I didn’t get a lot of sleep in readiness for the trip down to Newcastle but I was okay. I woke up just before the alarm I had set to wake me for 7am. Coffee and banana consumed, I got myself freshened up for the train into the city at 8.41am.
Four hours doesn’t seem like it’s that long for travelling – but somehow in a coach it just seems to go ssoooo much slower. I guess the stops along the way don’t help that. Edinburgh, Berwick-upon-Tweed, Alnwick and then finally into Newcastle. We arrived right on schedule, which was good. No mishaps or delays along the way. All grand. The only fly in the ointment that was concerning me was the weather. Again, as this summer is turning out to be throughout the UK a bit of a damp squib. I was hopeful that I’d at least get to the gig in relative dryness if not when I was leaving to get back to the hotel.
We stayed a little way out of the city centre at a hotel in Wallsend. It was close to the Metro station and would mean I could just take the metro to Byker and have a relatively short walk to the venue. The hotel was the Dorset Arms and it was really lovely. Placed at the end of a quiet residential street, and run by Stan, the decor of the place was really lovely. We had a generous sized room and all the accoutrements one would expect in a room. Stan was super welcoming and very helpful. When it came time to go to the gig, he actually gave me a lift down to Byker to the Morrison’s supermarket just near the venue. He also advised me on a taxi firm to book with for my return to the hotel.
On to the gig itself! Stan had dropped me off just 6.45pm. The Old Coal Yard is only maybe 200 yards away down a road on an industrial estate just behind the supermarket. At this point the rain was lightly falling. When I got to the venue, Steve and Andy were just finishing up their soundcheck. An exchange of pleasantries and a brief chat with both of them and they headed back to Steve’s for a bit to grab a bite to eat, etc.
The other acts then had a brief soundcheck.
The Old Coal Yard is an interesting venue. As it sounds, it was a former coal yard located right by the rail bridges that the trains still cross on their way coastwards. They have a small artisan brewery there, making their own craft beers on site. The stage is on the left side near the entrance, tucked away in the left corner of the space. The bar is over to the far right side.
The first act on the bill was Faye MacCalman. A solo performer on saxophone, clarinet, synths, delay effects, etc. She uses looping equipment to create her own tunes and plays live saxophone with the looped grooves. She also sings as well. All very much a one woman show. Unfortunately she was having a lot of technical issues with her sound so there were delays in her performance and things weren’t just really going to plan. It was a real shame because it affected the flow of her performance and had a knock-on effect with delaying the next support and Warm Digits’ stage timings. Her music was really interesting and I will check out her music on Bandcamp or Spotify – wherever she has her music available.
The next support act was Brad Field (aka Jeremy Bradfield) and he played programmed loops and tracks to live drums. One track in particular he performed was fantastically trippy and catchy in its repetitive groove. It’s been stuck in my head ever since. He also had visuals that formed part of his performance and the visuals for this – I’m not sure what the track is called but I want to call it ‘Do Do Da’ (I don’t know if that’s it’s name – I think it might actually be called Kevin?) with still images of various people but their mouths manipulated into action singing this looped wording of “do do do do do, do do do do do, do do do do do, duh do do daaah”. I’ll add a clip of a previous performance of it that was posted to YouTube.
I really enjoyed Brad Field’s set. Really trippy and I like the repetitious grooves and he was a really good fit for supporting the boys. He’s a bloody great drummer too.
With the delays that beset the night, Steve and Andy didn’t get to the stage until 10pm. Having spoken to the both of them earlier in the evening, I was aware that they were going to be testing out new songs. They performed three new songs. I recorded one of them, which I think Andy said is called Sweet Machines (I will have to double check with either him or Steve on that title). It was great to hear a track from their Interchange album given an airing. There was a good sized crowd there to enjoy the set. A number were friends and/or dedicated mega fans. I recognised a few familiar faces. I guess the home gigs are always going to pull in the familiar faces.
Their set was UNREAL! The sound levels and all of that was bang on. Steve was testing out a new pedal and you could tell this bit of kit was really working to how he wanted to because I could see just how much he was enjoying himself on Saturday night. Usually there’s a little sense of unease in him, or you just get a vibe that’s he not quite happy with everything sometimes but not on Saturday night. Andy is just…Andy. He goes for it, rain, hail or shine. He is literally the Lancashire answer to Animal from The Muppets. He just gives it full welly every time. I love watching him perform. An incredibly rhythmic drummer.
One of the new songs (I missed the name of it) was dedicated to me – which was bloody lovely! I said to Andy afterwards that I am claiming it as MY song now. Lol.
It truly was the most fabulous set. The new tracks are all fab already. I am sssooo excited to know they are working on new material and will be releasing another album, hopefully in 2024.
Sweaty hugs all round. Andy’s glasses lenses were soaked with sweat. A terrific night had by all who attended and the performers on stage.
I don’t know from here when I’ll get to see them performing again as they are really quite in the groove to get the material recorded for the album. There may be one around Christmas or around the end of year – only going by the tentative words Andy said to me. The concentration is on getting the album done. All I know for sure is there WILL be a next time, whenever that will be.
A fab gig. A really fab one. I saw two phenomenal gigs in the space of 24 hours and I was absolutely buzzing. As were my feet after the Warm Digits show! Ouch, mummy! I couldn’t get to sleep for HOURS after, my feet were just throbbing like crazy! Man, the pain! It was hell, but it was worth it!
There are a few other things about the trip to Newcastle I want to talk about, including an exhibition I saw at the Baltic – these things I will discuss on a post on my University & Unicorns blog – so if you’d like to read about all that – just click HERE