nxb3 on tour – Girlschool at The Blyth and Tyne, Blyth

I’ve not been to any heavy metal gigs for a long time now so when I saw Girlschool were playing in Blyth and I would be home for the gig I got a ticket straight away. I paired it up with another gig on the same night, Folk Rock band Lilliput playing in PopRecsLtd, Frankie and the Heartstrings record shop in Sunderland. They were a little late starting their set so as soon as they finished I legged it out the door back to the car to hare up the A19 to try and make the start of the Girlschool set who were due on stage at 8:30. Never having been to Blyth before I took a few minutes to find the venue, parked up and entered the pub at 8:32. Not even stopping for a drink at the bar it was straight through the back to see Denise putting the final touches to the drums and then 2 minutes later the rest of the band were on stage so only made the start of the gig by the skin of my teeth. A siren started up, someone down the front shouted out “I Love You Enid” (and she still is as outrageously gorgeous as she was when I last saw the band on the Screaming Blue Murder tour in 1982) and Jax started teasing the crowd by playing short bits of the intro to Demolition. After five false starts they powered into ‘Demolition’, ‘C’Mon Lets Go’ and ‘The Hunter’. They took a break for a couple of minutes to say they had never played Blyth before and then it was straight into ‘Hit and Run’ and then the first of the new stuff, a song called ‘I Spy’ from their album Legacy followed by ‘Never Say Never’. Back to the 70/80’s with a huge string of old classics starting off with ‘Screaming Blue Murder’, ‘Future Flash’, an absolutely storming ‘Kick it Down’, ‘Watch Your Step’, ‘Nothing to Lose’, ‘Race With The Devil’ and finally finishing the set with ‘Emergency’.

Another fantastic gig, the last few weeks have been just amazing! Girlschool were brilliant on the night, Jax has slotted into the lead guitar position effortlessly after the tragic death of Kelly Johnson in 2007 from Cancer and to think I nearly missed the start! I definitely won’t be cutting another Girlschool gig so close in the future. It was a short set at just over 50 minutes but that’s because Raven were headlining. Lots of great songs such as Tush, Take it all Away, Yeah Right etc were not included in the set tonight as there just wasn’t enough time, the gig finished approaching 11:30 as it was and there was a steady drift of people away from just before 11 to catch last buses home.

First time I’ve been to the Blyth and Tyne and it was a great small venue, stage was a couple of feet high with raised areas increasingly high towards the back so most people could have a really good view of the band. Girlschool excelled in this small venue, much better than in the larger venues such as the City Hall in Newcastle where I saw them several times. I’ll be sure to catch them again in a similar sized venue in the future, when hopefully they’ll be headlining and doing a longer set.




nxb3 on tour – Pauline Murray North East acoustic tour

During the course of October and November 2013 Pauline Murray did a series of acoustic gigs around her native North East. She normally fronts local punk band, Penetration on their occasional tours around the country so a series of intimate acoustic solo gigs was definitely unusual for her.

The first gig of the tour that I managed to attend was at the Old Cinema Launderette in Gilesgate, a mile or so out of Durham city centre. The venue used to be a cinema, opening in 1941 as the Crescent Cinema and later reopening under new management in 1958 as the Rex. After the cinema closed down it became a bingo hall for a few years before being converted into a launderette a couple of years ago and very soon afterwards started to have small intimate gigs which proved so popular they are on most weekends. Capacity is only about 35 as the venue is tiny but the atmosphere is wonderful and there is even a licensed bar there now with a selection of wines and beers available.

And so it was that Pauline Murray sat down with her acoustic guitar among the washing machines and driers surrounded by people sitting in a ring of chairs and a few others sitting on the floor or propping the bar up at the back. The set started with a selection of new songs, the first of which was ‘Shadow in my Mind’ about the little voice nagging away at you in the back of your mind. She had a little attack of nerves and had to compose herself before starting the next song ‘When we Were Young’ which was about teenagers having no responsibilities until they have to leave home. Next song ‘After All’ started by examining how people think before going off on a tangent about the media, It was a more upbeat track than the others and the best of the set up to now. ‘Missing’ was next, written about the disappearance of Madeleine McCann a few years ago. Another upbeat song came next, ‘Unbroken Line’ which was about Pauline’s growing interest in researching her family history and the last of the new songs was the best so far, it was about battling against depression, called ‘Dark Clouds’. Unfortunately, she forgot the words to a complete verse and had to improvise until she picked up the next chorus and then she made a mess of the finish as well.

She moved onto a selection of older songs now, taken from the various bands she had been involved in over the years. First song was ‘Don’t Give Up’ from her solo LP “Storm Clouds”. After a change of guitar the excellent ‘Sympathy’ was next, taken from the LP “Pauline Murray and the Invisible Girls”; It was followed by ‘Guilty’, which was written as an acoustic song but was picked up by Penetration and became a regular part of their set. A song about the bad times in the mid 80’s called ‘Pressure Zone’ came next and the last track was the excellent ‘Dream Sequence’ of which I still have a copy of the 10″ single somewhere in the house.

After the music finished a Q&A session developed covering a wide range of subjects and she even remembered and recited the missing verse to Dark Clouds as well .

This was a brilliant gig, Pauline playing an unusually small intimate show, with the acoustic guitar which she doesn’t normally do and playing in a fabulously strange venue to top it all off.

A few days later she played at the Green Room in Stockton, another tiny venue for small intimate gigs that I had tickets for but I headed up to Newcastle instead to see Peter Hook and the Light play Power, Corruption & Lies and Movement at Digital.

The next day Pauline was at the Star and Shadow Cinema in Byker, Newcastle so after a quick zoom around Lumiere at Durham I headed up to Newcastle for the gig. It was a very late start, Pauline took to the stage around 11:15 which was to allow people to arrive from another earlier gig at the Sage. Same setup as the gig in Durham with Pauline sitting on a chair at the front of the stage, the same set as well, starting with ‘Shadow in my Mind’, ‘When we were young’ ‘After all’ ‘Missing’ ‘Unbroken Line’ and the excellent ‘Dark Clouds’ which was faultless this time around.
The last of the acoustic tracks was ‘Don’t Give Up’, half way through the other musicians started to join in one by one, first of all Rob Blamire on the Bass, John Ashton on Keyboards, then Dave Hodgson on the drums and finally Paul Harvey on guitar. A selection of songs from Pauline Murray and the Invisible Girls CD followed starting with ‘Screaming in the darkness’, the excellent ‘Sympathy’, ‘Time Slipping’, ‘Shoot You Down’ and ‘Judgement Day’. Pauline Murray and the Invisible Girls final single ‘Searching for Heaven’ came next and the final track of the main set was ‘Dream Sequence’. The band came back on to do a single encore of ‘This Thing Called Love’ to end another excellent set. A very good turnout tonight with the venue almost full, a few talkers in the audience whose tongues were loosened by a few beers due to the late start and the long set at just over an hour ended after midnight.

Which was the best of the two gigs? that is a difficult call but I would have to go for the Old Cinema Launderette and the full acoustic set in amazing surroundings.



nxb3 on tour – Young Knives at Academy 2, Newcastle

This gig was originally scheduled to take place on the 12th September but was cancelled so I was lucky to catch the rescheduled date as work usually messes things up when this sort of thing happens. I’d seen the Young Knives before on a roasting hot day at The Cluny on 8th June 2006 when they were touring the ‘Voices of Animals and Men’ album and it was a decent enough gig so was expecting pretty much more of the same with a few new tunes thrown in.

What I got was the new album ‘Sick Octave’ played live in it’s entirety which saw the band well outside of their usual comfort zone playing indie rock and instead doing an experimental album which bounced between all sorts of different genres. Henry was doing most of the vocals as well as guitar and The House of Lords had a massive rack of keyboards and gizmos to play with as well as the more usual bass. There was even a large sheet of metal hanging at the end of the keyboard rack which The House of Lords was using as a secondary drum kit during ‘Owls of Athens’. Sick Octave was played in it’s entirity, the tracks in CD order with a bit of banter along the way with Henry saying he would have liked to see Gary Numan who was playing the main room next door.


Sick Octave was ‘12345’ which was a recording of a group of kids reciting a nursery rhyme of sorts which led straight into the ace ‘Owls of Athens’ which was like a much heavier version of Wire. The more melodic ‘We Could Be Blood’ and ‘All Tied Up’ were next followed by the excellent ‘White Sands’ which was a much more aggressive track and one of the best on the album. ‘Something Awful’ was another good track followed by the fairly boring ‘Preset Columns Default Comets’ before getting back on track with ‘Bella Bella’ and the wonderful ‘Marble Maze’. ‘Green Island Red Raw’ took the musical experimentation to extremes then it was back to the better, but very short ‘Score’. Another ace track ‘Bed Warmer’ was next and the album closer was ‘Maureen’. The ‘Sick Octave’ set was excellent, made better by the unexpected nature of the songs, I hadn’t even realised that they had a new album out let alone the change of musical direction but it all came together really well.


‘Sick Octave’ was topped by a string of singles, ‘The Decision’, ‘Vision in Rags’, ‘Turn Tail’, and ‘Terra Firma’ really got the mosh pit stirred up before they left the stage. They were back after a couple of minutes though asking what the crowd wanted to hear, they settled for ‘She’s Attracted to’  and a manic ‘Storm Clouds’ with Henry climbing up on the drum kit ending an absolutely excellent gig which is definitely one of my top 10 gigs of the year.


Not a massive turnout with the 400 capacity venue only being about half full which is probably due to the rearranged date but the people that turned out got one hell of a gig. There are still a few dates left so if you are quick then there is still time to catch them before the tour ends in Bedford on the 23rd.