nxb3 on tour – Pauline Murray at the Tyneside Cafe Bar, Newcastle

This was a warm up gig for Pauline’s imminent solo acoustic tour of Australia, she is leaving on Sunday for 4 dates in the sun. Never having been down there the tour has generated a bit of excitement down under and more than a few nerves for Pauline herself who has never really been comfortable playing the guitar on the other acoustic shows she has played.
The venue was a Café Bar adjacent to and part of the independent Tyneside Cinema complex in the middle of Newcastle. I got there about 8:15 and the place was filling up nicely with a general mix of shoppers, cinema fans, curious passers by and a few mohicans.
The tiny stage was at the far end of the bar and all the tables around it were reserved for the large contingent of Pauline’s family, friends and the rest of Penetration who all turned out in a huge show of support.
At 9pm on the dot Pauline took to the stage with her acoustic guitar and after a bit of a hesitant introduction started the set with ‘Shadow in my mind’, the nerves were still clearly affecting Pauline although not nearly as badly as at the solo show she did at The Old Cinema Launderette in Durham in November last year. After the first song she undid the top button of her blouse because as she put it “as I’m starting to panic”. She managed to get through the next track with a couple of bum notes which she acknowledged with “That one I think I’m definitely going to have a look at it again”. By the 4th track she was definitely getting into her stride, her voice was stronger, her confidence building and the nerves were well under control. ‘Dark clouds’, a song about depression, which Pauline forgot the words of a whole verse to at the gig at The Old Cinema Launderette, was performed faultlessly this time.
Halfway through the set and that was the last of the new songs then it was time for a change of guitar and a few songs from the back catalogues of both Penetration and Pauline Murray and the Invisible Girls starting with ‘Don’t give up’ from her solo LP “Storm Clouds”. Pauline remembered to plug the re-release of the re-mastered Pauline Murray and the Invisible Girls CD after she finished ‘Sympathy’. She finished the main set with a couple of Penetration tracks, the first, ‘Lovers of outrage’ she had never played live before, the second, ‘Don’t Dictate’ she had made a mess of when playing her solo set at Rebellion earlier in the year. That was the end of the set, it has to be limited to 45 minutes in Australia and just edged past that but then there was a big surprise in the encore she chose, a cover of ‘Can’t get you out of my head’ by kylie Minogue which got a massive sustained applause from the crowd.

The setlist was: Shadow in my mind, When we are young, Unbroken line, Missing, After all, Dark clouds, Don’t give up, Guilty, Sympathy, Dream Sequence, Lovers of outrage, Don’t Dictate, Can’t get you out of my head

This was an absolute cracker of a gig, by far and away the best solo performance I’ve seen her play. It was great to see some more Penetration songs featuring in the acoustic set and by the time of the encore she was really enjoying the gig, all signs of the nerves of the start completely banished.


aus tour


nxb3 on tour – Rexine at The Head of Steam, Newcastle

I was going to write a review of this gig just after it happened but I ran out of time before going back to work in Africa so decided to wait for their next gig. This plan was shot down in flames on the 16th of May when Shona (guitar) announced on facebook that both Stacey (vocals) and Cathy (bass) had left the band due to separate individual circumstances so I decided to review their last gig I was at which turned out to be their very last gig with this lineup.

The band took to the stage just before 10pm launching straight into a storming version of their previous single ‘New Sparkle’. A brand new song called ‘Patterns’ was introduced by Stacey saying she might or might not remember the words, which was followed by an old song from 2010, ‘Long White Cloud’ although you wouldn’t know it was an old one as there were 2 false starts before finally getting the intro right and carrying on into the main body of the song. It was another old track next with set regular and opener ‘The Shell’ followed by another new to me song ‘A Foreign Country’ and a song that they rarely play ‘Snowblind’. Both sides of their latest single were next, ‘Trail of Sequins’ and another old set opener, ‘Paper Dolls’ followed by another new one ‘Crowd You Out’ and the last song was the regular set closer ‘Black Boots, White Lines’. A few people were shouting for Leipzig and I was also hoping they’d play it as an encore but it wasn’t to be and it was the end of another pretty good gig which the band clearly enjoyed. Stacey’s vocals were quiet for the first couple of songs, especially for the new Patterns but became clearer and more pronounced as she got into her stride and her confidence increased.

Rexine never really got past the stage of playing to a couple of dozen mates and the odd straggler but ever since seeing them for the first time supporting Shonen Knife at the Cluny I’ve been keeping an eye on their gig schedule and going to see them whenever it fitted into my plans. I got to see them 5 times in the end and was looking forward to seeing them again over the summer until the announcement of the band split. I wasn’t the only one to see potential in this band as they were recording at Polestar studios in Byker which is run by Pauline Murray, vocalist for local punk band Penetration. They even managed a couple of support slots to Penetration, supporting them at the Georgian Theatre in Stockton back in March and scheduled to support them again in Gateshead for their Rebellion warm up show which is probably going to be at The Three Tuns in very early August which they have had to pull out of because of the split.

Rexine were never a great band but I definitely had a soft spot for their particular brand of pop punk which had just enough of a hard edge to it to make it stand out from most of the other small bands in the north east. Stacey’s vocals were usually too low in the mix and she didn’t move around the stage much at all at any of their gigs I was at, apart from this one when she had a wander through the audience to a couple of her mates during Black Boots, White Lines. Despite this I liked them a lot and was really disappointed when I read the announcement of their split. Shona and Graeme asked for replacements for both Stacey and Cathy in the post announcing the split so hopefully Rexine will rise again and go on to bigger and better things now that Pauline Murray has taken them under her wing and is hopefully steering them in the right direction.


nxb3 on tour – Penetration at The Georgian Theatre, Stockton

After what must be a serious contender for gig of the year by Goy Boy McIlroy at Frankie and the Heartstrings record shop Pop Recs Ltd there was no time to hang around, the gig had gone on way longer than I had anticipated so it was a dash back to the car and a fast drive down to Stockton to The Georgian Theatre. I had really wanted to see the first support band, Newcastle Indie poppers Rexine who had impressed me the first time I saw them supporting Shonen Knife at The Cluny a year or so ago but their set had finished way before I arrived in Stockton. Main support Cyanide Pills were already half way through their set when I walked through the door of the venue so after grabbing a drink at the bar I made my way to the front to watch the last third of their set. They were pretty good and I’ll try and catch them next time they are up Newcastle way but over the last week with gigs 6 out of 7 nights, two gigs on both Friday and Saturday nights and at least a half dozen other gigs I wanted to be at this last weekend sometimes it’s not so easy to see a band that you like.

This would be the second and last gig from the Penetration tour, I’d also seen them play a very good gig the previous night in Derby at the excellent venue The Hairy Dog so I was expecting another good one. The band came on stage a little after 10:00, they had been waiting for Pauline who came into the venue just a couple of minutes before hand. They started the set with ‘Future Daze’ and ‘Life’s A Gamble’ to lots of cheering and clapping, there were also people singing along for entire songs but sadly no mosh pit. Pauline greeted the audience with “Well hello everyone, thanks for coming out tonight” then went on to thank both support bands before continuing with ‘Lovers Of Outrage’. Pauline asked who had been at the Georgian Theatre for their last gig there and a few people cheered, she went on to say it was loud, very loud, eyeball shaking and ear hurting loud and a mate later told me that he had been and the sound was so bad that he had walked out. I’m pleased to say there were no such problems this time, the sound was excellent, nicely balanced and clear vocals where I was standing which was at the front, just to the right of Pauline.
“I hope nobody gets seasick” was the introduction to the first of two fairly recent songs ‘Sea Song’ and ‘The Feeling’ then it was back to the old stuff with ‘She Is The Slave’. “Fancy doing this stuff at our age eh?” got a few chuckles from the audience before Rob played the bass intro to ‘Movement’ as a teaser and then for real. The excellent Patti Smith cover ‘Freemoney’ was next which ran into ‘Silent Community’ and ‘Don’t Dictate’ which finally got the mosh pit moving. ‘Reunion’ was introduced as “A song about reflection”, band introductions were made as Reunion faded out and a blistering version of ‘Nostalgia’ followed. The main set finished with ‘Come Into The Open’ and the regular closing track ‘Shout Above The Noise’
The band left the stage to loads of clapping and cheering for more and the band duly obliged with the same encore as at Derby, ‘Firing Squad’, ‘Danger Signs’ and finally ‘Stone Heroes’.

Another excellent gig from the band and I’m disappointed I won’t make any more of their gigs from this tour as they are really good at the moment.
If you get the chance then don’t hesitate, just go.
It will be a good one.

Upcoming shows are:
10th April Institute, Birmingham
11th April Garage, London
12th April Academy 3, Manchester
18th April The Fleece, Bristol
19th April The Globe, Cardiff
26th April ABC, Glasgow
4th May Academy, Newcastle upon Tyne
15th May Voodoo, Belfast
16th May Fibber Magees, Dublin
9th August Rebellion, Blackpool (TBC)
20th September Undercover Festival, Woking


nxb3 on tour – Penetration at The Hairy Dog, Derby

It’s been a while since I last saw Penetration at the Durham Punk Festival in September 2012 so when this latest tour was announced I was hoping to see them a few times along the way. As more and more dates were released it became apparent that all the dates within travelling distance (and I do travel a long way to gigs) were when I was scheduled to be working offshore apart from the Georgian Theatre in Stockton. The only other realistic gig was Derby but I was already committed to another gig at The Chocolate Factory in Derby and didn’t want to back out. I got myself a ticket ‘just in case’ and in the days before the gig, I took to twitter to try and get some time separation between the two gigs. Before travelling down I got confirmation the band at the chocolate factory was due to start at 21:30 and Penetration were due to start their set at 22:15 so doing both gigs was tight but do-able.

The gig at the Chocolate Factory finished at 22:10 so then it was a fast walk across town (I’m too old and knackered and the docs to heavy to run) and I got to the Hairy Dog at 22:25. I couldn’t hear the band but went straight upstairs, and found myself a good position to watch the band in front of Pauline about 5 rows back from the stage.

There was a bit of banter between the audience and Pauline going on about a plectrum for some reason and once that had finished they played one of their newer songs which has been a part of their set for the last couple of years, ‘The Feeling’. I thought this was a bit weak when I first heard it but have got to admit it has been steadily growing on me ever since. That was the one and only new song, everything else taken from “Moving Targets” and “Coming Up For Air” the first of which was ‘She Is The Slave’. Pauline says “We will get more new ones but we guess people want to hear the old ones and people would get very pissed off if we did a whole new set” and the band launch straight into Movement. Pauline asks the sound engineer to put a bit of echo on for the start of ‘Free Money’ and follow that up with ‘Silent Community’ and ‘Don’t Dictate’ which got the small mosh pit right at the front quite a bit bigger. A bit more banter while Pauline sat down for a breather and introduced Reunion and Nostalgia then it was straight into ‘Come Into The open’ and the main set closed with the usual ‘Shout Above The Noise’
The band walked off the side of the stage into a darkened room but came back out almost immediately. “Well here we are says Pauline, lets do a few more” and they let rip with ‘Firing Squad’ which had everyone else singing along. ‘Danger Signs’ quickly followed and the excellent ‘Stone Heroes finished the gig off.

I since found out that I only missed 3 tracks, Future Daze, Lovers Of Outrage and Sea Song.

This was one of the better Penetration gigs that I have been to, the band clearly enjoyed themselves playing the gig with Rob especially smiling and laughing. Right from the moment I walked into the room there was a mosh pit going down the front which only got bigger as the gig progressed. Not many talkers around me either with everyone’s attention fixed firmly on the band.

To the casual passer by The Hairy Dog is a bit tatty and run down so won’t get much passing trade, but don’t let that fool you, the list of forthcoming bands was huge with some pretty big names on the list, the upstairs room where they hold the gigs is a decent size at about 150 capacity and the sound where I was standing was excellent. There was a large banner outside advertising the Springhead Brewery but I wasn’t expecting much in the way of their beers to be on. How wrong was I about that, “The Leveller” and “Maid Marian” were both excellent and there was a third available as well as a hand pump not in use at the time.

I’d love to be a regular at The Hairy Dog but unfortunately that won’t happen as the stupidly expensive cost of the train ticket to Derby was three (yes 3) times the price I paid for the hotel room for the night.

I don’t suppose you can relocate The Hairy Dog about 180 miles to the north?

Use it don’t lose it Derby, you have a really good pub and venue here.


The gig was recorded by someone in the audience and can be found here:

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.