah Robinson, Ruth Lyon, Scott Michael Cavagan, Polyvinyl, Earth Farm, Chris Kelly, Eve Simpson and more

58 DEMOS

Featuring Alice Elle, Second To Nothing, Mike Hebden, Vanguard and Paper Boats

59 ALBUMS

Featuring Caitlin Rose, Wildes, Prince Bishop, Autoleisureland, Breanna Barbara, Ivan The Tolerable, Tenci, Carla dal Forno, Steve Pledger, Larkin Poe, Shake Chain, Andrew Wasylyk and more

62 MIXTAPE

Ahead of their 20th birthday celebrations, the team at The Biscuit Factory art gallery pick some of their favourite tunes

Next Issue Out 30th November

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PREVIEWS

STAGE

NOVEMBER’S DIVERSIONS INCLUDE SOCIALLY-ENGAGED TALES OF CONSPIRACY AND CONTROL, DRAG CABARET, AN ARTY FAIR, HIGHLY REVERED POST-PUNK AND A PLAYFUL EXCHANGE BETWEEN DANCE, VISUAL ARTS AND MUSIC. DIVE IN!

Stairwall by Luke Waddington

SUNDAY 6

STAGE

EVENTS

DEAD CATS

THE MARLEY FAIR Independent studios and artist community

THURSDAY 3

Theatre company Proto-type present a searingly honest attack on the spin machine, in their production Dead Cats. Blending new writing, performance and filmmaking to show the truth behind the fiction, expect a socially-engaged exploration of power, democracy, truth-telling, protest, privacy, conspiracy and control. ARC, Stockton www.proto-type.org

STAGE

SATURDAY 5

Breeze Creatives decamped to John Marley Centre, an art deco former school in the city’s West end, in 2021. Their free entry fair day promises wonderful wares from independent craft makers and creatives, with a healthy smattering of vintage, retro, antiques and more. The Marley Centre, Newcastle www.breezecreatives.com

MUSIC

STAIRWALL – THE THINGS WE FIND Dance performer Esther Huss’ new production is inspired by the notion of ‘almost too serious’; a playful exchange between dance, visual arts and music which highlights some of the too serious and not serious enough moments in life. Expect storytelling of local narratives through a lens of play and adventure in an unusual venue. Percy A. Hudson Ltd Timber Merchants, North Shields www.esther-moves.com

STAGE

FRIDAY 11

REDCOAT Gig theatre champions The Six Twenty reprise

Image by Foteini Christofilopoulou

FRIDAY 4 DROWNTOWN

Choreographer Rhiannon Faith makes socially conscious work which gives voice to the vulnerable and unheard. In gritty dance theatre piece Drowntown, six strangers each weighed down by individual darkness find themselves on a bleak coastal landscape, and struggle with isolation, shame and failed support systems, culminating in a production which is honest and tender. Dance City, Newcastle www.rhiannonfaith.com

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Sisi by Chloe Seamn

SATURDAY 5

BBC INTRODUCING LIVE

Celebrating the 15th birthday of BBC Introducing Live, Shakk, presenter of the BBC Radio Tees’ Introducing show, has teamed up with Tees Music Alliance to present a cracking line-up of emerging talent including Stocktonbased songwriter SISI, Brit-pop band The Collectors, hip-hop duo Ramè Kari and the dark folk-infused pop of Eve Conway. The Green Room, Stockton www.facebook.com/ thegreenroomstockton

their wonderful production of Redcoat, which centres around holiday park entertainer Lewis and the trials and tribulations of having to be ‘on’ all the time. Expect balloon animal modelling, a lot of daft dancing and a healthy dose of cheeky charisma. Also on Thursday 24th at Arts Centre Washington. Saltburn Arts Centre www.thesixtwenty.com/redcoat

MUSIC

SATURDAY 12

DAVID LEWIS GEDGE: TALES FROM THE WEDDING PRESENT The Wedding Present frontman presents an evening of talk and song, as he reads from the second volume of his ‘memoir in comic book form’, Something And Nothing, released this month. Gedge will regale audiences with tales from the road as well as seminal moments in his personal history, and will perform a 45-minute acoustic set. Gosforth Civic Theatre, Newcastle www.gosforthcivictheatre.co.uk


NOVEMBER HIGHLIGHTS MUSIC

ART & LIT

MUSIC

DAN PARRY-JONES: A NEW COLLECTION

CALLUM PITT

THURSDAY 17

Fontaines DC by Filmawi

TUESDAY 15

FONTAINES DC

Having wowed critics and fans alike with the release of their new album Skinty Fia back in April, Irish post-punks Fontaines DC are riding the crest of a wave which gathered momentum back in 2019 with their Mercury-nominated debut release, Dogrel. Since then, they’ve garnered considerable acclaim for their raw live sound and joyous delivery. The Globe, Stockton www.fontainesdc.com

The Bristol-based artist creates mixed media urban landscapes which draw inspiration from abstract expressionists and pop art giants like Robert Rauschenberg and Richard Hamilton. The exhibition runs until the end of the year Hancock Gallery, Newcastle www.danpj.co.uk

MUSIC

THURSDAY 17

IONA FRANCES BROWN A fundraising exhibition supporting

the homeless charity Crisis, Concrete Edges For The Next 3 Miles consists of 365 drawings which document her walking commute through the city to Crisis Skylight Newcastle, one for each day of her first year working there, in a celebration of small things and ephemeral encounters. Runs until Saturday 19th. Vane Gallery, Gateshead www.vane.org.uk

Combining folk-tinged alternative riffs with a stunning falsetto voice and a love of group harmonies, Callum’s stream-of-consciousness songs tackle themes of social significance from depression and anxiety, to political unrest. His natural warmth and honesty will be shown off well within the historic confines of The Common Room (fka The Mining Institute). The Common Room, Newcastle www.callumpittmusic.co.uk

SUNDAY 20

PURSUERS OF THE FUTURE

Kancho Club

SATURDAY 19

with a drive to create an underground, inclusive and exciting community dedicated showcasing to Afrocentric/ Latin-based house music in Newcastle, featuring performances from underground sounds from the UK and beyond. Performing at this event are Kancho Club, a tribal/ Afro-house and techno duo with live sax and percussion. Zerox, Newcastle www.facebook.com/mambodivino

Byker In The Sun

SATURDAY 19

STAGE

MAMBO DIVINO Mambo Divino is a club night at Zerox

ART & LIT

WHATS ON

EVENTS

SATURDAY 19

SCREENS!

Hosted by queer monthly themed club night Spectrum, who seek to put on alternative, exciting and bold events, Screens! is a cabaret brunch afternoon which features camp cabaret, gorgeous food and bottomless hot drinks (with an opportunity to upgrade to a boozy option too). Hosts Sally and Whitney Bae will keep the entertainment flowing, with drag performance from Anna Morphic and Elizabeth Crawford. Tyneside Coffee Rooms, Newcastle www.tynesidecinema.co.uk

Playwright Scott Young delivers a production filled with song, movement, puppetry and storytelling featuring a community cast. Pursuers of the Future is steeped in myth, legend and the proud history of Sunderland, and draws on North Eastern folklore and modern traditions, with music created by the community with local artist Jen Stevens. The Fire Station, Sunderland www.theatrespace.org.uk

MUSIC

THURSDAY 24

BUGMAN

Self-described as an “indie punkist on a post-pop high”, the songs of Tyneside-based Bugman are many and varied. Essentially a one-man band, the prolific songwriter and multi-instrumentalist promises an idiosyncratic set filled with insightful lyrics and musicality. He’ll be supported by the equally well thought of genre-blurring pop project St James Infirmary and Newcastle punks The Symptoms. The Engine Room, North Shields www.bugman.bandcamp.com

MUSIC

SATURDAY 26

TIRED OF FIGHTING

A riot of indie rock sounds are promised from this four-band bill featuring headliners Tired of Fighting, whose energetic alt. indie sound has been compared to the likes of Mallory Knox. They’re supported by sultry indie Scots Forgetting The Future, post-rock riff-meisters Silk Road and enchanting songwriter India Arkin. Head of Steam, Newcastle www.wearetiredoffighting.bandcamp.com

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PREVIEWS

MUSIC

PHOEBE GREEN @ THE CLUNY

Words: Matt Young Lucky Me, Phoebe Green’s debut album, was released in August and even the most cursory listen would be enough to identify the vulnerable themes at its core: the heartbreak, anxieties, outright fears, regrets and resentments. Every personal trait scrutinised,

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chastised and hopefully a learning experience. It could be, you know, kind of a lot, yet cocooned in fat bouncy electro beats and shiny synth washes her ‘lucky me’ manta keeps lifting things up as she assuredly spills her guts. One thing that you can guarantee is that seeing Green live when she plays The Cluny on Monday 28th November, is an experience full of energy, raw honesty and catharsis. Think about Robyn’s Dancing On My Own as a communal bonding sad bop – it’s the sort of killer electro tune Green’s album is packed with – the collective shared emotions dissipating like a

form of crowd-sourced therapy. There are also moments in her music that evoke the kitchen sink ordinariness of the Pet Shop Boys but getting glitzed up, ready for a show and a damn good dance. You’ll grin, your heart might break and there may be tears; Phoebe Green is a rare artist capable of touching every emotion easily as she’s figuring herself out in front of everyone. Phoebe Green plays The Cluny, Newcastle on Monday 28th November. www.phoebegreenmusic.bandcamp.com


PREVIEWS

Divide and Dissolve by Billy Eyers

MUSIC

DIVIDE & DISSOLVE @ STAR & SHADOW CINEMA

Words: Lee Fisher Metal of all kinds has been burdened with a not entirely deserved reputation for being predominantly white, macho (or at least blokey) and apolitical for most of its lifespan (in fact, whenever politics does come up it seems to be in relation to yet another black metal outfit being exposed as espousing some trve kvlt-wanker pagan fascism). But things are shifting, and one of the key outfits in that shift are Divide & Dissolve, who use an especially intense form of sludgy, doom-laden metal as a righteous battering ram against all that needs dismantling. That they attack colonialism, racism, misogyny and the rest with music that’s almost entirely instrumental has parallels in Godspeed You! Black Emperor, and they share some of that band’s awesome dynamics too. The Melbourne-based duo come with a fearsome live reputation and an intelligence and insight in their approach that’s genuinely thrilling, so props to the TUSK

team for bringing them to Newcastle. Support is from our very own Penance Stare, another drums/guitar duo who are doing plenty to subvert metal cliches without sacrificing any heaviosity. Divide & Dissolve and Penance Stare play Star & Shadow Cinema, Newcastle on Tuesday 15th November. www.divideanddissolve.com

MUSIC

ME ME ME PRESENT: WILLIAM BASINSKI & BED WETTER @ SAGE GATESHEAD

Words: Lee Fisher Sometimes Sage Gateshead pulls something really special out of the bag, and this looks likely to be one of those nights. Resulting from a recent Artist In Residence collaboration, they’ve enabled Wallsend-born electronic musician Geoff Kirkwood – now internationally known as Man Power – to curate this remarkable line-up on Friday 4th November under the auspices of his Me Me Me label.

Billed as the North East’s first contemporaryclassical event, the evening’s line-up is intended to give expression to Kirkwood’s ideas about blurring identities and cultural boundaries, and artistic expression in working-class contexts. Heading the bill is the perennially brilliant William Basinski: most people will know him (if at all) via his Disintegration Loops project, a truly heartbreaking sonic experience conjured from decaying magnetic tape loops but infused with the tragedy of 9/11. He’ll be performing his 2020 album Lamentations, one of his richest and elegiac works. As well as his curation, Kirkwood’s contribution is a performance as Bed Wetter alongside composer Fiona Brice and the Royal Northern Sinfonia for the premiere of NXS8, a combination of electronic and classical practices that will be performed alongside footage assembled by local artists and filmmakers that seeks to capture the essence of the North East. Finally, Radio6Music DJ Tom Ravenscroft will be providing a carefully chosen set. William Basinski, Bed Wetter, Brice and Novak with RNS and Tom Ravenscroft perform at Sage Gateshead on Friday 4th November. www.sagegateshead.com

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PREVIEWS

Lande Hekt by @gingerdope

MUSIC

LANDE HEKT @ POP RECS LTD.

Words: Matt Young Former Muncie Girls co-founder Lande Hekt brings her charming singer-songwriter indie rock to Sunderland’s Pop Recs Ltd. on Wednesday 23rd November in support of House Without A View, her second solo album release in as many years. Anyone familiar with 2021’s Going To Hell album knows Hekt gives voice to her own introspection, adds her personal perspective on socially aware issues and combines her experiences with an often bewildering outside world. Her new album focuses on these and plenty of other concerns, not least being part of, and a strong advocate for, the queer community, all delivered in her usual self-effacing and tenderly (for the most part) modest manner. Support comes from Newcastle’s achingly endearing and poetically earnest indie rock songwriter Holly Rees, pitched somewhere between Laura Marling and Courtney Barnett,

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she’s an instant favourite the moment you hear her perform. Also on the bill are Middlesbroughbased garage rockers Onlooker, promising to bring their short, sharp, angry songs in a major key, to the gathered audience. Set your antennas to sonic melodic threat. This is a free entry/£5 suggested donation gig so there’s really no excuse for not getting along and having your musical nerves tickled. Lande Hekt, Holly Rees and Onlooker play Pop Recs Ltd., Sunderland on Wednesday 23rd November. www.landehekt.bandcamp.com

MUSIC

NICK OLIVERI @ ANARCHY BREW CO

Words: Cameron Wright The name Nick Oliveri, may not initially ring a bell, but it’s fair to suggest that his CV will. Oliveri’s first burst into the musical zeitgeist came with his pioneering role in Kyuss, one of metal’s strongest voices in leading the stoner movement that swept the

genre in the 90s. With their early records paving the way for the genre, their influence on metal is undeniable and inescapable, yet this isn’t where Oliveri’s career reaches its most notorious point. As Oliveri pursued a side project with his band mate and guitarist Josh Homme, they gave birth to Queens of The Stone Age. The discography and influence of QOTSA can’t be told in a way that hasn’t already been screamed from the mountains a thousand times before, but suffice to say they made an impact. As Oliveri arrives at Anarchy Brewery with his Death Acoustic tour on Thursday 17th November, we can expect songs from throughout his career as the 90’s bass icon runs through songs old and new, including his time with bands such as The Dwarves, Mondo Generator and Stöner, making this a night of rock ‘n’ roll that feels essential for any product of the 90s rock scene. Nick Oliveri plays Anarchy Brew Co, Newcastle on Thursday 17th November. www.twitter.com/nickoliveri


OCTOBER HIGHLIGHTS

COMEDY

DAVE GORMAN @ TYNE THEATRE & OPERA HOUSE/ MIDDLESBROUGH TOWN HALL Words: Laura Doyle Woe betide anyone who has had to deal with a poor Powerpoint presentation. Oh wait – that’s pretty much everyone on the planet by

this point. From dodgy university lecturers charging nine grand a year to read from the slides, borderline unbearable team building exercises delivered through misplaced Powerpoint transitions, or having to build the damn thing yourself for some school project in an underfunded IT lesson, slideshow presentations have become an unavoidable fact of modern life. That is, until Dave Gorman got his hands on a projector. He’s already demonstrated his love and fascination with the software on Dave (the channel)’s Modern Life Is Good(ish), and now you can see for yourself, live on stage at Tyne Theatre & Opera House and Middlesbrough Town Hall, just how effective a Powerpoint can

PREVIEWS

be when in the right hands. With a love for focussing on life’s most mundane aspects, from what the red bit in a Finish dishwasher tab actually is (spoiler: it is not a red Smartie) to music choices on daytime home auction TV shows (Andrew WK’s Party Hard does not an appropriate soundtrack for a kitchen refurb make), it’s anyone’s guess what seemingly innocuous aspect of the human experience will get analysed with microscopic detail. Expect to be confused, yet weirdly educated. Dave Gorman: Powerpoint To The People is at Tyne Theatre & Opera House, Newcastle on Thursday 10th and Middlesbrough Town Hall on Friday 11th November. www.davegorman.com

JAMES WILTON DANCE Friday 11 November, 7:30pm Saturday 12 November, 2:30pm PERFECT FOR S NEWCOMER

dancecity.co.uk 0191 261 0505

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PREVIEWS

MUSIC

SOUMIK DATTA @ SAGE GATESHEAD

Words: Adam Paxton Fans of world music – a reductive and generic phrase, but the simplest way of describing an openness to the musical forms of other cultures – won’t want to miss Soumik Datta as he brings his Hope Notes tour to Sage Gateshead on Thursday 3rd November.

Datta is a genuine forward thinker, combining elements of traditional Indian and Bengali music with an astonishingly diverse array of music from disparate cultures. His ensemble includes Syrian, Kenyan and Ugandan contributors and musical influences, as well as incorporating electronic, spoken word and elements of arts activism. Spoken word refugee stories, music homages to the various cultures, Hope Notes is an altogether uplifting and positive testament to the transcendental possibilities of true open-minded multi-culturalism, both in the arts and more generally. A living testament to

the possibilities that can be explored when cultures don’t collide but coexist in harmony, Hope Notes can be enjoyed entirely on its own musical merit as well as with more thoughtful intellectual engagement. If you know anyone who is unsure about what world music can offer to someone of a dyed-in-the-wool Western music orthodoxy, bring them along. We bet they will have their minds changed by the end of the evening. Soumik Datta plays Sage Gateshead on Thursday 3rd November. www.soumikdatta.com

CASTLE!

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PREVIEWS

GNOD

ART & LIT

LUCIE RIE @ MIMA

Words: Lizzie Lovejoy Visit The Adventure of Pottery and step into the world of Lucie Rie in MIMA’s new exhibition of her life’s work from Friday 11th November to Sunday 12th February. Ground breaking in her time, she was one of very few female potters who led the world of ceramics with innovative and experimental processes. The exhibition will feature works spanning over six decades and will provide a chance for a new generation to interact with Lucie Rie’s influential work, which is imbued with a playful sense of experimentation and uses techniques of sgraffito and glazes to interesting effect. MIMA’s director Elinor Morgan explains: “Lucie Rie’s ceramics and incredible making techniques laid the groundwork for many others. It is an opportunity to focus on a lifetime of her pots and we are excited to welcome to MIMA those encountering Rie’s work for the first time as well as art and craft enthusiasts who know her work.” Middlesbrough has a rich creative history, particularly with industrial processes, and it’s easy to see the parallels between the production of pots and ceramics and our own local cultural history. You can witness the evolution of Lucie Rie’s work and learn more about the adventurous and often surprising world of pottery, in what promises to be an interesting and inventive exhibition. Lucie Rie: The Adventure of Pottery is at MIMA, Middlesbrough from Friday 11th

November-Sunday 12th February. www.mima.art

COMEDY

of comedy wanting to put on a great show with an incredible line-up.” Fingers and Fringe Presents… takes place at Tyne Theatre & Opera House, Newcastle on Wednesday 23rd November. www.facebook.com/fingersandfringe

FINGERS AND FRINGE PRESENTS… @ TYNE MUSIC THEATRE & OPERA GNOD @ THE LUBBER HOUSE FIEND Words: Jason Jones Tyne Theatre & Opera House plays host to a star-studded night of comedy on Wednesday 23rd November, courtesy of local promoters Fingers and Fringe. Bringing together some of the most renowned stand-ups in the country, the gala will boast a stacked bill brimming with household names and emerging talents alike. American heavyweight Reginald D. Hunter and Scottish whirlwind Fern Brady (now of Taskmaster fame) will be joined by Britain’s Got Talent finalist Daliso Chaponda, Live At The Apollo favourite Scott Bennett, All Killa No Filla podcast queen Rachel Fairburn and local up-and-comer Louise Young, with Kiwi compere extraordinaire Jarred Christmas wrangling proceedings with his irrepressibly hysterical knack throughout. Speaking about the show, Fingers and Fringe’s Matty and Luke said: “It’s always been a dream of ours to put on a show of this size together, and to do it at Tyne Theatre & Opera House is an absolute joy. Strip Fingers and Fringe down and you have two die-hard fans

Words: Lee Fisher It’s inevitable somehow that the core members of Gnod would end up in Hebden Bridge and Todmorden, the ‘Keep Calderdale Weird’ occult/psychedelic nature of the valley a perfect home for their reliably powerful explorations. A new base meant a new version of the band – by all accounts, one of their most intense yet – and that’s the Gnod that’s heading up to Newcastle on Saturday 19th November. As if that weren’t enough, they’re playing The Lubber Fiend, the still fairly new underground venue that has been going from strength to strength in its bookings and has now added a reputedly terrifying new PA to their armoury. Given Gnod’s fearsome reputation for volume, this is an equal parts delicious and terrifying proposition. Support comes from local space rock noiseniks Smote. Gnod and Smote play The Lubber Fiend, Newcastle on Saturday 19th November. www.gnod.bandcamp.com

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PREVIEWS

Whitney K

STAGE

REIVER – TALES FROM THE BORDERS @ VARIOUS VENUES

Words: Laura Doyle Northumberland, Cumbria and Southern Scotland, circa 400 or so years ago: too far North for London to care about them and too far South for Edinburgh to have much effective influence. Sound familiar? Despite the sense of deja-vu, the borderlands were rougher still, rife with tribal warfare between clans scrapping over food and supplies in the harsh climate. Now, as part of this year’s celebrations of 1900 years of Hadrian’s Wall, storyteller Steve Byron showcases his trilogy of modern folklore at venues across the region this month, based on some of the tales that came out of these lawless times. Reiver – Tales From The Borders was first enjoyed as one of North East theatre company Elysium’s Covid Monologues, online shows which kept the company afloat during the pandemic. From one turbulent time to another, these stories are apparently always in vogue. These adapted folk tales of corruption and greed, violence and injustice, and the never-ending battle for humanity’s survival through the lens of individuals fighting against less than ideal circumstances make the borders of yesteryear sound like an alien land – but beneath lies relatable tales of human beings taking a stand against an oppressive regime that left the North East desperately wanting. What other lessons could be learnt from this page in history? Reiver – Tales From The Borders takes place throughout November at Alnwick Playhouse (16th & 17th), The Exchange, North Shields (18th), Ushaw, Durham (19th), Hatfield College, Durham (23rd), Dufton Village Hall

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(24th), Mickleton Village Hall (25th), Wark Village Hall (26th), Allendale Village Hall (27th), Newcastle Castle (29th), Queen’s Hall Arts Centre, Hexham (30th) and Dovecote Centre, Amble (1st Dec). www.elysiumtc.co.uk

MUSIC

WHITNEY K @ THE LUBBER FIEND

Words: Jason Jones Whitney K graces The Lubber Fiend on Monday 14th November with his arrestingly frank brand of lo-fi folk Imbued with a bluesy magnetism and a knack for pensive introspection, K is the wandering troubadour alter-ego of Konner Whitney, a Whitehorse, Yukon resident whose erstwhile rambles have taken him from Vancouver to Montreal to Burnaby to Los Angeles in years gone by. First unveiled to the world more than half a decade ago through the intoxicating, four-track candour of manifesto Goodnight, K hurtled along on a potent cocktail of romance and escapism before opting for a clean break on third album Two Years. Earnest, witty and daring, K’s latest record lends dashes and pinches of inspiration from a roll call of greats as towering as Willie Nelson, Harry Nilsson and John Cale to sew together a sound that rallies and rails against the hypocritical and the corrupt with a raw precision. What was once outsider folk now rings with the stubborn discontent of political poetry, and is delivered with an honesty and perceptiveness that speaks to K’s gift for seeing the momentous in the mundane. Whitney K, Hank Bee, Stannington and Nev Clay play The Lubber Fiend, Newcastle on Monday 14th November. www.whitneyk.bandcamp.com

COMEDY

HILARITY BITES THE HIPP @ DARLINGTON HIPPODROME

Words: Michael O’Neill Having established themselves as one of the North East’s premier purveyors of all side-splitting delights since their humble beginnings in 2007, Hilarity Bites Comedy Club have made it their mission to ensure that quality comedy is never in short supply throughout all the corners of the region. Proof that they’re far from running out of steam in their conquest can be found in the return of Hilarity Bites The Hipp, in partnership with Darlington Hippodrome, which finds them bringing a barrel of laughs to Darlo’s premier venue on Thursday 24th November. Headlining is the legendary Reginald D. Hunter, who hardly needs any introduction given his almost ubiquitous presence on the who’s-who of comedy panel shows within the last twenty years, with his signature style of brutal and honest wit. Joining Reg is Ivan Brackenbury, the hapless hospital radio DJ and creation of Tom Binns, the creator, star and writer of the cult BBC series Hospital People; Nina Gilligan, who has been going from strength to strength since winning the Leicester Mercury Comedian of the Year Award in 2021; and Brennan Reece, Live at the Apollo alumni, fresh from supporting Joe Lycett his huge UK arena tour! Get ready for the stitches! Hilarity Bites The Hipp takes place at Darlington Hippodrome on Thursday 24th November. www.hilaritybites.co.uk


PREVIEWS

Matriarchy: Liiva Salme by Anne Helene Gjelstad

ART & LIT

MATRIARCHY @ SIDE GALLERY

Words: Jen Wilson The concept of a matriarchal society in which women dominate all aspects of their community including the economy can seem fantastical to us in the UK, despite our newly appointed Prime Minister. Matriarchy is a photography exhibition at Side Gallery showing the work of two incredible photographers that celebrate the women-led communities of the indigenous Zapotec people in Juchitán, Mexico and the small Estonian Islands of Kihnu and Manija – often considered the last matriarchal society in Europe. Graciela Iturbide, a world renowned and influential photographer from Mexico, immersed herself in the small town of Juchitán and found the political, sexual and economic freedom of the Zapotec women profoundly inspiring. Although the photographs fall within the documentary tradition, Iturbide always adds a mysterious or surreal element to her pictures. Her work helped to bring forth a new wave of feminism in Mexico which is about as influential as art can get. Award winning photographer and educator Anne Helen Gjelstad’s Big Heart, Strong Hands is a story about female strength and resilience in Estonia. These women take care of everything on land while the men are at sea. The exhibition explores the harsh conditions of this unique society on the Islands of Estonia and their daily lives and activities. Matriarchy is at Side Gallery, Newcastle from Saturday 29th October-Friday 23rd December. www.amber-online.com

ART & LIT

COMPANION @ WORKPLACE FOUNDATION

Words: Claire Dupree Dedicated to supporting and promoting regional and under-represented artists, Workplace Foundation continue their spotlight of emerging practitioners with their new exhibition, which runs at the Newcastle gallery from Saturday 29th October-Saturday 14th January. Companion asks artists to turn their gaze inwards, and reflect on how they view and describe their own work, while also placing themselves in context with other artists when exhibited together. The exhibition has been put together by Newcastle-based researcher and curator Gayle Meikle and includes work which spans mediums, from painting and photography to installations. British Nigerian photography Tayo Adekunle’s self-portrait work explores issues of race, gender and sexuality, often in the context of racial and colonial history; Catherine Bertola’s practice spans installation, sculpture, drawing and film, and seeks to delve further into untold stories of women’s roles in society, the home, craft production and labour; while Claire Dorsett’s paintings are inspired by what she terms as “casual, seemingly insignificant things”. An accompanying series of sonic elements throughout the show will take the themes of companionship and interaction further, as Meikle talks to each artist about how they view their own work. Companion runs at Workplace Foundation, Newcastle from Saturday 29th OctoberSaturday 14th January. www.workplacefoundation.art

MUSIC

SNAKERATTLERS @ THE GLOBE

Words: Cameron Wright Snakerattlers are a two-piece band, comprising of married couple Dan and Naomi Gott, who create a fierce, hell-bound voyage of death rock, garage punk and fragments of the oldest, dustiest rockabilly. Those genres combine to make the York-based band’s own frenzied and furious take on music, known as rattlerock. The sound of Snakerattlers is acerbic, ruthless, erratic, dark and uncompromising, and is delivered with blasting guitars, thunderous drums and howled vocals. Scouring the sordid underbelly of rock ‘n’ roll, Snakerattlers are the band taking rockabilly and making it impactful; ingesting surf guitar riffs with a frightening and explosive energy, Snakerattlers have a knack for short, snappy sounds that refuse to let the listener go. As a punk mentality meets the jangling guitars, there’s a raucous energy that propels the band’s sound, that is epitomised in their live performances. Thriving on energy, anarchy and noise, Snakerattlers provided everything you might expect from a band with such a name, and the band will be bringing their show to Newcastle’s Globe on Saturday 12th November, where big riffs and mosh pits are guaranteed as the duo further their penchant for immediate, intense punk mania. Snakerattlers play The Globe, Newcastle on Saturday 12th November. www.snakerattlers.com

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PREVIEWS

N’Famady Kouyate

MUSIC

N’FAMADY KOUYATÉ @ THE CLUNY

Words: Tracy Hyman N’Famady Kouyaté is no stranger to the North East, having played at Sage Gateshead back in 2019, supporting and playing in Gruff Rhys’ band on the Pang! tour. Those who were there would surely remember his infectious and energetic performance. Now N’Famady is back with his own twenty date headline Balafô Douma tour, which drops in to The Cluny on Saturday 5th November. Cardiff resident N’Famady is a talented multi-instrumentalist whose primary instrument is the balafon, the traditional wooden xylophone sacred to West African culture and his family heritage of the griot/djeli. Originally from Conakry in Guinea, he wows audiences with modern interpretations of traditional West African Mandingue songs, fusing jazz, pop, indie and funk influences, with instrumentation ranging from balafon and djembe to saxophone and trumpet. A collection of these songs were released last year in the form of his debut EP, Aros I Fi

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Yna, with new Welsh lyrics. Recorded at the legendary Rockfield Studios, the EP featured a full band line-up with guest appearances from Gruff Rhys, Lisa Jên Brown and Kliph Scurlock. This year N’Famady’s Balafô Douma tour coincides with the release of new single Dere Ma, recorded once again in Rockfield Studios, this time with London-based producer Dustin Dooley. N’Famady Kouyaté plays at The Cluny, Newcastle on Saturday 5th November. www.nfamady.com

MUSIC

BELLE & SEBASTIAN @ O2 CITY HALL

Words: Cameron Wright Belle & Sebastian have been heralded as one of Britain’s most notoriously wonderful indie rock bands for decades. Merging the charm and strutting confidence of a bygone era with delicate and introspective characters struggling to understand the world and be accepted by it, the themes of otherness which populate Stuart Murdoch’s penmanship attract a tenacious cult

following, finding semblance in his gentle poetry and being swept away by the breezy musicianship. With Murdoch offering a respite from life’s harsh realities, there’s a purity in the band’s catalogue which has carried them through a series of glimmering releases, verging on masterpieces of the genre. 2020 saw the delivery of the sprawling double live album What To Look For In Summer, in which Belle & Sebastian provided undeniable evidence of their evolution from twinkling indie releases to powerful live performances. What feels most potent about the immersive release is the sense of community and unity between anyone who has found a safe haven in the band’s lyricism or the worlds they create. With the band touring the country once more, and performing their rescheduled show at Newcastle’s O2 City Hall on Thursday 24th November, Belle & Sebastian will be opening up their arms and welcoming members old and new into that beautiful community. Belle & Sebastian play O2 City Hall, Newcastle on Thursday 24th November. www.belleandsebastian.com


PREVIEWS

STAGE

ROMA @ VARIOUS VENUES

Words: Helen Redfern In this semi-autobiographical work, Anglo-Sicilian choreographer Anthony Lo-Giudice brings together a team of internationally renowned performers, both dancers and musicians including violinist Bradley Creswick MBE, to explore notions of cross-cultural identity, border and nationhood. He explains: “ROMA is a recollection of memories and reflections on how my family, heritage and nationality have made me the person I am today. These musings, although

personal, form the basis of a wider study of contemporary society.” And he’s right, these are pertinent topics in contemporary Britain today. Ultimately, it all comes down to what it is to belong. Anthony talks about the inspiration for his work: “My work as a choreographer is often a blend of folklore fantasy, nostalgia and working-class anxieties that are communicated through the visual aesthetics of dance and the moving body. I have created ROMA to enable me to understand my parents at a deeper level, whilst they are still alive to tell their stories.” And so Anthony crafts the intimate musings of his English mother and Sicilian father’s accounts of one another, shaping them into a series of fleeting memories and imaginations that become the beautiful evocative work that

is ROMA. He sensitively depicts their tempestuous jostle between love and cultural divide, the struggles of loneliness and conflict that they face, and the inevitable complexities of heritage, tradition, language and family. Touring theatres and other venues throughout the North of England over the next couple of months, ROMA portrays through movement and music one particular love story, yes, but the quest is universal. We all want someone to love. We all want a place to call home. We all want to feel like we belong somewhere. ROMA is performed at Durham Cathedral on Friday 18th November, Middlesbrough Town Hall on Thursday 1st December, Queen’s Hall Hexham on Friday 2nd December and Dance City, Newcastle on Friday 9th December. www.anthonylogiudice.com/roma

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PREVIEWS

Wesley Gonzalez

MUSIC

WESLEY GONZALEZ @ HEAD OF STEAM

Words: Matt Young Former Let’s Wrestle frontman Wesley Gonzalez hits the highways on tour to showcase his recent Wax Limousine album, roaring into Newcastle’s Head of Steam on Friday 18th November. No longer sticking to the melodic eccentric punk tunes of his former band, now a few albums removed from their highs, Gonzalez expands on his own eclectic musical palette further and he’s an extremely broach church when it comes to paring styles and sounds; it sounds like waking up hungover, where things are slightly off-kilter and fuzzy at the edges. When he sings there’s that same authoritative, swooning tone of the 80’s that acts like Scritti Politti, Prefab Sprout, Phil Oakey or Edwyn Collins exuded. His confident vocal swells upfront and is backed by various disco pop grooves of synth and Chic-riffed guitars from the same exploratory pop era, anchored by funk bass and glistening in surround sound. Gonzalez manages to be simultaneously sincere – earnest even – but never too far from being self-deprecating too, and makes

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his presence strongly felt while baring parts of his soul and thrusting his hips. He delivers his songs with equal quantities of swagger and a fair helping of pathos. We recommend you get up to the front, let yourself go and enjoy the whole sweaty party. Wesley Gonzalez performs at Head of Steam, Newcastle on Friday 18th November. www.wesleygonzalez.bandcamp.com

ART & LIT

BOOKS ON TYNE @ VARIOUS VENUES

Words: Lizzie Lovejoy After a three year hiatus, Books on Tyne is proudly stepping back into the spotlight with the 10th instalment of this beloved Newcastle -based book festival taking place from Saturday 19th-Saturday 26th November. The programme is packed with varied content from local life to the natural world, current affairs and music plus so much more. Highlights of the programme include Maya Goodfellow discussing her work, Hostile Environment, which explores the dark world of using immigration as a scapegoat for contemporary political struggles; novelist Ashley Hickson-Lovence talks to Sarah Tyson

about his brilliant novelisation of the life of Uriah Rennie, the Premier League’s first and only Black referee; Saint Etienne musician Bob Stanley speaks with award-winning historian Brian Ward about his new book about the birth of modern pop, Let’s Do It (all City Library, Saturday 19th). There are poetry and short story readings from the Red Squirrel Press Showcase, which includes a range of local authors (City Library, Monday 21st); and there’s a range of North East-based books to discover when Barry Hindson, Ken Smith, Paul Ferris and Paul Brown discuss their novels (City Library, Tuesday 22nd); there’s a reading from the lyrical and fearless new novel by celebrated author Nancy Campbell, Thunderstone (Lit & Phil, Wednesday 23rd); Newcastle-based poet Sean O’Brien reads from his 11th collection of poems, Embark (Lit & Phil, Thursday 24th); documentary filmmaker Rob Kilburn talks about the weird and wonderful world of social history with his book Tyne & Weird; and in celebration of the release of her new novel Lost And Found, author Elizabeth Garner is joined by folk duo Patterson Dipper for a special event where folk songs and stories venture into unknown lands (both City Library, Saturday 26th). Books on Tyne takes place at various venues in Newcastle from Saturday 19th-Saturday 26th November. www.booksontyne.co.uk


PREVIEWS

Dancing on the Tables by Jenn Curtis Photography

MUSIC

SONGS FROM NORTHERN BRITAIN @ THE GEORGIAN THEATRE

Words: Cameron Wright Annual micro festival Songs From Northern Britain returns to Stockton on Friday 25th November. Spread across The Georgian Theatre, the Georgian’s bar and neighbouring venue The Green Room, the event provides a

roster of fresh talent from across the North East and Scotland. With artists like The Howl & The Hum and The Snuts having played the event before, organisers The Kids Are Solid Gold and Tees Music Alliance are keen to provide a platform for the new names in the scene. Having played the festival several times already, Scottish alt. rock band Dancing On Tables are stepping up to headline position, straight off the release of their debut album Colour In The Grey, which has won praise for its fusion of anthemic indie pop. The band also venture back to the region for a show at Independent in Sunderland on Thursday 1st December.

Also on the bill are Newcastle’s thrillingly raw fuzz rockers Pave The Jungle; the melancholic and tear-stained pop of Jen Dixon; Sunderland’s phenomenally euphoric and funky dance music experience Vandebilt; the alt. folk sounds of Callum Pitt; cellist and vocalist Ceitidh Mac; Glaswegian indie popsters False Friends; Teesside garage rockers Onlooker and experimental riff rockers The Wife Guys of Reddit, with more to be confirmed. Songs From Northern Britain takes place at The Georgian Theatre and The Green Room, Stockton on Friday 25th November. www.georgiantheatre.co.uk

St. James' Boulevard, Newcastle, NE1 4HP

Joyous show exploring social media via smiles, honesty and dancing.

Direct and perform a short play in response to Out-Out!

Five-piece alt rock in the vein of Wolf Alice, Phoebe Bridgers...

Online creative drop-in session. Free to all.

Worlds collide when two people are forced to share a space...

Acclaimed comic performs new show 'A Short History of the High Jump'. Tickets & Info: www.alphabettitheatre.co.uk

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PREVIEWS

Sarah Saeed

STAGE

LAVA ELASTIC @ ARC

Words: Jen Wilson Lava Elastic is the UK’s FIRST openly neurodiverse night of comedy, poetry and stuff brought to you by neurodiverse performer and host Sarah Saeed, aka comedy diva Marianna Harlotta. A theory has recently emerged that many of

us are ‘neurodiverse’ with differences including Autism/Aspergers, ADHD, dyslexia/ dyspraxia, Tourette’s syndrome and other types of brain that do not fall into the ‘neurotypical’ camp. This can make opportunities to perform even harder to come by. Neurodivergent performers can struggle more than most with the admin and fees involved in getting gigs and as a result there are a whole section of niche and brilliant acts that you would simply not get to experience, but Lava

“Enchanting understated, intelligent folk pop” Rolling Stone

Polly Paulusma SUPPORT FROM KARI MACLEOD FRIDAY 4 NOVEMBER, 7.30PM

Gosforth Civic Theatre gosforthcivictheatre.co.uk | 0191 284 3700 | @GoCivTheatre

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Elastic is here to change that with their show at Stockton’s ARC on Friday 4th November which will celebrate ALL the humans doing their thing, including neurotypical performers, who are also part of the show. Expect performances from Scottish comic Lubna Kerr, spoken word performer Lizzie Lovejoy and local comedian Neil Harris. Lava Elastic takes place at ARC, Stockton on Friday 4th November. www.lavaelastic.com


PREVIEWS

Bored At My Grandmas House

MUSIC

CLUE RECORDS 10TH ANNIVERSARY @ BASE CAMP

Words: Cameron Wright 2012 saw the inception of Clue Records: having been toyed around for years as a potential idea, it was in 2012 that two Teessiders, Scott and Ste, opened the doors to what has become a Northern staple. Clue was born out of a passion for music and a willingness to make mistakes, evolve and grow. Welcoming that evolution with open arms, the Leeds-based company have been responsible for launching a plethora of careers, with recent successes including smashers from Tyneside fuzz rockers Pit Pony and an ambitious year-long series of releases with The Wedding Present. Their artists have gone on to play play Glastonbury, tour internationally and feature widely across national and international press. Now on the cusp of their 10 year anniversary, the duo are looking for more ways to celebrate and connect. As well as releasing a ten year expanded compilation release this month, the next phase of this celebration is a series of live shows, one of which sees Clue coming home for a night at Middlesbrough’s

Base Camp on Saturday 26th November. Delivering an evening of superb music with Clue artists old and new, acts like indie punks Gawjuss, post-indie quartet PLAZA, garage rock band HAMER, Leeds’ psych popsters Van Houten, Darlington’s own mysterious dark rockers Wax Heart Sodality and up and coming indie rock artist Sarah Johnsone will perform in Middlesbrough, with a headlining set from alt. pop artist Bored At My Grandma’s House ensuring the night is a veritable feast of Northern talent. Constantly moving forward and giddily morphing the North’s music scene, the show will be a well deserved commemorative night to appreciate the beautiful music of Clue Records. Clue Records 10th anniversary takes place at Base Camp, Middlesbrough on Saturday 26th November. www.cluerecords.com

EVENTS

BEING HUMAN @ VARIOUS VENUES

Words: Laura Doyle How do you spot a humanities student? They’re probably the one in the corner, vehemently defending the existence of the humanities as academic disciplines to the

maths and science lot... Maybe the humanities won’t be sending people to the moon any time soon, but the study of human society and culture is more integral to our collective future success than you might realise. How else are we supposed to learn from our mistakes if we don’t first study them? The festival of the humanities seeks to ensure we don’t lose sight of this. Being Human runs annually, bringing attention to the value of humanities research on an international scale and conveying them at an easily digestible local level. Events this year run from Thursday 10th-Friday 18th November and include late takeovers at the Great North Museum: Hancock, Lit & Phil and Newcastle and Durham Universities where you can dive into the history of Hadrian’s Wall through the medium of LEGO, investigate English language change and Northern dialects since the Lindisfarne Gospels, and learn more about superstitions and regional witchcraft in an interactive dramatic workshop. With activities to suit any age, interest and level of expertise, Being Human offers anyone the opportunity to explore everything that the humanities subjects have to offer – and you might just find out more than you bargained for. Being Human festival takes place at various venues in Newcastle from Thursday 10th-Friday 18th November. www.beinghumanfestival.org

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PREVIEWS

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PREVIEWS

Prima Queen by Barbora Mrazkova

MUSIC

PRIMA QUEEN @ THE CLUNY

Words: Jake Anderson Did you know ‘Prima’ has two definitions? I didn’t. The first is “the most important performer”, which is what most of us would think. But the second is the ‘the consumption of raw apples’. I’d say surely that isn’t right, but why would free dictionary dot com lie to me?! Anyway, I don’t think Prima Queen are the royalty of raw apples, but they will be the most important performers to see in Newcastle when they arrive during their UK tour, which will take them to The Cluny on Wednesday 23rd November. Having previously supported the likes of Wet Leg, the band are quickly becoming one of the more popular bands from the London alternative rock scene. The melodic and catchy Chew My Cheeks is a great representation of the band, with its electric guitar-driven instrumental that’ll have you chanting “You make it easy” over and over. The band’s newest song, Eclipse, leans more into the rockier elements of their sound, being a fun foot-stomper.

Supporting them will be Tapir! – a name to be exclaimed. The group have just released their debut EP, Act 1 (The Pilgrim), which features whispery vocals over beautiful folktronica melodies, and displays some really great songwriting best seen with their song The Nether (Face to Face), which is an ode to a particular 2010s video game. Prima Queen and Tapir! play The Cluny, Newcastle on Wednesday 23rd November. www.facebook.com/primaqueenmusic

STAGE

ONE OFF @ LIVE THEATRE

Words: Helen Redfern One Off is based on the turbulent life story of North East writer and actor Ric Renton. Renton relives his time in prison through his writing and performing. He’ll never forget his time in prison as DV7786, but now he’s found a way to use that experience to demonstrate to audiences that change is possible. Live Theatre has become a platform for artists to tell their most personal and political stories, and this world premiere of Ric’s story, taking place from Thursday 10th-Saturday 26th

November, is one of the most astonishing new voices audiences will hear this year. Born in Denton Burn, Ric Renton’s troubled upbringing led to him spending his young adulthood in prison. Whilst in HMP Durham, he learned to read and crucially to write. This is his story. “One Off was all the dignity afforded to those who could take no more. No names. Not even their number. One off,” states prisoner DV7786, who recognises that he too may easily have just been another One Off. Renton’s written this play for all the dead boys, and for night watchman Jock, who, without his invisible, persistent presence in those corridors, he might not still be here to speak his truth. Audiences will be introduced to three young men Knox, Brown and Shepherd, who are passing their time in a prison with the highest suicide rate in the country. They’re energised by their friendship but haunted by the repeated pronouncements of another life lost. The arrival of a nightwatchman, Jock, is what Shepherd needs to find an unexpected way through the darkness. Expect emotion blended with high energy and the blackest humour. One Off is performed at Live Theatre, Newcastle from Thursday 10th-Saturday 26th November. www.live.org.uk

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PREVIEWS

Jarboe by Machilyn Chen

MUSIC

JARBOE @ THE LUBBER FIEND

Words: Adam Paxton Fans who wish to experience something a little bit different from the usual in their live shows are in for a treat this month, as former Swans vocalist and keyboard player Jarboe brings her eclectic show to Newcastle’s Lubber Fiend on Friday 11th November. Jarboe mixes the

soothing and the sweeping with the abrasive and dangerous, producing a kind of music that drips atmosphere and feels best listened to in the dark, by candlelight. Musically, Jarboe is typically eclectic in her sound, informed by a wide variety of influences. Her latest album Skin Blood Women Roses offers slow, brooding ballads, dominated by haunted, soaring vocals, piano and keys, with swells of dissonance, materialising and fading out again, all contributing to the occult atmosphere of the album. There is a distinct absence of a rhythm section on most of the album, allowing the songs to meander at their

own pace. Plus, this month 1995’s seminal album Sacrificial Cake gets an anniversary reissue on vinyl. Supporting Jarboe is avant-garde composer and lutenist Jozef Van Wissem, deepening the overall atmosphere with his stark, haunting melodies. The atmosphere Wissem is able to create with just one instrument is impressive, seeming to play two or three intertwining melodies at a time. Jarboe and Jozef Van Wissem play The Lubber Fiend, Newcastle on Friday 11th November. www.thelivingjarboe.com

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PREVIEWS

Rachael Dadd

MUSIC

RACHAEL DADD @ COBALT STUDIOS

Words: Ali Welford Rachael Dadd’s name has fluttered in fringe folk circles for the best part of two decades, yet it’s only in recent years that the Bristolian has begun to enjoy some crossover traction. This breakthrough can be attributed to several factors – signing with indie heavyweight Memphis Industries; her proximity to a thriving scene featuring the likes of This Is The Kit and Rozi Plain – but by far the most significant has been the characteristic enterprise and individuality listeners have discovered in her ever-developing craft. Having delighted with 2019’s label debut Flux, this creative blossoming reaches full bloom on Kaleidoscope, an eighth album housing some of the boldest, most dextrous and outright gorgeous music of her career. A mini-opus of ethereal melody, playful idiosyncrasy and bewitching string embellishments, this latest endeavour represents a fresh zenith – and if past form is any indicator, should only flourish further on the live stage. That’s something which anybody present for her January 2020 full-band show at Cobalt

Studios will attest to – and plenty will doubtless be back for more upon her welcome return to the same venue on Friday 18th November. Support on the evening comes from Maja Lena, a Stroud-based songwriter fixated on nature and touring in advance of her sophomore album Pluto, plus Tobias Sarra, a local artist dealing in improvised collages of distorted ambience, lo-fi wanderings and found sound. Rachael Dadd, Maja Lena and Tobias Sarra play Cobalt Studios, Newcastle on Friday 18th November. www.rachaeldaddmusic.com

FILM

NORTH EAST INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL @ VARIOUS VENUES

Words: Laura Doyle Move over, Cannes – the North East is the place to be for film lovers this November thanks to the North East International Film Festival. Venues from Whitley Bay to Stockton will be playing host to the Festival’s curated

selection of films, including Oscar-winners, BFI-funded projects and locally made features from Monday 14th-Sunday 20th November. A highlight of the jam-packed programme includes the premiere of documentary Dirty, Sexy and Totally Iconic, a 50th anniversary celebration of North East staple Get Carter which has been created by original producer Michael Klinger’s son and local filmmaker Tony. Cinephiles can grab day tickets for a measly £12.50 or a three-day pass for just £25 and catch as many screenings as they can manage across the North East, including those of the shortlisted for NEIFF awards. Beyond the silver screen, NEIFF also promises exclusive events from networking events with industry professionals, free workshops to provide valuable insight and experience to budding local filmmakers, and of course the prestigious closing gala where the winner of the festival will be selected from the finalists. Whether you want to catch the odd show, make a day of it, or dedicate your whole weekend to North East spectacles, the North East International Film Festival is worth a look-in. Check the website for full listings. North East International Film Festival takes place at venues across the region from Monday 14th-Sunday 20th October. www.neiff.co.uk

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PREVIEWS

Kathryn Williams

MUSIC

KATHRYN WILLIAMS @ GOSFORTH CIVIC THEATRE

Words: Michael O’Neill Across a prolific fourteen studio albums, including this year’s acclaimed Night Drives and 2021’s Midnight Chorus, as well as a lengthy list of collaborations with the likes of Carol Ann Duffy, Thea Gilmore, John Martyn and Bombay Bicycle Club, Kathryn Williams has carved a veritable reputation as a songwriter’s songwriter, with her prolific output being a regular source of critical acclaim, and a regular mainstay of Best Of lists year in, year out. There’s no doubt that the staggering impact that this body of work has on record will translate impeccably to the glorious surrounds of Gosforth Civic Theatre when she performs at the venue on Tuesday 1st November. Night Drives is further evidence of Kathryn’s determination to push her craft into bold and different frontiers, with a more filmic, ensemble-based sound that is wonderfully complemented by the production of

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wunderkind Ed Harcourt. It’s a bold release, and one that brilliantly testifies to the relentlessly creative and boundary-pushing spirit that has seen Kathryn be regularly held in the same regard as many of the canon’s most revered singer-songwriters, staying true to the roots of the craft at a time where many have turned to more play-it-safe, commercial and bland approaches. Kathryn Williams plays Gosforth Civic Theatre, Newcastle on Tuesday 1st November. www.kathrynwilliams.co.uk

MUSIC

HENRY PARKER @ CLAYPATH DELI/THE ENGINE ROOM

Words: Jake Anderson Self-described as Yorkshire psych-folk, Henry Parker will be touring the UK this November alongside fellow artist David Ian Roberts, with both artists sharing headline duties. The tail end of their journey will take them to the North East, as the duo will be stopping at Durham’s Claypath Deli on Saturday 12th and

North Shields’ The Engine Room on Sunday 13th November. With only two albums under his belt, Lammas Fair and Silent Spring, Parker has developed a dedicated loyal fan base. His music is less about the written lyrics, and more about the emotion carried through its instrumentals. These acoustic guitar compositions create a dynamic and folk-driven sonic atmosphere to get lost in. Highlight track Nine Herbs Charm prominently features a flute that playfully joins Parker’s vocals, with excellently demonstrates his mesh of differing, calming sounds. If you enjoy Parker, you’ll enjoy David Ian Roberts too; the artist shares the same relaxing atmosphere as Parker but has a higher emphasis on his gentle vocal performance. The track Rushing from his latest album, In Clover, best shows off the artist’s craftsmanship, being a vibrant and bright ballad. Henry Parker and David Ian Roberts play Claypath Deli, Durham on Saturday 12th and The Engine Room, North Shields on Sunday 13th November. www.henryparkermusic.co.uk


PREVIEWS

W. H. Lung by Aubrey Simpson

MUSIC

W.H. LUNG @ COBALT STUDIOS

Words: Ali Welford When W.H. Lung rock up at Cobalt Studios on Friday 11th November, they’ll do so a very different outfit to that which last thrilled a Newcastle audience back in 2019. Introduced by that year’s Incidental Music as the latest disciples to a lineage of infectious, expansive modern psych, the Mancunians have since undergone a technicolour transformation, fuelled by an expanded five-piece line-up and culminating with a stellar sophomore album in last autumn’s Variants. Trading lengthy durations and sprawling instrumentals for punchy choruses, gleaming pop hooks and intoxicating dancefloor verve, the new record is both an expansion of their horizons and fulfilment of their vast early potential, capped emphatically by one of the finest singles released by anybody in 2021 in the pulsing synth pop banger Pearl In The Palm. The group’s live shows have enjoyed an adrenaline burst too; reviewers noting an “invigorating,” “indecently rousing” vim with fresh arrivals spurring Joseph Evans’ reinvention as an active, livewire frontman par

excellence. For early birds, the Cobalt date will also feature support from Moderma – a project from multi-instrumentalist and producer Emily Z promising synthesised vocals, pop sensibilities and influences ranging from Björk to Caroline Polachek and Everything But The Girl. An intriguing tee-up for a performance that’s not to be missed… W.H. Lung and Moderma play Cobalt Studios, Newcastle on Friday 11th November. www.whlung.bandcamp.com

ART & LIT

OUSEBURN OPEN STUDIOS @ VARIOUS VENUES

Words: Jake Anderson Ouseburn is surely the most delightful of Newcastle’s neighbourhoods for music and the creative arts, and this creativity will be on full show this winter with the return of the annual Ouseburn Open Studios on Saturday 26th-Sunday 27th November. The weekend sees seven venues opening their doors to the public, including 36 Lime Street, B. Box Studios, Biscuit Tin Studios, Cobalt Studios,

Northern Print, The Jim Edwards Studio Gallery and Mushroom Works. People will be able to get an insight into some of these studios and the artists that call them home, with a huge range of creative work on display, plus a range of activities for all ages. Coming at an excellent time for Christmas gift shopping for that particularly choosy friend, attendees will be spoiled for choice, with prints and paintings to ceramics and jewellery plus much more on display. The Biscuit Factory’s offering in particular will be a real celebration, as they mark their 20th anniversary with pop-up offerings from local artists throughout the weekend; while Cobalt’s offering is typically inventive, with a monoprint embossing powder workshop on Saturday and a risograph print market with added DJs, food and more on Sunday. 36 Lime Street will also be holding a raffle to fundraise for Disasters Emergency Committee Ukraine Humanitarian Appeal, which will include covetable letter press tickets, hand-printed by Hole Editions’ Lee Turner. Ouseburn Open Studios takes place at various venues in the Ouseburn Valley, Newcastle on Saturday 26th and Sunday 27th November. www.ouseburnopenstudios.org

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PREVIEWS

MUSIC

SEAZOO @ LITTLE BUILDINGS

Words: Michael O’Neill Taking cues from the likes of Yo La Tengo, Courtney Barnett, Pavement and Grandaddy, Wrexham-based Seazoo have secured themselves a steadfast reputation for their off-kilter pop wonders that have garnered them

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comparisons to indie royalty, plus plenty of acclaim from the likes of NME and bagged them coveted support slots for the likes of IDLES, The Lovely Eggs and Circa Waves, as well as appearances at SXSW, The Great Escape and Green Man. One listen of recent single Beaten By The Rain, the first release from their upcoming third LP, is a testament to why they’ve so quickly bagged such a brilliant seat at the table of exciting upcoming prospects. The band initially found life as a bedroom-recording outfit by Ben Trow

and Llinos Griffiths, before blossoming to a fivepiece unit, leaving their lo-fi roots behind in favour of a full-fledged anything-goes sound that is propelled by their impeccable command of melody and the quality craftsmanship of their songwriting, which will find a brilliant home in the iconic Little Buildings on Saturday 19th November, as the final date in a whistle-stop UK tour in preparation for their bold next step. Seazoo play Little Buildings, Newcastle on Saturday 19th November. www.seazooband.com


PREVIEWS

Mark Thomas by Tony Pletts

COMEDY

MARK THOMAS @ THE STAND

Words: Leigh Venus Performing for an astonishing 35 years, Mark Thomas is one of our oldest surviving alternative comics. Writer of five books, maker of six series of the Mark Thomas Comedy Product for Channel 4, and still a Guinness World Record holder for holding 20 protests in 24 hours, he remains an incendiary, seething, preternaturally hilarious presence. Credited with changing the law on tax avoidance, exposing irradiated pigeon shit and starting a comedy club in Palestine, he self-identifies as “the left-wing Superman” and describes his work as a mix of stand-up, theatre, journalism and performance art. Now 57 years old, he’s long stopped caring if that description sounds pretentious. Back at Newcastle’s Stand on Tuesday 29th November after a sold-out run at this year’s Edinburgh Fringe, the political godfather of UK comedy is back to take down politicians, muck about and find hope. Still white hot and raging after two years-plus of lockdowns, isolation

and yearning for the experience of being live in front of an audience, Black And White promises to be a funny, passionate night of sharp observations, searing critique – maybe even a singalong – and ultimately nothing less than the simple act of bringing strangers together in a room for a good laugh and to topple international capitalism. Mark Thomas performs at The Stand, Newcastle on Tuesday 29th November. www.markthomasinfo.co.uk

FILM

DOC ’N’ ROLL FILM FESTIVAL @ TYNESIDE CINEMA

Words: Jason Jones Female-led film agency Doc ‘n’ Roll return to Tyneside Cinema from Tuesday 1st-Wednesday 9th November with their second annual (and now nationwide) film festival. Known for championing independent film and marginalised voices in the film and music industry alike, the collective have carved out a niche with their passionate support for

compelling documentaries that celebrate the performers, labels, scenes and stories which make up music’s most intriguing subcultures. This year’s selection of films includes A Film About Studio Electrophonique, directed by James Taylor, chronicling the story of the Sheffield council-house-turned-recordingstudio that nurtured the likes of Pulp, The Human League and Heaven 17 throughout the late ‘80s and early ‘90s. Other showings include a feature on the rise of New Romanticism entitled TRAMPS!, an intimate account from documentary photographer and filmmaker Lilly Creightmore capturing the story of a cadre of disparate artists who influenced a resurgence of psychedelia; and ENERGY, a film about enigmatic CAN frontman Damo Suzuki that tenderly addresses the musician’s cancer diagnosis and his efforts to continue a never-ending world tour. Screening on consecutive nights across the first week in November, the festival aims to shine a light on the vital musical stories that might otherwise pass you by. Doc ‘N’ Roll Film Festival takes place at Tyneside Cinema, Newcastle from Tuesday 1st-Wednesday 9th November. www.docnrollfestival.com

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PREVIEWS

Rime of the Submerged Forest

EVENTS

HARTLEPOOL WINTERTIDE FESTIVAL

Words: Claire Dupree With the intention to animate the streets and engage, inspire and spark curiosity, Wintertide Festival returns to Hartlepool’s historic headland on Saturday 26th November. The theme this year is Renaissance, and paves the way for an ambitious three year plan to scale up their activities after a turbulent couple of years which saw cancellations due to Covid

and Storm Arwen. Visitors are promised outdoor art, music, performance, creative workshops, a makers market, carnival and fireworks, plus much more besides. Highlights of the programme include Curious Arts’ illuminated performance of their fun, floral pop-up show Wildflower; a UV puppet show from folk storytellers Whippet Up; an interactive illumination with artist Dan Brobble at St Hilda’s Church and a hypnotic sculptural installation from Stellar Projects, The Stars Come Out At Night. Workshops will include opportunities to learn how to make wreaths and rings, plus gain insights into papermaking, screen printing and

ceramics. There’s more visual installations at Croft Gardens, where artwork will be on display by Rachel Gretton Glass, Northern School of Art and We Make Sound; plus there’s roaming theatre performance from Thingumajig Theatre and Rime of the Submerged Forest. Live music includes sets from soulful balladeer Lost State of Dan, surf superstars The Milk Lizards and honest songwriter Gaz Price, with more to be announced. Wintertide Festival takes place in Hartlepool on Saturday 26th November. www.wintertidefestival.co.uk

THU 8 – SUN 18 DEC 2022

Thu 10 – Sat 26 Nov 2022

A LIVE THEATRE & SQUIGGLE PRODUCTION WRITTEN BY BENJAMIN STOREY

A LIVE THEATRE, PAINES PLOUGH & SYNERGY THEATRE PROJECT co-production

A new play celebrating Northumbrian identity, folk music and family tradition

An astonishing true story

wishes on the wind '

W

By Ric Renton

e would do this thing on New Year's Day. Whisper a wish into the wind and it’ll blow it all around the world so the universe can help it come true.’

Tickets £10 - £15, concs from £6 #WishesOnTheWind www.live.org.uk (0191) 232 1232 Live Theatre, Broad Chare, Quayside, Newcastle Upon Tyne NE1 3DQ

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Live Theatre, Broad Chare, Quayside, Newcastle Upon Tyne NE1 3DQ 0191 232 1232 www.live.org.uk


PREVIEWS

Tomorrow’s Parties by Hugo Glendinning

STAGE

TOMORROW’S PARTIES @ LIVE THEATRE

Words: Helen Redfern Tomorrow’s Parties is pure speculation. Throughout the show at Live Theatre, which takes place from Tuesday 29th-Wednesday 30th November, the two performers on stage enjoy the pleasure of invention as they speculate about what the future might bring. It’s a simple premise and simple setting framed by coloured fairground lights, but don’t be fooled. This seemingly minimal performance soon reveals itself as a lo-fi theatrical explosion. Their suppositions take them in different directions as they imagine futures both possible and impossible: utopian and dystopian visions; science fiction scenarios; political nightmares and absurd fantasies. The result is playful, poignant and at times delirious. The artists at Sheffield-based theatre company Forced Entertainment have been collaborating to make original theatre and performances together since 1984. For them, it’s all about collaboration: co-operating as equals over the years and building up a truly shared language, repertoire, skills and ways of

working. The group is deeply committed to live theatre and the way the performance generates energy and tension from its presence in a room with other people. There’s a commitment to making performances that explore the contemporary world too, performances that excite, challenge and entertain audiences. Tomorrow’s Parties does just that, for who among us has not entertained notions of an alternative future, grappling with the hopes and fears that arise from our present reality? Ultimately, of course, the future depends on what we do today. Taking time out to explore various futures with Forced Entertainment at Live Theatre seems like a good plan to me. Tomorrow’s Parties is at Live Theatre, Newcastle from Tuesday 29th-Wednesday 30th November. www.live.org.uk

MUSIC

THE ORB @ VARIOUS VENUES

Words: Adam Paxton Rightfully-revered legends of 90’s rave culture, The Orb were pioneers of ambient house, and they’ll be bringing their legendary and extensive live show to venues in the North

East throughout November. Whilst remaining true to their roots through the decades, maintaining their sci-fi aesthetic and tendency towards elegiac, liquid soundscapes, The Orb have nonetheless adapted and shown impressive range without abandoning their defining characteristics. Classic dreamy ambience coexists side by side with more upbeat, danceable stuff such as Daze and Ital Orb from 2021’s Abolition Of The Royal Familia. With such an extensive and ever-evolving back catalogue, it is impossible to predict exactly what the shows will comprise of; we expect deep-cuts and obscurities alongside timeless classics such as Little Fluffy Clouds. The Orb are as experienced as it gets, and know how to perfectly craft a set-list to feel as cohesive a journey as a studio album, the atmosphere augmented by an elaborate and ever evolving light-show, imagery and aesthetic having always been a focus of The Orb’s carefully curated image. Any fans of 90’s electronic music won’t want to miss this opportunity to see genuine royalty from the golden age. The Orb play Wylam Brewery, Newcastle on Thursday 3rd, Independent in Sunderland on Friday 4th and The Georgian Theatre, Stockton on Sunday 13th November. www.theorb.com

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PREVIEWS

COMEDY

ROB AUTON @ THE STAND

Words: Cameron Wright Poet, podcaster, comedian. Over the years, Rob Auton has delved deeper into what makes him special. From his roots as an absurd, deadpan comedian, brilliantly tossing together one liners in a sort of British homage to Mitch Hedberg, Auton’s career has seen his output

emerge beautifully out that cocoon, allowing room for the philosophical, lyrical ponderings of his nature that may have gone previously overlooked. With his daily podcast allowing us tiny, two-minute insights into his mind, his poetry is a true manifestation of his humanity, sensitivity and brevity. While his transformation has been a decade in the making, there are unflappable parts of Auton’s act that are here to stay. That surreal look in his eyes, that penchant for monotony and that allure in the bizarre. Finding the oddities in the most rudimentary parts of life has been a

#StocktonCinema

Home to the latest blockbusters and award-winning independent and international films Your local cinema may be closer than you think!

arconline.co.uk 01642 525199 box.office@arconline.co.uk ARC | Dovecot Street | Stockton on Tees | TS18 1LL

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centrepiece of Auton’s act, as every year from 2012 he has brought a show to the Edinburgh Fringe which hyper-focuses on a specific subject. This year, and coming to Newcastle’s Stand on Saturday 5th November, Rob Auton brings forward ‘The Crowd Show’. Be part of the crowd as the performer delivers a spoken word piece that is both simultaneously stand-up and theatre. Profoundly original and undeniably a master of his craft, Rob Auton is one to see. Rob Auton performs at The Stand, Newcastle on Saturday 5th November. www.robauton.co.uk


PREVIEWS

The Wicked Problem

STAGE

THE WICKED PROBLEM @ ARC

Words: Helen Redfern One of the UK’s leading climate theatre companies, Ergon Theatre, brings The Wicked Problem to ARC Stockton on Wednesday 16th November. A ‘climate justice’ sell-out show at Contact Theatre and Lancaster Arts as a part of Manchester’s offering to COP26, The Wicked Problem poses a tough question to the audience: “With climate-related disasters on the rise, what would you put first – the future of the planet or your family?” Imagine the scene: the year is 2061. A man breaks a climate law to save his family and entire community, a law in place to save humanity. Is he guilty of a crime? Does he deserve to be punished for this crime? You, the audience, are the jury. Ergon Theatre seeks to make climate science accessible to people in educational, entertaining and empowering ways. And so as jury members, you’ll hear from a variety of witnesses including a woman based in Bangladesh to a global pop star. Then the lights will go up and you’ll discuss what you’ve heard. Your guilty or not guilty verdict

will determine what happens next. Between you, you get to decide on the outcome of the show. This uniquely interactive experience allows audiences to investigate the future of Britain as they question their own morals, debate on climate change and consider geographical privilege, and themes around climate change, equity and sustainability come to life. What will you decide? The Wicked Problem is at ARC, Stockton on Wednesday 16th November. www.ergontheatre.co.uk

MUSIC

BOB VYLAN @ NEWCASTLE UNIVERSITY STUDENTS’ UNION

Words: Cameron Wright Coming off a US tour supporting Amyl & The Sniffers, there has been no better time to see the explosive and dynamic Bob Vylan. Unapologetically political, the duo crank the volume up, combining the growling, enraged voice of England’s youth with the barbaric

bars and explosive choruses of an early Rage Against The Machine. Holding more in common with Rage than just a politically outraged band that merges hip-hop with guitars, the duo ramp up the humour, energy and hysteria, with personality dripping off their accelerating rhythms, honest lyrics and combative hooks. Having gained an impressive reputation for their ability to translate their studio energy perfectly to the live experience, their gig at Newcastle University Students’ Union on Friday 11th November will be explosive to say the least. 2022 album The Price Of Life saw them gaining considerable acclaim for their honest approach to laying bare the challenges of modern life, and their heartfelt truths resonate with an audience who know all too well the realities of being downtrodden, misrepresented and disenfranchised. Arguably, in light of today’s political, economical and environmental tumult, there has never been a more apt time for the heart of punk to make an honest comeback, and no act is doing it with more authenticity than Bob Vylan. Bob Vylan play Newcastle University Students’ Union on Friday 11th November. www.bobvylan.bandcamp.com

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INTERVIEWS

BIGFATBIG

LINSEY TEGGERT TALKS TO ROBYN WALKER AND KATIE RYALL ABOUT THE RELEASE OF THEIR DEBUT POP PUNK EP, RECOGNISING PRIVILEGE AND TAKING UP SPACE IMAGE BY AMELIA READ “Take up as much space as you feel you need to take up: you can never be too much, you can never be too big, you can never say too many things. If that’s what you want to say and what you want to do, you should take up that space and you should say those things.” bigfatbig vocalist Robyn Walker is offering up the advice she would give to any young women who wanted to perform music but are too scared to do so, but she could also be summing up the pop punk duo’s unapologetic and authentic ethos. Formed in 2019, the Sunderland band exploded onto the local music scene with their debut single Science, quickly gathering

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acclaim and momentum which saw them named as one of BBC Introducing’s Tips for 2020 and earning them a slot at the 2020 Reading and Leeds Festival. Of course, 2020 didn’t go to plan, but bigfatbig have refused to let the pandemic break their stride. “Reading and Leeds felt like such a pipe dream, so for us to even get that email asking us to play at all – it’s cool to know it is possible!” Says Robyn. “You’ve got to look at the positives or you’ll drive yourself insane: try and focus on the good bits that came from it.” The band have used the last few years to release a bunch of singles, including the brilliantly barbed So Bored and the


COVER FEATURE

MUSIC

sing-along at the top of your lungs anthem Don’t Wanna Be Sad, but this November will see them release their first EP, Rockin’ And Rollin’ And Whatnot: four slices of pop punk perfection that embody their aforementioned unapologetic spirit. “The first track we released from the EP, Shut Up, is about the music industry in terms of guitar music. There are so many regurgitated ideas from the same kind of faces and not much representation for different genders or sexualities or anything that isn’t straight white man,” explains Robyn. The sarcastic lyric “A boy with a guitar is here to tell me something new,” sums up Robyn’s thoughts on the matter. “There’s nothing wrong with releasing unoriginal music – if you like the sound of something that’s been done before that’s fine – but the idea of people consuming that and thinking it’s revolutionary drives me mad!” “We know that we’re really privileged in just being able to release music,” adds guitarist Katie Ryall. “It’s frustrating that some musicians don’t recognise their privilege, so Shut Up is us addressing all of that in a stupid pop punk song: we wanted something easy to sing along to that got our point across in a fun way.” The idea of privilege is something bigfatbig address elsewhere on the EP with Wrong Place, Wrong Time. Both Robyn and Katie are incredibly proud of their working-class background,

PUT PEOPLE WHO AREN’T STRAIGHT WHITE MEN ON STAGE AND PUT PEOPLE WHO AREN’T MEN IN POSITIONS OF POWER IN THE MUSIC INDUSTRY AND THINGS WILL CHANGE FOR THE BETTER

having grown up in the small, economically deprived villages of Easington Lane and South Hetton respectively. “That track came about because I saw something on Instagram, where an influencer was pretending to be working-class because apparently that aesthetic is appealing, and it was a fashionable look – that’s such a strange concept!” Says Katie. “It’s about what it means to struggle to be from a working-class background and still find a way forward. How people are penalised because of where they’re born or what they’re born into.” Both Robyn and Katie display an acute self-awareness that is both admirable and refreshing. It’s also helped them to be savvy when navigating the music industry and choosing who they work with. This is reflected with the release of Rockin’ And Rollin’ And Whatnot on Du Blonde’s (aka Beth Jeans Houghton) ultra-cool Daemon TV label, with Du Blonde’s ethos aligning closely with their own. “We’re lucky enough to know people who champion diversity in music,” Katie explains. “The people we trust our music with all care about not just putting the same men on line-up after line-up. Even if we don’t have negative experiences all the time, it’s important to shine a light on the wider issue. The answer is really simple: put people who aren’t straight white men on stage and put people who aren’t men in positions of power in the music industry and things will change for the better.” “We just don’t have the time to work with people who aren’t going to take us seriously or who don’t have our best interests at heart because we know we deserve better than that,” adds Robyn. “We’ve worked incredibly hard on this so we’re not going to waste our time with people who don’t deserve to be working with us.” Inevitably, bigfatbig have suffered through some negative experiences (it’s absolutely horrific and infuriating to hear they regularly receive nude photos from men through their band page), but they refuse to dwell on any of this. “We think back to how we felt before we started this band when we were inspired by seeing other women on stage, and if one other person looks at what we do and thinks ‘I didn’t know that was an option for me, but it can be’, then job done,” says Robyn. “That’s more than we can ever ask for.” Coming back to the advice they would give other women who wanted to start a band but were too afraid, Katie shares her own anxieties. “We’ve played so many amazing festivals and gigs, but I still get scared, whether they’re safe spaces or typically male dominated, I know I’ll still be scared on the day. But that doesn’t mean I’m not going to get up and play my guitar and be loud and take up that space that I deserve. You have to do it even if you are scared, but know that it’s okay to be scared!” bigfatbig release Rockin’ And Rollin’ And Whatnot via Daemon TV on 4th November. They play Pop Recs Ltd. in Sunderland, supporting Martha, on Thursday 1st December. www.linktr.ee/bigfatbig

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INTERVIEW

NARC. MINI-DOCS Bobby Benjamin, Pineapple Black

MAGIC HAT CAFE: BUILDING A SUSTAINABLE COMMUNITY Words: Evie Lake My documentary introduces Magic Hat Cafe, an anti-food waste cafe in Newcastle. In today’s climate, it’s hard not to worry about waste. Not just our own, but that of supermarkets and suppliers. Is every carrot, potato and piece of meat going to be used? What happens if they’re not? Magic Hat acts on these worries and turns would-be-wasted produce into meals and experiences for people to enjoy. Magic Hat is an innovative and progressive organisation in the way that it puts people first. Instead of purchasing your coffee and food, there’s an option to pay it back by working for them for a few hours. They also let people volunteer to learn new skills, to make themselves more employable. I wanted to make my documentary on Magic Hat to investigate how ethically-run businesses can impact and better the community. On the surface, I knew I would discover an environmentally conscious operation which eradicates waste in their supply chain, but I was surprised to discover how much that sustainability feeds directly into the community through food bank donations, education and delicious food. Spending the day with them was fascinating, and changed my perspective on how simple it can be for businesses to be more environmentally productive. Magic Hat is a trailblazer, and through this documentary I hope many more people discover their inspiring practices.

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COMBINING THE ARTS: NON-TRADITIONAL PERFORMANCE SPACES OF THE TEES VALLEY Words: Lizzie Lovejoy This mini documentary was all about exploring the world of non-traditional performance spaces, especially in the Tees Valley where I come from. This region has some incredible creative venues, and I really want to celebrate the fantastic work that they do. As a visual artist and a performer, I wanted to learn more about places that combine the two together, both Pineapple Black and Redcar Palace Art Gallery are great examples of this. In this documentary I spoke to Bobby Benjamin, artist and curator of Pineapple Black in Middlesbrough, about the exciting range of work the gallery has housed over the past couple of years during festivals, exhibitions and events. From Redcar Palace Art Gallery, director James Beighton and curator Beth Smith of Tees Valley Arts discuss how the venue is used to create works as well as share them, and why accessibility has become one of their main focuses. Connecting the two spaces is singer-songwriter Amy Louise Smith, who has performed in Pineapple Black and worked as a Kickstart for Tees Valley Arts. She treats us to a performance of her music in the Redcar Palace space, which gives a Tiny Desk vibe as members of staff gather to watch her sing. A non-traditional performance space in action! People connect to performance in different ways than visual art, but both can be incredibly powerful and influential. Using local creative spaces to pull both together highlights how fantastic our local cultural community really is.


INTERVIEW

WE’RE EXCITED TO PRESENT THE FINAL PART IN OUR YOUTH MUSIC FUNDED NARC. ACADEMY PROJECT, A SERIES OF FOUR MINI-DOCUMENTARIES CREATED BY JAKE ANDERSON, LIZZIE LOVEJOY, HOPE LYNES AND EVIE LAKE WITH THE HELP OF NARC. TV FILMMAKER AND DIRECTOR STE BARDGETT (AKA ART MOUSE).

FILM

Ste explains more about the project: “I loved filming and putting together the NARC. Mini-Docs. The young people involved were amazing to work with from the very start. They had clear ideas of what they wanted to say and there’s some really great stories that we’ve managed to tell, along with highlighting some excellent organisations, spaces and people doing brilliant things in the region.” Our season of short documentary programmes will premiere from Thursday 3rd November, with topics including cultural activism, niche music scenes, anti-food waste and alternative culture venues, with new episodes screened weekly throughout November via our YouTube channel. www.youtube.com/narcmagazinetv

SQUARMS

OUTSIDE THE MAINSTREAM: THE NORTH EAST’S ALTERNATIVE SCENE Words: Jake Anderson From an outside perceptive, the North East music scene is rooted in indie rock and pop, with some of the biggest acts from the region falling into these genre definitions. But under the surface – and as many NARC. readers will know – the North East has a thriving alternative scene. More acts have delved into experimental and niche genres, and venues such as Little Buildings, Cobalt Studios and The Lubber Fiend in Newcastle, Base Camp in Middlesbrough and many others, have housed some of the most promising of these artists, as their outside-the-mainstream sounds have collected dedicated fanbases. As part of this documentary, I spoke with three artists, Me Lost Me, SQUARMS and Mariam Rezaei, along with some of the major players keeping these sonically-engaging sound makers doing what they’re doing, including Kaneda Records and Lee Etherington of TUSK. This mini-documentary features reflections on some of the most unique acts in the North East, what genre boundaries actually mean and artists’ hopes for the future of the North East’s alternative scene.

Chantal Herbert

NORTH EAST CULTURAL ACTIVISM Words: Hope Lynes This documentary speaks to local activist groups in the music industry and culture scene. I was keen to discover the activism that exists in the North East’s cultural landscape, and find out why people are driven to fight back and speak out on subjects they’re passionate about. The core premise of this documentary however, is to inspire the next generation, with each activist giving their advice on how you can put a cause you are passionate about in the local scene into action. I spoke to Phil Douglas from LGBTQIA+ organisation Curious Arts; grassroots promoter Hana Harrison from Art Mouse; Darlington-based Sarah Wilson, who campaigns for better female representation in the music scene with her project Noisy Daughters; Chantal Herbert from feminist Black and queer-led organisation Sister Shack; and disability activist and musician Ruth Lyon. I hope the audience feels both admiration for what those already do in our local scene, and inspired to make a difference themselves with the advice they have been given. It’s hoped that this intimate and personal documentary will explore the starting points to beginning your own activism.

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INTERVIEW

MUSIC

INDUSTRIAL COAST STEVE SPITHRAY TALKS TO THE EXPERIMENTAL CASSETTE LABEL ABOUT THEIR GROWING AMBITIONS

I sometimes like to write a spurious preamble to an article to set the scene, and tease how the article might pan out. Some genres of music are more difficult to precis than others. Experimental noise tends to be much more malleable, easier to keyword and storyboard but ultimately less well read because the audience is exponentially smaller. They don’t call it the No Audience Underground for nothing. It’s a paradox I’ve struggled to reconcile over the years. But Industrial Coast somehow manage to do things differently without forcing it down our throats while also making it impossible to second guess their next move. Which is why it was something of a surprise when a one-off live show to promote the North Yorkshire-based cassette label’s recent cover art show, Non Stop Ecstatic Eston, at Eston Arts Centre, was followed by three events at Middlesbrough’s Auxiliary. The third (so far) being noise artist Container on Monday 7th November. Plenty of people have already tried to put on experimental noise shows on Teesside over the years but struggled to find acts and audiences, so I asked Industrial Coast brains Steve Kirby how he does it. “I’ve been operating the tape label and distro for four years and built up some strong working relationships. Secret Boyfriend asked for help getting a couple of UK shows so I ended up getting him to play the Eston show. As for audiences, it’s a step-by-step process. I hope to see people put faith in the curation based on the quality of artists we are putting on so

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I HOPE TO SEE PEOPLE PUT FAITH IN THE CURATION BASED ON THE QUALITY OF ARTISTS WE ARE PUTTING ON

that, in time, numbers will increase. “It’s something I’ve wanted to do for a while but haven’t had the time while running the label as a hobby. Having left work this summer to go full time that situation has changed. I’m tired of having to do two-day jaunts to London to catch artists I want to see and I’m also very aware of the great stuff happening in Middlesbrough right now and I want to be part of that as well.” Container is Ren Schofield who cut his teeth in the Rhode Island noise scene, so I wondered how the show came about. “Ren had support slots in Leeds and Glasgow either side of 7th November, so I asked if I could put him on, specifically in Middlesbrough.” Apparently sometimes you’ve just got to ask. With the label now more of a full-time endeavour I expected Industrial Coast to have plenty already diarised for 2023, but it seems the label’s evolution may be more organic, at least for now. “We will continue with our cassette releases and will be looking to increase the distro side of things. I’m also aiming to run a programme of shows with the Auxiliary but other venues also. The plan is to include workshops and artist talks too. I have expressions of interest from a host of great artists so we are now working on budgets to see how far we can take it, but the programme will definitely happen in some form or other.” Finally, and most interestingly for a cassette label, Steve told me: “We will be running our first vinyl presses. The intention is to run an eight album white series. White vinyl, white label, white disco sleeve…” Industrial Coast present Container at Auxiliary, Middlesbrough on Monday 7th November. www.industrialcoast.bigcartel.com


INTERVIEW

MUSIC

WAVES FESTIVAL

T-B, L-R: Declan Welsh & The Decadent West, Ishmael Ensemble, Pip Blom, The Pale White

CLAIRE DUPREE TALKS TO BEN RICHARDSON TO FIND OUT HOW THE SUNDERLAND-BASED FESTIVAL HAS EXPANDED ITS OUTLOOK The second iteration of Waves, the Sunderland multi-venue all-day music event, is coming up on Saturday 5th November, and this year they’ve expanded in both size and in ambition. Independent’s Ben Richardson is one of the driving forces behind the event, he explains that after a highly successful first year which saw a host of regional artists pack venues in the city, they’re raring to go for the next event. “We had to do that first year with regional bands we’ve worked with before and could trust, more than anything to make sure we could do it and I guess also to make sure there was an appetite for something like this in Sunderland, and we know there definitely is now.” This year they’re branching out considerably with their line-ups, and Ben is really proud of being able to draw international artists to Sunderland. “We’re bringing Dutch indie outfit Pip Blom back to headline the Independent stage; to have international bands playing Waves on just the second year feels mint. Alongside this we’re still fighting hard to support the local scene and get some of our favourite and the most exciting artists from the region on the festival.” The line-up is impressively diverse, with headliners including the likes of aforementioned Dutch indie quartet Pip Blom, jazzy electronica group Ishmael Ensemble, Leeds’ disco-fuelled dancefloor fillers Galaxians, Newcastle alt. rock trio The Pale White, fast-rising local indie songwriter Tom A Smith and indie post-punks Declan Welsh & The Decadent West. There’s more delights in the form of Bull, The Dream Machine, Ghost//Signals, Hivemind, Luke Royalty, Vandebilt, Wax Heart Sodality, Yaatri, Dead Wet Things, The Neolectrics, The Peevie Wonders, Nadedja, Eve Cole, noprism and more performing at Independent, The Fire Station, The Peacock, The Ship Isis, The Bunker and Live Lounge. Collaborations are also a key part of this year’s event, as Ben explains: “We’re super excited to be partnering with BBC Introducing for a stage at Waves, the line-up is stacked with some amazing regional talent hand picked by Nick Roberts himself. I’m

OVER THE LAST FEW YEARS SUNDERLAND HAS COME A LONG WAY IN TERMS OF ITS MUSIC INFRASTRUCTURE IN THE CITY. WE WANT TO CELEBRATE THIS AND SHINE A LIGHT ON WHAT’S HAPPENING IN SUNDERLAND also pleased to have it in The Bunker; what they’ve been doing has been going somewhat under the radar, there’s a great 40-ish capacity live room in there and they have the ability to record audio and visuals, so you’ll be able to enjoy it on the radio and social media afterwards, which is really cool.” They’re also partnering with We Make Culture for a day of free all-ages activity at Pop Recs Ltd. too, which includes familyfriendly performances, an early years music session and music-based crafts. There’s a plethora of well-respected multi-venue events in the region, and Ben is proud to be able to add Waves to the region’s music calendar. “Over the last few years Sunderland has come a long way in terms of its music infrastructure in the city. We want to celebrate this and shine a light on what’s happening in Sunderland; it’s not just about Waves on the day, it’s about getting people into these venues and realising how good they are and hopefully going back there in the future. We’ve seen other great multi-venue festivals in the region develop into permanent fixtures in our calendar, particularly in the Teesside region, and there’s no reason why we can’t have the same thing in Sunderland and people from Newcastle and Middlesbrough can travel to our city instead!” Waves Festival takes place at various venues in Sunderland on Saturday 5th November. www.facebook.com/wavessunderland

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INTERVIEW

MUSIC

THE LULAS

Image by Milly Hutchcraft

CLAIRE DUPREE DISCOVERS THE ABUNDANT JOY ON THE TEESSIDERS’ DEBUT ALBUM The fact that The Lulas’ debut album is called Enjoy The Ride perhaps says a lot about the Middlesbrough four-piece. The band exude joy; whether it’s in their jubilant performances, or the feel-good fusion of their music. This is a bunch of musicians who just love what they do, and it’s infectious. Having solidified their line-up just before Covid struck, and comprising of Michael (guitar), Adam (drums), Marina (vocals) and Ash (bass), they gelled quickly as a group, despite the challenges of the ensuing couple of years. “We’ve been great mates since, holding friendship in higher esteem than being band mates,” they explain, even choosing to answer my questions as a collective. “We feel connection is one of the most important features of a great band – it transcends into the music and live shows.” Citing influences which include the likes of Bruno Mars, Red Hot Chili Peppers and Amy Winehouse, the band’s groove-infused dynamic runs the gamut of pop, funk, indie and jazz with an emphasis on rhythm, making the music highly danceable and energetic. “It is a collection of feel-good tunes with each song having its own turbulence of melodic and rhythmic storytelling.” But that’s not to say that the music they write is throwaway, there’s been careful consideration around the messages the band choose to portray. “There’s definitely a theme of self worth across this album, which we love having as an underlying message for our listeners. We feel strongly that our music should tell our listeners who we are and what we believe in. Although we love our music to be upbeat and catchy every song still holds meaning.” Using their own experiences, or those they’re close to, in order to write honest and positive music has resulted in Enjoy The Ride becoming an empowering and uplifting listen. The crisp and funky production (courtesy of Teesside super-producer Paddy Jordan) adds a radio-friendly feel to every track, with the likes of previous single Get Out Of My Head and the reggae-infused Pink Socks sounding like they’re the product of

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THERE’S DEFINITELY A THEME OF SELF WORTH ACROSS THIS ALBUM, WHICH WE LOVE HAVING AS AN UNDERLYING MESSAGE FOR OUR LISTENERS a far more established act. From the joy of youth in Down Nook Road, which the band describe as “reflecting back on when we were teenagers, living our best lives without any real responsibilities”, to Think You’re Cool’s handclaps and sparky guitar solo, and Up All Night’s funky vibes and anthemic chorus, the album is a study in how to produce pop music which fizzes with energy while also tackling some of life’s big questions. The band explain the meanings behind some of their tracks: “Think You’re Cool is about not letting others make you question who you are or how you act. Sometimes you can walk into a situation and feel eyes burning around you because you don’t ‘fit the mould’ and the best thing to do is just keep doing you.” While Picture Perfect is a hard hitting song about the negative impact social media has on our happiness. “The constant pressure to look ‘picture perfect’ can drive you insane if you let it, and by following the constant changes in trends we could all end up clones of one another if you give up your right to being an individual. The message in this song is clear, you are enough just the way you are.” With a live show that promises “crazy dance moves, audience participation and a lot of laughs”, The Lulas are the band we all deserve right now. The Lulas release Enjoy The Ride on 11th November. They perform at Play Brew Co, Middlesbrough on Saturday 12th November, with support from PICNIC and Brad Robinson. www.facebook.com/thelulasuk


INTERVIEW

ART & LIT

PHIL SAUNDERS: THIS CLUB COULD BE YOUR LIFE DAMIAN ROBINSON TALKS TO THE MUSICIAN AND DEBUT AUTHOR ABOUT HIS LOVE LETTER TO TEESSIDE’S ALTERNATIVE CLUBBING SCENE As Nick Hornby’s High Fidelity suggested, the dream for any strung-out, addicted music lover seems to climax at the point where they win a Grammy, own a record label or run a club night. And while some of us (ahem) may not have gotten around to making that dream a reality, there are those whose combination of hard work, a love for music, and a positive attitude seems to make things happen. Take Phil Saunders; he may not have a Grammy (yet) but if you’ve had a night out on Teesside in the past twenty years, it’s likely that he’s played some part in the organising, promoting or managing of it. Not that that was ever the plan, mind… “In 2004 I was working for the council shuffling paper and would speak regularly to the owner of promoters Ten Feet Tall. We started chatting one day and when I told him I worked in payroll, he said ‘why don’t you do that for me’, and basically from there I ended up down the rabbit hole and doing all sorts of things with them including stage managing, helping out in venues like the Cornerhouse and The Empire, and working on Middlesbrough Live where we had 100 bands playing across 10 stages.” A growing list of experiences, and a strong reputation, saw Saunders progress to running Sumo, one of the North East’s greatest rock nights, and stay in the role for well over fifteen years until Covid put an end to things. “When Covid started we had to stop Sumo, and some of us were so worried about what lockdown might do to the music and clubbing scene. It was a frightening time and so I thought that maybe I could write a few ideas down to reflect on the importance of live music, and

I THOUGHT THAT MAYBE I COULD WRITE A FEW IDEAS DOWN TO REFLECT ON THE IMPORTANCE OF LIVE MUSIC, AND BEFORE I KNEW IT I’D WRITTEN A FULL BOOK before I knew it I’d written a full book.” Considered as part biography, part almanac, part local history project, This Club Could Be Your Life is written as a “Henry Rollins-style tale where there’s snippets of stories, insights and set lists, in a way which can be read in all-in-one go, but also can be picked up and skimmed little by little.” Never designed to be a “proper book”, Saunders instead wanted This Club Could Be Your Life to use a more jovial, conversational style of storytelling: “Telling stories like we would if we were catching up and talking about past nights out, or remembering some of the great gigs we’ve been to.” Excited to see the scene come back in full force after Covid, Phil may have left the business side of the live scene to one side but he’s still one of the revellers and a punk enthusiast at heart. “I’ve always enjoyed Rollins’ do it yourself style, so I tried to write and edit and publish this with just myself and family and I really enjoyed the challenge.” This Club Could Be Your Life by Phil Saunders is released on Tuesday 1st November. www.thisclubcouldbeyourlife.wordpress.com

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INTERVIEW

MUSIC

L-R” Riley Downing, Jaimee Harris, Jeffrey Foucault

JUMPIN’ HOT CLUB 37TH ANNIVERSARY

AHEAD OF A RUN OF GIGS CELEBRATING THE AMAZING LONGEVITY OF THE TYNESIDE INSTITUTION, LEE FISHER ASKED GRAHAM ‘SHIPPY’ ANDERSON HOW IT ALL STARTED AND, MORE IMPORTANTLY, HOW IT’S STILL GOING

When I was sorting out this interview with Shippy about Jumpin’ Hot Club, he told me this anecdote that sums up the spirit of the man: he got an email from the agent for Lady Nade, who played last month, asking who the show rep was. “It never really occurred to me that I’ve been that person for 37 years. I just go to all the shows. I don’t think I’ve even missed double figures yet!” That unassuming attitude is a big part of what makes the Jumpin’ Hot Club – which he’s run with Adam Collerton since putting on a Hokum Hotshots gig on 3rd December 1985 – so special. They’re fans rather than businessmen, and they book what they love. “The one thing that’s kept me going all these years is the need to have all this different, non-mainstream music come to the North East,” he explains. “When I first started Jumpin’ Hot, a massive amount of talent never came here. I still get frustrated when I can’t get an artist or band to come here.” Shippy never intended or expected JHC to last this long. “I didn’t expect it to even last a couple years, let alone bloody 37 years. But I love what I do and it’s an absolute privilege to have the life I’ve had.” The club had humble beginnings. “Me and Adam looked about to find a club like one we saw in a Big Bill Broonzy clip and we found it at The Bridge Hotel. We just started booking acts, easy as that. We didn’t have much of a clue but we learned and I was already a musician so I got the task of doing the PA. I also had a fanzine called Jumpin’ Hot (my wife Berni’s idea), so we named the club after that. The fanzine only lasted about four issues but we’re still here.” Shippy is the first to admit the idea behind the programme of anniversary gigs taking place this month is as much to remind people that JHC is still kicking after the dire straits of the pandemic years as it is to celebrate its longevity. “It’s still pretty

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THE ONE THING THAT’S KEPT ME GOING ALL THESE YEARS IS THE NEED TO HAVE ALL THIS DIFFERENT, NON-MAINSTREAM MUSIC COME TO THE NORTH EAST hard getting older people to take a chance on somebody they’ve never heard (except on our reputation), let alone coming out to a gig. We’re letting people know that we are most certainly still here.” Shippy reels off JHC highlights easily – Rico Rodriguez at The Bridge, the Boss Sounds Festival in 2003 with Jimmy Cliff, Prince Buster and Lee Perry, Alejandro Escovedo at The Cluny with his string quartet. But he wants to talk about the upcoming gigs too: there’s Brixton reggae/blues artist Errol Linton (Thursday 17th, Gosforth Civic Theatre); Missouri’s Riley Downing (“he has a country blues, folk rock ‘n’ soul, whatever-catches-his-ear concoction that’s so amazing and unique”) (Thursday 10th, Gosforth Civic Theatre); American singer-songwriter Jeffrey Foucault (Monday 14th, Gosforth Civic Theatre); Grammy-nominated folk artist Mary Gauthier, with support from Texan folk ‘n’ roller Jaimee Harris (Thursday 24th, Gateshead’s Little Theatre) and a host of others (check the JHC website). There’ll also be an exhibition at Gosforth Civic Theatre from Thursday 10th November-Thursday 1st December featuring JHC live photos across the years from Charles Holley and Juan Fitzgerald, as well as video clips and interviews from the archives playing on a loop on launch day. www.jumpinhot.com


INTERVIEW

MUSIC

HARRIET BRADSHAW

LIZZIE LOVEJOY DISCOVERS THE EXPERIENCES THAT HAVE CONTRIBUTED TO THE MUSICAL POLYMATH’S DEBUT ALBUM Musical polymath Harriet Bradshaw is back up North after working as a touring cellist for songwriters across the UK. She’s also recognisable as a member of Teesside’s premier orchestral folk storytellers Nel Unlit, but this time she’ll be singing and playing her own original music from her self-titled debut album, released on 4th November. Harriet talked about what it’s like to be bringing music back to her home region. “I’ve always felt that the North East has a fantastic music scene, and a really artistically varied one. The North East has such a rich heritage of folk music as well, and my music has more than a hint of that.” There is a journey to making any album, and Harriet discusses the steps which lead to this moment. “I wrote some of these songs about five years ago, so quite a long while! I actually started recording these versions about a year ago, and had a couple of visits to the studio to get everything finished. I had help from some excellent musicians (Dave Fidler, Andy Fidler and M G Boulter). It’s so exciting to be finally getting my hands on the album!” There is a folk-esque quality to some of the tracks, with a balladlike twist from the rich and full strength of her voice. It has been said that she is Teesside’s answer to Kate Bush and Joni Mitchell, but there is also something of Enya too. A half soft rock half

I THINK A LOT OF THESE SONGS CAME OUT OF A TRANSITIONAL TIME IN MY LIFE, AND THE LYRICS REFLECT THAT. I STARTED WRITING AS A SORT OF BRAIN-DUMP THERAPY

classical sound, with an emotional story-driven core. It would be hard to place her in just one genre. She talks about how the instruments she plays have influenced her. “I’m a classically trained pianist, cellist and choral singer and I only picked up a guitar in the last few years. I’m always so grateful for my classical background, because it really gives me a full understanding of what it is I’m doing musically, and why. But I find the guitar gives me a different kind of freedom, because I’ve not learned it in a formal way, so I can just experiment and find my way intuitively.” She speaks about the story behind her music and what experiences have pushed her creatively on this album. “I think a lot of these songs came out of a transitional time in my life, and the lyrics reflect that. I started writing as a sort of brain-dump therapy. Once I’d gotten rid of the initial nonsense, I started to hone my skill as a songwriter and really be able to write with clarity and intention. I’m a former Literature student, and I take inspiration from poets I’ve studied such as Sylvia Plath and Frank O‘Hara. I’m also lucky enough to have grown up with musician parents. With this being my debut album, I just really wanted it to say ‘Here I am! This is what I’m about as a songwriter.’ And I hope it’s achieved that.” Harriet Bradshaw releases her self-titled album on 4th November via Butterfly Effect records. She performs at The Green Room, Stockton on Friday 4th, The Engine Room in North Shields on Sunday 6th November, Claypath Deli in Durham (supporting James Yorkston) on Friday 9th December and ARC, Stockton (supporting Amelia Coburn) on Saturday 10th December. www.harrietbradshaw.com

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INTERVIEW

MUSIC

DRIVEN SERIOUS

Image by Paula Smart

JAKE ANDERSON TALKS TO THE FOLK PUNKS ABOUT MYTHICAL BEASTS, POETIC INFLUENCES AND THE EPIC ADVENTURE OF THEIR NEW ALBUM It’s been just over six years since folk punk collective Driven Serious released their last EP, and they return this month with their new album, Look On These Works. The album’s title derives from Percy Shelly’s Ozymandias, a poem about ego and hubris, with the semantics of this seeping into the project, as singer and guitarist Rob Jones explains. “These are universal themes here, messages arriving through this channel towards our realm of dualism – cause and effect. Ozymandias was a message about ego, showing us that ego is a good servant and a terrible master. Ultimately, we must make a choice between fear and love in every moment.” The poem focuses on change too, with Ozymandias’ pride being eroded away with time; vocalist and writer Sinéad Livingston expanded upon this aspect and how it relates to the album: “One of my songs is based on things never staying the same, even if you want them to. Situations change. People change. Some things are just totally out of your control but sometimes you can rebuild, and there’s always hope.” Look On These Works is an incredibly engaging listen, whether it’s the monumental sounding strings that carry us through this adventure, or the war-like drums at the start of the title track, it’s an impressive experience. Describing it as an “epic adventure”, some influence was derived from Shakespeare, Jones added: “Shakespeare wrote, ‘The space in these words will dance the devil away’. If we hold our ground with humility, and love for our shadow, the conflict will

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FEAR IS NOT A TERRIBLE THING. IT’S VALID. IT’S REAL AND IT COMES FROM A PLACE OF YEARNING. RADICAL EMPATHY IS WHAT’S NEEDED. MAYBE THAT COMES ACROSS IN OUR SONGS

dissipate. It’s kind of a paradox – we stand up to fear by accepting it and recognising from innocence. It’s about the dance of the wondrous creation that we find. Fear is not a terrible thing. It’s valid. It’s real and it comes from a place of yearning. If we push against it, it brings about more fear and therefore more suffering. Radical empathy is what’s needed. Maybe that comes across in our songs.” Jones expands further on the band’s themes. “The song A Million Light Years is about it seeming that we are light years apart at times, but for eternity, we have always been and always will be interconnected and with every moment we are on the precipice of a destiny where we can free ourselves from the illusion of divide.” Jones’ favourite composition is the folk-inspired, sweeping melodies and vocals of Raven’s Call. “We really did want the song to sound epic and huge, to give the effect of the fall and rise of empires, reminding us that as ever we are in a cyclical flux right now.” It’s a track that leans into more fantastical elements within the music. I asked if fantasy was ever an inspiration, given song titles like Dragons: “I like the Romantic poets. Romantic poetry has been about the magic that is around us in nature and the universe. Fantasy can be interchangeable with Romantic. Much of fantasy derives from ancient and more recent mythology. The mythological Raven, due to an actual Raven’s nature, independently across different cultures has grown to symbolise traversing light and dark, transcending dualism and unifying. A dragon can be a metaphor for your own inner demons, perhaps.” Driven Serious launch Look On These Works on Saturday 19th November at The Globe, Newcastle. www.drivenserious.com


INTERVIEW

SORESLAP THEATRE HELEN REDFERN TALKS TO PAPI JEOVANI AND RHIAN JADE FROM THE NEWCASTLE-BASED THEATRE COMPANY, AS THEY PREPARE TO EXPLORE SYSTEMS OF OPPRESSION IN THEIR NEW PRODUCTION

STAGE

Papi Jeovani and Rhian Jade by Emma Solomon

In the not-too-distant future, in an unknown land, worlds collide when two people are forced to share a space. Newcastle-based creatives Papi Jeovani and Rhian Jade, directors of SoreSlap Theatre and writers of latest work More Blacks, More Dogs, More Irish, take to the Alphabetti Theatre stage this month to explore different systems of oppression that are still holding people back. Set in a cell somewhere in the near future, there’s a scope of time and place in which to reflect society back at the audience, because as Rhian Jade explains: “This is society intensified. No particular time and no particular place. We think we’ve come so far in terms of diversity, but the reality is that we’re just not there. Still now, we’re experiencing racism and xenophobia and different systems of oppression. This stuff has been happening over hundreds and hundreds of years and is still happening.” The title itself is a twist on the signs seen outside pubs in the Windrush era. “We had the title before we started on the play itself,” laughs Rhian. “The title was the driving force behind the idea, a relatable phrase, not negative in itself, but with negative associations.” Rhian Jade is Irish, from Belfast, a member of the LGBTQIA+ community and non-binary. Papi Jeovani is a Black artist living and working in Newcastle; they know what they’re talking about when it comes to difference and oppression and they bring a personal perspective to the stage. Only when they are given no other option but to be in each other’s presence, do they find that their lives are more similar than they could have ever imagined. More Blacks, More Dogs, More Irish is all about empowerment, to open the minds of those who haven’t experienced what it is to be treated differently because of the colour of your skin or your sexuality and gender, and empower those who have. Empowerment is the raison d’etre for SoreSlap Theatre: to empower its audience and create a

WE THINK WE’VE COME SO FAR IN TERMS OF DIVERSITY, BUT THE REALITY IS THAT WE’RE JUST NOT THERE safe space where they can enjoy theatre that makes them stop, laugh and think; to empower those in the creative industry who haven’t had the opportunity to put their work forward. “We haven’t experienced art that represents us in the past,” continues Rhian, “we’re not alone. There’s a real gap here to create a platform for future artists to put on new work, a supportive community of global majority artists and LGBTQIA+ people. What are we doing now to be accommodating to those who the world has shut out for hundreds and hundreds of years?” Papi Jeovani speaks about what he believes makes this work special with its unique blend of spoken word and physical theatre. “Come along and experience for yourself this different kind of story-telling using spoken word poetry,” he enthuses, “there’s a lot of movement around the stage, a rhythmic flow, choreography and comedy throughout.” So can the audience expect a happy ending? Rhian refuses to give much away. “There’s a flood of hope about changing the world, but not necessarily for these two characters. The way we finish it leaves the audience in suspense.” What happens next is up to you. More Blacks, More Dogs, More Irish is at Alphabetti Theatre, Newcastle from Tuesday 15th November-Saturday 3rd December. www.linktr.ee/soreslap_lc

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INTERVIEW

RICHARD DAWSON AS THE GREATEST LIVING GEORDIE© PREPARES TO RELEASE PERHAPS HIS MOST AMBITIOUS RECORD YET, LEE FISHER ASKED HIM ABOUT LANGUAGE, TECHNOLOGY AND CLAVIGERS Interviews with Richard Dawson end up as wonderful, free-flowing conversations that are, to be frank, a fucker to squeeze into a NARC. interview wordcount. We were ostensibly discussing The Ruby Cord, his seventh album and the final part of a putative trilogy that also includes Peasant and 2020, with the new album taking us into a version of the future, but one that’s seen through the prism of video games and fantasy. As with Peasant, one of the striking things about the album – and about the mammoth 40-minute opening track The Hermit – is the inventive use of archaic or obscure language: clavigers and mantuas and cobles.

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“Peasant afforded a good opportunity to use all kinds of old language”, he explains. “But with this one I was thinking about a place where people would have access to information at the blink of an eyelid. It allowed me to open up this possibility of using a more technical language. I always have this thing of like, ‘what would the person in the song use? What would they think?’ I mean, we could talk about this all day, it’s one of my favourite topics. And I love the combination of a word with melody and how that can also change the meaning of both the word and the melody. So there was this chance to really push the language, it’s descriptive of the kind of information overload


INTERVIEW

MUSIC EVERYTHING SEEMS TO BE MOVING FASTER AND FASTER THESE DAYS, WITH TIKTOK OR YOUTUBE. PEOPLE DIGEST MUSIC ON SPOTIFY WITH ADVERT BREAKS ACTUALLY IN THE MIDDLE OF SONGS NOW. SO I LIKE THE IDEA OF THIS CONTRADICTION OF MAKING A POP VIDEO FOR A VERY LONG SONG

Image by Kuba Ryniewicz

and this overlapping of different styles of language as well.” Richard mentions some authors he’s read before and after recording the album (like Ursula LeGuin and Brian Catling) and I wondered if he could ever see himself writing a novel, but he’s not sure. “I would love to, I think more and more how much I would love to do that. But I always simultaneously think I might not be able to do it very well… I just think there’s such good writers out there, while I feel like I’m some distance along the road with making songs. I put a lot of work into that and if I’ve still got further to go, then I should do that. I’ve been reading Thomas Pynchon in the last year or two, and Iris Murdoch, and you just read these things and go ‘This is so, so good.’ And I think I would just be pouring mucky water around the edge of the well. To me, when you come across a great book, it just seems so unfathomable and it’s like the most incredible thing that a human could make, even more than a film, which I know is technically a bigger endeavour, but I sort of could grasp the different parts of how you’d make a film.” Speaking of films, The Hermit is being released with a ’40-minute pop video’ which doesn’t seem like an obvious move. “I think it was just a kind of perverse thing really,” he

admits. “I just thought ‘well, that should be the single’. Everything seems to be moving faster and faster these days, with TikTok or YouTube. People digest music on Spotify with advert breaks actually in the middle of songs now. So I like the idea of this contradiction of making a pop video for a very long song.” The Hermit might be his most beautiful song yet; a closing section layering a small group of friends (Nev Clay, Cath and Phil Tyler, Yakka Doon and his Hen Ogledd bandmates among others) in a gentle choral section that ruins me. Nev Clay had mentioned that the session felt emotionally charged and Richard felt it too. “I think when I was making it, it felt good. I think I’ve had that sensation a few times before, doing some things on Peasant. And when I did the vocal for Jogging, I had the same feeling of ‘this feels a like a lot!’ It’s so nice to have friends come into the studio. Because it’s quite a gentle part of the song as well, it was like doing a group meditation or something.” I wondered if Richard ever considered the possibility – or otherwise – of performing something live as he was writing it. “It’s not so much, ‘how are we going to do it?’ It’s more like ‘how will that be received?’ Towards the end of the 2020 gigs when we were doing the trio, they felt almost like rock concerts and it was kind of exciting, but I don’t really don’t wanna go down that road. So this is sort of the opposite of that… I mean, I hope people will enjoy it but I could imagine people might come to a concert and be disappointed because they might want to hear the uptempo 2020 stuff.” One of the other standout songs (let’s face it, everything on The Ruby Cord is a standout song) is Horse & Rider, which to me feels rousing like a school hymn. “That tune’s been kicking about for a while and I’ve tried recording it in various guises, but it was never the right thing. I even tried to get it on Glass Trunk. I just haven’t been able to shake off the melody of it. But then it just came together really easily for this one. I like that it has the appearance of being this uplifting, rousing, carefree, happy song. But after the album that’s come before, we already know that things aren’t necessarily how they seem.” There was more of course, about Rhodri Davies’ astonishing harp and how words work and about his deep love for Circle. Richard Dawson’s mind is a wonderful thing, and The Ruby Cord is one of its most remarkable manifestations so far. Richard Dawson releases The Ruby Cord via Weird World/ Domino on 18th November. The Hermit film tours selected cinemas throughout November, including a screening and Q&A at Newcastle’s Star & Shadow on Thursday 17th November. www.richarddawson.net

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INTERVIEW

MAYSHE-MAYSHE

ALI WELFORD TALKS TO THE BEDROOM-POP ARTIST-TURNED-PRODUCER AHEAD OF HER NEW ALBUM RELEASE

MUSIC

A living, breathing embodiment of the bedroom-pop aesthetic, Alice Rowan’s creative musings as Mayshe-Mayshe are an ever-dependable delight; a sonic shelter where an aptitude for perfect pop meets exquisitely tuned low-key intimacy. “Songwriting has always been like a diary for me,” she confides. “It’s a way of expressing what I’m going through and what my thoughts are – kind of like self-therapy, for processing the state of the world.” To that end, it’s little wonder new album Indigo marks a departure in tone from Alice’s 2019 debut Cocoa Smoke, grappling as it does with a triple-layered shit sandwich of mental health, politics and the environment following a period where society’s wrongs have been magnified like never before. “People have quite often seen my music as twee and light-hearted and I do enjoy making things sound cheery and poppy, but this album goes to some darker places in a thoughtful and fun way. I enjoy the juxtaposition; it almost jars, but in a way which I love.” Based in York, Alice has been a regular visitor to the North East in recent years (this month’s album launch tour includes no less than three local dates), with plenty of DIY show regulars already acquainted with her knack for a sugary synth loop and earworm chorus. Many will delight at the return of her trademark hairdryer over the stuttering bobble of Eczema, yet perhaps the record’s most striking, immediately accessible moment is Dark Mountain, a lead single whose origins stem from a Moomin tale concerning an ant nest, a perfect glade of grass and a can of gasoline. “That song’s a stream-of-conscious outlet of where we are environmentally,” she reveals. “I’m constantly hitting against ethical dilemmas within society and the systems we live under. The clothes we wear. The food we buy. Whether I drive to a gig. Whether I get on a plane to see my friends in America… It’s

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THIS ALBUM GOES TO SOME DARKER PLACES IN A THOUGHTFUL AND FUN WAY. I ENJOY THE JUXTAPOSITION overwhelming, so my response has always been about my little world and what I can do to make it better, rather than focusing on the bigger picture.” While the core components of melody and lyricism will stand out to most listeners, it’s clear Alice is no less enthused by the nuts and bolts of music production. “I learned how to use an audio interface in Ableton just a few months before I recorded Cocoa Smoke, so I’ve 10-times the experience now. It’s been so empowering to turn the sonic landscapes in my head into tangible things that I can share with people. It’s something which, as a younger artist, I had no idea would be possible. I thought that to do that you’d have to be thoroughly trained, have worked in a studio for 20 years and probably be a bloke! “It’s something that anybody who wants to can learn,” she continues. “I feel quite passionate about it – particularly as a woman, because you don’t see so many other women doing production. I’m not very techy, and I still don’t feel like it’s a particularly developed skill that I have, but it’s probably my favourite part of being a musician now. It feels like my biggest achievement with this album – that ability to make the final product completely what I want it to be.” Indigo is released on 11th November. Mayshe-Mayshe plays live at Cobalt Studios, Newcastle on Thursday 10th, The Holy GrAle in Durham on Tuesday 15th and The Studio, Hartlepool on Saturday 19th November. www.mayshe-mayshe.com


INTERVIEW

GAVIN WEBSTER

CAMERON WRIGHT TALKS TO THE ERUDITE COMIC ABOUT THE JOY OF WORDPLAY, PUNK INFLUENCES AND HIS PASSION FOR THE REGION

COMEDY

Any North East resident should be familiar with Gavin Webster, the Geordie comic who’s been serving up quality hilarity for decades. Pontification On Tyne is his newest set, chock full of astute homegrown routines, silly songs and surrealist tangents. “I’m no Bertrand Russell, I try to be subtle and nuanced rather than dogmatic, but whenever I step on stage I just feel like a bloke complaining. I like words and I like going after authority, hopefully in a funny way. Listening to EMI by The Sex Pistols and that beautifully articulate way Johnny Rotten takes down the ridiculous radiophonic corporation over three verses is a fucking joy. It’s stuff like that that made me want to do stand-up, not listening to Ben Elton or whoever!” With an expansive well of knowledge at his fingertips, the comic is as shrewd a historian as he is a comic, pulling up the heritage and plight of Newcastle and weaving it into heartfelt, patriotic comedy gold. At its heart, although not overly political, there is something passionately and undeniably Geordie throughout. “Politics can be anything from the price of your breakfast to the ticket machines at the Metro. Everything you say is sort of political in some sense. Newcastle has changed an awful lot, some of it for the good, some of it not so much so. It’s lost a bit of identity though, a lot of Britain has since Thatcher commodified everything 40 years ago. I like the fact that my audience is still very working class, they like jokes and crash bang wallop routines. The poster tends to scare off the easily offended or backwards thinking or the pretentious snobs, which makes me very happy.” Authentic, honest and self deprecating, the alternative

I TRY TO BE SUBTLE AND NUANCED RATHER THAN DOGMATIC, BUT WHENEVER I STEP ON STAGE I JUST FEEL LIKE A BLOKE COMPLAINING comedian has been forward thinking for decades, as a figurehead for the North’s infectious sense of humour. “It’s always terrific seeing Northern comedians when they go up a gear, it tends to leave Southern comics behind.” Gavin has seen the state of comedy fluctuate over the years, reminiscing that “the 90s circuit was great; this was all quite new, when there was literally only about 60 post-modern alternative comedians in the whole country. In the last 15 years it’s gone mad! There’s literally thousands! Loads of them are dull as fuck, it’s the equivalent of geography teachers and accountants that were doing Eric Clapton and Rolling Stones covers in bands with corny names in the 80s and saying they were real musicians.” As is now an annual tradition, Gavin Webster presents his latest show at Tyne Theatre & Opera House on Friday 11th November. “I’d be a sad man if I could never play the Tyne Theatre again. It’s everything doing this show, it’s the highlight of my year. It’s the Geordie Palladium, but with a good pub next door.” Gavin Webster performs Pontification On Tyne at Tyne Theatre & Opera House, Newcastle on Friday 11th November. www.gavinwebster.co.uk

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INTERVIEW

JESCA HOOP

ALI WELFORD TALKS TO THE IDIOSYNCRATIC SONGWRITER ABOUT BENDING GENRES, PLAYFUL SONGCRAFT AND HER COMMITMENT TO WEIGHTY TOPICS

MUSIC

Image by Aga Mortlock

Born and raised in a Mormon family in California; breaking away and turning to music as a teen; nannying for Tom Waits in her early twenties… Jesca Hoop’s backstory may be compelling, yet her path into ears, hearts and record collections has been far from linear. “It’s a natural course of things,” she supposes, speaking from her adopted base in Manchester. “Some people adapt quite easily to school, but I never felt like I fitted. I tried getting jobs in run-of-the-mill paces and stuck out like a sore thumb. I’m not alone in that, but I feel like an outsider for sure.” Perhaps inevitably, it’s a disposition that’s reflected vividly in her music; a playful, peculiar, often unrecognisable craft which over the course of 15 years has won this most idiosyncratic of songwriters a staunch cult following. “My particular nature takes over whenever I try to operate within a certain style,” she confesses. “I could try to write a country song – and sometimes I do – but I become disillusioned when I start to copy, and that’s what genre is: people copying each other. I want to hear something which bends things more than a genre might allow.” Clearly, this instinct has served her well across her six albums to date, each of which has ensnared a fresh, intrigued clutch of followers. September’s Order of Romance has proved no exception. Produced by John Parish (PJ Harvey, Eels, Aldous Harding) with horn and string arrangements provided by This Is The Kit’s Jess Vernon, the new record is arguably her most

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I’M GOING INTO THE IRIDESCENCE OF THESE CONFLICTS, THE HARD FACTS OF LIFE WHICH ARE NEVER BLACK AND WHITE

accomplished and certainly most intricate to date, traits Jesca attributes to an unusually concentrated gestation period. “Order of Romance feels very ordered to me,” she notes. “I’ve played with jazzier sounds, rowdy pop aesthetics… but in this incarnation they’re not as disjointed. It feels more ‘of season’, rather than written over decades.” Although she maintains that fans attending this month’s Sage Gateshead show can anticipate a heart-warming affair (“great for the winter months!”), one of the record’s key binding agents is its fearless commitment to addressing weighty topics head-on. At its heart are themes such as climate change, religious toxicity and gun control, each expertly juxtaposed by bright, joyful melodies as on the likes of Hatred Has A Mother and I Was Just 14. “I’d like to write songs which don’t have any meaning, but there’s a lot of noise in the world and I tend to become obsessed with topics. I need to write about things I’m engaged with, and people in my life were responding to world events in a way which showed me what to focus on – or at least gave fodder for investigation.” Crucially, and in typical Jesca Hoop fashion, the album’s outlook is anything but opaque – a slant she seemingly regards as something of an anathema. “Who needs that? It’s so boring!” She protests. “I’m going into the iridescence of these conflicts, the hard facts of life which are never black and white. There’s so much complexity and beauty to be drawn from every subject, and the last thing I want to do is dumb them down. It’s about getting into the overtones and undertones, while still leaving something for your imagination.” Jesca Hoop plays Sage Gateshead on Friday 25th November. www.jescahoop.com


INTERVIEW

MUSIC

L-R, T-B: Mykki Blanco, The Bug Club by Lindsay Melbourne, AO Gerber

BRAVE EXHIBITIONS

WITH BRAVE EXHIBITIONS MUTATING INTO A MULTI-VENUE PROGRAMME OF GIGS, LEE FISHER TAKES A LOOK AT WHAT’S ON OFFER AND ASKS BE MAINMAN JOEL THOMSON WHAT HE HAS PLANNED There have been three Brave Exhibition festivals thus far, two before The Awfulness, and one this time last year when we were all emerging, pale and anxious, from our own personal lockdown hell. They were all rightly acclaimed, last year’s especially so for its diverse and inclusive bill that largely eschewed blokey guitar bands in favour of laptop acts, a strong showing for female and queer artists and a general sense of new possibilities. The festival is largely the work of Joel Thomson and it started back when he booked the bands for The Cluny, continuing once he’d branched out on his own as a promoter under the F54 banner. This year, rather than a festival taking place at The Cluny over a single weekend, Brave Exhibitions is spread across the month of November (and a little bit of December) at various venues in Newcastle and Sunderland. Thomson explains that this new approach is a response to the prevailing circumstances and mood. “Asking our customers to spend a full weekend in one place seemed like too much of a stretch at this point in time. We felt we needed to adapt to the major economic turmoil and a cost-of-living crisis that is very real in this part of the country. So while a full Brave Exhibitions festival wasn’t practical this year, a busy November means that we’ve been able to pull together a programme of great gigs under the BE banner.” What Thomson wasn’t able to foresee when building this programme was that the Low gig at the Boiler Shop – which very much felt like the centrepiece of the festival – would be

A BUSY NOVEMBER MEANS THAT WE’VE BEEN ABLE TO PULL TOGETHER A PROGRAMME OF GREAT GIGS UNDER THE BRAVE EXHIBITIONS BANNER

cancelled as Mimi Parker from the band deals with treatment for cancer. Nonetheless, the twelve remaining gigs build on strengths of last year’s festival, focusing on two central weekends with a couple of gigs either side. Things kick off with a show from Liverpool pop/R&B artist Jetta who plays The Cluny on Sunday 6th November, before the first big weekend of gigs the following week. On Friday 11th, upcoming indie outfit The Bug Club play The Cluny, while the fierce feminist Russian punk happening that is Pussy Riot play Cluny 2; down at Zerox, you’ll find psych sisterhood ĠENN, who doubtless picked up some new fans at last year’s BE. On Saturday 12th the mighty Part Chimp – also veterans of Brave Exhibitions past – play The Cluny with Ghum and local supergroup Irked in support, while Derry punk outfit are at Zerox supported by Tin Ribs. The weekend wraps up with AO Gerber at The Cumberland Arms on Sunday 13th, the LA singer-songwriter stopping off in Newcastle as part of a short UK tour. Anthemic but inventive Chicago trio DEHD kick off weekend two with a show at Pop Recs Ltd. in Sunderland on Friday 18th November, with Teesside ragers Benefits in the same venue the following night supported by the wonderful Straight Girl. Manchester rapper Algernon Cornelius is at Zerox on Sunday 20th, and NYC indie outfit Widowspeak wrap up the weekend back at Pop Recs Ltd. on Monday 21st with support from Night Shop. Finally, Brave Exhibitions has pulled off a coup by getting the remarkable Mykki Blanco to play The Cluny on Monday 5th December, bringing the run of Brave Exhibitions show to a magnificent close with their intense and funky, powerful and political take on hip-hop and R&B. www.brave-exhibitions.co.uk

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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 TUESDAY 1ST NOVEMBER THE BELLRAYS

Garage rock ‘n’ soul band // The Cluny, Newcastle

WEDNESDAY 2ND NOVEMBER JOHN SMITH & KATHERINE PRIDDY

A powerful meeting of rich harmonies, melody and storytelling from the celebrated songwriters // The Fire Station, Sunderland

THURSDAY 3RD NOVEMBER ALUN COCHRANE

Touring a new stand-up show as well as a healthy dose of on-the-spot improv // The Witham, Barnard Castle

DARK SIDE

An exhibition from artist Stephen Richardson which focuses on death, decay and the macabre via handcrafted typography presented on leather, textile and canvas. Runs until 30th November // The Exchange, North Shields

L’IL JIM

Cajun accordion blues // Harbour View, Roker

MARQ ELECTRONICA

Electronic soundscapes, with support from rapper Sam Thomas // Mosaic Tap, Newcastle

STEPPING UP!

Brought to you by Felt Nowt, expect new comedians doing longer sets to test out their material. Featuring Kelly Rickard, Bryan James and Mike Wardley // The Cumberland Arms, Newcastle

FRIDAY 4TH NOVEMBER JASON BYRNE

A joyous night of laughter and bizarre tales from the top comic // Gala Theatre, Durham

JASON COOK’S COMEDY CLUB

Top comedy names, daft guests and a surprise or two // The Customs House, South Shields

HILARITY BITES COMEDY CLUB

Featuring Danny Posthill, Anth Young and host Sammy Dobson // The Pavilion, Peterlee

MAKATON & POISON POINT

Municipal presents a night of EBM intensity and metallic post-punk from Poison Point, plus hypnotic techno from Makaton // Star & Shadow Cinema, Newcastle

THE SHOE CAKE COMEDY CLUB

Stand-up comedy from Duncan Oakley, Sachin Kumarendran, Howard Anstock and MC Chris Lumb // The Georgian Theatre, Stockton

WOOM

Four-part concept choir who offer up a transcendental experience, support from The Whipt // Base Camp, Middlesbrough

SATURDAY 5TH NOVEMBER HILARITY BITES COMEDY CLUB

Featuring Steve Royle, Joe McTernan and host Danny Deegan // The Forum Music Centre, Darlington

MONDAY 7TH NOVEMBER JOHN POPE & JOHN GARNER

Celebrating the release of their new album Water Music, which pays tribute to the pioneering ‘new thing’ artists of the sixties and beyond // Little Buildings, Newcastle

TUESDAY 8TH NOVEMBER MOA MOA

Wonky, chonky pop // Bobik’s, Newcastle

THURSDAY 10TH NOVEMBER A COSY NIGHT IN WITH NEWISM

A night of neo-soul courtesy of Georgia May, Frankie Jobling and Rivkala // The Cumberland Arms, Newcastle

A STAND UP COMEDY NIGHT IN AID OF THE SPINAL INJURIES ASSOCIATION

Support a great cause and enjoy rib tickling comedy from Cal Halbert, Kelly Edgar, Helen White, Ian Younghusband and Elaine Robertson // Tyne Bank Brewery Tap, Newcastle

JIM MURRAY & ROB MASON

North East blues royalty // Harbour View, Roker

Notice To Move

Blowin’ A Hooley Theatre present this play created with the North East armed forces community and based on the real experiences of forces veterans and personnel, following a camaraderie of six soldiers facing deployments to Afghanistan // The Exchange, North Shields

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North East showcase, featuring Ceitidh Mac, Marco Woolf and Maius Mollis // Sage Gateshead

FROM YOU TO ME

A verbatim show providing a platform for voices often marginalised, illustrating the richness of growing up in post-war Tyneside // Northern Stage, Newcastle

MY SO CALLED SELFISH LIFE

Award-winning filmmaker, author and activist Therese Shechter deploys her characteristic wit and keen intellect to confront the entrenched assumption that motherhood is not only a biological imperative but the defining measure of womanhood // Star & Shadow Cinema, Newcastle

PLASTIC MERMAIDS

Inventive Isle of Wight sonic adventurers // Westgarth Social Club, Middlesbrough

SCRANNABAND

The hip-hop artist presents his full band performance // The Cumberland Arms, Newcastle

THE FOUR SEASONS

James Wilton Dance present work of immense physicality, driving energy and sweeping beauty // Dance City, Newcastle

SATURDAY 12TH NOVEMBER BIG MOUTH COMEDY CLUB

Featuring performances from Glenn Wool, MC Rob Mulholland and more TBA // Middlesbrough Town Hall

CLAUDE BOURBON

Guitarist who fuses blues, Spanish and Middle Eastern styles into unique soundscapes // Toft House, Middlesbrough Little Theatre

KOMPARRISON

Feel-good indie pop with attitude, support from The Redroom and Listomania // Independent, Sunderland

KATHERINE RYAN

Perspectives on love, life and what it means to be Missus // The Globe, Stockton

OJOBOCA – HER NAME WAS EUROPA

Shot on 16mm, the film traces historical and contemporary attempts to breed back to life the Aurochs, the extinct ancestor of modern cattle // Star & Shadow Cinema, Newcastle

FRIDAY 11TH NOVEMBER FEATURED //

FROM THE GLASSHOUSE

DAN NIGHTINGALE

Host of the hit podcast Have A Word, the comedian brings his new show to Stockton // ARC, Stockton

FEMALE GOTHIC

In the dark between life and death, a haunted woman tells strange and terrifying tales; eerie stories, dusty and forgotten // Arts Centre Washington

FEATURED //

Sarah Johnsone

Hotly tipped genre-bending artist with elements of indie, jazz and blues, support from Common Courtesy and The Avelons // NE Volume Music Bar, Stockton

THE SEE NO EVILS

Get Hip! present a night of garage/psych rock ‘n’ roll / The Green Room, Stockton

SUNDAY 13TH NOVEMBER BETH NIELSEN CHAPMAN

Grammy-nominated Nashville-based songwriter, with support from Scott Mulvahill // The Fire Station, Sunderland


LISTINGS SIMON DAY

Character comic Simon Day (BBC’s The Fast Show, The Simon Day Show, Brian Pern and King Gary) performs some of his much loved Fast Show characters including Billy Bleach, Dave Angel Eco Warrior and Tony Beckton // Middlesbrough Town Hall

SUNDAY BY THE FIRE WITH LESLEY ROLEY Folk, pop and blues songwriter // The Cumberland Arms, Newcastle

TUESDAY 15TH NOVEMBER DEAF HAVANA

Alt. rock band, with support from Sick Joy, Dead Pony and Lonely The Brave // NX Newcastle

WSTR

Pop punks // Independent, Sunderland

MATT REED’S JUNK BOX

The local comedian’s challenge is to pull random objects out of his Junk Box and make them funny // ARC, Stockton

PENSACOLA MIST

Synthwave band // The Cumberland Arms, Newcastle

SPILT MILK

Gateshead-based anthemic indie rock band // Independent, Sunderland

THE LITTLE KICKS

Soaring harmonies and infectious hooks // Bobik’s, Newcastle

SUNDAY 20TH NOVEMBER BLOSSOMS

Indie pop band // O2 City Hall, Newcastle

JULIE GRADY THOMAS: AMERICAN SCUM

THURSDAY 17TH NOVEMBER BUTTERJUNK

Dreamgaze quartet, with support from dark pop artist Hannah Robinson // Mosaic Tap, Newcastle

The North East-based American comic presents her debut stand-up show, in which she’s pissed at her home country and her adopted country, but refuses to stop loving them // The Stand, Newcastle

MONDAY 21ST NOVEMBER

FRIDAY 25TH NOVEMBER ANGELOS EPITHEMIOU

Cult comedian // The Witham, Barnard Castle

CATCH 22 COMEDY CLUB

Featuring performances from Alex Stringer, Simon Wozniak, Sally-Anne Hayward and MC Dave Twentyman // ARC, Stockton

GALAXIANS

Futuristic disco rockers, support from Moon Wax // Cobalt Studios, Newcastle

POLY-MATH

Instrumental prog math band // Little Buildings, Newcastle

THE REYTONS

Indie rockers // Middlesbrough Town Hall

SATURDAY 26TH NOVEMBER FEATURED //

Blockbuster on a Budget: The Star Wars Saga

This iteration of Cobalt’s popular FRESH nights features avant pop project Ex-Isles and revivalist four-piece Lovely Assistant // Cobalt Studios, Newcastle

IBIBIO SOUND MACHINE

Revered electronic Afrofunk band (Also at Wylam Brewery, Newcastle on Wednesday 23rd) // The Georgian Theatre, Stockton

A comedic live recreation of a classic blockbuster movie but on a fraction of the budget. Don’t expect fireworks.... They’re too expensive // Laurel’s, Whitley Bay

PATRICK JORDAN

WIDOWSPEAK

JANICE BURN & JON DORAN

EX-ISLES & LOVELY ASSISTANT

Alt. country blues artist from Teesside, with support from High Tide and The Rodneys // NE Volume Music Bar, Stockton

SAM AVERY

The comedian ponders what it means to be a role model in modern Britain // The Forum Music Centre, Darlington

FRIDAY 18TH NOVEMBER HILARITY BITES COMEDY CLUB

Featuring Maff Brown, Ashley Frieze and MC Sully O’Sullivan // Bishop Auckland Town Hall

MICHAEL GALLAGHER

Hartlepool singer-songwriter // Hartlepool Town Hall

LEYLA JOSEPHINE

A night of music and poetry, with support from Beccy Owen // The Cumberland Arms, Newcastle

PHILIP JONATHAN

Traditional folk with a contemporary twist, plus support from Maius Mollis // Mosaic Tap, Newcastle

SATURDAY 19TH NOVEMBER BENEFITS

Tees-based agro-rock, with support from Straight Girl // Pop Recs Ltd., Sunderland

American indie rock, support from Night Shop // Pop Recs Ltd., Sunderland

TUESDAY 22ND NOVEMBER Celebrated folk band // O2 City Hall, Newcastle

Comedian, computer programmer and animator Neil Harris attempts to take you through the history of the High Jump // Alphabetti Theatre, Newcastle

FRAZEY FORD

TALISK

Immersive, lyrical storytelling and country soul/psychedelia sounds // The Fire Station, Sunderland

HONEYMOAN

Alternative pop // Bobik’s, Newcastle

JUSTIN MOORHOUSE

THE LUTRAS

A special Scottish-themed night features eclectic rock band The Lutras, anthemic pop outfit Moonlight Zoo and alternative guitar band New Town // Bobik’s, Newcastle

WINE LIPS

THE URBAN VOODOO MACHINE

Toronto based garage punk psych rockers // Zerox, Newcastle

WEDNESDAY 23RD NOVEMBER FROM BELOW

A documentary film showcasing mutual aid and grassroots community action that helped feed and comfort the vulnerable during Covid-19 lockdowns // Star & Shadow Cinema, Newcastle

THURSDAY 24TH NOVEMBER

Rib-tickling comedy courtesy of panel show favourite Larry Dean, Nick Helm, Louise Young and Sammy Dobson // Newcastle Cathedral

ELIZA FAYE

Post-punk flecked with absurdist humour // Zerox, Newcastle

The ground-breaking, chart-topping, genre-bending band fuse concertina, fiddle and guitar to produce a truly innovative and multi-layered sound // The Fire Station, Sunderland

From yoga to funerals, the environment to Madonna, no stone is left unturned by the top comedian // The Witham, Barnard Castle

BARRY CAMERON & JIM BULLOCK

FAKE FRUIT

NEIL HARRIS

BELLOWHEAD

FEATURED //

Cathedral of Comedy: Larry Dean

Anglo-Scottish folk duo // Cobalt Studios, Newcastle

Laid back Americana, plus harmonica maestro // Harbour View, Roker Traditional folk sounds from Cumbria, with support from Imogen Bose-Ward // Mosaic Tap, Newcastle

MATHIAS SKYE

Multi-instrumentalist hip-hop artist, with support from Jay Coppaz // Bobik’s, Newcastle

Infectious gypsy blues // The Peacock, Sunderland

THE VOYD

Sunderland-based alt. indie band // Independent, Sunderland

SUNDAY 27TH NOVEMBER THE HUMAN PROJECT

Fast melodic punks // Little Buildings, Newcastle

THE LAKE POETS

Celebrating local promoters PinDrop’s 12th anniversary, this show features multiinstrumentalist songwriter The Lake Poets and folk blues duo Skylark Song // The Owl, Hartlepool

TUESDAY 29TH NOVEMBER JAMES WALKER

An intimate evening of stories and song // The Cumberland Arms, Newcastle

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REVIEWS

Kathryn Joseph by Victoria Wai

KATHRYN JOSEPH, BECCY OWEN, MAIUS MOLLIS @ GOSFORTH CIVIC THEATRE, NEWCASTLE (13.10.22) Words: Ali Welford With a cackle to light up the room and a potty mouth to rival any fellow Scot, Kathryn Joseph’s warm, genial demeanour is cast in sharp relief by the sheer weight and numbing influence of her music. “Here’s another song about abusive cunts,” she deadpans, introducing the latest number from For You Who Are The Wronged, her newest masterpiece dedicated to friends, acquaintances and all other survivors whose anguish has too often been met with silence. Cloaked by distorted, reverberating keys, Kathryn’s fractured voice sets about redressing that injustice, imparting their experiences with heartstopping tenderness and barely concealed fury. At times, these renditions seem virtually indistinguishable from their recorded counterparts – a fact which speaks of the utter conviction and magnetism of her performance as much as the record’s unadorned nature. From the simmering cries of The Harmed to Fresh And Blood’s empathetic embrace, tonight crystalises the sense that there’s no finer singer-songwriter on our island right now. More fragile still, Maius Mollis’ reservoir of talents is nonetheless on full display during an exquisite opening set; a blossoming which suggests debut single The Tide Turned may barely have scratched the surface. Established favourite Beccy Owen, meanwhile, brings a degree of vim and exuberance to proceedings – though on tonight’s bill it’s perhaps inevitably her later, more contemplative material which lands best.

MI MYE, NEL UNLIT, CARPET SONGS, BENJAMIN AMOS @ WESTGARTH SOCIAL CLUB, MIDDLESBROUGH (02.10.22) Words: Tracy Hyman The standard is set from the beginning; tonight’s bands are all of the same ilk – good storytelling, harmonies and a myriad of musicians on stage carefully crafting intricate, emotive melodies. In fact the four bands intertwine with borrowed band members here and there. Benjamin Amos often plays solo, here his tunes are augmented with a band. It is upbeat and rocky folk pop, with stand-out violin melodies enhancing his rich vocals. Carpet Songs play lo-fi and heartfelt tunes that have a beautiful melancholy to them. Augmented by a band, it will make you feel relaxed and warm inside. Nel Unlit’s first song, White

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Goods, starts off the story of Tosh the hoarder from their latest release. A scream emanates during the first song before Clare announces, “we’re going to get radgy now”. The ups and downs of Tosh’s life are felt with intensity, darks and lights in the music. They finish the set with songs from Wake For The Dreaming, ending on the gentle yet powerful and upbeat Dream’s Theme. Mi Mye collectively build layers of sound; warm flute synths, violin, guitars and drums gently weaving melodic songs together. Their humour in between, about fit builders from Wakefield among other things, pulls you in to their fold as they perform songs about surviving a nuclear bomb with your loved ones and having dyslexia. Mi Mye finish the night with Party, a tongue-in-cheek invitation to join them after the gig even if you couldn’t make the main event. A special end to a special night.

DILETTANTE, THE SAMPHIRES, THE RAILWAY CLUB @ BOBIK’S, NEWCASTLE (13.10.22) Words: Damian Robinson It’s a great, eclectic evening at Bobik’s tonight, with opening duo Railway Club starting things off gently with a fine blend of acoustic folk and Americana, including new song I’m Sorry which matches lyrics about deep regrets with some fine layered vocals. The mellowness continues with local trio The Samphires whose opening moments, including Coppers and Face 2 Face, start off with nice vocal interplays and a gentle indie sound. An interesting mid-point three-song combination, ending with set highlight Paper Cuts, twists The Samphires’ sound through an alt. rock edge as they combine to play heavier-sounding rock with colourful narratives about self-worth and self-expression. There’s real promise here, especially in their darker, rockier moments. The rockier moments continue with Dilettante and their sublime meandering through jazz, rock, pop and techno textures. Billed as an album launch, the Dilettante live performance is maybe as good as you can get – with new tracks Mouth Shut and Big Fish delivered in a particularly impressive blend of live musicianship. Layered, multi-instrumental and filled with the pitch-perfect jazz-style vocals of Francesca Pidgeon, the four-piece excel live; confident and musically rich without any pretence or gimmicks. A great three-band combination, but an even better headline show.


LIVE

The Snuts by Tracy Hyman

THE SNUTS, HEIDI CURTIS @ MIDDLESBROUGH TOWN HALL (14.10.22) Words: Robert Nichols Jack Cochrane, lead singer of The Snuts, gazes out over a seething mass of 1,000 bodies filling Middlesbrough Town Hall. Less than a year ago the band from West Lothian were playing to The Crypt, and now this show is the hottest ticket in town. A number one debut album and a storming follow-up, Burn The Empire, has incited the in-crowd to high grade levels of excitement. Welcomed on stage by a forest of mobiles all with flickering red video boxes showing, everyone in the audience seems to be singing chorus after chorus by a band on the up and up. Blah Blah Blah was received with deafening cheers, Fuck Your Band with as many one finger salutes as raised mobiles screens. There are tender moments within, too. And support artist Heidi Curtis is invited to add her spectacular voice to the party. Behind the band, the on-screen infotainment piped messages link poverty to Tory heads which twist and transition; this is exhilarating 21st Century electro-fused Britpop right on message. Nostalgia lighting a fuse of positive energy. For a finale Burn The Empire is followed by Fatboy Slim, with its Primal Scream samples of Rolling Stones samples, and Liz Truss’ flaming devil head. Pure theatre, and one of the events of the year.

ACID MOTHERS TEMPLE, THE TYPE FIVE @ STAR AND SHADOW CINEMA, NEWCASTLE (12.10.22) Words: Lee Hammond A band steeped in history, gods of heavy noise and psych rock Acid Mothers Temple finally touch down in Newcastle again. Local band The Type Five open and set the psychedelic tone for the evening with their swirling guitars. Their short but pleasant set has heads nodding throughout, but there is an air of anticipation that can only be cut through by the arrival of Acid Mothers Temple. As they take to the stage, they waste little time in beginning their aural assault on this packed crowd. Heavy, punishing rhythms ring out amidst

the backdrop of equally mind-bending visuals, Kawabata Makoto almost hiding in the shadows, the crowd occasionally catching glimpses of his flailing guitar. Higashi Hiroshi surveys the crowd, barely cracking a smile as he continues to deal out gut-punching synth stabs. They are unrelenting, barely taking a breather throughout ninetyminutes of driving guitars, underpinned by the incredible Satoshima Nani, his power and speed forcing the pace. Santa Maria, Pink Lady Lemonade and a cover of Gong’s Flying Teapot fill the mid-section of their set. Flowing effortlessly, with their trance-inducing rhythms, the crowd are completely under their spell. The rousing crescendos closing each track get heavier throughout, and Cometary Orbital Drive rounds off this incredible set in suitably emphatic fashion. A truly out-of-thisworld experience provided by one of the best bands around.

HANNAH MOULE & THE MOULETTES, BLYTHE PEPINO @ COBALT STUDIOS, NEWCASTLE (14.10.22) Words: Adam Paxton Those in attendance at this show were treated to something legitimately special. Support act Blythe Pepino of Mesadorm was fantastic. Despite playing solo, and not with her accustomed band, it was immediately apparent that she is every bit worthy of a headlining tour of her own. Catchy synth basslines, beautiful harmonies (a theme for the evening), and wonderfully idiosyncratic lyrics, Pepino also felt like a logical opener to a perfectly curated evening of music. The headliners were transcendentally good; that is not an overstatement. A group that clearly loves each other and playing music together, that feeling was infectious and created a sense of community in the room, while the music was perfect; cello, keys, guitar, violin all interweaving synchronously with pitch-perfect, heavenly harmonies. Blythe Pepino sat in and sang harmonies and assisted musically on a number of songs, and was as wonderful doing so as in her own set. If you’ve never seen either of these artists or been to Cobalt Studios for that matter, you owe it to yourself. Both artists and venue are genuinely special and singular.

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LIVE

beabadoobee by Scarlet Kane

BEABADOOBEE, PRETTY SICK @ NX NEWCASTLE (11.10.22) Words: Jake Anderson Like most Newcastle gig-goers, I was curious as to how NX would transform the old O2 Academy building. It still has the same theatrical vibe, but the new black coat of paint really heightens the importance of the stage, as well as the completely redone balcony area offering really great viewpoints. Pretty Sick were on first. The shoegaze band played a very brief set, where they heightened the rock elements of their hazy, slacker sound. The band under-stayed their welcome, and it would’ve been nice to hear a few more songs. beabadoobee’s typical chill, indie pop tunes were turned into brash, alternative rock spectacles. She Plays Bass was a great example of this, as the song drifted from its indie roots to something more pop punk. The drum had a great kick to it, really making the leading riff pop more. The band breezed their impressive hour-long, 20+ song long set list. This didn’t leave a lot of room for beabadoobee to have a strong stage presence, but you got a feel for her personality through the playful lyricism of the songs. She clearly knew what the fans wanted, with the songs being solely hits, generating a buzz with each track. It ended with a pleasant acoustic encore, where the singer performed a heartfelt acoustic version of Coffee – captivating the excitable room.

DIVORCE, JAMES LEONARD HEWITSON @ THE SHOOTING GALLERY, NEWCASTLE (07.10.22) Words: Dominic Stephenson It was Divorce’s first appearance on Tyneside, although Newcastle didn’t get the memo, with it being a strangely quiet evening in ZEROX’s Shooting Gallery. Both acts faced barbaric sound quality, as James Leonard Hewitson and his band rustled through some indie bop numbers reminiscent of days gone by. Sadly, there’s been little progress since then. A rudderless performance that was bereft of fresh ideas, with the gimmicky use of a trumpet being the only flicker of creativity. Newcomers Divorce are crafting something anew from the cultural zeitgeist. Across their first three singles (all released on Hand In Hive, the hatchery of none other than TV Priest), the Nottingham quartet have injected a certain freshness into the UK’s potpourri of a left-field music

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scene. Opening with the towering, staccato riffs of debut single Services, it was followed by a string of unreleased, neo-Americana tracks that dripped with melodious sanguine. The duetting vocals of Tiger Cohen-Towell and Felix Mackenzie-Barrow often melted into euphoric choruses, while Kasper Sandstrøm (guitarist of Do Nothing, featuring here on drums) channelled the anaesthetising hooks of the aforementioned maestros. A sleek fusion of gritty post-punk, joyous country and fuzzy grunge, from one of the most exciting up-and-coming bands around.

DUNSTAN BRUCE: AM I INVISIBLE YET? @ THE EXCHANGE, NORTH SHIELDS (08.10.22) Words: Lee Fisher While most of you are too young to appreciate this, getting old is shit. The clock’s ticking, your knees are clicking and you can’t handle the comedowns anymore. Plus there’s probably the feeling of promise unfulfilled, dreams that never came true, hopes shattered. Now imagine all of that from the perspective of a man who was once a bona fide pop star, and who functioned within a febrile and inspiring cultural/political collective. That was Chumbawamba. He is Dunstan Bruce. Am I Invisible Yet? is his attempt to make sense of his situation in a show that combines humour, anger, video, music and pratfalls to really powerful effect. Much of the text is taken from lyrics written for his band Interrobang‽, delivered in a sprechstimme (not sprechgesang!) style, with props and archive video clips aplenty. There’s some incredible poignancy to much of this. But having painted a vivid and emotive picture of himself as lost and partly broken, the show moves into a different and more powerful gear as he finds inspiration in the current activist movements and decides to face life head on and with a new-found sense of urgency. This show is both the result, and an examination of, that new energy, and by the end he’s challenging the audience head-on to join him. And, reader, at least for that moment, we do. A big theme of the show is community and collective action, and that’s borne out by a Q&A afterwards where Bruce opens himself up to discussion, challenge and some gentle pisstaking in a really warm and engaging manner.


LIVE

Shilpa Ray by Iam Burn

ALABASTER DE PLUME, CEITIDH MAC @ COBALT STUDIOS, NEWCASTLE (30.09.22) Words: Lee Fisher Cobalt Studios is back for another season and already delivering the good, good stuff. Ceitidh Mac was first up at this, one of the warmest and friendliest gigs I’ve attended in a while, and she was magnificent. I guess she deals in folk songs, kinda, but approaches everything in unexpected and unique ways, playing her cello like a guitar, playing her guitar like she’s grappling with it, stripping songs down to their core. All that plus her raw, hurt, soulful voice. I can imagine that if you were in the wrong mood, Alabaster de Plume – or at least Gus himself – could really irk. That ‘we’re in the moment, yeh?’ guileless openness, that playful, daft, serious-as-your-life way of addressing the audience that is also how he addresses the music. But if you open your heart and suppress your cynicism, you get something absolutely intense and real and beautiful. When he thanks us for being alive – “it’s fucking tricky” – he means it, and when his remarkably empathetic band chant glorious wordless invocations as he implores us to remember we’re precious, he fucking means it. As his sax splashes us with limpid watercolours and his band lock in on a circular riff again and again, it’s overwhelming. There’s anger in his music too, and darkness, but mostly tonight’s gig was a kind of joyful coming together, as near as you’re going to get to a mid-seventies Don Cherry gig under Byker Bridge. “If in doubt – yes!”

THE LEMONHEADS @ NEWCASTLE UNIVERSITY STUDENTS’ UNION (01.10.22) Words: Lee Fisher It’s A Shame About Ray has always been an absolute favourite and when Evan Dando is in good shape, he’s still a wonderful performer, so I made an exception to my heritage tour boycott for this gig. But Dando was in the worst shape I’ve ever seen him. Reports from previous dates had him doing well, so whatever ‘went wrong’ in Newcastle went very, very wrong. I’m not going to speculate about what happened (well I am, but not in print) but it was equal parts depressing, heartbreaking and angering. He just about made it through an opening set of acoustic songs, as usual sounding more confident singing other people’s songs (Outdoor

Type, Into Your Arms, a genuinely lovely Hard Drive) than his own, which perhaps shows a very sad lack of self-belief. But when the rhythm section joined him for Ray, it all went south very quickly. He mangled words – if he remembered them at all – and fluffed intros and generally behaved like someone who’s been fucking up for most of his adult life. After somehow making it till the end of the Ray set, it was time for an ill-fated Jacksons cover and a seeming determination to shit on his own legacy. I wasn’t the only person who left early, looking crestfallen. The irony of watching a man struggle to make it through a song as brilliant as My Drug Buddy wasn’t lost on me. Oh, Evan.

SHILPA RAY, HAUNTED HAIR @ THE CLUNY, NEWCASTLE (25.09.22) Words: Damian Robinson Moved from The Cluny 2 to the main venue, and starting earlier than expected, there’s quite a topsy turvy start to tonight’s show – something that continues across the evening and in alignment with a combination of performances that clearly value the notion of originality. Openers Haunted Hair kick off the evening with a deep sense of style and performance art as they move through some interesting musicality, before New York’s multi-faceted Shilpa Ray turns up to deliver a strong combination of 50s doo-wop combined with street-lyrics and urban art textures. The lush textures of doo-wop inspired Johnny Thunders Fantasy Space Camp (what a title!) and Add Value Add Time combine to deliver moments of trashy New York Dolls punk with the production moments of the Ronettes, and both are spectacular. Unfortunately, the earlier starting time seems to mean some of the audience don’t arrive until mid-way through Ray’s performance; though in a silver lining it does mean standout track EMT Police And The Fire Department gets two run-throughs; both deliveries prompting furious crowd dance alongs and forceful deliveries by Ray who changes vocal style from a more traditional singing approach to a punky-back-of-thethroat delivery. Noticeably warming as the performance progresses (and the audience size increases) Ray is on fine form by the show’s end. Intense, slightly erratic and full of interesting ideas, you wouldn’t want much else from a diverse artist. Great stuff.

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TRACKS

FAITHFUL JOHANNES OUT MY DEPTH EP

Image by Leslie-Ann Spence

Words: Jen Wilson Losing your phone can be a freeing experience but what if it also changed the lives of your colleagues? Office Oracle is the stand-out track of the new EP from Faithful Johannes. Listening to birdsong on the way to work and the wireless at night felt so pure, as it mixed with the utter perfection and incredibly amusing story of texts that change people’s lives. Sandwiched between a misguided song choice during Karaoke Classic (Billy Joel) – “sings so high but no falsetto” – and the rather calmly accepting yet anxiety inducing A Drift, that conjures the familiar feeling of drowning in responsibility with actually nearly drowning. He does manage a “small thumbs up” before emerging from the water, but this EP gets a massive one from me and best of all it is the first of two – the second half is out in February. Released 11.11.22 www.faithfuljohannes.com

SCOTT MICHAEL CAVAGAN GUILTY PLEASURE

Image by Ollie Rillands

Words: Matt Young True crime documentaries eh, we can’t get enough it seems; Dahmer, Bundy et al, it’s not just the ‘big names’ though, it was while watching a programme about an ‘ordinary’ man committing murder he’s always fantasised about that inspired County Durham singer-songwriter Scott Michael Cavagan to wonder, where does that darkness come from? What guilty pleasure makes every person tick? Musically that translates into a blend of anthemic alt. rock and catchy pop melodies, all while laying punkier vocals over the mix. The result is a taut, emotional rock metal sound with synths, a rousing chorus and an energetic, self-propelled drive. You can hear this track and many others live at his Bobik’s show on Thursday 3rd November, the day before its official release. Released 04.11.22 www.scottmichaelcavagan.bandcamp.com

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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)

EVE SIMPSON THE STRANGEST COMPANY

Image by India Hunkin

Words: Niamh Poppleton Eve Simpson’s latest single, The Strangest Company, is an emotional, acoustic rollercoaster. Self-described as “an ethereal and heartfelt narrative” the song has a Sad Girl Autumn kind of vibe. The lyrics tell the story of an outsider, who is “completely over the concept of fitting in” but is afraid of being treated poorly by those around her if she doesn’t. Based upon Eve’s real-life experience at a house party, each word follows the lone protagonist who learns from the different experiences of those around her whilst simultaneously feeling out of place. A heavenly blend of lead vocals, harmonies, fiddle and piano, The Strangest Company, in all of its Joni Mitchell-inspired splendour, displays an emerging depth to Eve’s catalogue. Released: 28.10.22 www.facebook.com/evesimpsonmusic

TOM IEUAN JAMES DECAY Words: Tom Astley For a first single, Decay is a remarkably mature song. Everything from the vocals to the instrumentation is delivered with a confident, assured hand. A deeply personal song, captured as essentially a live performance by a band of musicians playing together for the first time, it retains the warmth of a live performance, yet you could be forgiven for thinking the band had been playing together for years, such is the ease of the interplay and the manner in which they bounce off one another. The guitar is distinctly John Martyn-esque, with a percussive quality, while a saxophone solo gives the track some room to breathe, after the relative density of the lyrics and vocals. This is a highly promising musician, and most certainly one to watch. Released: 31.10.22 www.linktr.ee/tomjamesmusic


KULPA BLOODSHOT Words: Tom Astley It’s hard to resist a riff like the one Bloodshot gives you. A simple, powerful beat is followed by an epic riff, and you’re instantly into it. The band knows more than to overdo it however, dropping the riff out for the second verse, as the bass echoes it in miniature. The chorus is inherently catchy, with the refrain “Talking away, but you only say nowt”, simple and anthemic. The breakdown comes and is the exact sort of thing that you hear and instantly think ‘this would be mint live’. That rings true of the whole song; the band has done an admirable job of translating the feelings of hearing such a powerful track live, onto record. Released: 28.10.22 www.linktr.ee/kulpaofficial

POLYVINYL MODERN ART PEOPLE Words: Tom Astley Polyvinyl’s Modern Art People is a blistering post-modern punk-balladpunk sandwich. Led by a riveting sneering spoken word vocal that has an inflection of Karen O, Modern Art People offers guitars that have a delicious distortion to them, and with a chord structure that offers an intriguing complexity to the familiar power chord crunch, this track beg for repeated listens, even before the jolting U-turn mid song into a 50s doo wop inspired homage, replete with a slightly manic falsetto oohs in the background. Polyvinyl capture both those sounds – cool-as-it-gets New York punk and 50s bubblegum – perfectly, and manage to smash them together in a way that makes perfect sense. An absolute headbanger of a tune. Released: 04.11.22 www.linktr.ee/polyvinylband

JENNA LEAROYD LOST IN THE SMOKE Words: Tom Astley Lost In The Smoke has a late night RnB vibe to it. A track like this lives and dies by its precision, and every aspect of this track is so clean you could eat your tea off it. The subtle, smooth bass line, the lush modestly overdriven guitar parts, snapping drums, and backing vocals that blend exquisitely into one sound. All of these elements support a vocal that is assured in its dextrous grip on the melody. As the vocal lilts up into the falsetto range, all that RnB influence becomes apparent, but without ever going off the rails in that over the top melismatic way great singers of this genre can often do, so the voice is left to deliver a set of lyrics in a manner that sounds sincere as well as sublime. Released: 28.11.22 www.facebook.com/jennalouisemusic

RUTH LYON DIRECT DEBIT TO VOGUE EP Words: Matt Young The five songs included on Newcastle songwriter Ruth Lyon’s newest EP of folk/chamber pop cover a lot of ground thematically. They touch on societal anxieties, box ticking expectations, organisations seeking to homogenise individuality and dealing with the scorn of perceived differences or limitations, but core to all of these is a very personal desire to not conform under pressure, to be unique. Using the fashion world’s representation of women, mirrored within the music business, and ultimately every walk of life, makes a song like Trouble a real standout. It evokes the bare honest lyricism of Fiona Apple at her most ‘difficult’. Lyons won’t be boxed in, labelled or silenced either. Her melodic songs have a tough core and they’re all the better for that. Released 26.11.22 www.ruthlyonmusic.com

HANNAH ROBINSON HYPNOTISED Words: Jen Wilson Grab your car keys (or your bus pass) and lose yourself in the constant drum beat and smooth vocals of Hannah Robinson, as Hypnotised propels you through the stages of a break-up, told from both male and female perspectives. It’s not really an emotional tale of loss, evoking instead the initial loneliness and the unavoidable need to move forward with your life without looking back. I loved the contrast of the energetic drum and classic guitar riffs, it feels very reminiscent of The Bangles and Hannah’s ethereal yet husky voice blends well and is not overpowered, rather emphasising the mixed feelings of separating yourself from a person you were once part of. Released 11.11.22 www.linktr.ee/han_robinsonmusic

CHRIS KELLY MY NAME Words: Stephen Oliver My Name is a track that has taken five years to be released; the song about the transition from teenager to young adult has been on the back burner since 2017. Given that subject matter it could have been a lot darker than it is. Chris has delivered a guitar-led track that is similar in style to Tom Petty before he fell under the spell of Jeff Lynne. What makes it refreshing though is the change in pace mid-way through. The urgency at the start swings through a slower phase that helps give the song a lasting impact. This is one of those songs that would be perfect for drive time radio given its catchy riff and lyrics. Released 18.11.22 www.linktr.ee/chriskellygtr

EARTH FARM EVEN CICADAS GET THE BLUES Words: Ewan Gleadow Earth Farm’s dedication to the soundscape of larger-than-life rock is what separates their EP, Even Cicadas Get the Blues, from other genre work. From the chanting found in the eponymous track to the drawback of slower, acoustic-driven start of The Second Song, there is a surreal ability which keeps the listener guessing. Whether that is through the rock-heavy electrics of what follows the aforementioned acoustic intro, or the loud brilliance of Revolving, Rotating. Two short tracks break it all up, and Earth Farm nail their pace and tempo, rounding their EP off with the solid Flood For Thought. Running the risk of feeling scattershot, Earth Farm hedge their bets and piece together an often angry, off-kilter piece of bedroom indie rock excellence. Released: 04.11.22 www.instagram.com/earthfarmband

JACK AARON GREENSMITH LIVE OFF THE LAND Words: Ewan Gleadow A conjured and sophisticated naivety spreads across Jack Aaron Greensmith’s single, Live Off The Land. Carefree particularity assembled with observations that ring through from the opening moments, an acoustic guitar gearing up to deliver a track of wonder and ambition. From that echoing, singular strum comes a tender build, one that presents Greensmith as an artist with delicacy and sophistication at his core in a similar vein to Donnie Emerson. Folk constructs are clear throughout; living off the land and the fears of ageing, a timeless response that fits in with lyrics that feel similar to that of John Steinbeck’s storytelling. Greensmith creates a delicate and marked treat, with the perils of the folk genre navigated expertly and intimately. Released: 16.11.22 www.soundcloud.com/jack-aaron-greensmith

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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: MATT YOUNG

DEMO OF THE MONTH

Alice Elle – Burnt Out Flame From the instant this song starts I’m hooked. The low pitched conspiratorial vocals rub up against biting metallic guitar riffs, then wham!, shiny, glitchy beats and shifting bass kick in and I hear a bona fide pop hit belting out of my speakers. If Kelly Clarkson or P!nk released this – or maybe a Charli XCX or Oliva Rodrigo collab for any younger readers – it would be on heavy rotation

Mike Hebden – The One Who

This bouncy piece of pop breezes in like a summer wind and dances around with lots of bright sunny tones that easily charm the ears before fading out. There’s a hint of idyllic living, or even conjuring better times ahead. Perhaps some of the nods to musical influences in the tune and lyrics suggest that too. 80’s era soft pop rock underpins the whole thing, bringing to mind acts like Chicago or Foreigner. The piano riff also feels more than a little reminiscent of Fleetwood Mac’s Don’t Stop – but as there’s been a recent bout of nostalgia and new audience for this period and those bands I’d expect this song to appeal just as much. www.twitter.com/holamiguel

Second To Nothing – Secret Keeper

Duo Joshua Bell and Matthew Ciechanowicz as Second To Nothing set a delicate tone vocally here, even confessional in its intent. Musically though, this poppy indie rock

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everywhere. I don’t dance but this tune is so goddamn persuasive I find myself shimmying, and I need a much longer mix. The production glistens and twists as Sunderland’s Alice Elle vocally prowls all over a barely tethered, searing guitar, belting out words to a former lover. There may be a hint of regret lyrically, but this sounds like success to me. www.facebook.com/aliceellemusic

offering is a riffy jaunt that promises much more but seems to get a bit stuck somehow, plateauing despite throwing a protracted guitar solo into the mix like a fizzing firework. Overall the song builds and threatens to go somewhere new at one point, before taking a step back and retreading previous chords which is a little disappointing, but on the whole there’s more to praise here than criticise. www.facebook.com/secondtonothing

Vanguard – English Soldier

Utilising that same chugging riff and half-spoken half-singing style familiar to fans of The Clash or Levellers, Vanguard’s new tune espouses their heroic view of fighting for a cause. The pace clips along and there are a couple of group singalong chorus moments, sounding like rum soaked pirates might. However, whereas the other two bands I’ve mentioned contrive a national pride using their political astuteness and diverse musicianship, this pride feels a bit one-dimensional and

even misplaced in the hands of Vanguard. It’s missing any artistic nuance and comes over instead like a fairly simplistic effort. Not for me.

Paper Boats – Saving Grace There’s a really interesting meandering start to this song by North East five-piece Paper Boats; a cyclical, dreamy refrain that had me thinking of the more chiming guitar moments of Turin Brakes and parts of Radiohead’s Paranoid Android. A fine pair of bands to evoke. The pacing shifts throughout, always evolving and propelling the listener forward. At around the halfway point it really stretches out, with vocals elevated and a full blooded guitar solo chiming through. I really wanted this song to evolve into a feedback-bleeding Stone Roses-style set finisher, ringing on and on, but they deny me that personal pleasure. It’s still great stuff though. www.linktr.ee/paperboats.official


ALBUMS 4/5 STEVE PLEDGER WHAT TOMORROW KNOWS (NOISY DOG RECORDS)

5/5

CAITLIN ROSE CAZIMI (NAMES)

Image by Danielle Holbert

Words: Lee Fisher That hoary old cliché about listening to someone singing a phone book has never been truer for me than it is with Caitlin Rose. Her voice undoes me. Often understated – she keeps its power under wraps till it’s really needed – it’s a thing of absolute delight. Shades of Kirsty MacColl, I guess, but Rose really is out on her own, her voice true and clear and magical. This album – her third – comes almost a decade after the last, after a “ten-year streak of doom and disappointment”. But for something with such an apparently tough gestation, she makes it all sound so effortless. Cazimi (it’s an astrology thing) isn’t a huge departure from its predecessors, and that’s no bad thing. It makes a few more concessions to pop (occasional drum machines and synths) while still being essentially country (but never, crucially, country pop. Hell no). It’s confident and sassy and stacked with killer choruses, wise-beyond-her-years lyrics and some excellent steel work throughout from regular collaborator Spencer Cullum. Modern Dancing is a curious, catchy pop number that could really cross over, Getting It Right – a Courtney Marie Andrews co-write – is a brilliant statement of defiance and intent. Lead single Black Obsidian has a widescreen grandeur, almost an Orbison-bigness. Hell, all twelve tracks are wonderful and never has hard-won wisdom sounded this beautiful. Caitlin Rose should be widely adored and hopefully this time out she’ll find a way to enjoy it, because she deserves all the things. All of them. Released: 18.11.22 www.caitlinrose.com

ALSO OUT THIS MONTH Ezra Collective – Where I’m Meant To Be (Partisan Records, 04.11) // Darren Hayman – You Will Not Die (Fika Recordings, 04.11) // The Pretty Reckless – Other Worlds (Century Media Records, 04.11) // Macie Stewart – Mouth Full of Glass (Full Time Hobby, 11.11) //Daniel Avery – Ultra Truth (Phantasy Sound, 11.11) // Billy Strings – Me/and/ Dad (Rounder, 25.11) // Gold Panda – The Work (City Slang, 11.11) // Horse Lords – Comradely Objects (RVNG Intl, 04.11) // Maja Lena – Pluto (Chiverin Records, 18.11) //Yosa Peit – Phyton (Fire Records, 11.11) // Low Island – Life In Miniature (Emotional Interference, 04.11) //Sunliner – S/T (Lockjaw Records, 04.11) //Laura Jean – Amateurs (Chapter Music, 04.11) //Turnover – Myself in the Way (Run For Cover Records, 04.11) // YNYS – S/T (Libertino Records, 04.11) //Connie Constance – Miss Power (Play It Again Sam, 04.11) // Warlung – Vulture’s Paradise (Heavy Psych Sounds, 04.11) //Bill Nace – Dragged Through A Room (Drag City, 11.11) //Helen Ganya – polish the machine (Bella Union, 18.11) //Christina Vantzou – No.5 (Kranky, 11.11) //The Prescriptions – Time Apart (Single Lock Records, 18.11)

Words: Robert Nichols Outstanding North East singer-songwriter Steve Pledger has released a fourth album of rare quality and message. Never mincing his words, Steve has the delivery, expression and power of voice and range of acoustic melodies to allow these lyrical slingshots and arrows to really hit home. Dealing in consequences of actions and inactions, they sometimes come home to roost years later, as on Sister, Dear, an emotional apology to the younger sister Steve once teased. Salt From The Sea is a slow burning drama, while Waiting to Hurt drips with emotion. Each tune takes our hand and demands our ears. Beautifully arranged throughout, the instrumentation allows Steve’s strong and tender vocals to rise above and beyond to deliver a final message of hope. Tomorrow is still in our hands. Released: 28.11.22 www.stevepledger.co.uk

4/5 IVAN THE TOLERABLE THE ALEPH (ECHODELICK RECORDS) Words: Adam Paxton There is a lot to be said about the use of chaos in music. It can be an end in and of itself, an underlying current, or it can be toyed with, ebbing and flowing, threatening to take over completely before being reigned in. It’s exactly this kind of chaos that seems to prevail on The Aleph; scattering drums and offbeat horns are reined in at the last moment and kept part of a cohesive whole. There’s a complexity when there seems to be little happening. The horns in particular stand out, full-throated saxophone runs cutting through the muggy atmosphere on Godhead, for instance. Once again, the prolific Teesside artist has made music for those who like atmosphere and intellect; this genuinely unique ambient-jazzindustrial hybrid is a treat. Released: 24.11.22 www.ivanthetolerable.bandcamp.com

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ALBUMS

5/5

3.5 / 5

4/5

AUTOLEISURELAND INFINITI DRIVE (SELF-RELEASED)

SLEEP PARTY PEOPLE HEAP OF ASHES (JOYFUL NOISE)

BREANNA BARBARA NOTHIN’ BUT TIME (FUZZ CLUB)

Words: Michael O’Neill Arriving fresh on the heels of the marvellous lead single The Blue Star, Infiniti Drive is the debut transmission from North East-based Autoleisureland, a reunion of sorts for local sophistipop legends The Kane Gang, with founding members David Brewis and Paul Woods having collaborated on material over an extensive four year period. The fruits of their labour are abundant in stylistic left-turns, perfectly polished hooks and crystalline production. Instead of safely returning to the ground last trod on 1987’s Miracle, the duo look further back to the big-budget, cerebral blockbuster LPs of the 70s, with intricate arrangements, a broad instrumental palette and phenomenal songwriting at every turn. It’s a long-overdue, brilliantly crafted and wholly essential record. Released: 25.11.22 www.autoleisureland.com

Words: Jake Anderson Leaning away from his dream pop-heavy sound, Sleep Party People’s newest album, Heap Of Ashes, is far more abrasive – akin to being tickled with cheese graters. The album’s brash soundscape is unsettling and aggressive, with its numbing opening track becoming an unrelenting force of attacking synths and suffocating bass lines. Brian Batz’s signature dream pop sound becomes smothered, occasionally piercing through the album’s layer of industrial hell – best seen with the second track Tide. The first few tracks of this beautifully violent album have a joyous, intense energy to them; but the album does begin to lose steam halfway, as Batz’s reverbed vocals and haunting strums struggle to maintain the same energy and begin to lack punch. Released: 11.11.22 www.sleeppartypeople.bandcamp.com

Words: Ikenna Offor Six years on from her cathartic debut, Breanna Barbara’s swaggerful sophomore LP bounds onto the scene, perfused with simmering bluesy sensibilities and bolstered by vibrant psychedelic flourishes. Sonically immersive and tonally kaleidoscopic, Nothin’ But Time carves dazzling enclaves out of lushly retro-kissed soundbeds that recall those hazy 60s-ish pop nuggets that seem to crop up in damn-near every Tarantino-aping flick (no tea, no shade, mind). Emotive, fun and fierce in equal measure, Barbara’s versatile lyricism remains as potent as ever. Swirltastic opener Diamond Light mulls the intricate synergy between memory and hindsight, whilst the rollicking title track keenly evokes the innate melancholia of existential rumination. Elsewhere, Me Too deftly dissects patriarchal malevolence with searing precision. Intuitively resonant and utterly beguiling. Released: 11.11.22 www.breannabarbara.bandcamp.com

2.5 / 5

4.5 / 5

4/5

PRINCE BISHOP ALL IS DUE (SELF-RELEASED)

TENCI A SWOLLEN RIVER, A WELL OVERFLOWING (KEELED SCALES)

LARKIN POE BLOOD HARMONY (TRICKI-WOO RECORDS)

Words: Matt Young All Is Due began life as simpler songs, just voice and guitar, from the Durham-based group’s singer and guitarist Ben Trenerry, in attempts to translate the sounds in his head and evoke those feelings musically. These were then further translated in the studio as a band setup. The album opens strongly enough with the cascading strings of The Ghost Of Good Will. It’s pensive, atmospheric and sounds ambitious. But that goodwill is quickly jettisoned. What follows are less lofty and more navel gazing songs espousing quasi-philosophical lyrics about the human condition and karma (hence the album title). Way Of Things attempts to reignite things half way through, implementing yowling vocals akin to Thom Yorke or Matt Bellamy over heavier riffs and pounding drums, but this proves to be a false dawn. Despite remaining songs surging sonically at times, they ultimately lack any lasting interest. Released: 25.11.22 www.princebishop.uk

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Words: Ben Lowes-Smith Tenci’s 2019 album My Heart Is An Open Field was an understated delight, her vocals recalling early Joanna Newsom, married with fantastic, expressive guitar playing. Tenci’s second record is considerably more fleshed out instrumentally, and takes cues from 90s college rock. These concise, unusual songs canter by, seemingly collapsing under their own emotional weight. Be applies post-rock sensibilities to Tenci’s already weighty emotional palette, and her group’s wonderful capacity for vocal harmonies are showcased on The Ball Spins. Idiosyncratic without ever being forced, plain speaking without ever resorting to cliché, this is a pure understated delight that hits the head, the heart and the gut in equal measure. Released: 04.11.22 www.tenci.band

Words: Lee Hammond A rousing return from sisters Larkin Poe, Blood Harmony is a record steeped in swagger. Taking in elements of country, blues and southern rock, it has a little something for everyone. This aural assault is punctuated with seething riffs, the likes of Georgia Off My Mind permeating with its hefty country tone. It Might As Well Be Me stands out above the rest though, this anthemic track feels bigger than everything else on Blood Harmony. It’s powerful and hard hitting, which is a complete contrast to album closer Life As Cold As Diamonds, which slows things down and brings the album to a more mellow but no less impactful ending. All round this is an incredible record from Larkin Poe. Released: 11.11.22 www.larkinpoe.com


ALBUMS

5/5

4/5

3.5 / 5

ANDREW WASYLYK HEARING THE WATER BEFORE SEEING THE FALLS (CLAY PIPE MUSIC)

ANNA MIEKE THEATRE (NETTWERK)

CARLA DAL FORNO COME AROUND (KALLISTA RECORDS)

Words: Evie Nicholson The cover of Andrew Wasylyk’s album features a ship in a bottle surrounded by seashells, feathers and the white glow of a full moon. It sums up the album perfectly. Aquatic, ethereal and fragile in equal measure, upon listening one has the feeling of being temporarily suspended in a fog of wistful ambivalence. It’s elegant and spatial. Inspired by the dramatic land photography of Thomas Joshua Cooper, Wasylyk creates harp-led cinematic soundscapes that seem infinite. Although the seven tracks vary in meaning, the LP doesn’t feel overwhelming in its abstraction. Wasylyk creates beautiful jazz-soaked ambient music that is liberating and meditative, rather than aggressively esoteric. The album no doubt cements Wasylyk’s reputation as not only an ambitious and brilliant multi-instrumentalist, but as a serious modern artist. Released: 25.11.22 www.andrewwasylyk.com

4/5 JAMES JOHNSTON & STEVE GULLICK EVERYBODY’S SUNSET (GOD UNKNOWN) Words: Lee Fisher Everybody’s Sunset builds on the excellent Johnston & Gullick debut We Travel Time, also released on the wonderful God Unknown Records. This new set leans into the minimal/ classical feel of its predecessor and at times reminds me of Louisville acts like Rachel’s or someone on the Constellation roster, but also modern composers like Gorecki or Part. The prevailing mood is a heavy melancholy, although tracks like A Fear Of Everything and Medieval Death Song shift the album into something darker and more foreboding. Johnston’s mournful voice is used sparingly throughout, perhaps most effectively on the closing title track, the latter half of which could be the soundtrack to a beautifully shot slo-mo apocalypse at the end of a harrowing art house movie. Released: 18.11.22 www.godunknownrecords.com

Words: Robin Webb Hailing from Wicklow on the East coast of Ireland, Mieke releases her second full-length, which she’d intended being a solo effort but has now become a more evolved ensemble, verdantly growing with additional instrumentation filling out a sweet sound of rolling hills and valleys, and finely portraying the dulcet atmosphere found in this bucolic alt. folk collection. For A Time is alive with expansive strings and tribal folk rhythms, while Mannequin opens with finespun ethereal synth drone that provokes a melancholic wispiness, recalling dappled sun-bleached memories of magpies and imaginations. It’s a journey through fields of mirrors, scattered with damselflies flittering as you languidly flow into the sea, drifting in your senses impelled by the purity of Anna’s vocals. Released: 18.11.22 www.annamieke.com

Words: Robin Webb Relocating to Australia in the sparsely populated city of Castlemaine after her sojourn to Europe for her first few albums, Carla now releases a third echoing with a dual sense of isolation and immediacy. Her familiar austere sound reverberates in acres of space often anchored by a rhythmically intimate synth or guitar reminiscent of the Young Marble Giants or Julee Cruise, evidenced by the title track Come Around, which plays to an empty auditorium audience of one, inviting you to come closer but only if you dare to. This collection as a whole feels cold and yet if you accept her invitation, immerse yourself in the swathes of gossamer washes, you’ll find yourself “no longer tethered to the world outside”. Released: 04.11.22 www.carladalforno.bandcamp.com

5/5

4/5

SHAKE CHAIN SNAKE CHAIN (UPSET THE RHYTHM)

WILDES OTHER WORDS FAIL ME (AWAL)

Words: Robin Webb The album opens with pure soap-style peril, setting us up perfectly for some almighty raucous glory, but don’t be sideswiped when first hearing Kate Mahoney’s Yoko-esque vocal delivery – you HAVE to stick with it, persist and you will be rewarded with one of the most vital releases of the year. It’s noisy, thoughtful, humorous and bloomin’ vital! Kate along with Robert Syres, Chris Hopkins and Joe Fergey are all art school graduates and like nothing better than raising anxiety and curiosity in an audience where performance is key and is a spectacle to behold, expect plenty of indolent despair, dadaist bleeps, samples, cows, chickens and horses. Dissonant to the nth degree, it seethes but never simmers. Released: 18.11.22 www.facebook.com/shakechainband

Words: Matt Young The best songwriters articulate emotions that are sometimes hard to shake. Using the frustration and anger of broken personal and professional relationships. Enduring four years of traumatic false starts to record her debut album WILDES, aka singer and multi-instrumentalist Ella Walker, has built herself an entirely new reflection. Beginning with Woman In Love, a smouldering rumination on the pain of her emotionally abusive relationship to the final track, True Love, a mantra to self-love and moving on, there’s a spine onto which all other songs connect, each healing more in the process. Walker continually voices her wish for change and for survival, and that’s most succinct during Enfant when she soaringly sings, “This heart is indispensable, I think I’m ready for the fight”. Onwards and upwards, finally. Released: 11.11.22 www.wildesmusic.com

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MIXTAPE WORDS: KATHRYN TYE

Hi, I’m Kathryn, Comms Manager at The Biscuit Factory Newcastle. This November The Biscuit Factory celebrates its 20th anniversary, a very exciting milestone for us. Back in 2012 we opened as an independent art gallery, and over the past two decades we’ve grown in many ways! Now, along with lots of original art, craft and design you’ll find artist studios, a roof terrace cafe and a unique event venue. Our Mixtape celebrates some of our favourite picks for the Autumn/Winter season, and tracks you might hear on our celebratory playlist as we present our Winter Social on Friday 25th November. On the night, we’ll unveil a specially commissioned art installation by ceramic artist Megan Randall and officially open Ade Adesina’s showcase exhibition, which reflects on the human footprint on the planet. There are even more activities planned during the Ouseburn Open Studios weekend on Saturday 26th-Sunday 27th November. www.thebiscuitfactory.com

MARTHA REEVES AND THE VANDELLAS HEATWAVE Chosen by the Gallery Team. Our playlists always include some soul or Motown. Heatwave is one of those songs that you recognise from the first note, and is a total crowd-pleaser. We’ll definitely be playing this on our 20th Anniversary playlist.

RICHARD HAWLEY COLE’S CORNER Chosen by Kathryn Tye. Richard Hawley’s voice is the warm blanket you need when the weather closes in and the nights grow darker. This song is both soothing and uplifting at once, both nostalgic and optimistic. Whenever I want some comfort, this is where I go.

LAURA MARLING GOODBYE ENGLAND (COVERED IN SNOW) Chosen by the Gallery Team. This song always appears on our Winter

playlists in the Gallery as a nod to the season. We think that Laura’s storytelling is perfect listening for the time of year – with this particular song evoking memories of wrapping up for walks on cold, crisp winter days.

YANN TIERSEN AMELIE SOUNDTRACK Chosen by General Manager Rachel Brown. This soundtrack always gives me all the Autumnal vibes; cosy, charming and full of whimsy, it’s a soundtrack that makes me want to move to France and spend my days in a pottery studio. Given I’ve no ability as a potter it’s obviously also a very aspirational soundtrack.

DAVID BOWIE LET’S DANCE Chosen by the Gallery Team. Is it even possible to have a mixtape without some David Bowie? This comes from one of the playlists we choose in the gallery when we’ve got something to

celebrate – and we definitely have this year! It’s rare to find songs that everyone appreciates under our roof, but this is one of them!

CELESTE STOP THIS FLAME Chosen by Kathryn Tye. Sometimes you need a little get-go, and if it’s good enough for the Lionesses, it’s good enough for me. I love Celeste’s voice and this song is pure feel-good motivational joy – it just makes me want to get up and shake it out.

ABBA VOULEZ-VOUS Chosen by Kathryn Tye. Unashamed, unabashed disco classic. I wasn’t joking when I told my colleagues Abba would feature. And here we are. Slide into your sequins, put on your platforms – I’ll see you on the dancefloor!

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