Little Comets @ O2 Academy, Newcastle

The Man Who Wrote Thriller and 19 other golden greats. Little Comets soar.

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I came by Little Comets much later than I should have.  In fact, it would be fair to say that I only really got into them by chance.  A couple of years back, Ste, Andrew & I were looking for an October gig and spotted that Hyde & Beast were playing O2 is 10.  We’d seen them in August and loved it, so decided to check them out again.  Little Comets were headlining.  They turned out to be my highlight of the night.  I still only really listened via playlists on Spotify until seeing them at Newcastle University last year.  I purchased the vinyl of Worhead at that gig and they’ve slowly but surely expanded in my consciousness and become one of my favourite bands.  Not just a band for playlists, but one that I want to own everything by.  Chase Park festival last summer secured my love for them and I’ve since gone on to invest in their back catalogue and now have a nice little (comets) collection*.

I went to this gig with my wife, Clare.  Ste & Andrew were actually at a different gig a few yards down the road (Gengahr at Think Tank?).  Little Comets have become quite the soundtrack in our house, with the kids taking a significant interest too.  The words “Alexa, play Little Comets” is a regular shout at Comets Garth*.  In fact, we were considering whether to take Lana (my 9-year-old) with us, but decided against it as the balcony seats weren’t open for this gig and I wasn’t convinced she’d enjoy being a little one ina big crowd.

Support acts

Clare and I went for some food in Coop before the gig, so only caught the last song from The Old Pink House, who opened the night.  They sounded decent from what we heard.

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Mattie Vant was the main support act.  He of VANT fame.  Clare and I weren’t familiar with VANT, but lots of the crowd clearly were as they sang along to virtually every word.  It’s always great to see a passionate following.

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Little Comets

Little Comets took to the stage at about 9pm and proceeded to play an incredible 20 song set.  The venue had a 10pm curfew and so the Comets chose not to do an encore and instead strung together an unbroken series of quality tunes.

First up was a slowed down version of Bridge Burn.  You can’t start a set in many better places.  By the time Common Things kicked off, I’d settled into the gig nicely, enjoying the only song I know to mention de riguer.  Next up, my favourite LC track, The Man Who Wrote Thriller.  I love this song.  Something about the chorus, the key change, the lyrics…awesome.  I’ve mentioned before in this blog that I don’t normally pay too much attention to lyrics, but LC join Elbow in one of the few exceptions where I do.  The LC handwriting font and lyric scribblings all over their instruments and stage gear helps with the visualisation of the lyrics and draws you into an immersive experience.  Maybe, I’m being a bit over the top.  I’m certainly enamoured by this band at the moment and I love that feeling when you want to listen to a band or artists music constantly, hungry for more tunes.

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Little Italy and A Little Opus maintained the momentum before they played the two new songs.  M62 is an instant crowd favourite and feels like it’s been part of the set for years.  The Punk Is In The Detail tackles an important issue with a centre-piece statement to stand by; “we are here, deal with it”.

A change of pace followed with Violence Out Tonight.  The audience sang along throughout My Boy William.  At that point the gig went from great to fantastic.

Adultery. Joanna. Louise.  Thank you.  You can’t help but love Joanna.  This trilogy of tunes was perfect.  It seems that in every LC set there’s a point where Robert finds something amusing with one or more of his band mates.  This time there were massive beaming smiles from the all during this segment and it was infectious.  I sort of captured it (below), but you had to be there.  I say it every time, but when a band is enjoying themselves, it takes a gig to another level.

Robert then took to the keys and Matt moved to the front.  What followed was a beautiful rendition of a hugely powerful song; The Blur, The Line and The Thickest Of Onions.  This came on, in the car the other day when I was bringing my 8-year-old daughter (Erin) back from football.  She was curious about the title when scrolling through the CD text disply, but was definitely puzzled when I tried to explain what the song is about.  I hope that she doesn’t need to understand this as she grows up.

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4 mini classics closed the set; à bientôt, Hunting, One Night In October and Dancing Song.    I take a few pictures during gigs, but don’t normally like to get distracted with a video.  I couldn’t resist taking a minute of Dancing Song and pinging it to Lana.  She loved it!

That was it.  Night over and Clare and I left happy and glad that we’d spent an evening with a quality local band.  I suspect we’ll be back.  A lot more than once.

 

Little Comets Setlist O2 Academy Newcastle, Newcastle, England 2018

*Little collection & Comets Garth…as noted in this recently personalised piece of awesomeness available from their website

Adem @ The Cumberland Arms

Adem produces a beautiful performance, in an intimate setting, on a snowy night in Newcastle

In attendance: all three of the gigamonth collective.  Andrew, Ste & I.27709516_1484636471644835_3309849123319611996_o

We’ve been wanting a Cumberland Arms gig for a while.  None of us had been before and it was obviously going to be an intimate venue.  We missed out on tickets for Willy Mason, but soon spotted the Adem gig.  Andrew had been a fan since the

first album, way back when. He’d introduced Ste to Adem.  I

hadn’t heard anything by him prior to booking this show.  I gave the latest album, Seconds Are Acorns, a listen and really enjoyed it.

It was a Saturday night, so became a good chance for some food out and a few drinks.  We started at the Tyne Bank Brewery and, before Andrew arrived, Ste and I played some table football and table tennis, reliving our youth.  Some tasty food was had at Kiln.  A few nice beers were consumed on the night and at least one dodgy one; smash fusion, beaver town neck oil, summer breeze, salty kiss…to name a few.

Pete Dale was the support for Adem.  We didn’t catch much of his set as we were getting drinks downstairs.  The Cumberland Arms is a small old school pub with an intimate IMG_2308room upstairs with a cool atmosphere.

Pete sounded in the vein of Billy Bragg.  A few of the crowd seemed familiar with his stuff and you could see Adem watching him amongst the, initially, small crowd.  You don’t often find that and it was nice to see.

When Adem took the stage he noted that he’d been asked to play this gig and that it was one of only 2 on the tour.  The other in Glasgow.  What followed was a really intimate and completely beautiful gig.  I’m not overly familiar with his tunes (as noted above), but I was captivated by them all.  I was stood right at the front of a polite, but respectful and enthusiastic audience.  I’m never good estimating numbers in a venue, but there can’t have been much more than 80-100?

The set spanned all 4 of his albums and a lovely Radiohead cover version.  I don’t have a specific set highlight, although Snow in April was pretty cool and apt (it was March, but see below).  I’m not sure what Adem has lined up next.  He hinted at a new album.  I hope so as I can see an Adem album nestling nicely in my collection.  There was some vinyl on sale on the night.  We were all short of cash and so threw our change Ste’s way and he picked up Seconds Are Acorns and a mini-chat with the man himself.  We should have had a Sharpie to hand to get it signed…!

Adem Setlist Cumberland Arms, Newcastle, England 2018

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A rare photo of Andrew, Me & Ste (L-R) from one of our gig nights.  “Snow in April*”  *March

 

Turin Brakes @ Tyne Theatre & Opera House

Turin Brakes signing their lives away and playing a quality set in a fine venue

I’ll start this review with the disclaimer that Turin Brakes are one of my favourite bands. They have been since I purchased The Optimist LP, on the recommendation of a friend (a gigamonth alumni, Andrew), back in September 2001.  They are my most watched band by quite some distance.  This was the 17th gig of theirs that I’ve seen (including only 3 festivals) which is a nice average of 1 a year since that first album purchase!  They have been the subject of three previous blog appearances (100 Club, The Cluny, Chase Park Festival) and so are now the most mentioned band on this blog.  I’ve only been to one previous gig at the Tyne Theatre…Turin Brakes.  Back in 2002 on the 25th September: The Acoustic Tour.  That gig was fantastic, enhanced by support from the excellent Fionn Regan.

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Present: Ste & Amy, Clare & I.  Andrew had a ticket, but unfortunately couldn’t make it.

With the wives present, babysitting was a challenge, so there was no pre-gig social.  Clare & I managed a swift drink, but by the time Ste & Amy arrived Eliza Shaddad was about to take the stage.

I enjoyed Eliza’s set.  I wasn’t too familiar with any of the tracks, except the excellent set closer, Waters.  I’ll certainly be looking out for a future album.

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The new album, Invisible Storm, came out earlier this year and is a superbly catchy long player.  Tracks from this album were the common thread through the night as they played 7 of the 11 tracks on it.  A huge 5 tracks were played from The Optimist LP, 2 each from Ether Song & Lost Property and 1 each from Dark On Fire & JackInABox.  Two albums weren’t represented as there was no room for tracks from either Outbursts or We Were Here.

We were sat on the front row of this incredibly atmospheric (if not slightly cold) theatre.  Front row seats for one of my favourite bands.  Nice.  The band were in fine form once more.  Again, this is a band who seem at their best when they are enjoying themselves.  I can only think of a couple of times I’ve seen them when they didn’t seem up for it.  This was definitely a night when they were up for it.  They even played through a fight that managed to break out in an all seated venue.  Yes, a fight broke out in a seated theatre venue.  A Turin Brakes gig in a seated theatre venue, no less!

They opened the set with three Invisible Storm tracks and sounded incredible.  Moving straight in to Future Boy and then State of Things, the pace was kept.  The only real break from quality tunes was the sound of of Eddie howling, and making the audience howl, like a wolf.  Slightly surreal, but fun.

Invisible Storm was probably my highlight of the night and my favourite from the new album.  Last Chance, Fishing For A Dream and Rain City all sounded superb.  I can’t help but smile whenever Gale plays the Underdog solo and that took us nicely into the end of the normal set.  The first encore included the quality Keep Me Around, new album track – Everything All At Once and the wig-out Black Rabbit.

The lack of theatre lights held the hope of a 2nd encore.  This hope was further enhanced when a disembodied thumb (belonging, I think, to Rob) started interchanging up and down from behind  a curtain.  The audience clearly wanted more and so, thumbs up it was.  A last track from Invisible Storm; Don’t Know Much, before closing on the classic first album track; Slack.   Quality from start to finish.

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The setlist is below.  As is an amusing little post script.
Turin Brakes Setlist Tyne Theatre and Opera House, Newcastle, England 2018, Invisible Storm

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Turin Brakes on Instagram

Post Script:

Earlier on this year, I purchased the deluxe bundle of Invisible Storm and splashed out on a test pressing for £50!  Hand signed and hand numbered – limited to 20.  Only, when it arrived, I found it hadn’t been numbered.  Not a huge issue for some people, but it was something that attracted me to the purchase in the first place.  I got in touch with the webstore who politely informed me that the band must have forgotten to sign.  Yes.  I realised that.  I thought I’d try the band.  I got in contact via twitter and was really pleased that they replied.

So, I went to the gig armed with my test pressing and thought I’d sneak in some additional LP sleeves for them to sign.  Cheeky, I know, but shy bairns…

Anyway, I wrote a lengthy note with instructions and threw a few different coloured sharpies into the bag, for them to select the appropriate colours.  [Yes, I appreciate that, at this point in this blog – if not before – you are building up a very clear and accurate picture of my personality].  I rocked up to the merch stand and then was struck with a disease that has affected me for a while now.  Inarticulosis.  Essentially, when faced with some pressure in a possible brush with anyone even remotely famous, or a person who might be vaguely linked with a famous person, I mutter and mumble.  I’m desperate to say something clear and sensible, but fail miserably (see the 100 club blog “you’ve got red on you” anecdote).  This time, I muttered something about contacting the band via “The Internet”.  “The Internet” – I even said it in an awkward voice – WTF.  I then said, they hadn’t signed properly and said they would.  I didn’t, crucially, mention a lack of numbering, but despite it being signed correctly – I decided to confuse things by mentioning signing in these verbal instructions.  Fatal.  Eliza Shaddad was doing the merch and therefore was the one lucky enough to be on the receiving end of my drivel.  She took it well and said I could just pick up at the end of the gig.

Of course, what I failed to realise is that I should have just put one line on a post it note and attached it to the front of the vinyl – “number it out of 20 here please”.  Instead, I wrote a long note!  Why I thought they would read the full note or remember the twitter exchange, I don’t know!  So, post gig, I picked up the bag  of sleeves, thanked Eliza and trotted out.  My wife encouraged me to have a look before we headed home.  The band had signed the sleeve again – this time on the back – but hadn’t numbered it.  I went back into the venue and Eliza was so patient with me.  She went off and came back with it numbered.  The band had already generously signed all of the sleeves of 7 other LPs and The Door EP 7″.  I’m hugely grateful to them.  A top band, top tunes, top albums and top blokes.  Yep, I just used the word top 4 times in a row.  I’m just that cool, as this whole episode indicates!

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The ridiculously long instructions!
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The brilliantly signed sleeves!

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Elbow @ Leeds First Direct Arena

Elbow in sparking form at the Leeds Arena

This was the 8th time I’ve seen Elbow, making them 4th on my list of most watched Elbow gigsbands/ artists.  This is the second time seeing them since doing this blog (Mouth of Tyne).  This one was in Leeds, at the excellent FDA.  Last time we saw Elbow in Leeds we had an overnight stay and the respective wives were there.  This time we returned home post-gig.  Leeds is just about the edge of a sensible gig-commute…especially on a school night.  Ste has an even longer journey to get back to Newcastle – especially with two A1 diversions on the way back!
Tonight felt pretty special.  I’m not sure why, but it felt like a celebration.  They played a good career spanning set filled with my favourite Elbow tunes and Guy was on his usual quality banter form.  Perhaps it felt like a celebration because it was his birthday.   Happy Birthday was sung more than once to him!

Support act: John Grant

I enjoyed the John Grant set.  He reminds me a lot of Father John Misty.  He turned the swearing up to 11 during the set and I could well imagine some of those who had come to see the band that did the Olympics song, may well have been horrified.  Pale Green Ghosts was my set highlight.  With 8 songs played, he didn’t outstay his welcome.

Main act: Elbow

Incredible.  I really could just watch Elbow again and again.  It’s like watching your mates on stage.  It feels really relaxed.  Guy messed up the lyrics to Lunette and Craig played Little Fictions when the rest of the band were, correctly, playing Mirrorball.  It didn’t matter.  All taken in their stride and with great humour.  Every song sounded amazing.  Leaders Of The Free World was superb and Fly Boy Blue / Lunette is probably the most underrated Elbow classic.

Guy’s stage patter was interesting as he regaled us with tales of a solitary attendee at his 11th birthday (Robert Redmond I think?), the drip of ceiling liquid that dropped in his mouth during a set at Leeds Cockpit (tasing of “new sweat and old nicotine”) and the adventures of Dennis & Lois (in attendance and following them on this tour) who had lived the rock n roll dream.

See below for the setlist.  The only thing that could have made it better would have been another 30 minutes on stage.  Even then, I’d have wanted 30 more.  The encore included the duet version of Kindling, as JohnGrant joined them on stage.  Great to see that live, as we’re probably unlikely to see it again in that form.  What more can be said about the set closer, One Day Like This?  What more can be said about Elbow?  Sublime.


Elbow Setlist First Direct Arena, Leeds, England, Arena Tour 2018

John Grant Setlist First Direct Arena, Leeds, England 2018

 

Social stuff: a journey to Leeds is a bit of a rush.  Ste also decided to miss the turn off to my house, so we met at Scotch Corner and headed on from there together.  Time was tight, so a packed lunch was the order of the day!  We had a solitary ale each at the gig.

Post gig notes: Elbow is a band that both Ste and I have a bit of a collection of.  Ste’s is much more complete than mine.  I was delighted, this week, to finally get my hands on the Elbow definitive vinyl box set.  I’ve been searching for this at a reasonable price for ages.  So, here’s some bonus pictures of the box set and my expanding Elbow collection.

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Franz Ferdinand @ O2 Academy, Newcastle

A quality evening with Franz Ferdinand & Albert Hammond Jr.

I saw Franz Ferdinand 3 times within 13 months back in 2004/05 (& Ste caught 2 of those).  I hadn’t seen them since.  No particular reason.  Perhaps my interest waned after album no. 2, perhaps I was just going to less gigs or trying not to see the same bands on repeat?  Whatever the reason, it was a 13 year gap.  It was worth the wait.

Just Ste and I at this one, so we ate pizzas at home with a couple of beers.  A quick taxi ride into Toon and we headed straight to the venue.  The beers inside the O2 are inevitably poor and expensive.  I think we consumed a couple of pints of San Miguel (or something similar) and a massive oversized 2 pint pot full of Carlsberg Export.  It was cold, wet and alcoholic. £20+ lighter (each) for the privilege we initially shivered on a cold night in the venue, but it soon warmed up as the support act took the stage.

Albert Hammond Jr. of The Strokes fame was the support act.  I’d never bothered with his solo stuff prior to learning he was the support.  The new stuff sounded decent and it was an enjoyable set which lasted a surprisingly long time.  At the time of writing, no-one has put up a set list, but it must have been 10 songs or so.  Decent stuff.  Could be the closest I’ll ever come to seeing The Strokes?  I hope not.

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Franz Ferdinand

The main act took the stage an proceeded to deliver an awesome set.  A great mix of new and old tunes, drawing heavily from the new album (8 played from Always Ascending) and the debut album (5 played from Franz Ferdinand) with a handful from the rest (3 from Tonight: Franz Ferdinand, 2 from You Could Have Been So Much Better and just 1 from Right Thoughts, Right Words, Right Action).  Alex Kapranos was an excellent frontman throughout the gig, holding the attention of the crowd and getting them involved at will.  I realised early in the gig that there had been a line up change that I wasn’t previously aware of.  Guitarist, Nick McCarthy apparently left in 2016 and Dino Bardot and Julian Corrie joining.  The guitar sound on the early songs didn’t quite sound as angular as previous (if I’m being picky), but that was a tiny issue in a great set.

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Highlights for me were; Do You Want To, Michael, Take Me Out, Ulysses, Alway Ascending, Jacquline, This Fire and Lucid Dreams.  Amazingly the whole gig was wrapped up by 10.05pm…presumably for a club night at the O2.

Franz Ferdinand Setlist O2 Academy Newcastle, Newcastle, England 2018, Always Ascending

Albert Hammond, Jr. Setlist O2 Academy Newcastle, Newcastle, England 2018

Post Script: we headed to Tilleys Bar straight after the gig.  We had a few too many real ales, played a pub quiz machine (pop music) which we failed to win and talked endlessly about music, vinyls, CDs and other forensically analysed issues.  I fell asleep in the taxi on the way home and Ste was partied out for most of the next morning, prior to heading to a record fair.  It was a top night!!

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The Sherlocks @ The Empire, Middlesbrough

The Sherlocks just keep getting better

This will be a relatively short review as there’s little more I can say about The Sherlocks.  This was my 5th time seeing them in the last 18 months and they’ve got better each time (Ku Bar, O2 Academy 2, Glastonbury, Newcastle University).  I’m pretty certain this was the largest crowd yet and everyone seemed to love every second of this gig.

I went with my brother, Mike, to see this one as the venue was on his home turf.  When we arrived at the venue at about 7.15pm, it was cold and wet and there was a large queue outside.  We decided to go for a beer.  Unfortunately, as it turned out later, this meant we missed the first support act, Neon Waltz.  Never mind, we caught Oddity Road who were good.  They had a similar sound to The Sherlocks and hail from Sheffield.

The Sherlocks came on stage at about 9.15pm and played through the entirety of their debut album, Live For The Moment.  Lead singer, Kiaran Crook, seems to be finding new ways to get the audience involved and it resulted in a great atmosphere throughout, including a music-less sing along after the closing number, Chasing Shadows.  After reaching no. 6 in the UK charts with the album, I hope they go on to have a strong career with an even better follow-up.  Good luck to them.  They genuinely seem to love every moment of playing and that’s evident to see.

The Sherlocks Setlist The Empire, Middlesbrough, England 2018

 

Field Music with The Open Here Orchestra @ Northern Stage, Newcastle

Orchestral manoeuvres near St. James Park

To launch their new album Open Here and kick off their UK tour, Field Music played three specially-staged performances at Northern Stage. We caught the third and final show at this venue on the Saturday night. The Northern Stage performances also featured an expanded orchestral line-up – The Open Here Orchestra.

Our show was filmed and streamed live on YouTube and is still available to watch at the time of writing. The band had sourced a vintage Tyne Tees television camera for the task, with impressive musical pedigree having previously been used to film The Tube. Another camera was filming from the audience a couple of seats away from us.

This being a theatre, the performance was split into two halves separated with an interval. There was no support act, but maybe it wouldn’t have worked well, with the main performance being split in two.

The set opened with Time In Joy which immediately showcased the sound of the expanded line up. Peter and David swapped over on drum and vocal duties for Count It Up – the first of numerous switches during the night. The string quartet and flute backing on title track Open Here was captivating and, as with several songs from the new album, it’s hard to imagine how this could be performed as well without the orchestra.

The set featured all ten songs from Open Here, interspersed with a highlights from their back catalogue. Other than the Open Here album, there were four songs from Plumb and three from Commontime, with one apiece from the earlier albums.

The second half contained the excellent Checking On A Message and Share A Pillow from the new album. The highlight of the set for me was the closing track to the second half , Find A Way To Keep Me, helped in no small part by a film backdrop of the landscape of the North East. A great example of visuals and music combining powers to create something special.

It’s always a pleasure to see Field Music but it felt especially fortunate to catch them in this unique setting, with The Open Here Orchestra, bringing to the sound of the new album to life.

Field Music Setlist Northern Stage, Newcastle, England 2018

Other points of note:

1. Pre-gig food and beer was from McKenna’s cafe inside Northern Stage, including a steak sandwich so rare it had bled on the bread.
2. I bought myself the blue vinyl version of Open Here, after much agonising between the relative merits of clear versus blue versus black vinyl.
3. Unexpectedly, it had snowed whilst we watched.