Lord Huron @ Leeds Beckett University

The tremendous Lord Huron get back on the road to warm up for the new album. It was good. Very good.


In 2015, Lord Huron released Strange Trails.  I wasn’t a mega fan at the time, although Ste had introduced me to Lonesome Dreams.  I liked Strange Trails when I first heard it and now, 3 years later it’s firmly placed in my top 10 albums of all time (it’s number 1 on some days).  After catching them at The Cluny in the first year of agigamonth I was eager to get tickets for this gig, originally planned for the Brudenell Social Club.  The nearer we got to the gig, the more obvious it was that no new material was going to land (in the week since the gig, there’s been 2 songs and some teaser stuff on social media).  That didn’t matter.  It was awesome regardless.


Best laid plans: Ste & I got tickets for this as soon as they came out.  Leeds isn’t too far south of us, but it’s 90 minutes or so from me and a couple of hours from Ste.  We were going to head down together and garb some drinks, staying in a hotel for the night.  In a bit of unfortunate timing, my daughter had a swimming gala during the day in Sheffield (further South) and it was obvious that this was going to be tight to get back up for the gig.  Ste went straight to the hotel.  Lana finished her final race at 5pm and after a rapid turnaround, I too managed to get to the hotel shortly after 6.30pm.  Straight out for food and drinks.  As a safe bet we went to the Wetherspoons; The Cuthbert Broderick (the one we always seem to end up at in Leeds).  It was busy, but we took a seat and downloaded the pub app and ordered food and drink through it.  A couple of minutes later the pints arrived (Shipyard American Pale Ale) and a few minutes after that the Haggis Burgers arrived (Burn’s night special).  Tremendous!  We downed the pints and took on the burgers, delighted that we would get to the venue in time to catch the support act.

Queue.  Not so good, Al: we arrived at the venue and there was a huge queue.  It turned out that those with a physical ticket could go straight in.  Those with a barcode print out (which is surely now the norm) had to queue and queue very slowly at that.  As we approached the door, we could hear that Flyte had already taken stage.

Support Act: Flyte were good.  Very good.  We only caught 4 songs (Cathy, Come Home amongst them) and I needed to visit the bar for one of them.


Lord Huron: LH took to the stage at about 9pm.  The sound wasn’t initially that clear, but it improved as they played an outstanding set, drawn heavily from Strange Trails.  It’s really difficult to explain why I like this band so much.  There’s something about Strange Trails that I think works as an album.  All the songs are strong and it works really well as a whole.  I never tire of listening to it and when I first bought my new turntable, this was the LP that I played non-stop.  It was therefore great to hear loads of Strange Trails songs again, with an early intro into the new album, Vide Noir.

There were three/four new tracks played it the gig.  At the time of writing the 4th song in the set was still unknown to me, but contained a line along the lines of “wake her in the morning“.  Wait By The River was a another new one – I got the title from other setlists.  Since the gig I worked out that the 3rd new track was Ancient Names (Part One), which may well have bled into Ancient Names (Part Two), but I’ve got no idea now.  The new songs had a slightly different sound, seeming more keyboard / electronic driven.  They sounded good, but I need a few more listens.  A contributor to setlistfm replaced the original noting of “unknown” (which turned out to be Ancient Names) with Until The Night Turns.  I’d had a few to drink, but I’m pretty certain they didn’t play that.

Lord Huron Setlist Beckett University, Leeds, England 2018

Highlights of the set were The Birds Are Singing At Night, Time To Run, The Night We Met and Fool For Love.  That said, it was all awesome and I’m hoping they will be back to tour once Vide Noir has landed.  A Newcastle date would be nice!

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Merchandise: I couldn’t resist a T-shirt.  I tidy £20 for an emerald logo.

Beers & post-gig entertainment: we got a range of bottled craft / real ales from the student union bar.  All eye-wateringly expensive and poured out of the glass bottle into a squeeze plastic pint pot.  Can’t be helped.  I can’t remember the names now, but Ste picked up  Brooklyn one of some description that was 6.7%!  After the gig, the SU bar was already closed, so we headed to find a pub.  We landed in Shenanigans and despite me never having ordered a Guinness in my life, that’s what we both decided to do.  After a couple of pints of the black stuff we headed back to The Cuthbert Broderick for a Shipyard.  We then took a trip back to the hotel for a final bottle of ale before calling it a night.


John Bramwell @ The Sage 2, Gateshead

The final gig of 2017 saw the former I Am Kloot frontman in fine form

The final gig of 2017 fell to John Bramwell.  It was a fairly last minute choice as Andrew, Ste & I couldn’t all make a gig on the same day in December.  Ste & I went to this one without Andrew which was a shame.

I wasn’t hugely familiar with much I Am Kloot or John Bramwell solo stage prior to the gig, but I immersed myself via Spotify for a week or two.  I’d listened to the Sky At Night album before but really only knew a few tracks before seeing IAK at Glastonbury several years ago.  I / we didn’t really know what to expect from this gig.  The summary was that it was great.  John Bramwell was very funny and ambled his way through a very pleasing and long set.

John Bramwell Setlist The Sage, Gateshead, England 2017

Support came in the form of Dave Fidler (also playing in the “band” sections of the JB set).  He did a really enjoyable set too.

The JB set was 25 tracks in length, stuffed full of I Am Kloot tunes as well as solo tracks.  The encore was pretty awesome.  I’m writing this a month or so after the gig and so can’t remember specifics to note, so this will be a sparse review.


Food was at the Head of Steam in the opposite side of the Tyne (fish & chorizo pie for me and fish & chips for Ste), washed down with a pint of Bitter & Twisted.

Pumarosa @ The Cluny, Newcastle

Priestess, you dance, you dance, you dance…

It would appear that this was the final gig of the year with all three of us in attendance.  We managed 10 as a threesome (threesome+ at times) this year which isn’t bad going.  This was, ridiculously, my 24 gig of the year with at least one more still to come.

What was it like? Pumarosa were really good.  Ste & I caught them at Glastonbury earlier this year, but didn’t know much about them then.  They were good that night, but tonight was quality.  I’d been giving the album quite a hammering of late and that helped to ensure I was familiar with virtually all of the set.  Isabel Munoz-Newsome fronts the band and seemed to be having a great time all night and this always improves my enjoyment of a show.  She was a very engaging stage presence with a great dancing style and gorgeous vocals.

They came on stage promptly at 9.30 and breezed through a set which consisted of the entirety of debut album, The Witch, with an added cover.

Dragonfly, Lions Den & Priestess were all highlights for me, but highlights in a set full of them.  The album is most definitely in my top 20 of the year, and is likely to be a vinyl purchase at some point in the new year.

Pumarosa Setlist The Cluny, Newcastle, England 2017, The Witch


What about the support act?  I’ve honestly never seen anything like it.  Vïsta was his name.  Just one guy on stage with a computer.  When we arrived in, he was essentially running on the spot in sports gear singing along to a backing track.  My initial reaction was intense amusement and at one point I was crying laughing.  When we decided to stay, after watching him drawing on his t-shirt (which subsequently went up for sale?), it actually became a pretty compelling watch.  It could certainly be considered the most unique and interesting support of the year.  As he noted, it’s Vïsta, with a double dot on the i (this was what he was demonstrating on his t-shirt), if you want to check him out.  Probably worth it.

What about food and drink?  We normally just have food in The Cluny, but decided to venture elsewhere.  Just up the road as it happens.  Arch 2 brewpub & burger kitchen.  Burger and a beer for £6.50.  Andrew and I had an awesome Wolf Blonde and Ste had a Southern Cross.  The burger was excellent to go with the excellent pint.  Unfortunately it was a bit chilly and we noted that this probably should be a summer venue.  Slightly hungry still after just a burger we decided to head to the Cluny for pudding  Waffle and ice cream.  Sounds good, only the waffle was disappointingly cold and tough work.  We smashed it though and washed it down with a hot coffee (ice cold coke for Andrew – crazy Kid).

If you don’t know Pumarosa then check out the album, or start on Priestess.  I think you’ll be pleasantly impressed.


Royal Blood @ Leeds First Direct Arena

Who throws a shoe?


The Arena in Leeds is an amazing venue.  We were pretty high up, but the sound is fantastic wherever you are.  The sound at this gig was incredible from just two people (with the occasional pair of backing singers).  From a bass guitar and drums these guys don’t give a second to breathe.

Who went?  This one was supposed to be just my wife, Clare, and I.  Unfortunately, Clare was ill for most of the week and had only just got back to work with a lingering headache.  A Royal Blood gig was not what the doctor ordered and so she took a pass out.  Ste stepped in at last minute and we headed down to Leeds after work.  On arrival at my house, Ste got ready, packed up his car and we were about to leave in mine…

Only not quite straight away.  Ste managed to lock his car keys in the boot of his car.  The car was new, it was dark and there was no obvious release mechanism.  15-20 minutes later after lots of sighing and random button pressing, we found the release mechanism and were on our way.

Some bad traffic meant we didn’t actually arrive in Leeds until about 6.30pm and had to source some food before heading in to the arena.

A local shopping centre had a chinese place with preprepared chicken, rice and noodles. It was quick, plentiful and tasty and did everything it was required to do.  We headed into the arena, grabbed a quick pint of Heineken (expensive – > £10 for 2! – but tasty) before taking to our seats.  We were on the third tier up about 15 rows from the back.  Black Honey were already on stage, more than halfway through their set.  I like this band and enjoyed what I saw.  Oddly, when we caught them at Glastonbury this year, we only caught the first part of their set.  I’d like to acth them again in the future.


At The Drive-In were up next.  I didn’t know the first time around and so didn’t know anything.  There were a some blokes outside noting that they didn’t know who the support acts were, but that their next gig was At The Drive-In and they couldn’t wait.  They were in for a treat.  We weren’t.  Clare and her headache would definitely have struggled with this one.


Ste & Andrew say Royal Blood in Newcastle earlier this year and they did a pretty short set.  They were one of my highlights at Glastonbury too.  At Leeds, they did almost two hours in total, playing 9 off How Did We Get So Dark? and 8 off Royal Blood, and it was brilliant.

Opening with Lights Out set the tone for a powerful and spirited gig.  Royal Blood are a band that always seem to be enjoying themselves, happy to be on the journey they’ve found the pair undertaking.  Every song was a belter with both giving their enthusiastic all.  The were some menacing mosh pits forming in the standing area and at one point the band had to stop playing for fear of potential crushes.  They resumed and more mosh pits followed.  When they closed on the immense Figure It Out, we weren’t expecting an encore, but were pleased to get one.  During the encore there was a moment that I find incredibly puzzling.  Someone through a shoe at Mike Kerr.  A shoe.  It hit him too and I believe he rightly noted the audience member as a c**t before handing the offending shoe to a security guy pointing out that if the shoe fits…  I could give the benefit of the doubt and say that I’m sure he didn’t intend to hit the lead singer, but honestly.

After leaving the gig we settled in for an hour in the multi-storey car park.  I expected it, but still frustrating.  Ste managed to get out of the car, find a local vending machine and get us some pop for the way home.  As he arrived back, I was just ready to leave.  We headed home about midnight.  It was a great night.  It also gave me the excuse for a second Mike Myers quote in the space of two reviews.  Smashing baby!Royal Blood Setlist First Direct Arena, Leeds, England 2017, How Did We Get So Dark?

Black Honey Setlist First Direct Arena, Leeds, England 2017


Wolf Alice @ O2 Academy, Newcastle

Wolf Alice: Beautifully Unconventional

Wolf Alice have become one of my favourite bands from the last few years.  Don’t Delete The Kisses is one of the best songs of 2017 and I picked up the green vinyl edition of Visions Of A Life without hearing much of it.  We bought tickets for this one well in advance of the gig and it didn’t disappoint.


When I left the gig the main thought in my mind was:


Wolf Alice, do ethereal quiet to jaw dropping shout loud banshee screaming within the blink of an eye and it’s incredible to behold.  I probably generally prefer their more ethereal sounds, but it’s all quality.

The setlist went something like this:

Wolf Alice Setlist O2 Academy Newcastle, Newcastle, England 2017, Visions of a Life

We had seats on the balcony for the night and that meant the photos weren’t great, but the crowd looked a little insane below, so was pleased to have a seat!  I think I’ve possibly got to that age where a seat feels more civilised.

There were loads of set highlights but I can’t look far beyond the “singles”.  The mirrorball brought another sparkling element to the beauty of Don’t Delete


The lighting at gigs these days is getting very impressive.  At times dazzling, but always unique from show to show.  This was now different with a three tier light going in straight lines across the stage.  Visually spectacular in a small venue.


There wasn’t a huge amount of dialogue between band and audience, but that didn’t matter.  A large volume of the crowd knew every word and sang along throughout.  Some dodgy timed handclaps from the audience did little to diminish the quality of encore opener, Blush and following Giant Peach we all went home happy.  Ears ringing.  But happy.

There’s some better photos of the gig on the O2 academy page here.

What were the support acts like?  I really enjoyed them both.  Superfood probably edged it for me.  Sunflower Bean, from New York (as the lead singer mentioned numerous times) were also good though.

Sunflower Bean

Who was there?  Ste & I for the whole night.  Andrew joined us a couple of songs into Superfood’s set and so there wasn’t too much opportunity to catch up.  For the gig itself we were also joined by one of Ste’s friends.

Food was from coop again.  It’s always good (as is the beer), but perhaps we should be more original when we go to the O2?


Tom McRae @ The Cluny, Newcastle & The Wardrobe, Leeds – 2nd & 3rd October 2017

Two stunning evenings in the company of Tom McRae

Tom McRae has released 8 studio albums, numerous live albums and demo / b-side collections.  I first heard of him on the short-lived music channel, The Amp.  I saw some infomercial type interview about Just Like Blood and was then hooked.

The Cluny

The last time I saw Tom was at The Sage.  It was a serene performance ruined at times by a drunk woman singing louder than Tom.  Andrew joined me that night as a Tom McRae virgin, as Ste couldn’t make it.  The Cluny gig was the 6th time I’d seen Tom live (although one was an in-store performance).  Ste had been with me for 4 of those.  I’m pleased to say that both Andrew and Ste were with me at The Cluny for our first proper gigamonth (proper includes essential ingredients; just the three of us, a pint, a chat and some food) since Haley Bonar in May.  The food (The Rumble Po’ Boy Jumble!) & beer (Andrew had a Wylam DH Table Beer and Ste & I had the space in between…or something like that) were up to the usual high Cluny standards.

Support act: IMG_0924Lowri Evans opened the evening supported by Lee Mason on guitar.  I enjoyed the set, which included a Welsh intro to a Welsh language song.  It was nice to hear little anecdotes and stories behind the songs spread throughout the set.

Tom McRae: Tom took the stage at about 9.30pm.  Totally unassuming.  He slowly ambled onto the stage and picked at a few guitars before letting Dave know he was ready to start.    I was instantly transfixed in the performance as Tom ignored the guitars and opened with an a capella version of Mermaid Blues.  Simply amazing.  That was soon followed by my favourite song of his latest album (album; Ah, The World! Oh, The World!), Show Them All.  Tom performed using a range of acoustic guitars, an electric guitar, a couple of harmonicas and a piano.  Every song was stripped back and completely beautiful.  Show Them All & Summer of John Wayne were both acoustic before the only use of the electric guitar on Won’t Lie.  Won’t Lie was the first of a number of audience participation songs.  The was a respectful and quiet hush from the crowd throughout, but every opportunity to get involved was taken with real intent.

2nd Law followed on piano.  Achingly heartfelt.  Next up was How The West Was Won which transformed into a cover of Free Fallin’ by the late, great, Tom Petty.  Tom Petty had died a short time earlier and his passing clearly affected the thoughts and performance of Tom.  When Runnin’ Down A Dream came on the PA after the gig, it sounded amazing and very poignant.

The High Life provided another opportunity for “angry” audience participation and Tom started taking some requests, checking in with his little red book every once in a while.

Everything seemed so relaxed.  Tom commented that the lack of a band meant it could be that way.  No need to rehearse.  Take it as it comes.  Sao Paolo Rain was sensational.

Tom seemed to warm up his on stage patter as the night went on, revelling in the recent life transforming nature of having a song covered on the Norwegian version of The Voice.

Tom indicated a new-found purpose to performing.  The world is so screwed up at the moment, that if he can just depress his audience enough during a gig, then the world might not seem so bad in comparison when they leave.

At this point in the gig, I was completely absorbed.  When he was taking requests, I wasn’t in the least bit compelled to make one.  I don’t care what he played.  He could have played anything from his back catalogue and I’d have been happy.  Yes, I have favourite Tom McRae tracks, but I didn’t need to hear them tonight.  I’ve heard them before and was just wanting to be taken away by whatever was next.  It Ain’t You, Expecting The Rain, For The Restless and Ghost of  a Shark were next.  Ghost…bled in to Please before My Vampire Heart.  None of This Really Matters was the penultimate song and only one of two played from the next album (which I’d have been happy to hear in it’s entirety).  He closed with One Mississippi.  An encore was not needed.  Lights up.  Tom Petty on.


I’d come to gig clutching 4 of Tom’s albums to be signed, hoping he’d be out before or after the show.  I already had 4 signed albums, so was hoping to complete the set.  He kindly obliged and stopped for a serious selfie.  I left very happy.

Tom had arrived at the gig following an epic journey.  He delivered a fantastic performance.

I left the gig thinking that this was the sort of performance I’d like to see again.  I wondered where else he was playing, but figured I was unlikely to go to another gig on this tour.  I’d never done that before.  Never been to another gig by a band or artist in the same tour.  Ste and I had recently discussed whether this was something we could see us doing.  We thought it unlikely.

I listened to a bit more Tom on the way home (From The Solo Lands) and thought, what if?

The next day I was in Rotherham with work.  I was taking someone with me.  At 7am they let me know they weren’t well.  Tom was playing in Leeds that night.  Well, considering I’d already travelled down, it would be rude not to.  Ticket booked.  Night two.

The Wardrobe

There was no Andrew & Ste.  I arrived in Leeds at about 5.30pm.  3 hours to kill.  My phone wasn’t going to have much battery left!  I had a nice pint of Wardrobe Pale Ale and a burger and headed downstairs to watch Lowri Evans (this time solo) at 8.30pm.  Another enjoyable set, made even better by the previous nights familiarity.

Tom joined us on stage at 9.30pm and after some guitar lead issues, he opened again with Mermaid Blues.

I was right at the front for this one.  There was a small change to the start of the set with For The Restless replacing Summer of John Wayne.  Tom described it as the best opening of set that he’d done for some time.  Who am I to argue?

The set started to change as the requests came in.  Sao Paolo Rain was the first request, at the same point in the set as at The Cluny.  I shouted for Walking 2 Hawaii with several others and that followed.  Simply stunning.  Possibly my favourite Tom song.  This version was incredible.  Simple he said.

Human Remains was another audience shout which really appealed to Tom and this was followed by It Ain’t You.  Tom then spotted a “hole” in the audience and unplugged his guitar and took a trip to the centre of floor and performed Bloodless.  The strict curfew was looming and so previous night set closers; None of This Really Matters and One Mississippi followed.  Ghost Of A Shark was then sneaked in under threat of fine and the set was closed with Free Fallin’.  Tom dedicated the night to Tom Petty.  Rest In Peace.

Ramshackle. Heartfelt. Meandering. In all the best ways. Thank you, Leeds. And all who are travelling to multiple shows! #dave #dave #dave

— tom mcrae music (@tommcrae) October 3, 2017

I travelled home, pleased to have experienced two incredible nights.  I was pleased with my spur of the moment decision and thankful to a supportive wife for not complaining!

I’d completely immersed myself in Tom’s back catalogue before The Cluny gig, listening through all the studio albums and most of the other collections.  I normally respond following a gig, by stopping listening to the band or artists for a while.  This is not one of the those responses.  Ah, The World! Oh, The World! is a stunning album, that gets better on every listen.

Tom McRae Setlist The Cluny, Newcastle, England 2017

Tom McRae Setlist The Wardrobe, Leeds, England 2017

Ryan Adams @ The Sage, Gateshead

Can Mr Snow please report to the stage door…

Ste introduced me to Ryan Adams around the time of Gold.  I loved that album and subsequently picked up Heartbreaker and then committed to investing in each album going forward…to a point.  Love Is Hell Pt.1 is an awesome album.   I continued enjoying the releases (Pt.2, Demolition, Rock n Roll, Cold Roses) through to Jacksonville City Nights, which I didn’t enjoy.  I haven’t been back to it for a while, but it put me off.  I picked up 29 and Easy Tiger and then stopped.  I didn’t give the next few much of a chance until Ryan Adams was released.  I enjoyed that, but didn’t put in too much time.  Prisoner then followed and something changed.  I know it’s been critically well received, but I mean something changed with me.  I wanted to listen to it.  Perhaps because my friend and workmate, Laura, is a huge fan.  Perhaps, because I caught Ryan at Glastonbury in 2015 and loved the set.  Perhaps, because I’m in love with music again.  Or perhaps because it’s just so damn good.

The show on Sunday took place at The Sage in Gateshead.  I feel privileged to have such an amazing venue on my doorstep.  Yes, at times, it can be a little pretentious and the atmosphere can feel a bit stilted, but the acoustics are amazing and the setting is breathtaking.  On Sunday, there was no pretentiousness, just a quality rock and roll show.

Ryan made pretty regular references to Kiss throughout the night.  Kiss aren’t / weren’t quite as big in the UK as the US, but you could tell he was channelling the rock god in an alt. country style.  V-shaped guitar and all.


The set was a little over 2 hours, powering through 23 songs with no encore.  The only breaks taken were for a few anecdotes and some lengthy end of song wig-outs.  Ryan noted a few times that he was feeling “low energy”.  If this was the case, it didn’t show.  He opened with the awesome Do You Still Love Me and proceeded to play; 7 from Prisoner, 3 from Easy Tiger, Heartbreaker & Cold Roses, 2 from Gold & Love Is Hell and 1 from Ashes & Fire and Ryan Adams and 1 new one (Tired Of Giving Up).


I mentioned the anecdotes.  These were long, but they had a pay-off and I couldn’t help but like him a bit more after each one.  The was a fascinating tale of “Every Pirate” from an early career performance in Newcastle and another sobering tale for us all on the dangers of consuming a full bottle of Robitussin.

It’s of no surprise that the Prisoner tracks stood out for me as did those from Heartbreaker, but it was When The Stars Go Blue & Breakdown that stole the show.  When The Stars Go Blue was complete with a mirrorball and was quite possibly perfect in every way.

The set was made very atmospheric throughout by a smoke machine pumping out low levels to maintain a smokey mood.  At one point I turned to Andrew and commented that the smoke was really starting to billow out now.  Little did I realise what was to come.  Ryan explained that there was a strict curfew at The Sage and that Shakedown… should be considered as the encore.   What followed was the most polite rock n roll end to a gig I’ve ever known.  Almost as soon as the tune started, the smoke machine went into full effect.  Soon, Ryan was no longer visible and before long, nor were any of the other band members.  Still playing, it wasn’t long before the whole auditorium was filled with smoke.

The set ended behind the cloud.  The lights came on.  The doors opened.  The fire alarms went off.

Attention please.  Attention please.  A fire has been reported.  Please leave the building immediately by the nearest exit.

Trust The Sage to have to most polite fire alarm in the world and what was presumably a brilliant coded message.

Can Mr Snow please report to the stage door…

I / we went home happy.  To cap it all off, I got a retweet from the man himself.    As did my friend, Laura who has been having a tough pregnancy – I think it made her year!

I always think that any performance is so much better when the artist or band are enjoying themselves.  I sense that Ryan Adams was, judging by the number of instagram posts he made about this gig.

Prisoner will be my next vinyl purchase.

Support act: Karen Elson was pretty great too.  I hadn’t heard anything of hers prior to this gig and I definitely will be listening in the future.  She made a pretty tidy contribution to the Ryan Adams set too.


Present: Andrew, Ste & I were all there, but Andrew didn’t mage to get down until the headline set.

Pre-gig entertainment: Ste & I went to the Hop & Cleaver.  We weren’t too impressed with the food, but the pint of Cara Munich (brewed on site) was nice.  We followed that with a coffee at the Head of Steam while discussing record & music collecting.