CAPE CUB | JOYYA | 29.10.2018 | The Cluny | REVIEW and PHOTOS

CAPE CUB | JOYYA | 29.10.2018 | The Cluny | REVIEW and PHOTOS

Cape Cub and Joyya – 29th October 2018 – The Cluny

By Victoria Wai (Victoria Wai)

It felt like a triple headliner with this gig as Shamu bought in heavy synth-rock sounds then contrasting with their electro-pop were duo Joyya and contrasting yet again was headliners Cape Cub bringing dream-pop to a packed out Cluny.

I have seen Cape Cub a few times now and each time they just seem to get bigger – and that’s not only in crowd numbers but also in the whole production. Before they started the crowd was ecstatic and to add to the intensity the house lights go a deep blue as Chad and the band echo with Keep Me In Mind then into their latest single Moonglow. Every song delivered is catchy. Watching the band interact on stage, coupled with the light show it felt euphoric. It did not feel like we were in this intimate space of The Cluny.

I believe I have said this before but Cape Cub are definitely made for bigger venues so catch them in these small ones while you can. They always play with such conviction and their interaction with the audience whether if it is through personal shout-outs or just in the feel of their lyrics is something to be witnessed. They end with their biggest hit to date, Flowers, and although you want more (and there were chants from the whole room for more) they always seem to end the show on the perfect high, that even if they didn’t come back, you are left knowing that you got the value of true musicianship. 

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KOLARS | 02.11.2018 | Newcastle Head of Steam | REVIEW and PHOTOS

KOLARS | 02.11.2018 | Newcastle Head of Steam | REVIEW and PHOTOS

Kolars – 2nd November 2018 – Newcastle Head of Steam

By Victoria Wai (Victoria Wai)

‘She dances on the drums!’ I actually knew nothing more than this of Kolars when I heard of them back in May but unfortunately could not see them. This played on my mind since then so when I saw they were in town when I was I just knew I had to see them. I played their debut self-titled album on the run-up to the show and got more and more excited and to secure a photo pass for the show was an extra bonus. 

Showtime came and the excitement went up to 12! Kolars have a strong following and every space on the floor was filled. The intensity of their music overtook my finger clicking on the shutter of my camera. I wanted to capture that excitement the best I could. Lauren and Rob played with such intensity and such passion. It was hard not to get caught up with every second.

While Lauren tap danced and banged those drums, Rob duetted with some members of the crowd and even got into the crowd. It was one big party and it was a wonder how Lauren and Rob kept up the energy while we were watching in awe of their energy. Kolars are infectious not only on the ear but also visually and a whole new experience is brought to life having their desert disco, glam-a-billy and space blues around, no matter if it is your first time or your twentieth time seeing them play live. 

If ‘dancing on the drums,’ is enough to get you to see Kolars then put them in your list of ‘100 things to do before you die,’ or even if you just saw that Kolars are playing, you should prioritise them as they are not to be missed now that you have read it here. 

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LORD HURON | MALENA ZAVALA | 28.10.2018 | Gateshead Sage | REVIEW and PHOTOS

LORD HURON | MALENA ZAVALA | 28.10.2018 | Gateshead Sage | REVIEW and PHOTOS

Lord Huron and Malena Zavala – 28th October 2018 – Gateshead Sage

By Victoria Wai (Victoria Wai)

I’m not going to lie, I attended this show as soon as I saw Malena Zavala as the support. She came to my attention when I was seeing another band play at the Hoxton Square Bar and Kitchen last August and she blew me away with her hypnotic sounds of dreamy vocals and extended instrumentals. I also caught her at Hit The North and The Great Escape earlier in the year with a bigger band and on this night she was stripped back to a three-piece band who we were told had only been like that a few weeks prior and it felt tight. The whole set was stunning and they had captured the hearts of those in attendance.

Onto the main act, Lord Huron. If it wasn’t for Malena, this band would have slipped through my hands, so thank you Malena! I was pretty much blown away and caught up with the energy of the standing area of Hall One. They filled up Hall One with intense energy with their Indie Rock sounds tinged with blues. Lead singer Ben Schneider moved freely when he could cross from one side of the stage to the other and sometimes losing his hat through the sheer passion in his performance.

You could feel this passion in the other members too but they were more stuck into their positions. And if lights are your thing when you go to gigs then a Lord Huron show will not let you down as it was one of the most spectacular light shows I have seen and with the added smoke it added to the intensity of one of the most stunning shows I have seen in this venue – from support act to main act – this night had it all. If you were like me and this was your first experience of Lord Huron or if you have yet to experience Lord Huron, take it from me, you will NOT be disappointed both musically and visually.

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FICKLE FRIENDS | 25.10.2018 | Northumbria Institute | REVIEW and PHOTOS

FICKLE FRIENDS | 25.10.2018 | Northumbria Institute | REVIEW and PHOTOS

Fickle Friends – 25th October 2018 – Northumbria Institute

By Victoria Wai (Victoria Wai)

We were spoilt with supports on this night with local seven-piece outfit Picnic bringing the party vibes to the pretty full Northumbria Institute. There were a few in attendance that were already familiar with this band and those that weren’t were leaving as new fans. From the jazzier vibe to the ‘indie meets dirty pop’ vibes Leeds based band Marsicans slotted in the middle. Their energy was infectious and the crowd fed on it. We had half an hour between each act which on a positive note meant no one had to worry about missing a moment by being in queues and that definitely showed by the time headliners Fickle Friends were due on stage as it was a tight squeeze milling around the first six ‘rows,’ of this standing room only gig.

The excitement was building and the stage looked like a garden centre which looked great surrounding the bands equipment. Though as the stage is quite big in this venue when Fickle Friends came on it felt that more plants were needed or at least the band could have been brought a metre or so forward as there seemed to be some distance from the crowd. However, that did not take away from the enthusiasm of the fans and that of lead woman Natti Shiner, who deserves a lot of credit as the date before had to be cancelled due to her having come down with a virus.

With this in mind, she tells the crowd early that they need to get behind her and they scream back their support as we lead into Brooklyn after a stomper of a start with Bite and Wake Me Up. You could feel the love from the crowd and you could see and feel that the band were not going to let them down.

With their seemingly ‘happy indie pop’ sound, Fickle Friends lyrics run quite deep and before they kick off Hard To Be Myself, Natti tells us “don’t be afraid to talk about mental health because idiots online say it’s fashionable…it’s not fashionable but its because awareness is spreading.” And the message is strong especially when you see the audience is mainly of the teen to thirties age. The song itself is a bit like social anxiety in itself and to see it performed live is a great feeling to witness as the whole crowd sing in unison, “so just tonight, what the fuck.” And what a way to release those feelings inside for those few moments in an upbeat song. This is the joy of Fickle Friends, they make the negative feel positive in their deliverance and the audience feel it more so live. Later a guy screams out, Say No More, and Natti and the band oblige with this song of escapism. It is such a feel-good moment (as is the whole night to be fair).

The whole room sing back in chorus to You Are Not Alone and Natti comes down to the barriers to get closer to the crowd. Fickle Friends are an infectious group of people that those at the barriers want to take that home with them as they reach out to her. And as Natti stated earlier in the night, she is normally ‘more professional’ and if you did not know she was recovering from that virus, she and her friends Sam, Harry, Chris and Wilson could not have been more professional if they tried, as they covered every inch of that big stage delivering ‘banger after banger,’ and the audience that came felt every second of it.

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ARCANE ROOTS | BRYDE | 22.10.2018 | Newcastle Think Tank | REVIEW and PHOTOS

ARCANE ROOTS | BRYDE | 22.10.2018 | Newcastle Think Tank | REVIEW and PHOTOS

Arcane Roots and Bryde – 22nd October 2018 – Newcastle Think Tank

By Victoria Wai (Victoria Wai)

By the time you read this Arcane Roots are no more. On Monday 22nd October they played the penultimate night of their ‘farewell tour’ at Newcastle’s Think Tank before parting ways and moving onto separate ‘long-term projects.’

I felt a bit of a fraud. This was my first time seeing them. Many had gathered as they have followed them a lot longer than myself some even from day one, including local band Boy Jumps Ship, who were in attendance for this last hurrah. The anticipation was high with the venue being fairly packed before support act Bryde came on. Nobody wanted to miss a single moment of this night.

Bryde, AKA Sarah Howells, quietly stepped onto the stage as audience members were in deep conversations but as soon as she said ‘hello’ the room fell with a magical silence as she opened her set with Wouldn’t That Make You Feel Good. I have seen Bryde a number of times over the past few years. The first time I saw her she played solo. It was just her and an electric guitar. The other times following she was backed by a drummer and bassist/synth player. But on this tour it was like that first time and I am unsure if it was because this was the farewell tour for Arcane Roots or it was just the presence of Bryde and her music that had the crowd under a spell. There was no sound except claps of approval after each song in this strong half-hour set running through songs from her Welsh Music Prize nominated album of the year, Like An Island, and new song On The Subject Of Breathing. If Arcane Roots were not advertised as the headliner you could have been mistaken that this was Bryde’s headline gig.

The room became tighter and lights went out as smoke filled the stage for the trio Arcane Roots. The intensity of the room became, well, more intense as the echo of the guitar and keyboards filled the room to a dully red-lit stage. The haunting vocals of Andrew Groves immediately captured our breath, then the stage lights up between the smoke making the two other bandmates Adam Burton and Jack Wrench visible as well as  long-term friend and guest vocalist Emily Denton, as they open with the more electro-fused version of Before Me (Over) from the specially released Landslide EP with Matter (Revel) following straight after.

Long-term fans (and critics) held their last album Melancholia Hymns to mixed reviews with some believing the absence of heavy riffs took away what Arcane Roots became known for but if you were to witness this tour, this sound could not have been more perfect. The vocals of Groves are spellbinding. The instruments (bass, synths, drums, keys, acoustic guitar) and the dark smokey setting made the night feel ‘otherworldly.’ The room was packed but it was like your soul was in a dream-scape and you were alone. I have visited Think Tank on numerous occasions. On those occasions, you could be annoyed hearing someone near you talk or even the cash register and glasses clink due to the intimacy of the room but this night with these musicians these noises felt absent. Nobody dared spoil this moment.

Bryde is welcomed back to the stage for Indigo as Groves introduces her as, “Pissing all over them,” using the term very loosely to describe her opening support slot as a great introduction to their set. Emily Denton also rejoins for Rouen from their 2012 album Left Fire, which originally is a lot heavier than we witness on this night. This version with Emily on vocals is hypnotic that it makes you wonder if you really want to go really want to go back to the original version. Other notable heavier songs are Solemn and Belief but this tour was bringing them in a stripped back form which was perfect to how the Landslide tour was being delivered. It was also perfect as it allowed for more a connection with their fans, as Groves points out, they normally ‘have the plastics things stuck in their ears.’ So this more intimate setting allowed them to be closer to their fans. We were also treated to Winters Wept which is a song that has been ‘made up of songs littered in the spaces between song(s)’ from the Blood & Chemistry days. This tour would be the first time the song would get its live outing.

The Landslide tour was definitely the perfect way for Arcane Roots closing this chapter of their musical life on a high.

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DIONNE WARWICK | 24.09.18 | Gateshead Sage | REVIEW

DIONNE WARWICK | 24.09.18 | Gateshead Sage | REVIEW

Dionne Warwick – 24th September 2018 – Gateshead Sage

By Victoria Wai (Victoria Wai)

As a music photographer first and foremost, I respect the ‘first three numbers — no flash’ rule especially the latter as it can be blinding not only to the performers but also to the audience. As a music fan, I like to take away something from the night too — just a handful of photos and with respect to other paying ticket holders, I would never hold a camera/phone up too long and it seems Dionne Warwick understands the world of social media that she tells the packed Hall One of The Sage, Gateshead, that she “doesn’t mind you doing it as you’re going to do it anyway!” But namely of videos she says, “I’m singing my heart out for you…and what you’re hearing is not what your friend is going to be hearing.” This gets a rapturous applause and as the night went on, I felt myself with less urge to use the camera but THIS was Dionne Warwick SOUL LEGEND I was witnessing in the same room, that a few photos were taken.

Before the music starts Ms Warwick tells us that we will be sitting for a long time as they have put together a very long medley trying to squeeze in every song someone would want. In this ten minute or so introduction, her band tinkers away in the background and then we open with a talking version of Thank Heaven For Boys And Girls before breaking into song for Don’t Make Me Over into a chorus of Hall One signing to Walk On By. We were literally getting the ‘best of’ Dionne Warwick and it felt like a dream, even the visuals in the background added to this dreamscape as the lights were shining like roses blooming throughout different parts of a day then into a clear blue midnight sky with stars as she goes into You’ll Never Get To Heaven.

It is no wonder why Dionne Warwick has been put on that pedestal as one of the all-time greats. She has you in awe in her deliverance of so many songs that we are familiar with as hers and even some that we would associate to other greats like, B. J.  Thomson’s version of Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head and Close To You which is probably most noted to The Carpenters. Then there is I Say A Little Prayer which was a huge hit for Warwick back in 1967 but also the late great Aretha Franklin and on this tour it gets a lovely reworking as a duet with her son, David, who is also the drummer in the band. Dionne’s musical genes were definitely passed through the family.

A personal highlight and a song that had me on the edge of my seat and jaw ache through smiling was Do You Know The Way To San Jose which is performed to a salsa beat as the venue lit up in a brilliant red which had some on their feet shimmying along. This vibe is later showcased with Ms Warwick herself as she sways her hips across the stage to Aquarela do Brasil. Her talent is never-ending. Warwick oozes charisma in song and in her interaction with the audience. She makes you feel part of the show. Every time the word Heartbreaker is sung (to the song of the same name) the house lights shine on the whole of Hall One and she even lets us take the lead. There are a few moments where there is personal interaction including a few comical moments when someone drops something with a big thud and she tells them to “stay out” filling the house with laughter, to a moment when an audience member calls her son ‘sexy,’ which remains a running joke throughout the night. There may have been moments of tears too and that moment came to me with I’ll Never Love This Way Again in the way it was performed. The stage goes dark. The backdrop fills with ‘glistening stars’ and Dionne Warwick is in the spotlight. The beauty of this moment left me emotionally breathless with a twinkle of a tear.

Another special moment was the introduction of her special guest, her granddaughter, Cheyenne Elliot – daughter to her drummer son David. The duets of Love Will Find A Way, Let There Be Love, What The World Needs Now and That’s What Friends Are For are not only special moments to those on stage but also to us in the audience with the latter being the perfect ending to a most special evening witnessing three generations of a special family (and band members) in a most beautiful setting.


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PALE WAVES | 22.09.18 | Newcastle Boiler Shop

PALE WAVES | 22.09.18 | Newcastle Boiler Shop

Pave Waves – 22nd September 2018 – Newcastle Boiler Shop

By Victoria Wai (Victoria Wai)

Pale Waves debut album, My Mind Makes Noises, was released the Friday before they headlined Newcastle’s Boiler Shop. It was noted that “you’ll need to be a heartsick emo teenager to endure the lyrics.” Looking at the sold out crowd, yes there were a handful of ‘emo goths,’ which proves that you cannot judge a book by its cover. What you can say is that Pale Waves are for everyone who likes a bit of goth, a bit of indie and a bit of indie-pop.

We were spoilt with support acts as the night got underway with indie-rockers King Nun from London and dark-dream pop from Bristol’s Swimming Girls. They definitely warmed the crowd up who were crammed in every single centimetre they could find to get closer to the Mancunian quartet. Those who got a ticket definitely left not with one favourite band but with three!

As lights went down for the main act, I never thought I would hear emo-goths scream for a band. Again, don’t judge a book by its cover.

Hit after hit and banger after banger came throughout the whole night from the back catalogue and gems from the album. Kicking off with Television Romance, there was not one word the crowd missed out singing back to Heather Baron-Gracie and her bandmates Ciara Doran, Charles Wood and Hugo Silvani as the stage filled with smoke, strobed lights and at every opportunity red lights filled the venue, which seemed fitting as the colour text of the debut album to a limited pressing of the vinyl being of that very colour and fifth song into the night being album track, Red. Filling the void between songs there were plenty of screams and at times chants of “Ciara” which Heather acknowledges and says. “I love all these Ciara chants going on as if anyone knows Pale Waves, they know I am her number one Stan!” Of course the crowd gets wilder. And maybe but only slightly, The Tide, gets the biggest cheers of the night when Heather introduces it and competition is tight as to who actually sang it the loudest — crowd or singer? The fall off of One More Time and the encore songs, of My Obsession and There’s A Honey, come quite close!

Honestly, it’s been a while since I have witnessed an energetic crowd of this sort. There was no moving those at the front of the barrier and eight ‘rows’ behind but a ‘mosh pit’ further back happened on more than THREE occasions. The crowd were in their element that they made sure their fellow Pale Waver enjoyed it as much as them that it was noted a few even got a guy out his wheelchair to raise him higher. So, if you thought all emo-goths were sad and miserable get along to a Pale Waves gig and you will never think like that again. That album review even judged the fan base of Pale Waves and it could not have been further from the truth.

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KYLIE MINOGUE | 18.09.18 | Newcastle Metro Arena | REVIEW and PHOTOS

KYLIE MINOGUE | 18.09.18 | Newcastle Metro Arena | REVIEW and PHOTOS

Kylie Minogue – 18th September 2018 – Newcastle Metro Arena

By Victoria Wai (Victoria Wai)

Golden is dubbed as ‘Kylie gone country’ and true to the style of the album we were graced with dancers in Wild West attire before Kylie herself came from under the centre of the end of the ‘catwalk’ donned in pink and white cowboy boots kicking off the opening night of the tour with title album and tour name to roaring crowds. Those in the Golden Circle got closer in the excitement of seeing the Pop Princess. Of course, this tour is to promote the latest album but many were eager for the old hits and we didn’t have to wait long with Better The Devil you Know making an appearance fourth song in getting those not already on their feet shooting out of their seats.

A Kylie show has EVERYTHING! – dancers, lights…and visuals…we were treated to mini-movies on the screen during costume changes and many other during the show, that is if you could take your eyes off the Pop Princess, we could have been mistaken for watching a movie. An early highlight on the screen is her rendition of Blue Velvet as she sits at a bar by herself. A lovely stripped back version of Confide In Me follows. She then makes her way down the catwalk where a single red rose waits as she sings Where The Wild Roses Grow with no music. Just Kylie. The rose makes it way back into the crowd until one person could not bare to let it go!

Another great movie feature comes with Shelby 68 which features Kylie’s Dads Shelby revving up on the album. And what a car it is that we see driving through the deserted Wild West with her star designed ‘K’ logo on the license plate.

Ending Act 1 is the hit Can’t Get You Out of My Head, which in itself is a classic but towards the end she dons a denim jacket emblazoned with her face with Newcastle written above and Golden on the bottom sending the crowd into a frenzy before the band give us a fantastic rendition of the famous part of The Chain (Fleetwood Mac) which, no pun intended, sends hearts racing as the energy fills the Arena.

Relaxed back in our spots Slow starts Act 2 and changes pace quickly into Kids, which gets the crowd pumped but maybe more of a filler for some. An audience request and an Arena filled singalong comes with Je Ne Sais Pas Pourquoi. We stay in the late 1980s with Wouldn’t Change a Thing going into Especially For You. No Kylie show would be complete without the latter. The only thing missing was an appearance from Jason Donovan, that actually happened a few weeks prior in Hyde Park.

All The Lovers from the Aphrodite era is something quite spectacular and a big ode to the LBGTQ community that Kylie celebrates with the first hydraulics of the night covering the Golden Circle audience with lights and confetti of the rainbow. A spectacular sight for a spectacular song. A fantastic disco medley follows with Kylie and her singers bursting through the doors of ‘Studio 54’ but strangely omits STEP BACK IN TIME. Too much of an obvious choice maybe? Though New York City, Raining Glitter and On A Night Like This comes with streams of gold ribbon from the ceiling to a laser-filled Arena.

Getting back to the Country & Western theme, the encore of Love At First Sight has her clad in a white shawl before it reveals a green glittery number matching her band and dancers which closes the night with DANCING. The crowd do just that, leaving everyone on a high and the merch stand going crazy as everyone wanted to take more than the memories of the night away with them.

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