Spectrals, Cult Image and Fantasy Rainbow, Cumberland Arms, Newcastle, 14th October 2011

It’s a windy October evening and I’m on my way to one of the quainter pubs in Newcastle to see Spectrlals play a gig. It’s freezing cold and I’m shivering, hoping that the sun drenched ballads of Spectrals will warm up my evening.

Alas, I arrive at the Cumberland Arms a while before the gig is due to start. After fighting my way through the packed out downstairs area of the bar, I make my way up to the function room which, to my surprise, has no more than ten people there. This confused me, and also left my a bit disheartened for the show I was looking forward to.

After a few beers, cigarettes in the cold and listening to people playing fiddles in the bar downstairs I head up to catch Fantasy Rainbow play. This is a name I have heard many times before on various blogs and in various circles of friends within the NE music scene, but have never had first experience of it. My time had come. While still playing to a fairly empty room, it doesn’t seem to out him off. One man on stage armed with a guitar, a loop pedal and some lo fi surf melodies. I can instantly see the fascination with Fantasy Rainbow that everyone has been hyping up. While very basic in structure, these songs sound nothing but heartfelt. Tales of youthful fun echo out behind delicious lo fi jams. Throw in a Fleetwood Mac cover and you get the idea. Overall, a nice set full of confidence and promise. I’m looking forward to hear more from Fantasy Rainbow and hopefully I get to see him play with a fabled full band.

Next up, Cult Image. A band I have seem numerous times, at various different venues supporting countless bands. Cult Image know how it’s done and are well experienced in the local music scene. As it happens I somehow manage to miss the first half of Cult Images set, I guess I was probably fascinated by the fiddle music being play by men in beards sat around a table in the bar below. But I manage to make it up in time to catch a few of their songs. A lot smaller venue since the last time I saw them play, they manage to own it and keep their audience captivated, which has now doubled in size. Again, 80’s post punk tinged pop is blasted out. What sounds like it could be a tried and tested formula, Cult Image manage to put their own twist on it, always managing to keep thing fresh and exciting. After only catching a few of their tracks the band graciously end their set making way for the main act, Spectrals to take to the stage.

Now its time for Spectrals. A band I first heard on the Paradise Vendors/Italian Beach Babes vinyl only compilation, they stuck out for me prompting me to find some of the their other releases. With a back catalogue consisting mainly of cassette and vinyl only releases, they seemed like the band for me. Now currently touring in support of their debut album, Bad Penny, Spectrals are in Newcastle unleashing their own brew of 60 garage rock and girl group noise. Clearly influenced by 60’s girl groups, this band manage to make their own brand of surf punk. Songs about love and heartbreak feature repetitively in their output, but in the sort of way that you want to hear about. The Cumberland Arms is now drenched in reverb and the voice of singer Louie Jones stands proud. With a Yorkshire twist on the American garage sound, Spectrals truly have found a niche in the musical market and fill it with such quality music. With a set ranging from their earliest release all the way through to their newest output, everyone is satisfied. The sounds on oiffer here managed to make me forget about the dreary cold night outside and seemed to convince me that I was in a sun drenched dream world where everything moves slowly to the sound of faraway guitars. I was particularly enaged with the slower ballads, which further sent me into a dream like state akin to the hazy world of Twin Peaks. I loved every second of it and only wish that it could have lasted longer. Something that I don’t get to see regularly, I was swept away feeling consumed by the hazy surf pop that had just been injected into my mind. I strongly recommend you check out Spectrals, you will instantly fall in love with the songs on offer, which is exactly what they want you to do.

Photo: Spectrals Facebook profile


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