Barns Courtney @ Think Tank? Newcastle

Barns Courtney delivers a quality set that deserved a larger audience

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This was a first.  Well, at least a first for a long while.  Barns Courtney was introduced to me by my wife, Clare.  I was away at Glastonbury when she texted to say that she’d like to see him.  I’d never heard of him, but said yes.  When I got back, I had a listen on spotify and was hugely impressed by Golden Dandelions, Fire and Little Boy.

Think Tank? is a small venue in Newcastle with a capacity of about 250.  This one was far from full with about 70 to 100 or so present.  I was surprised as I expected it to be full.  It should have been as it was a little treat.

Barns Courtney took the stage at 9pm and the first thing I noticed was that he was sporting a moon boot on his right foot.  This didn’t impair him much.  It probably should have as I feared for his safety for most of the gig!  He seemed intent on bouncing around the stage as if it wasn’t there and fortunately managed to stay upright for the whole gig.

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The audience was relatively odd for the evening.  I don’t think I’ve previously been to a gig where the crowd stood back from the stage for the main act, but they were intent on doing so tonight.  Clare & I were probably the furthest forward and we were a couple of meters away.  That didn’t affect Barns’ from engaging with the audience.  He did so impressively, but his masterstroke (presumably tried and tested) came 4 songs from the end when he asked everyone to come forward so he could take a photo of everyone.  Everyone duly came forward.  He took some video footage, threw his phone to the ground and informed everyone that they might as well stay where they were now.  Sweet move.

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The highlights were clearly the tunes I knew from Spotify, but all in all it was an excellent 12 song set with a huge amount off energy.  John Waugh, the saxophonist with The 1975, played on three of the tracks and it brought an extra quality dimension to the set.  Barns was clearly happy to have him there.

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Glitter & Gold, Never Let You Down, Little Boy, Golden Dandelions and Fire were all awesome.  His debut album is out on the 29th September, so I’m looking forward to hearing it.  Shame it doesn’t look like it’s getting a vinyl release, but it will be well wroth checking out.

There was something about his attitude that I really liked.  I don’t know why, but he brought me in with something that I found incredibly amusing.  As he was finished with his mouth organ on one tune, he absently discarded it over his shoulder and it bounced to the back of the stage.  It was the way he did it that just had me laughing and warming to his excitable style.  I’m interested to see what comes next.

I pilfered the setlist from the stage as others were clearly hovering to do the same.  Shy bairns…

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Support act: Georgie Keller opened the evening.  He was on the stage by himself with a backing track for 30 minutes.  Pretty impressive and pretty brave, only taking brief respite with a single acoustic guitar cover of a Shawn Mendes track.

Food & drink: Clare & I were on our own for this one and as we were bit rushed there was no time for food in advance.  The post gig chicken kebab was a bit on the dodgy side, but welcome.  I took on board a Dead Pony Club and Clare had a Peroni at the gig.

Merchandise: none available.  Makes a refreshing change that I wasn’t tempted to part with more cash.

 

The Slow Readers Club @ Think Tank?

The Slow Readers Club first headline gig in Newcastle was a definite success.

Why did we end up here? At the start of February, Ste suggested this one as he’d heard Don’t Mind on the Steve Lamacq Round Table, and liked it.  I’d never heard of The Slow Readers Club before, but after a quick play on Spotify I quickly agreed.  Unfortunately Andrew couldn’t make it tonight.  If you want to know more about this band then click here.

Was it any good?  It was fantastic.  I’d had Cavalcade on fairly heavy spotify rotation, but the whole set sounded great.  The venue is really good for an act like this who connect well to the audience.  The lead singer, regularly catches eye contact with members of the crowd singing along and seems to sing-a-long with them.  Highlights for me were the first 4 songs from Cavalcade; Start Again, I Saw A Ghost, Forever in Your Debt & Plant the Seed.  The latter really got the crowd (who were in good voice throughout) going.  They noted that they don’t do encores (“never got into the habit” and “it’s a hassle getting off a stage like this”) and so informed the crowd that, without leaving the stage, the title track of Cavalcade was actually the start of the encore.  I’m never sure what I think about encores anyway, but this approach worked well!  I’m sure they get sick of comparisons, but you can’t help but hear Interpol and Editors when you listen to this band.  That’s a clear compliment.  I didn’t know about TSRC before February, but I’m hoping to hear a lot more in the future.

Did you get any merchandise? It was inevitable prior to the gig, that if there was a vinyl on offer that I’d be getting one.  Each of the band was kind enough to sign it too (pictured at the foot of this review).

What were the support acts like? Denature opened the night shortly after 7pm.  Their 7 song set, including a couple of covers, was decent.  They are a local North East band, so I wish them well.  SKIES were up next & I really enjoyed their set.  I’d given a brief spotify listen on the morning of the gig, but knew very little going in.  They were really lively, enthusiastic and played with barely a pause for breath.  I suspect having the backing track played from a laptop presents some challenges, but it seemed to work well.  This is a band to watch out for and you can start by clicking here.

What else happened?  We were stood next to a man that didn’t watch any of the gig, but instead faced the speaker stack the entire time.  It seemed strange, but I sort of hope this was his way of feeling and absorbing the music.  In other news the band noted that one of the crowd (Debbie) had followed them on their whole tour and as a reward dedicated  a song to her.  Nice touch.

Food & drink? It almost feels like this blog is sponsored by Brewdog as for the 3rd gig running, this was the ale of choice.  By the way, it’s not sponsored, but Brewdog if you’re reading…;-)  We started out at the Brewdog bar in Newcastle and had a nice couple of pints of LIVE East Coast Crush.  We then had a fantastic Fat Hippo burger and Fat Hippo IPA in the Fat Hippo Underground.  We continued the Brewdog theme at Think Tank? with cans of the marvellous Dead Pony Club.

If you haven’t heard anything from The Slow Readers Club then give Cavalcade a listen and if you’re looking for something else new then check out SKIES.

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TSRC Poster

Ste and I feature on this one…(third picture at the right)

The signed Cavalcade vinyl
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Lucy Rose @ Think Tank?

Attendees: Chris & Ste

Support act: The Half Earth

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Krappa utilising support act not shown.

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Lucy Rose Setlist The Think Tank, Newcastle, England 2015