This is Tomorrow Festival – May 2019 – Newcastle Exhibition Park
Review by Lee Hammond
Unlike the majority of the country Newcastle has long lacked a real festival, the recent growth of Hit The North and the first edition of This is Tomorrow showed the appetite for a festival in the North East. This years This is Tomorrow festival boasted a varied lineup with something for everyone, taking over exhibition park, just walking in you get the feel of your traditional British festival. Music blasting from all angles, a plethora of food stalls and bars, heading straight over to the Richard Hamilton stage local favourites A Festival, A Parade are just starting.
Their own brand of indie rock is the perfect way to start any evening at a festival. With nods to the likes of Mogwai and The Twilight Sad, it’s safe to say that they blow any early cobwebs away with this emphatic set. It’s dark and heavy yet pitched against the early evening sunshine it’s the perfect opening. Following on from this Nothing But Thieves are next up on the Graham Wylie Foundation stage.
With the majority of the crowd within the park at the time they’re all eagerly awaiting the arrival of Nothing But Thieves. It’s an excitable and enthusiastic set with the whole crowd singing along at the tops of their voices a sea of pogoing heads in front of us. For the band it’s their first show in a while but one which is met with an ecstatic reception. The likes of Sorry, Trip Switch and Wake Up Call are all firm favourites in this brilliant set.
Next up though are by far one of the liveliest bands on the entire lineup, Groundculture set about thrilling the crowd on the BBC Introducing stage. This intense and urgent set is something to behold as they tear through it at breakneck speed, their own brand of Rap Metal is greeted by an upbeat crowd. One of whom deciding to throw his shoe (which bounced off me), it’s a set filled with riffs and anger but one which is met with complete unbridled joy from the crowd as Groundculture add to this immensely diverse lineup.
Back over on the Richard Hamilton stage are Anteros who’ve recently released their debut album. It’s a sultry set with singer Laura Hayden initially teasing a security guard looking for a reaction. Unfortunately he remains stoic, the rest of their set is awash with upbeat tracks like Drive On and Breakfast providing the perfect antidote after the madness of Groundculture. They’re certainly a band on the up and this will not be the last we hear of these guys.
Closing out the BBC Introducing stage on day one are one of the finest bands around, Avalanche Party appear to be on the cusp of finally breaking through (although that has been said many times before). As they take to the stage an excited swarm of people gather around the stage in anticipation of a typically raucous set and they do not disappoint. Their heavy tracks underpinning Jordan’s vocals as he baits the crowd up on the barrier he towers over them. It’s a set that is without doubt one of the best of the day, every track loud and angry. They’ve honed their craft and deserve a huge break and yet again tonight they have undoubtedly won over a number of new fans.
Foals take to the stage to close out day one of This is Tomorrow, it’s an ecstatic and fervent set from the start as they open with On the Luna. Before quickly diving into the likes of Snake Oil and Olympic Airways, it’s a set which has the whole crowd screaming and bouncing along throughout. The band hit their stride early on and continue to ignite this crowd with every track, during Spanish Sahara there is an issue with one of the barriers in front of the stage. With a short break the band return to play In Degrees but the festival deem it not safe to continue with Foals set. In our collective minds this is the correct course of action, safety should always come first and is certainly the right move on this occasion.
So despite this ending on day one, day two at This is Tomorrow still goes ahead with yet another slew of top bands slated to appear. Arriving in time for Glasvegas, the Glaswegian rockers are just taking to the stage, in the main it is a set filled with tracks from their early days which is welcomed by this already packed crowd. The likes of Daddy’s Gone and Go Square Go providing the perfect anthems to get this rain-soaked crowd into the festival spirit.
Another Scottish band are next to take to the stage only this time on the Richard Hamilton stage. The Snuts are fast becoming a name to watch and judging by the sizeable crowd that has fathered they’ve already made an impact in Newcastle. With the crowd jumping along and singing back every word it proves to be a riotous romp in the mud for the Scottish quartet keeping the party going on this miserable afternoon.
On the Graham Wylie Foundation stage next though are the always brilliant Ride, in some ways it feels only right that the sky is still overcast with the rain unrelenting. Opening with Leave Them All Behind this ever filling crowd immediately join in, it’s a set which really cannot be faulted with tracks like Vapour Trail and Kill Switch providing the soundtrack to this soaked afternoon in Exhibition Park. Ride are without doubt one of the bands of the day though on day two of This is Tomorrow.
The next band on the Graham Wylie Foundation stage provide one of the surprises of the day. Editors have always had a reputation for exciting live sets, however, today they appear to take it to a new level. In a set laden with older material they have this crowd in full voice, singing along to the likes of Blood, Papillon and An End Has A Start. Add into that new track Frankenstein and they put on an exceptional show, in amongst all of these other bands today they really shine through with this performance and it appears to be a real return to form.
Swine Tax are next up on the BBC Introducing stage and with the weather brightening its a politically charged and anger filled set from these guys. The likes of Tory Water is a particular highlight as they thrilled an enthralled crowd. They are certainly one of the best bands that the North East has to offer right now and today’s performance just compounds that statement!
The only criminally under attended set of the day though is Pip Blom’s (it almost definitely has something to do with it clashing with The Vaccines). Her set of vibrant grunge-tinged punk is as ever scintillating and exciting, her and her band always appear to be having the best time and even with a small crowd she still thrills everyone. It’s a brilliant set that is fuelled by tracks from her yet to be released debut album. For those who were there they will surely attest to how brilliant and upbeat this set was. Pip Blom is certainly a star of tomorrow and we cannot wait to hear more from her in the very near future.
Closing out day two of This is Tomorrow is one of the undisputed kings of Brit Pop Mr Noel Gallagher. Taking to the stage with his High Flying Birds, the whole crowd erupts as he kicks straight into Fort Knox. His solo material is a complete step away from Oasis and a welcome change, sonically it is so much more interesting and exciting and this shows through in the early part of the set with the likes of Holy Mountain and She Taught Me To Fly really shining through early on.
However, it would be a huge miss for him not to delve into the Oasis back catalogue and he indulges this packed crowd with the likes of Talk Tonight and Little By Little. The sound of the crowd outweighs the band hugely during these moments. More solo material is then followed by a huge section of Oasis classics, leading to Gallagher saying it’s like being in the greatest karaoke bar in the world. The likes of Wonderwall, Stop Crying Your Heart Out and Don’t Look Back in Anger providing an immense way to end the second day of This is Tomorrow.
With the return of the sun comes day three, after an incredible closing set the night before hopes are high for the final day. Embrace take to the stage with a set packed with some of their biggest tracks particularly Gravity which is met with an almost deafening singalong. As well as Ashes it’s a feel good set to kick the final day off and sets us up for everything else that is to come.
The next act on the Graham Wylie Foundation stage was arguably one of the most talked about artists in the UK right now. Lewis Capaldi is the name on everyone’s lips right now, whether it be for his music or his Instagram presence. The incredibly funny singer bounds on to the This is Tomorrow stage to a heroes welcome. Launching himself down the ramp in a ‘Naomi Campbell’ style munch to the delight of his fans. His set though is incredibly impressive, when you remove the daft behaviour and boil it down to his music alone he deserves all of the hype. His short but brilliant set is definitely one of the best of the weekend!
Continuing what they dub Scottish hour The Lafontaines are next to take to the Richard Hamilton stage. It’s a completely different musical affair one which is significantly more intense and fervent. One thing that must be said for The Lafontaines though is they certainly know how to build a crowd, with singer Kerr Okan our in the crowd enticing more people in and it works a treat. Quickly amassing a huge crowd as they continue Scottish hour in style. Their forceful set really sets them apart from the rest of this lineup as they win over a bunch of new fans this afternoon.
Johnny Marr needs no introduction nor hype and his set today is faultless. Wondering down the ramp with his Fender Jaguar, holding it aloft much to the delight of this entire crowd. It’s a mixture of his own material and The Smiths much like Noel the night before it is all met with emphatic singalongs, the likes of Bigmouth Strikes Again and This Charming Man will undoubtedly be years for miles around. Equally the likes of Getting Away With It and Hi Hello are also personal favourites. Marr himself seeming appreciative of the crowds enthusiasm and involvement in his set. Without doubt one of the best sets this weekend by far.
Closing out the weekend are the Stereophonics with another set filled with crowd pleasers. The likes of Step On My Old Size Nines, Maybe Tomorrow and Handbags and Gladrags are all well received and at that point we decide to call it a night. This is Tomorrow has well and truly shone this year an excellent festival throughout with such a wide range of bands with countless highlights. We cannot wait to do it all again next year!