LIVING COLOUR | 24.07.2019 | Newcastle Riverside | REVIEW and PHOTOS

Living Colour – 24th July 2019 – Newcastle Riverside

By Gordon Armstrong (G’s Gig Shots)

1989 saw the release of Vivid the debut album from Living Colour. At that point 20+ year old me thought that he’d never hear as big a game-changing album as Van Halen 1 as that had turned rock guitar on its head and spawned a million finger tapping Eddie clones worldwide. However, that day when I took Vivid out of its cover I was absolutely floored the way this four-piece managed to mash up so many styles in one single album sometimes in just one song! I was once again excited by new music. Fast forward 30 years and the band are back in Newcastle for their second visit in two years to celebrate the three decades of this landmark!

Opening up though they chose a track from Stain their third album which was the first to feature the bass playing of Doug Wimbish (Sugar Hill Gang, Tackhead, on u sound and more) Ignorance Is Bliss is as fresh now as it was then and from the off both band and crowd are up for it!!!

Corey Glover then announces that for this celebration they are going to play the Vivid album in full in order much to everyone’s delight and without any further ado Vernon Reid cranks Out that all familiar riff of Cult Of Personality. It’s weird at first hearing this ( arguably their most famous song ) so early in the set as it’s normally the big set closer or encore but as it is side one track one they weren’t holding this one back! Corey’s voice is just incredible he can go from raw punk emotion to sweet soul in a heartbeat and shows no sign of weakening, in fact, it feels like it’s stronger than ever at the minute !! If you know the album you know the majority of the rest of the set, Middle Man still as huge a song as always, the light pop funk-rock of I Wanna Know and their take on Talking Heads Memories Can Wait highlight the bands genre-defying releases but as always it’s that anthem Open Letter To A Landlord that for me stands head and shoulders above many many bands attempts at writing powerful songs ! Corey holds the crowd spellbound as he sings those first few lines before they explode into the body of the song “you sent flowers to the family but your sympathy’s a lie” is still such a hard-hitting lyric aimed at those in power and their reaction to tragic events it gets me every time!!

They take the album through Broken Hearts & Glamour Boys to its frantic closer Which Way To America via the funktastic What’s Your Favourite Colour but we ain’t done yet

We head back to the Times Up album for a beautiful Love Rears It’s Ugly Head once again showcasing Corey’s vocal before smashing out a glorious Elvis Is Dead and Type (with a little snippet of Hound Dog in between) which has Will Calhoun absolutely beating the crap out of his drum kit proving throughout the night what a fantastic player he is!

No solo spots for anyone tonight just the songs in all their glory mixing punk rock rap soul-jazz hip hop funk in one big pot with no fear. Here’s to the next time gents!

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


KISS | 14.07.2019 | Newcastle Arena | REVIEW and PHOTOS

Kiss – 14th July 2019 – Newcastle Arena

 

By Gordon Armstrong (G’s Gig Shots)

“Aaaalllll Riggghhhht Nooocastle, You Wanted The Best …You Got The Best …The Hottest Band In The World … KISS!” And with that, all familiar announcement and a deafening barrage of pyro, the curtain drops and the Newcastle junction of The End Of The Road Tour is underway !!

The band that set the stage show bar high from their inception pulled out all the stops making sure that this final fling was going to be something that will be remembered for a long long time
The all familiar Detroit Rock City gets us underway with the band coming down from the rafters on platforms to the deafening roar of the Geordie Kiss Army. Of course, there’s flames, fireworks, lasers, more flames (so so hot at the front!!!) and jump out of your skin flash bombs in that opener than most bands could fit into a full tour and they weren’t done by a long way !!!
An absolute hit-filled set taken from 13 of their albums ( mostly KISS & Destroyer ) with the likes of the classic Shout It Out Loud, Calling Dr Love, later releases Say Yeah and Psycho Circus all held together by the master of frontmen Paul Stanley standing tall in those heels with every single member of that audience in the palm of his hand !! .

There are families here that have grown up on KISS music and many have brought their kids to see their first gig and what a way to start! It’s an absolute joy just looking around and seeing all ages here and so many of them “dressed to kill” for the occasion

Every song is a show stopper whether it’s Tommy firing rockets from his guitar during Cold Gin or Genes Fire Breathing And Blood spilling from the rafters there is simply something to make you go WOW with every note.

But unlike a lot of other stage shows this doesn’t detract from the songs Let Me Go Rock N Roll, Deuce, Lick it Up still get the crowd singing their hearts out every word! And the band themselves are absolutely on top form !! In fact quite possibly the best I’ve seen them in a very long time.

Paul Stanley still has all the moves and puts a lot of younger lads, me included, to shame with his onstage antics culminating in an arena length zip wire trip to the sound desk to belt out Love Gun and I Was Made For Loving You to the delight of those who had only seen him close up on the giant screens till then !!

It’s gonna be weird if this is definitely the end of the road as KISS have been a mainstay in the rock world and seen off so many naysayers especially here in the UK where they went from arenas and ice rinks, back to city halls ( mentioned numerous times tonight) then to festivals and arenas again ! So many bands exist solely because KISS caught their imagination I was once at a festival they were playing and every single band on the bill, and I’m talking big metal bands, were like giddy kids cos they were on the bill with KISS it was just crazy!!

The first encore is the only ballad of the night with Eric at the piano for Beth and there’s still something to be said for hearing thousands of voices singing along and lighting the place up with their phones

The night comes to a spectacular close with the anthem Rock N Roll All Night and the confetti cannon spewing out so much of the stuff I actually thought it was possibly broken, couldn’t see the stage through the blizzard of it at one point !!! And with that it’s done KISS LOVES YOU NEWCASTLE beams down from the screen and folk are still standing soaking in what they can of the last KISS show many of them may see.

A lot of my friends had spoken pre-gig of how they expected tears but to be honest they put on such an absolutely fantastic farewell all there were huge smiles everywhere I looked
I can honestly say if that turns out to be the last big show I photograph and write my thoughts on I can’t really complain Gene, Paul, Tommy, Eric, KISS, thank you in all your incarnations!!!

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

STEREOLAB | 20.06.2019 | Newcastle Boiler Shop | REVIEW and PHOTOS

Stereolab – 20th June 2019 – Boiler Shop

Review by Lee Hammond Photos by Gavin Wyatt

After a decade away the much loved Stereolab have finally returned, and so far on their tour they’ve wowed crowds across the UK and Europe. As they arrive in Newcastle tonight there is an excitement tinged with tension in the air, after the band had to cancel the previous two shows on the tour. However, the show tonight is still to go ahead, opening are Tomaga whose motoric beats quickly hypnotise this crowd into synchronised toe-tapping.

The duos incessant beats set the tempo for the rest of the night, the only issue being the pair seem to have one set groove and don’t deviate from that. It means that their set feels a bit flat, fortunately the same cannot be said for Stereolab who are welcomed to the stage with a rapturous reception by the packed crowd. Opening with Come and Play in the Milky Night they instantly have the crowd under their spell. Lætitia Sadier taking time out to thank the crowd in between songs as they erupt when she announces French Disko early in the bands set.

This set is packed with classic tracks and this is the first that invokes a huge sing-along from the entire crowd. These classic tracks making everyone swoon, the beautiful disco beats ringing out throughout the beautiful venue as the sun sets outside. The likes of Miss Modular and Ping Pong have similar effects on this crowd, both are tracks which prove why Stereolab have been lauded as so influential. Both tracks sound absolutely incredible tonight and have everyone dancing.

It’s rare in such a miserable and divided world to see such jubilation and excitement filling a room, but Stereolab achieve this with relative ease tonight. As their set builds to a climax the tracks become increasingly emphatic before they close out with Lo Boob Oscillator, this wonderful track caps off their set brilliantly. It’s euphoric tone enthusing the crowd the bouncing beats providing the perfect close to their set, which at times felt like a slow burn but in actual fact this was perfect as they gently ramped up the tempo to this amazing finish.

They use a similar tactic for the encore opening with The Extension Trip and closing out the night with the awesome John Cage Bubblegum. Tonight Stereolab are truly out of this world, a truly welcome return!

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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!

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.

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

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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