KANKYŌ ONGAKU | JAPANESE AMBIENT, ENVIRONMENTAL AND NEW AGE MUSIC. 1980–1990 | REVIEW

Kankyō Ongaku (Various Artists) | Japanese Ambient, Environmental and New Age Music | Review

Review by: Jimmy Hutchinson

Ambient music’s origins lie in Erik Satie’s ‘furniture music’, which was designed to blend with atmospheric noise (the sound of cutlery during dining, for instance) rather than serving as the focus of attention. The term ‘ambient music’ itself was then first used by Brian Eno (whose pioneering albums include ‘Discreet Music’, ‘Ambient 1: Music for Airports’ and ‘Ambient 4: On Land’) in the 1970s. ‘Ambient’ has evolved over the subsequent years to become a byword for ‘atmospheric’, and the label often overlaps with modern classical, music concrète,  jazz, post-rock, drone and even techno. There are often debates about whether or not rhythmic elements can exist in ambient music, but suffice it to say that the selections for this album appear to have been made on the basis of what sounds good, rather than overly rigid definitions.

Like Scottish whisky, ambient music is a phenomenon that has been greatly appreciated, explored and reverse-engineered in Japan. This compilation of Japanese ambient music recorded in the 1980s was assembled by Spencer Doran from Visible Cloaks. It features an elegant front cover and a title that means ‘environmental music’.

Many of these tracks call the natural world to mind, whether it’s in their titles (Takashi Toyoda’s ‘Snow’ and Interior’s ‘Park’) or in their sonic characteristics (Yellow Magic Orchestra’s ‘Loom’ features the sound of dripping water, and Akira Ito’s ‘Praying for Mother/ Earth Part 1’ prominently incorporates the sound of running water underneath its gentle wash of synths).

Joe Hisaishi’s ‘Islander’, meanwhile, is reminiscent of Terry Riley’s ‘A Rainbow in Curved Air’, and closing track ‘Original BGM’ by Haruomi Hosono is a not-so distant cousin of the pieces on 1978’s Music for Airports. However, it’s natural that musicians working in this period would show the influence of such prominent figures, and while they share sonic characteristics, these are not slavish imitations and are worthwhile compositions in their own right.

One of the highlights is Hiroshi Yoshimura’s ‘Blink’: an extremely delicate piece played on electric piano with a barely audible synth accompaniment. In less than five minutes, it creates a very unique and beautiful atmosphere.

In an unusual move, Light in the Attic Records has limited the digital version of the album to just ten tracks, rather than the full set of 23. This frustratingly obliges the listener to invest in one of the expensive physical formats in order to hear the full compilation. However, the double CD and triple vinyl releases include an essay by Spencer Doran and extensive liner notes, so are bound to attract collectors.

THIS IS TOMORROW FESTIVAL | MAY 2019 | Newcastle Exhibition Park | REVIEW

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!

PILE | Green and Gray | ALBUM REVIEW

Pile | Green and Gray | Album review

Review by: Graeme J. Baty

Pile return with Green and Gray bringing a softer edge, yet retaining their distinctive alternative-rock guitar god sound. Lead singles Hair and even Bruxist Grin hint at a mellower approach but don’t be fooled there are some moments of sheer intensity that will send shivers up your spine.

Pile have managed to carve their own distinctive sound, the type that proliferated 90s alternative scene, just damn fine guitar-based music that has in recent years has fallen out of favour. It’s not unreasonable to compare them to Built To Spill, bringing elements of Shellac chaos and Jesus Lizard hooks or maybe even some Pavement. Fans of said bands will find a comfortable home with this music and also that they have discovered one of the USA’s best-kept secrets. Pile have been around since the mid-2000s and have built a following and reputation with their previous six albums.

Firewood is a slow building opener, seemingly confirming my suspicions that this might be a chilled record. Those suspicions are happily crushed on the following track; Your Performance a complex math-rock-esque stomper.

On a Bigger Screen brings pure venom and throat ripping performance from Rick Maguire and gives confirmation that the album will not be a slow plodder. This is fantastic stuff! A Labyrinth With No Center brings a lush singalong anthem that twists, distorts and delights.

The Soft Hands of Stephen Miller is another colossal vocal performance of sheer ferocity and anger at the hypocrisy of the subject matter, to the point where you can imagine his vocal cords being permanently damaged. It’s an incredible performance beautifully captured by the engineer. The mid part of the record is a riotous affair and shows them at their strongest.

No Hands brings the record full circle to a mellow close. It’s an incredibly well-written record and masterfully sequenced. They are truly the new kings of alternative rock.

Available via Bandcamp and the usual outlets with a vinyl version coming soon pile.bandcamp.com/album/green-and-gray 

ROISIN MURPHY | 19.05.2019 | Newcastle Boiler Shop | REVIEW and PHOTOS

Roisin Murphy – 19th May 2019 – Newcastle Boiler Shop

Review by Lee Hammond. Photos by Victoria Wai

As a precursor to her slew of festival shows in the weeks and months ahead, Roisin Murphy decided to warm up for these in Newcastle. Opening tonight are duo Audiobooks, the pair initially don’t strike you as a typical duo and their music reflects that. Acclaimed and in demand producer David Wrench’s beats are crisp and clean, and they sound particularly pleasing in this wonderful venue. However, the same cannot be said for the bewildering Evangeline Ling whose vocals rather than enhancing the beats they sit atop, instead fail to enthuse.

Their sound is definitely unique but perhaps not in the right way, the culmination of their set sees Wrench shredding through a plethora of riffs whilst Ling screeches through the final track. The build up to Roisin Murphy’s set starts the best part of fifteen minutes before she even takes to the stage, a palette cleansing drone that slowly builds accompanied by looping visuals. As the lights dim and the band take the stage, Murphy makes her grand entrance opening with House Of Glass. This heavy number setting the tone for what is to come.

It’s a night of many costume changes, Murphy’s on stage wardrobe is truly impressive. Personal favourites Demon Lover and Ten Miles High featuring early in this superb set. However, by far the best costume and accompanied song is Plaything, as Murphy carries her silver ‘plaything’ around the stage. Sparking a significant crowd reaction as she twirls it around, it’s not just about that however as the song itself is particularly vibrant and packed with unbridled energy.

That is true of most of this fervent set, with Murphy barely stopping to draw breath the majority of the time. Without doubt she is in incredible form tonight, closing out her set with Overpowered and Flash Of Light you cannot help but be overcome by her style and manner. She has this crowd hanging off her every word, as they dance their night away. Roisin Murphy proves without a doubt how truly brilliant she is tonight with this insanely impressive set, it’s predominantly effortless her costume changes her relentless excitement all of which rubs off on to this elated crowd.

PHOTO GALLERY

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Images Copyright Victoria Wai. For permission to use these images please contact victoriawai.co.uk

ULVER | Drone Activity | ALBUM REVIEW

Ulver | Drone Activity | Album review

Ulver Drone Activity
Ulver Drone Activity

Review by: Jimmy Hutchinson

Norwegian band Ulver’s name means ‘wolves’, but stylistically they are chameleons. Beginning their career in the 1990s with a trilogy of black metal albums, they then opted for a starkly different electronic approach in the new millennium with Perdition City. Next, they experimented with modern classical and ambient on 2007’s Shadows of the Sun , before digging out the guitars again for the post-rock-flavoured ATGCLVLSSCAP in 2015, and then settled on a synth-pop direction for the following year’s The Assassination of Julius Caesar. Keeping up so far?

Drone Activity, as the name suggests, sees Ulver adopting a more minimal approach. Recorded live but heavily edited in the studio (in a manner similar to the largely improvised ATGCLVLSSCAP), this year’s album consists of four pieces which are all over 15 minutes long.

‘True North’ starts proceedings with an appropriately chilly drone piece, punctuated by dissonant guitar chords in its later stages. ‘Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea’ incorporates some subtle rhythmic elements and electronic effects, gradually increasing in intensity. It’s interesting enough, if a little overlong. ‘Blood, Fire, Woods, Diamonds’ occupies similar territory. Ulver’s sonic palette is richest on closing track ‘Exodus’, which briefly shifts in tone halfway through to incorporate arpeggiators and bell-like tones, before an ominous low-end storm erupts.

Back in 2010, Ulver performed one of their first ever concerts at The Norwegian National Opera. The show was released on DVD the following year, and is much more akin to a ‘live album’ (in that it features previously released material performed in front of a live audience) than this collection. Here the band uses the concert space as a venue for improvisation. It’s unclear where the live performance ends and the studio work begins, but perhaps this work was more interesting to experience in its original live setting. Time will only tell if Ulver will continue in this vein for a while or promptly abandon electronic drone for something else.

Drone Activity is available from House of Mythology in a variety of formats, including several different coloured vinyl editions.

LUNGBUTTER | Honey | ALBUM REVIEW

Lungbutter | Honey | Album review

Lungbutter - Honey - album review
Lungbutter – Honey

Review by: Graeme J. Baty

I knew little about the band going into this review. The name grabbed my attention immediately. They have to be interesting with a name like Lungbutter right? A quick listen confirmed by suspicion. Some utterly delicious detuned guitar tones and spoken word groove of lead single Flat White appealed instantly. A slice of American alternative taking me right back to the 90s with a delightful mixture of Sleater Kinney and early period Sonic Youth, coupled with beat poet lyricism. The Montreal trio take that sound and reinvent it to something modern and thrilling. Utterly refreshing in a world of over produced cringe-worthy auto-tuned vocals. Lungbutter serve up primitive and thrilling sounds.

Bravo proves a highlight of the record with it’s catchy detuned hook that you can almost sign along to. Almost, I can confirm that you can dance to it as I am doing right now! Curtain is another standout. A one minute punk-rock  pounder.

Eleven songs in under 34 minutes gives the perfect length. Ensuring it’s not too much yet leaving you wanting more.

It’s a mighty fine debut offering some fabulous sounds that will be adored by those of us who still mourn the loss of Sonic Youth and the chasm their split has left in the alternative music world along with some deep lyrics to explore with repeated listens.

Honey is out on Constellation Records on 31st May 2019

THE WILDHEARTS | MASSIVE WAGONS | TOWERS OF LONDON | 12.05.2019 | Newcastle Riverside | REVIEW and PHOTOS

The Wildhearts | Massive Wagons | Towers Of London – 12th May 2019 – Newcastle Riverside

The Wildhearts - 12th May 2019 - Newcastle Riverside
The Wildhearts – 12th May 2019 – Newcastle Riverside

Review and photos by Graeme J. Baty from Blank Slate Creative

Well what can I say about this gig? The final night of The Wildhearts triumphant tour for the launch of their 2019 album Renaissance Men and some might say (not us at Blank Slate we’ve always been massive fans!) unexpected return to the big time.

Towers of London – 12th May 2019 – Newcastle Riverside

There was tremendous showmanship on display from the support acts. In fact, both Towers of London and Massive Wagons proved an absolute hoot to photo. So rather than just share a couple of pics from their sets I will add full photo galleries of each band’s set in separate features 🙂

Towers of London have also reformed and are enjoying themselves immensely by the looks of things. They ended their set with members of Massive Wagons joining them onstage for underpants dances and backing vocals on Fuck It Up. MW followed with their own set of high kicking rock anthems to a packed Riverside crowd, fans clearly here in numbers nice and early to see all of the bands.

Massive Wagons – 12th May 2019 – Newcastle Riverside

It’s my first time seeing The Wildhearts live in about 3 and a half years, although I’ve interviewed and covered solo shows during this gap, this is the first time I’ve been able to get to one of their gigs due to gig clashes, ill health or general bad luck!

The Wildhearts – 12th May 2019 – Newcastle Riverside

It’s a privilege to get the chance to photo and review a band that I’ve followed since I was about 14 years old when I heard Suckerpunch for the first time. They will always have a little spot in my heart with their catchy and timeless back catalogue of classics and barrage of riffs that send shivers down my spine each time I hear them.

The outro of Everlone is a great example of that, one of the finest pieces of rock riffage I’ve ever encountered. Which is no mean feat when you break down that song riff by riff, it’s shear quota of classic riffs eclipses many bands entire careers in just one song. It appears tonight second song in, nice and early. There was the expectation that they might not play some of the Earth Vs Material prior to the tour since they’ve played that material very heavily for its 25th-anniversary last year.

The Wildhearts know how to deliver a setlist with a selection that is sure to keep the diehards happy and entertain the casual fans. I haven’t bee able to get Dislocated out of my head for nearly a week now. It’s a pure slice of 2019 perfection, ‘I feel dislocated from your world’ is a sentiment I can relate to far too much. The world needs The Wildhearts. It’s a brutal barrage of a song that slides effortlessly into singalong choruses that only The Wildhearts can pull off. The more I hear it the more I adore it.

The Wildhearts – 12th May 2019 – Newcastle Riverside

It’s an ecstatic night and the whole band appear to be having the time of their lives. It was great to see Danny back there and grinning away. It truly is a remarkable sound that this gang of four chaps can make, the love for them is on clear display from the sold-out Newcastle crowd. Singing and dancing away for the entire set. Including the new numbers which gain a rapturous reaction.

The Wildhearts – 12th May 2019 – Newcastle Riverside

Renaissance Men will feature on many rock albums of the year list and quite rightly so. The Wildhearts were always super popular in Newcastle but now there’s an air of excitement and maybe some ‘I told you so’ smugness from the fans who have followed them religiously for years since they’re now getting more attention from media and a wider audience.

The Wildhearts – 12th May 2019 – Newcastle Riverside

The Wildhearts in whatever shape or form have always been brilliant and will always be one of Britains best rock bands. They deserve every ounce of praise they’ve earned from this tour and album. What a gig!

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PELICAN | Nighttime Stories | ALBUM REVIEW

Pelican | Nighttime Stories | Album review

Pelican | Nighttime Stories

Review by: Jimmy Hutchinson

Chicago quartet Pelican was formed in 2001, and this is their sixth studio album. Their music is generally pigeonholed as ‘post-metal’ due to its largely instrumental nature, although guitarist Trevor de Brauw is dismissive of labels.

The title track’s relentless heavy riffs are indicative of the band’s current aggressive direction, signalling ‘the resulting dread and anger’ that the band feels at the current cultural climate in America. The album’s title is borrowed from associated act Tusk, whose vocalist Jody Minnoch passed away in 2014. His chord voicings, song titles and structural ideas were a strong influence on the record.

The most initially striking elements of this album, however, are the gentler, more melodic ones: opening track ‘WST’ has a slight folk flavour. It was written as a tribute to guitarist Dallas Thomas’ recently deceased father. ‘I Stared at Me’ features delicate guitar lines and an almost bluesy slide part, before it comes to an abrupt stop at three and a half minutes. Closing track ‘Full Moon, Black Water’ starts quietly before a torrent of riffs erupts, but the piece comes to a fairly peaceful conclusion.

Elsewhere, ‘Midnight and Mescaline’ is more representative: it’s propelled along by strident drums and an army of guitars. Pelican’s sound on this album is at times slightly reminiscent of fellow Chicagoans Russian Circles, although they never quite achieve that seamless a balance of melody and dynamics. They don’t quite have the ambition of English post-metallers Bossk either, but it remains an entertaining set of thunderous guitar parts and intricate rhythms. The album is densely mastered for maximum impact, which is perhaps why the quieter tracks stand out.

Nighttime Stories is available in a variety of formats from the 7th of June.

HOLLYWOOD UNDEAD | LOATHE | 30.04.2019 | Newcastle O2 Academy | REVIEW and PHOTOS

Hollywood Undead | Loathe – 30th April 2019 – Newcastle O2 Academy

By Gordon Armstrong (G’s Gig Shots)

Hitting the stage in almost total darkness, Loathe came out and aurally kicked everyone’s head in!!! I had heard beforehand they were brutal but that didn’t prepare me for just how much! The five-piece performed the set with very little light on them making sure the Hollywood Undead audience sat up and listened! I loved how they managed to move from the heaviest of riffs to beautiful almost Deftones ambient melodies with ease! Definitely, ones to watch!

With the bottles of Newcastle Brown readied on the mic stands, headliners Hollywood Undead come out blazing with the back to back Whatever It Takes and California Dreaming from the V album and setting the bar early with the pyro front and rear stage second song in!

The masks are gone now but that doesn’t seem to matter to this sold-out crowd, many of whom are sporting their own anyway, as they bounce about and sing along to Undead, Renegade, Dead Bite and many more!

With their mash-up of Rock and Rap styles, there are bits of Linkin Park meets Eminem meets ICP meets Rammstein in here which makes a lot of the songs easy on first listen to catch on to

Band members bound about the stage swapping guitars and playing keys and samplers atop the risers with seemingly endless energy it’s hard to keep tabs on who’s doing what but it works well for them well thought out not chaotic the way it could easily be with so many on stage doing this. The bringing a crowd member on stage to play guitar seems a standard move at gigs these days but fair play to “Ben” he can play pretty well and the band kick in with a verse or two of Sweet Child Of Mine when he plays the intro then jams with the band and throws all the shapes during Comin’ In Hot!

Pyro, confetti/streamer cannons are accompanying the songs through the night not just being held back for finales or encore time so by the time the set ends with Broken Record and Here Me Now the air is akin to a festival with the smell of the fireworks lingering! The crowd take up the chant of “Everywhere I Go …” to get them back out for more which they oblige with said song of the chant and finishing on the guitar-driven Day of the Dead.

Exactly a week before this Papa Roach also played to a packed room here and I noticed many many of the same faces here tonight going just as crazy loving it!
It’s great seeing gigs of any genre doing well keeping the music scene healthy in our city.

PHOTO GALLERY

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Images Copyright Gordon Armstrong. For permission to use these images please contact G’s Gig Shots


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HIT THE NORTH FESTIVAL | 05.05.2019 | REVIEW and PHOTOS

Hit The North Festival – 5th May 2019 – Review and Photo highlights

Review by Lee Hammond. Photos by Victoria Wai (Victoria Wai)

It’s an early start but The Noise and The Naive successfully blow away any early cobwebs, this powerful duo tearing through an early set to an appreciative crowd. It’s difficult to fault their enthusiasm and fervour, they are indefinitely deserved of a much higher place up this packed lineup. That being said they undoubtedly won over a fresh set of fans this afternoon.

Such is the norm at this time of year Pip Blom opens the Think Tank stage this afternoon, another artist playing much lower down the bill than expected but she is also playing in Glasgow later today. Her set of grungy power pop is wonderfully executed, she and her band groove their way through these urgent and heartfelt tracks. Think Tank is packed to the rafters this early on, but it is certainly worth it. Her set is far too short but leaves everyone craving much more.

Los Angeles native Pearl Charles is next to grace the Town Wall stage, her dreamy Americana the perfect antithesis after two rowdy sets. Her supremely sweet voice emanating through this small room, casting her wonderful spell across everyone who quickly becomes mesmerised by her. With the likes of All The Boys and Sleepless Dreamer featuring in her set it’s hard not to be enamoured by her. This is definitely the perfect mid-afternoon festival set.

The Ninth Wave have continued to win over fans up and down the country, their sound has changed somewhat in the time they’ve been around as well as the band members. However, today their set is firmly routed in a dark groove as they thrill an enthused crowd who are all willingly and eagerly singing along to every word of songs old and new. They are certainly a band who are finally finding their footing and are quickly ascending the ladder to bigger things.

Next up are New York family band Bailen, the twin brothers and their sister. Are yet another breath of fresh air, settled somewhere between Fleetwood Mac and Vampire Weekend it’s a definite winning combination. The way the three of them harmonise together is exceptional, you quite quickly get lost in their wonderful songs as they have a wonderful sound. Without doubt they are by far one of the bands of the day even with so many other great things to come, we find ourselves completely blown away by them.

A band at the opposite end of the spectrum are next to take to the Think Tank stage, Lady Bird are one of the most talked about bands around right now. Today they make themselves known in spectacular fashion, with Think Tank one in one out there is barely any room to breathe. They take to the stage in typically upbeat fashion goading the crowd and whipping them up into an early frenzy. It’s quite clear that they’re proponents of a similar sound to IDLES, with a little Jamie T in there for good measure. It’s an intense and exciting set, they have an unrivalled power and passion alongside a spectacular stage presence. They are soon to be the band on everyone’s lips.

Sorry provide a completely different experience, their atmospheric tracks at times feel lost in the Boiler Shop. They struggle to gain the deserved gravitas from their intense sound, it doesn’t help that the sun is beaming in through the large windows. This feels like a set which would be much more at home in a small dark room, where the bands real passion has the ability to successfully permeate through the crowd. That aside, as Sorry warmed to their surroundings their set gathered pace, but it still lacked the urgency it needed.

The Blinders have consistently been one of the most talked about bands around, yet on tonight’s showing I’m still yet to understand it. Prior to taking to the stage they play out a call to arms but that’s where their political stance appears to end. Instead blustery fervour is backed by mediocre lyrics coated in reverb driven guitars. That said this is personal opinion, the rest of the crowd were head over heels for the Doncaster band.

Liverpool’s Zuzu was full of excitement as she bounced on to the stage, her enthusiastic stance has the crowd jumping and singing along from the off. Her excitement is truly infectious tonight as we get caught up in her glee as she bounds through her set with wild abandon. The same unfortunately cannot be said for Berlins’ Giant Rooks who really fail to deliver today, not through any fault of their own. You often see this through multi-venue events, they failed to pull any sort of crowd today. Despite putting on a show worthy of a sold-out crowd anywhere as they have the boiler shop quite literally shaking with the force of their sound.

The Mysterines are next in the Digital stage, it’s another fervent fuzz filled set. Lia is a true force to be reckoned with as she relentlessly grooves her way through the entire set, they’re a band who improve exponentially every time we see them. Their power and ferocity is incredible tonight they truly step up to the plate and wow this enthralled crowd. However, this is also where the evening takes a turn for the worse. Heading down to Riverside their programme is suffering from significant delays, Easy Life appear to have only just taken to the stage and are greeted by many bemused SOAK fans.

After waiting a significant amount of time we head up to see Lice, who prove to be one of the bands of the day. Jeering at people from the window of the Bridge Hotel, beckoning them in they quickly create a crowd. Their passionate own brand of punk rock is something to truly behold. Delivered with an angst and snarl, they prove why they deserve to be treated with a significantly higher regard. This enthusiasm, their madness and unbridled excitement is a real breath of fresh air. Without doubt one of the best bands of the day!

Heading back down to Riverside we find out that they are now running an hour and fifteen minutes behind, as SOAK finally takes to the stage Shame fans are beginning to fill the room. There is obviously a hefty disparity in styles and this unfortunately does not translate to the best crowd for the quiet Irish singer. She tries her best and gets through five tracks in twenty minutes before leaving the stage, it puts something of a dampener on what is otherwise an excellent day. The breadth of talent and style is incredible Hit The North have truly nailed it this year. In spite of any issues with timings as these things happen we really cannot wait for next year.

PHOTO HIGHLIGHTS by Victoria Wai

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Images Copyright Victoria Wai. For permission to use these images please contact victoriawai.co.uk