The Boiler Shop continues it’s now established a reputation for attracting stunning artists to the region. I can’t honestly say I’d ever expected to see thee Kenny Wayne Shepherd in Newcastle. This was one of those must-see shows! Judging by the sell-out (or very very close to a sell out) I am not alone in grabbing this opportunity by the bullhorns!
It’s an early show and the heavy summer rain ensure that everyone is sheltering in the venue enjoying a pint when support act Jarrod Dickenson and his wife Claire take to the stage for a rather humble and delightfully slow-paced set. Offering a sublime Americana, folk-tinged blues proving a perfect mellow start to the evening.
Kenny Wayne Shepherd is enough to draw in a crowd tonight but this is not just a Kenny show. He’s assembled a rather stunning lineup of musicians. In fact, it becomes quite a who is who of the blues-rock world! I’ll not go into the boring details but if you’re reading this I am sure you know who these chaps are and just how incredible a lineup it is.
They deliver a diverse range of songs, taking to the stage with a Women Like You, through to Turn to Stone. The evening seems to whizz by in the blink of an eye as they take to the stage for the encore. It’s a relatively short and succinct set, perhaps perfectly timed some might say. I was certainly left wanting more, although some of these types of shows can prove a marathon-esque task to get through. Not tonight, it’s a fast-paced pow-wow of a masterclass. Voodoo Chile ensures the guitar nerds get their fill of stunning playing with this massive and jaw-dropping version of the classic Hendrix song.
The second day of Wasteland festival had also been moved at short notice, tonight though the venue feels significantly cooler than last nights sweat box. Arriving in time for local band Holy Moly and The Crackers, they set about starting the party as early as possible. A fun packed set as they entertain this exuberant early crowd with their own brand of folk punk. Bounding round the stage in enthusiastic fashion it sets a huge precedent for everyone who is to follow them.
From a local band of reprobates to a lone man, Beans On Toast slopes on to the stage to an excited reception. Straight into tearing a strip off Donald and Boris it’s clear Beans On Toast is in the mood for a party, he rattles off a plethora of his better known tracks including the chant-along MDMAmazing, which never fails to induce a brilliant reaction. He then offers it out to the audience to request tracks, only to find most of those they’re after he can’t play.
It provides a fun end to a brilliant set, completely different to those that went before him, yet still no less compelling. There is no set style or genre tonight as next up are local legends The Wildhearts, personally requested by Frank Turner to play a special hometown show tonight. They’re a band who waste very little time in chatting, instead it’s heads down for this short set as they crank out riff after riff and hit after hit.
It’s a jam packed set, early on the brilliant Everlone has a multitude of heads nodding along in unison. With the likes of Suckerpunch quickly following after, new track Let ‘Em Go sees Frank Turner hopping on stage and bounding around in suitably ecstatic fashion as he helps out with this track. They power through to the end of this insatiable set, you’d be forgiven for assuming they were tonight’s headliners with a set as tight as this.
As the lights dim for the final time at this years Wasteland festival, Frank Turner and The Sleeping Souls file out on to the stage and immediately take the roof off with an astounding rendition of Get Better. It kick starts a hit filled set in which you can barely hear Frank and his band as Long Live The Queen, Photosynthesis, Polaroid Picture, Plain Sailing Weather all invoke massive sing-alongs.
There are few artists that can control a crowd in the way Frank Turner does, tonight he is on top form. Creating a circle pit, inciting deafening chants filled with heartfelt passion, for a moment it brings about that ecstatic feeling that takes you away from everything else. The odd track from Be More Kind softening the tone ever so slightly but he soon picks the pace back up.
The end of his set is an exceptional run through some of his most angst filled work, The Next Storm, Try This At Home, Recovery, I Still Believe and finally the ever brilliant Four Simple Words. It’s insane from start to finish this crowd moving as one, bouncing up and down to every beat. All lead in song by Frank, it is truly a sight to behold as we leave hoarse wishing it wasn’t over. Once again Frank Turner proving why he is one of the finest live acts in the country if not the world.
It was a night of everything from people drawing, to human keyboard stands and lyric prompters to even someone telling the audience that The Pixies were on the phone (well the ring tone was them!) but before all this we had an electrofused sitar set in the form musician Bishi donning a somewhat Morticia Adams/Cruella De Vil hairstyle. She’s got style, she’s got substance and she mesmerised us with things I never thought could be heard from a sitar.
The crowd were somewhat dumbfounded and some, once they finished telling each other about their evening meal, were under the spell of Bishi who loop pedals her vocals and commands the audience with power stances and stares which are quite a contrast for what was to come but one thing for sure, if you witness Bishi live, it is one name you won’t forget and I am imagining that maybe her own headline show will be something big and bolder than what we had on this night.
So, Emmy The Great. I was actually going to start this review with pure cheesiness by saying that yes, she is great and well, thank fook for that but what is it that makes her great?
This tour is the 10th Anniversary celebration of Emmy’s first album, First Love. In those tenyears she’s had a Second Love and other releases and is celebrating coming off maternity leave from having her first child and returned to Newcastle to play the first venue she ever played in this city. The night is all about celebration and reminiscing that there are some in the crowd that mouth every word that is sung by Emmy keeping her in check. If you follow Emmy on the socials, she’s made no secret that she has been somewhat suffering baby brain. She has also stated that she doesn’t like calling her fans ‘fans’ and this is what the night feels like. She’s connecting with those friends that you don’t see for a long time and when you do you just pick it up from where you left off, even for the 2-3 people in the crowd that have never seen or heard her play.
Emmy has her setlist ready which is simply a playback of First Love. She gives us a commentary of most songs including the MIA encounter which she says should have led to a sticky on the album as “cute but offensive!” The ‘interlude’ song, Easter Parade Part 2, follows where she jokingly invites the audience to top up their drinks and even exchange sketches as one gig goer, Jim, actually sketches throughout her set. She engages the audience as much as she can throughout on a personal level leading to great short exchanges, otherwise people are just living the album like they did ten years ago with many singing along especially that one audience member, Helen,right in her line of view nailing every word with the exception of Emmy just getting right into it and sings ‘fuck on your grave’ rather than ‘piss on your grave’ during the title track which then leads the room singing in chorus for the rest.
Closing the night she invites Gary on stage who at her show the previous night in Sheffield to take on the roll to steady her keyboard for the closing track of the night, Everything Reminds Me Of You. And as she goes to step off the stage to a thunderous roar she returns to sing the last song from the album which is City Song and then into three of the four bonus songs on the album. The album has a few extras in sound but tonight it is Emmy, her guitars, a keyboard and a roomful of ‘friends’ reminiscing the good times through heartbreak to celebrity references. It was one of the most relaxed and fun nights of music I have had and this is the first time in her 10year plus career that I got to experience the greatness of Emmy The Great live and surely it won’t be another ten until I get to do this all over again.
Govt Mule are a jam band that features a powerhouse lineup of musicians, including the Allman Brothers’ Warren Haines on lead guitar and vocals, Matt Abts leading the groove on drums with clockwork precision, Jorgen Carlsson on bass and Danny Louis on keys.
It’s difficult to predict what you’re going to get at a Mule gig – the band are renowned for taking a potential setlist of hundreds of songs on tour with them, they’re not encumbered by having any ‘anthems’ that they’re obliged to include. What you can guarantee is an evening that includes some deep cuts, unexpected covers, and extended jams all delivered with stunning musicianship.
The band decided to kick things off in an atmospheric fashion, starting the slow slide guitar led Hammer and Nails, then into Larger than Life and Whisper in Your Soul, which all showcased the band’s masterful control of dynamics, which would be a recurring theme throughout the night. The number of extended jams and slow-burning songs may have been a bit heavy to digest for a casual listener, but the Newcastle crowd (consisting of many well-known local musicians) appreciated the talent on show.
That’s not to say that the gig was simply an exercise in musical over-indulgence, there were still plenty of ‘hookier’ songs in the set too.’ Fool’s Moon’, ‘Slackjawed Jezebel’ and a pair of songs from the band’s new album Revolution Come, Revolution Go (‘Stone Cold Rage’ and ‘Drawn that Way’) were some of the highlights of the first set.
The second set included some exceptional cover versions, ‘Don’t let Me Be Misunderstood’ featured some mesmerising instrumental sections, ‘30 Days in the Hole’ elicited the obvious cheer from the crowd for the “Newcastle Brown will sure smack you down” lyric, but the highlight of the set was a goosebump-inducing rendition of the Allman Brothers’ ‘Soulshine’.
The band closed off the night with Warren Haines giving yet another slide guitar masterclass on a couple of blues covers, leaving the stage to rapturous applause, having given every musician in the room a kick up the arse to get practicing!
Hammer and Nails (The Staple Singers cover)
Larger Than Life
Whisper in Your Soul
Birth of the Mule
Stone Cold Rage
Drawn That Way
I’ll Be Creepin’ (Free cover)
Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood (Nina Simone cover)
Soulshine (The Allman Brothers Band cover)
Broke Down on the Brazos
Time to Confess
30 Days in the Hole (Humble Pie cover)
I Don’t Need No Doctor (Ray Charles cover)
Come On in My Kitchen (Robert Johnson cover)
Gonna Send You Back to Georgia (A City Slick) (Timmy Shaw cover)
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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 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!
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.
I’ll always be in awe of musicians and how they can get up on a stage in front of people and pretty much lay themselves out open and hope it pleases people. Even more so when it’s just one solo artist who doesn’t have a drummer/bass player etc to turn towards for support or to blame.
Newton Faulkner is currently one such solo performer having started out that way then having a touring band and also playing arenas in the last production of War of the Worlds he’s now back with a double “greatest hits” album featuring songs from the last decade of his releases (yeah really a decade!) and a number of cover versions that he has made his own over the years.
Newton arrives on stage to a huge applause “quite nice here innit?” he quips in a self-deprecating kind of way as if to say “not sure what I’m doing here” but as he starts his first number If This Is It it’s obvious why he is here and why the room is full. His voice is incredible almost not needing the mic it’s so powerful and his range is second to none. The set is made up of tracks from the hits album with a couple of new songs for good measure
At the merch stall, there was an odd item in the Tour Kazoo which was soon utilised by Newton when splitting the crowd into groups to perform separate parts of the song becoming a huge backing band with a kazoo section!
Not that he needed one mind you! this multi-talent at one point was playing a kick drum with his left foot chorus pedals with his right, a guitar melody with his left hand, drum pads with his right and remembering the lyrics he was singing. Impressive as I can’t even rub my belly and pat my head at the same time! He did mention having been accused of looping and/or miming in the past but having found myself hypnotised by his movements I can verify it’s all done live! Talented sod! Massive Attacks’ Teardrop is the first of the cover versions aired tonight and it is just an absolutely beautiful take on the song you could hear a pin drop as he performed it.
One of the things I love about Newton though is he is such a charming witty guy and he has a brilliant rapport with his audience chatting to a 1500 crowd like it was a few pals in a cafe or front room it’s that friendly. He leaves his little podium to perform at the side of the stage under a stark bulb saying he’s going back to where it all starts going right and plays I Need Something my favourite of his and the hairs stand up on my neck like the first time I heard it, just perfect.
Against The Grain showcases that vocal range hitting those high notes with ease and Jess Glynnes Million Reasons sounds amazing in this room it just fills it effortlessly.
Throughout the set he keeps cracking himself up just bursting out into laughter at little things. I’m not sure if it’s nerves or if he seriously still can’t believe people love to see him play or just the way his brain works throwing ideas around constantly! Either way, this just lends itself to his already likeable nature making this one of the most relaxed atmospheres I’ve been in this venue.
Dream Catch Me and a medley of covers including No Diggity, Send Me On My Way and of course Spongebob Square Pants have the audience on its feet but he’s not finished yet and he has the downstairs jumping up and down and balconies banging their heads ( no jumping on balcony for safety reasons haha) to the infectious Write It On Your Skin.
Once again using sections of the crowd to sing parts of Orange Skies the set closes and looking around the hall there’s nothing but warm happy smiles. Maybe it’s time to start prescribing live music to lift the spirits.
Thurston Moore Band – 20th May 2015 – The Cluny, Newcastle
This last year has been quite a retro period for me. Stephen Malkmus last summer, J Mascis in the winter and now Thurston Moore. It’s like I’m reliving the 90s, thankfully not in a purely retro throwback binge because these artists are still highly credible, relevant and active 20+ years on.
Sonic Youth are a band that I’ve been obsessed with since I started playing guitar back in 1997. Their music was unlike anything I’d ever heard and I was captivated with how they made those sounds. They became one of my all time favourites and still are to this very day. Which is saying something as I generally have a short attention span and move on to my next obsession pretty fast.
Many and various reasons over the years have led to me not being able to see Sonic Youth live, mainly financial and transport ones but I digress! At the time I thought to myself ‘not to worry they’ll be around forever, I’ll catch them next time’. Well, that proved a mistake so when Moore announced this intimate show I snapped up tickets.
Whilst many would have been hoping to hear some of the old Sonic Youth classics personally I was less concerned as Moore’s new material is tremendous. Thankfully the audience appeared to share my view and there were no calls for older and better-known songs to be aired.
I arrived really early to get a decent spot and was pleased to catch unannounced support artist Michael Chapman. An unknown to many (John Peel was a fan and played him) he’s been around for quite a while and has one hell of a back catalogue. Now in his 70s he still mesmerises with his guitar playing. An unsung guitar hero for sure. Masterful technique, if you close your eyes you can imagine he’s playing a 12 string, yet he creates that sound from 6 strings and makes it look easy in the process. His performance was a rare treat.
Next up the main event and a widely recognised guitar hero. The face of ‘cool’ alternative scene for the last 30 odd years. Towering above the other members of the band an ageing Moore is still a highly captivating performer. Catching eyes with him is quite an intense experience.
They kick off the night with ‘Forevermore’ which is one of the highlights of the recent album. The setlist is not much of a surprise looking at his previous concerts this year. However, we are treated to some new material. Moore joked at one point that they recorded their second album last week and it’s out next week. Or was he joking?! The set largely revolved around the new album ‘The Best Day’, which saw him shelve the Chelsea Light Moving name (they may return since no official split has been announced) and return back to Thurston Moore (Band).
Duel Jazzmaster harmonics bring a smile to my face for the intro to ‘Speak to the Wild’, which is an extruded version of a fairly straightforward song, in timeless Moore style it takes you on a journey; it bends, twists, wanders off on a tangent and returns effortlessly back to the point where it began.
‘Germs Burn’ proves rather special in a live setting with much more of a melodic punk vibe in a little tribute to the punk legends (The Germs but you guessed that already).
They play a new song without introducing it. It’s classic Moore with meandering arpeggios, really reminds me of some of the more laid-back tracks from Murray St period. Followed by some Sonic Youth style discordancy just to make sure everyone is awake.
Another new song is introduced as ‘Aphrodite’, a song full of swagger from what he states is the new album named ‘Rock ‘n’ Roll Consciousness’.
The band is phenomenal as you’d expect with a super talented percussionist such as Steve Shelley on hand to keep the band in check, embellish when it’s wig out time and reign them smoothly back into the next verse. On bass duties, Moore has recruited none other than My Bloody Valentine’s Debbie Googe. An incredible player and such amazingly hypnotic blue eyes.
I was standing next to Joseph from WAKE (a local band making waves in the music scene) when Moore noticed his 1970 t-shirt. “That’s a Stooges song you know?” says Moore dedicating the song to Joseph‚ and yes he does know as he’s a huge fan.
A relatively short set on paper, but in reality, they’re colossal works, with each song clocking in at well over the 5 minute mark, some twice that. After all these years it’s great to finally see one of the musicians that shaped my listening habits. Utterly fantastic.
EDIT Nov 2018: Extended photo galelry now added with previously unreleased photos!