Curated by Tom Cotton, Generator’s Bob and Joe, Narc magazine’s Linsey Teggert and local songsters Let’s Buy Happiness, Month of Fridays is best described as a spectacular September showcase, of acts both exotic and domestic, right in the heart of Bkyer.
Taking over the Cluny and the Cluny 2 for 5 consecutive Fridays, it’ll see musical luminaries from as far afield as Australia and Canada pass pints with South Shields rock royalty and some of Newcastle’s best new bands.
If you think that’s one of the best ideas you’ve ever heard, then that’s probably because it is and borderline titillated by its opening evening, we dutifully attended.
Those of you with the rudimentary superpower of sight will have noted that Ajimal, the ghostly musical exodus and in-ear experiment from Fran O’Hanlon, wasn’t, according to the poster, scheduled to manifest itself tonight. A genuine shame that, as had I known, I wouldn’t have gone straight to the bar upon my arrival and ended up missing the whole set. To make up for it though, here’s a short review of what I did instead.
This was, by no means, going to be my first taste of Guinness, but it was still one I’d been anticipating for the better part of the afternoon. However, owing to the busy nature of the bar, it was poured from base to brim in one go, not being given the customary time to settle at the three-quarter mark.
I’ve been here before with a pint of the black stuff, and under normal circumstances I’ll just pull a bit of a disappointed face when I hand my money over. Being, as I am, much too English to actually complain. As it was though, having it rushed out of the tap and into a plastic cup gave me something dirty festival tremor down my spine as it passed my lips. Whether or not that’s a good thing though, I’ll leave up to you.
We went through the motions, sip, chat, sip, chat, etc; and as the we reached the end of our little coalescence, the stark reality that both the initial crispness and the overall temperature had dispersed was unavoidable. After such a promising start this wasn’t exactly the end I had imagined, even if how it was presented should have been a glaring clue. Overall then, not the greatest performance, but the pint was probably more a victim of circumstance than its own shortcomings.
Anyway, first up for me, The Union Choir, a band who I recently described as “melodic-raincloud-pop”, but in a good way. Being very much a sort of aural comfort blanket, the sombre octet (looking someway short of 8 members this evening) gave us the sort of wide-eyed and wistful spectacle we’ve come to expect from them in recent times.
This is a band I’ve been wanting to catch in the flesh from some time now and, in the here and now, they were just as woven and layered as I’d hoped they’d be. Sort of like a musical lasagne, except the mince hasn’t come from a cow, it’s come from The National.
As enjoyable as they were though, they were about to be completely dwarfed by both the noise and the spectacle of what was to come.
I’m all about the note taking at gigs. Owing the somewhat fuzzy head I’m known to possess on the morning after, I’ve started to find that jotting down a few points there and then can be, at the very least, prudent. In reality though what happens is I end up with pages upon pages of half-sentences and awkward quips as I get torn between writing the review on the spot and trying to look like I know what I’m doing.
Included, for the purpose of illustrating my point. Is my notes from Foon Yap and The Roar, in their entirety…
Fronted by a girl who appeared to be wearing a 3D magic eye puzzle, Foon Yap are quite possibly the musical equivalent of what losing your virginity might have felt like if you’d spent the entire afternoon licking poisonous frogs.
Flying in from Canada, they somehow managed to sneak a bombastically outrageous blend of funk driven garage rock through customs. It’s music that could simply never exist on this continent and getting to see it within the confines of the Metro route, instead of requiring three connecting flights, was an experience to be cherished.
There was a real, real danger that they could have swanned in and stole the show, taking the metaphorical shine of the real talking point of the evening – the return of Minotaurs. But we needen’t have worried.
Where they’ve been in their hiatus, or indeed how important they’ve become since, was the source of much discussion before tonight, but within minutes of them taking to the stage, it was rendered completely impertinent. “Where they hell were you lot when we were actually good?” being the derisive curtsey from front man Andrew Forster.
Far from merely being a reemergence or a trite come back gig, as the band took to the stage the entire room was awash with honest and unabashed appreciation. Never before have I seen a crowd that was so wildly diverse as this one, and yet so zealously enthused with appreciation. That’s a crowd that was littered with notable faces from the region’s biggest and best bands, hardened gig goers both old and young, parents, scenesters and everyone in between. Even the sort of bellends you would assume still haven’t pulled their heads out of Only By The Night yet had sensed the spectacle that was on offer. Proof, if any more was needed, that great bands are still socially unifying.
Sounding every inch like a band who’ve been hidden away in a dark basement honing their craft, a relatively short set was then rolled through. Lifting all the nice contours from rock, roll and folk, as well as staying just on the right side of pop, their fierce marriage of grit and grace showcased the sort of hooks you’d hang your coat over if only you could. Welcome back lads and lasses.
The only flaw in this whole plan though, is that it’s only a month.
Next week: Aussie disco-pop troubadour The Jezabels, recipients of a Huw Stevens Xmas card Grandfather Birds and the hopefully better than a pint of Gunniess Ajimal.
By Adam Clery KYEO
Photos: Stephen Noble