Wildwood Kin | Ferris and Sylvester | Callum Pitt – 3rd May 2019 – Newcastle O2 Academy
Review and photos by Victoria Wai (Victoria Wai)
Under The Apple Tree (UTAT) is the brainchild of Bob Harris, AKA Whispering Bob Harris. You might actually know him from The Old Grey Whistle Test. UTAT is a “music brand that focuses on bringing attention to amazing artists who deserve to be heard by everyone,” with sessions recorded at a studio nestled under an apple tree and now hitting the road, with artists handpicked by Harris himself and this year it’s the wonderful trio Wildwood Kin supported by Ferris and Sylvester and to add to the already fantastic bill local acts were also picked to open the night and in Newcastle we had Callum Pitt with a stripped back band of keys and backing vocals (Jonny and Annie).
It was an early start down o2 Academy in room 2 as the night would coincide with an ‘opening party’ of a festival and we would get to hear the contrasting sounds later, however, Callum and his band gave us a wonderful soothing start. If you are familiar with Callum’s music you may have heard many people talk of those vocals and damn those vocals for they sure can give Mariah Carey a run for her money. Seriously check him out and have your jaw dropped to the floor. He has local artist Annie Griffiths guest with him on backing vocals and just hearing them together is just as spellbinding. A wonderful stripped back set showcasing his sounds to many that have never heard of him before includes his big hits Rabbits to his most recent single Forgotten Kids.
Ferris and Sylvester are a duo I managed to catch literally the last number of when they supported another act about a year ago and it seems they have just gone from strength to strength with some of the audience gathered as big fans of theirs. Issy Ferris and Archie Sylvester are an ‘alt folk blues soul’ duo with personalities as big as their sound. They sure brought the party to town and got the somewhat reserved crowd warmed up and even mimicking ‘vikings.’ Yup, you read that right, I just wish their were pints of SKOL and long beards there to complete this vision. My personal fave was when they swapped places on stage especially as the stage is on the small size and Issy takes over the kick drum from Archie and the crowd really get ‘in the moment’ then Archie gets up close and personal by coming to the foot of the stage which is literally in the face of the audience. Ferris and Sylvester give us everything as they even strip it back with their newest release of Flying Visit.
So far so good with the two gigs coinciding under the same roof this night and then it is time for the headliners and a huge credit to Wildwood Kin. We are off to a flying start as they open with new a new song Headed For The Water which showcases their spellbinding harmonies and then it is straight into familiar territory with Steady My Heart. The crowd is captivated from the get-go; only when the unfortunate moments of the balcony doors that adjoin Academy 1 to Academy 2 open and we hear the louder sounds of the other gig downstairs spoil it. Luckily the sounds of Wildwood Kin is at a great volume during the songs and the mood is not dampened. There is great interaction with the crowd and Run even gets a singalong. It is really hard not to get into this gig as the girls really do gel off each other which is lucky as they say never work with family. If you are unfamiliar with Wildwood Kin, the trio is made up of sisters Beth and Emilie Key and their cousin Meghann Loney.
Meghann takes the lead with most of the onstage banter especially during the somewhat frustrating moment for Beth and the failure of her bouzouki which leads to a quick set change and we jump ahead to another new track called Wake Up Sleeper but we do then get a pretty hilarious rundown of the bouzouki and their “pleasantly awkward” conversation, however I think it gives them a certain edge and even their sound engineer Josh gets a special appearance due to it! If things go wrong in a show then take notes from Wildwood Kin in how to get a show back on track! The bouzouki is fixed and the girls do not need to rejig the set as much as we thought and we are back on track with Warrior Daughter.
Plagued with technical problems and battling with sound from the other venue, the girls are running against curfew but the crowd are having none of it. Security look a bit worried as the chants are pretty loud for an encore and do not waver so not to disappoint Beth, Emilie and Meghann return and give us a warm rendition of Valley allowing the gig-goers to leave happier which shows as they then pretty much engulf them at the merch stand afterwards.
It was my first time seeing Wildwood Kin I would definitely would see them again and if we were faced with the same problems I would be happy. In fact, they could decide to leave all their instruments at home and do the whole gig with just their voices and chat here and there, though the way they play their instruments definitely does add a certain touch more.
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