Welcome to the blog, It is intended to highlight periodic reviews of gigs I attend around the north east of England. I’ve never reviewed a gig, wrote a blog or had a website before so it will be a bit rough round the edges but it will hopefully improve with time.
I’ve been going to gigs since the mid/late 70’s, mainly to see metal/punk/indie and alternative bands but some other genres as well. I work offshore so 7 months of the year is a no gig zone and in the remaining 5 months I have to fit in everything else so my gig attending is usually in short frenetic bursts usually in the Newcastle/York/Leeds area but I also regularly cover Carlisle/Sunderland/Middlesbrough/Wakefield with the occasional excursion further afield to Sheffield/Manchester/Birmingham/Edinburgh/Glasgow.
You can keep track of my gig schedule on twitter @nxb3 or on songkick at http://www.songkick.com/users/nxb
The first gig I’m going to review is Live at Leeds 2013. I’ve never been to this festival before and wasn’t planning to go until the Mashup festival in Northumberland was cancelled due to expected bad weather and the date moved to when I was offshore. That left a big gap in my planned schedule and Live at Leeds stepped in to fill that gap nicely.
So I left home around 9:30 in the morning to drive down to Leeds, parked up near Hyde Park just after 11:15 and headed off to the CityMuseum for the wristband exchange. There were a few dozen people hanging around outside but no queues and I got the wristband straight away. There was no hint of the huge queues that would form later on in the afternoon as thousands of people all converged into the area.
At 11:40 we were let into the first venue, Leeds Met Uni Stage 2 for the first band of the day, Tokyo Corner from Huddersfield. They came onstage bang on midday and immediately impressed with their brand of bluesy rock and roll. A good start to LAL2013 and then it was round to the Faversham to catch Battle Lines with the taunts of the Met security guys “you not staying them? Is the beer no good?” ringing in my ears.
I’d picked Battle Lines as the next band as Witch Hunt are supporting them at Fibbers in York on 18 May and I was considering going to this show just to see the support. So Battle Lines came on stage rather hesitantly and kicked off with a lacklustre keyboards heavy number which set the tone for the rest of their set. The tempo picked up a bit towards the end but still not my kind of music I’m afraid and Carly is lacking a bit in stage presence for a front person. If I do go to York then I’ll be leaving after Witch Hunt. First Miss.
Next it was A Nation of Shopkeepers to see Night Engine who had been billed as an art rock ‘Franz Ferdinand’ type of band. This description got my interest as I was a huge fan of the first FF CD so wanted to give them a try. As I walked past the City Museum the queue for the wrist band exchange was getting into full swing snaking a long way around the square with a (luckily) much smaller queue to get into ANOS.
Once inside it was absolutely packed and heaving in front of the bar area and only thinned out slightly in front of the tiny square of floor space that served as a stage. The band came on to a subdued audience reaction but their infectious indie pop soon got the crowd going and the cheering and screamers really started mid way through the set. By the time their set ended the crowd was completely won over and they left the stage to thunderous applause. Another good band.
Next stop was Mine at Leeds Uni to see Blackeye. I had been intrigued by their comparisons to Garbage so definitely wanted to see them. Couldn’t hear much of the vocals of the first song as they were way too low in the mix, this was put right after the first track. Some really good indie pop songs including the great I just wanna fuck the night away but they went offstage after only 18 minutes when they ran out of songs, they really need to write some more. Another Hit.
I wasn’t sure what to do after Blackeye finished 12 minutes early, then I noticed that there was a band due to come on at Stylus as I walked past on the way out. I decided to check them out so waited for Department M to take to the stage. More electronica which is not my scene so watched 15 minutes then left. Another Miss.
It was back to Stage 2 for Witch Hunt next but I would be too early so decided to watch the band before them as well. This turned out to be Findlay, who like most of the bands so far I had not heard of before the festival. Findlay was a revelation, a gorgeous voice, hugely confident with a massive stage presence, stalking around the stage like a wild animal possessed. This was a great set and I’ll be watching out for more of her gigs in future. Only downside was another short set, only 23 minutes. Another Hit, Got to see her again.
Next up on Stage 2 was Witch Hunt, the main reason that I was at LAL2013 in the first place. I’d seen them in Newcastle a few weeks before hand and was hugely impressed. Tonight they were even better, a magnificent set with stunning vocals from Louisa. It’s hard to believe that these songs are just performed by Louisa and Chris by themselves. I’ll be seeing them again, probably many times over. Massive Hit.
It was back to Mine at Leeds Uni next to see Max Raptor, a rock/punk band from Burton. Another band that I didn’t know of before and another great set to a half empty room, most of the crowd had travelled up with the band, they must have brought a bus with them or something. From the off Max Raptor put everything into this gig working the crowd, encouraging the mosh pit which grew from 2 people at the start to half the crowd by the finale which was a magnificent track called The King Is Dead. Superb show and another band I’ll be watching for gigs that I can get to. Another hit.
It was an hour until the next band so I had a walk through town, picked up some food in the form of a box of noodles from Wok and go (excellent) and then made my way to Milos for the great Kleine Schweine. I got to the bar and you could hardly get through the door and that was 20 minutes before the band was due to hit the 4 square meters of floorspace that served as a stage. I got myself positioned nicely at the end of the bar just far enough away to avoid getting hit in the face with a guitar every now and again. The place was heaving and as the band were preparing to start Neil chipped in with “Can about 100 people please fuck off” as there literally was hardly room to move in a venue that’s not much bigger than a rabbit hutch. So the band kicked off the set with The hills are alive with the sound of Husak and stormed through the set with hardly any space to move. Neil nearly went into the drums at one point, a mic stand did go into the drum kit, one of the drums fell over and still they partied on. The gig was a magnificient triumph of chaotic mayhem. They really need to find a bigger bar next year or else I’ll be queueing up outside at opening time to make sure I get in.
I took some time out from LAL2013 after Kleine Schweine and went up to the Library where Berlin Black were playing the 10th anniversary sheepish gig in the upstairs room. The very first sheepish gig was played by screaming banshee aircrew who subsequently split into Berlin Black who were to headline and into Partly Faithful who were to be the support. Partly faithful couldn’t play because their guitarist Anouska Haze was ill and was undergoing surgery in hospital. Lost souls played as support to replace Partly Faithful but were late taking to the stage which had a knock on effect with later gigs at LAL2013. So Berlin Black took to the stage around 9pm and stormed through an excellent 1 hour set then came back for a couple of encores with Ed Banshee of Partly Faithful joining the band onstage for the first encore.
I had hoped to catch Hawk Eyes at Mine but arrived to see about the last 30 seconds of their set because of the delays at the Library gig. I was starting to feel knackered by this time (I can’t keep going all night anymore like I used to be able to) so stayed at Mine to see Sky Larkin, a band I haven’t seen since the halcyon days when they supported Forward Russia at the George many years ago. Sky Larkin played a good set and then it was time to drive back north after a great day out.
There were a few bands that I wanted to see but missed, such as Savages but the clashes were minimised by seeing Post War Glamour Girls and PINS the night before at the Head of Steam in Newcastle. They were both bands that I wanted to see and seeing both of them the day before made the whole scheduling process easier to sort out.
All in all a great festival with magnificent sets from the two highlights Witch Hunt and Kleine Schweine with honourable mentions to Max Raptor and Findlay.
If work permits then I’ll definitely be back next year.