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

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.

Turin Brakes

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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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.

Busted @ Bents Park, South Shields

Busted deliver a gig like no other band I’ve seen this year (or ever?)

We are off to see Busted with the kids next month btw…are you excited? 😂

The above was a text from my wife to me whilst I was at the home of music, Glastonbury.  Clearly I had no say in this. The kids would no doubt be happy.

I got home to discover that this was a free event as part of the South Tyneside Festival.  However, we’d bought priority tickets at £5 a piece! Bargain.

This was a decent event – especially for those that got in free. There were 4 acts on in quick succession, so there was little time to get bored between them.  I gather there was quite a queue when it opened (12 noon for priority ticket holders), but we didn’t arrive until until about 1.30pm and sailed straight through.  The weather was pretty great all afternoon, so that was a bonus.  All the support acts were local.

Sonny: the only local performer to do his own tracks (from what I can remember) until he closed with a medley of covers. He sounded pretty decent and was a nice way to start the day.

Call On Sunday: played covers for the younger audience members. Sounded good.

The Understudies: played covers for the older audience members. I really enjoyed these. Covers included; Franz Ferdinand, ELO, The Beatles, Buggles, AC/DC, Pulp…

Busted: I’m not sure how interested Busted were in this. Charlie Busted’s eyes seemed lifeless behind his shades and they didn’t hang around at the end of their set.  I’m pleased to say I didn’t know as many Busted songs as I feared I might.  The girls seemed to enjoy it, although they were pretty exhausted in the sun after a great morning playing in a football tournament. The definitely enjoyed Year 3000 and a few others. You can see why Busted have some appeal and there were tonnes of people singing.  It’s not music made for me. That’s fine. I was there for the girls and it was good value, even with priority tickets.

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For what it’s worth, here’s the setlist (I submitted this, but only thought about it 5 or 6 songs in – so it’s incomplete – and relied heavily on lyric searches on google!)

The Sherlocks @ 02 Academy 2

The Sherlocks are possibly on the brink of something big.  They signed a record contract at the start of the year and are due to release their first album in August.

They were supported by Vida who seemed like a poor Oasis meets The Stone Roses.  Not for me.

The highlights of The Sherlocks set were the singles; Live For The Moment, Will You Be There?, Last Night, Heart of Gold & the latest one Was It Really Worth It?

No merch purch.

Food at the Coop was great as it always is.

 

The full #agigamonth2016 list

25th January – Daughter – A & S

6th February Lanterns on the Lake @ The Sage – All

12th MarchTurin Brakes @ The Cluny – All

22nd April Misty Miller @ The Cluny 2 – All

14th MayFather John Misty @ The Sage – All

2nd June – Chromeo, Jamie xx – A

9th JuneKing Charles @ Castle Keep – C

19th JuneColdplay @ Wembley Stadium – C

12th July – Sturgill Simpson – A

22-24 JulyDeer Shed Festival – All

14th AugustThe Oh Hellos @ The Cluny – All

22nd SeptemberThe Sherlocks @ Ku Bar – C & S

3rd October Blossoms @ Riverside – All

6th OctoberMystery Jets @ Wylam Brewery – A & C

29th OctoberThe Lumineers @ O2 Academy – C

16th November Teenage Fanclub @ Playhouse – All

22nd December Cattle & Cane @ Empire – All

End of year review 2016

2016 in review
Best:
Gig of the year – The Oh Hellos
Venue of the year – Wylam Brewery
Support act – Wildwood Kin
Food – River Beat, Gateshead (pre-FJM)

Worst:
Gig of the year – Blossoms (for the overall experience & shit show support)
Venue of the year – Riverside
Support act – Cabbage
Food – Carpaccios, Stockton (pre-Sherlocks)

Chris: I think this was a consensus view? Possibly?!
I know FJM may have been mine and Andrew’s worst?

Andrew: That’s pretty much on the money for me! Hoping for a bit more wylam and a lot less riverside in 2017…oh, and definitely no cabbage.