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


Chase Park Festival @ Saltwell Park, Gateshead

The inclusive Chase Park Festival proves a huge success in the blazing summer sunshine

The Chase Park Festival is a one day accessible festival that I’ve now been to twice.  This year it relocated from Chase Park to Saltwell Park, retaining the Chase Park name and brand.  The Saltwell Park site was a perfect enclosed setting in the afternoon and early evening sunshine.

You can read all about this festival on their website.  I can’t recommend it highly enough, especially if you have a family (the kids loved the goodie bags from sponsors; Voyage Care & Honda and the free face painting).  The tickets were an absolute steal at less than £35 for a family of 4 (when we went in 2015 it was an astonishing £10 for a family of 4!).  If you are lucky enough to be a fan of any of the acts playing, then it’s incredible value, but if you aren’t, for that price it’s worth a punt regardless.  Two of the acts playing yesterday are two of my current favourite bands and I was able to reacquaint myself with a band I was a big fan of in the 2000’s.

The accessible aspect of the festival is what makes this unique.  There’s a huge mix of people of different abilities in a superbly organised, inclusive arena.  A second stage (band stand) demonstrated an outstanding array of talents from those who unfortunately don’t get many opportunities like this.

The pace of the music didn’t let up until the final three acts on the main stage.  Until that point, the acts on both stages alternated with barely a pause for breath, so there was no time for restlessness.

We missed the first act (Fiona King) on the second stage.  All (Percy Hedley, White Dove, The Twist) were entertaining, but the final act, The Soundbeam Band, were the pick of them for me, despite some unfortunate power cuts.

Present: I was there with my wife, Clare and our two girls; Lana & Erin.  Andrew was there with his daughter.  My brother, Mike, was there with his wife and two girls.  We set up for the afternoon and enjoyed a picnic in the sun while enjoying the music.

My daughter, Erin, has become a bit of a poster girl for the Festival’s press since we attended in 2015, with the following picture attached to virtually every article that pops up on social media feeds (just search chase park festival on google images and you’ll see):


Drinks: Wylam Brewery provided an excellent bar and I enjoyed several Galatia during the afternoon.  My brother sampled each of their real ale offerings.  The only complaint about the bar was how busy it got after 5pm, but it’s always a tricky balance to know how busy it will be.

The bands…

James Leonard Hewitson opened the main stage with a thoroughly enjoyable set.  This was soon followed by Vito playing some good indie rock.  Alex Francis then slowed things down with a fabulous acoustic chilled out set in the blazing sunshine.  I’ll be adding Alex to my spotify playlist.  Boy Jumps Ship then turned up the volume and our kids went to the front and really enjoyed themselves (Andrew & I went for a bit of a trek to the nearest cashpoint for most of this set).

Cattle & Cane

One of my current favourite bands took the stage at around 5pm.  This is the 4th time I’ve seen them in the last 12 months and they never disappoint.  Both Lana & Erin declared them as their favourite of the day and you can’t fail to see why.  There’s a slight possibility of bias from my kids after we spotted Helen and Joe on site earlier in the day and they were kind enough to do some signings for all of our kids.  They are a band from teesside who deserve more recognition than they get.  The Poacher is always a set highlight for me, but Saviour wasn’t far behind.

Cattle & Cane Setlist Chase Park Festival 2017 2017, Mirrors

Little Comets

I’ve seen Little Comets 3 times now and they seem to be getting better each time.  I think this set just edged it as my favourite on the day.  The band seemed to be really enjoying themselves and that always seems to add something to the show.  There were loads of highlights form this set; Bridge Burn (Lana’s favourite), The Man Who Wrote Thriller, Joanna, A bientot, Dancing Song to name a few.  Another band that deserve more recognition (latest album, Worhead, deserved a higher chart placing than 83), but I’m glad I was introduced to them back in 2015.

Little Comets Setlist Chase Park Festival 2017 2017

The Coral

Headliners on the day were The Coral.  I’ve caught The Coral 5 times now, but most of these were in the early 2000’s.  I became less familiar with their albums after 4th album, Roots & Echoes, but I plan to get reacquainted after this excellent headline slot.  It was really only the middle of the set that I was unfamiliar with, but it was a good career spanning retrospective.  There were some incredible guitar solos on show here, and the crowd were heavily involved on the way to a crowd-pleasing end with Dreaming Of You.


The Coral Setlist Chase Park Festival 2017 2017

If you’ve never been to the Chase Park Festival or have never heard of it, then it would be well worth keeping an eye out for their offering next year (fingers crossed there is one) as it’s sure to be something special.


Cattle & Cane @ Hit The Bar, Middlesbrough

A “secret gig” from a top local band. Marvellous.

Secret Acoustic Show Tonight – You Are Invited!
Hi Pledgers,First of all, we would like to say a huge thank you to everybody who pre-ordered ‘Mirrors’ ❤️ We hope you’re all enjoying it.
We couldn’t do what we do if it wasn’t for your support, so as a little thank you, we’re going to play a secret acoustic show in Middlesbrough tonight…

How very exciting!  Having not been to a secret gig before, I’ve now been to two in as many weeks (Turin Brakes last week).  This one was truly “secret”.  A little tweet was sent out from Cattle & Cane on Saturday to indicate it was coming.

This was then followed up with details from Pledge Music around lunchtime on Monday. The venue was confirmed as Hit The Bar in Middlesbrough.

I went along with my brother arriving a little before 7pm.  Cattle & Cane were on shortly after 7pm, performing an incredible acoustic set to a raptured audience of 60 or so pledgers.  I’ve seen Cattle & Cane 3 times before (at Deer Shed 6, Deer Shed 7 and The Empire), but this was something special.  An intimate venue with a crowd that were very happy to be there.

The first seven songs of the set were entirely from the new album, Mirrors.  They opened the set (after a brief pause for a siren flying passed) launching into the beautiful Love On Your Hands.  All the songs from Mirrors sounded, as expected, superb.  Tonight We Dance (Cleveland Hills) was performed off the stage amongst the crowd.  Joe played Paper Man, which apparently doesn’t get much of a live outing.  The set finished on the singalong Fool for You, before they took the briefest of pauses.  A rousing applause followed and without exiting the stage they performed another 3 tracks from their back catalogue.  The delicate start of Infant Hercules was briefly interrupted by the sweet sounds of a very loud hand dryer in the toilets, but soon resumed to perfection.  The crowd were in fine voice for this one.

My brother didn’t know much about the band beforehand, but, by the end of the night had bought the vinyl from pledge music.  The beer was great; Brewdog: Dead Pony Club Session Pale Ale, followed by a fairly tasty alcohol free equivalent Brewdog: Nanny State.

As a bonus on the night the band had just heard that the album was sitting at no. 53 in the midweek album charts.  Lets hope it stays there by Friday.  It was a privilege to be part of this night.  Thanks to the band for inviting me.

You can buy the album from Pledge Music, Amazon or iTunes or get yourself down to the marvellous Sound It Out Records in Stockton.

I managed to sneak on to the photo for this tweet.  I almost look like a band member!

My brother & I both made it on to this photo…