Feature: Ali Welford – A Look Back At 2019 | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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We chat to some of our passionate and dedicated writers to find out what they thought of 2019. Here, Ali Welford fills us in on his 2019.

So, how was your 2019?
Decidedly mediocre.

What was your best moment?
No individual moment particularly stands out. There’s been lots and lots of great gigs, and as ever it’s been fun meeting an assortment of weird and wonderful new people. That’ll probably sound corny, but it’s always nice coming across folks who’re not dicks.

And your worst moment?
When my Mum told me she’d voted Tory.

Your favourite band/artist of the year?
A lot of personal favourites have gone from strength to strength – Me Lost Me; Archipelago; The Noise & The Naïve; Roxy Girls and Penance Stare, to name but a few. Richard Dawson, obviously. But for me, the pick has to be Bad Amputee. Every time I’ve seen them play I’ve been completely swept away; there’s minimal, escapist beauty to their songs that’s truly special. They’ve really kicked into gear in the second half of the year, and I can’t wait to hear the recordings they’ve been working on.

Your favourite song of the year?
Jogging by Richard Dawson. Bad Amputee’s Rhona was a serious contender, but more than any other song in recent years, Jogging nails the misery and absurdity of the times we live in. Richard’s new album 2020 is so impeccably observed it’s difficult to believe that none of it is autobiographical, and the window this song offers into the mind of an anxious, despairing runner (sounds familiar…) is the mark of a genuine genius.

Favourite TV show of the year?
Chernobyl wins by default, since it’s the only new series I’ve watched from beginning to end. It’s also really fucking good… you may have heard! I also re-watched Walking with Dinosaurs to mark its 20th anniversary. It’s no exaggeration to say that that programme changed my life, and is still by a vast margin the greatest prehistory documentary ever made.

Your favourite film?
I’m pretty sure I’ve only watched two new films this year, of which Midsommar was the best. I’ve a tendency to catch-up on films three or four years after the fact – by which time people who actually know about cinema have long since moved on – but even by my standards it’s been a dry year.

Best book you read?
I’m almost exclusively a non-fiction reader. The book I’ve enjoyed the most this year is probably Ends of the World by Peter Brannen. It’s basically an investigation into the Big Five mass extinctions in the history of life, and what they can teach us about our current crisis. No two extinction events are the same, but there are certainly a lot of uncomfortable echoes. Our species has only existed for 200,000 years (roughly 0.005% of the duration of life on Earth), yet barring immediate, drastic measures our legacy will be one of utter ruin. We’re on the verge of causing damage that our planet will take millions of years to recover from – and yet, nobody with the power to implement genuine change seems remotely bothered.

Favourite venue of the year?
The Cluny, Cobalt Studios and the Old Cinema Launderette are all brilliant spaces and have again attracted a brilliant and diverse array of acts. The Cumberland Arms is unquestionably my favourite venue to promote my own gigs – particularly given the lack of viable DIY spaces available in Newcastle at the moment. Finally, I’ve really enjoyed visiting the newly opened Bobik’s in Jesmond. It’s a great little room and they’ve placed a lot of emphasis on local acts, often offering longer set times. The fact it’s a two-minute walk from my front door doesn’t hurt, either.

What was your favourite gig/show of the year?
So, so many… I’d been wanting to see Kathryn Joseph for years, and her show at The Sage was even more spellbinding than I’d anticipated. I had my best birthday in a long time thanks to McLusky’s show at The Cluny. AJA at Brave Exhibitions Festival was such a visceral, blinding and ear-splitting experience that I had to guzzle painkillers immediately afterwards. Abul Mogard, Moor Mother, Mondo Sadists and Sonic Bothy stood out at another tremendous TUSK Festival. Overall, though, the best would have to be The Cure at Bellahouston Park in Glasgow. They’re probably the greatest live band I’ve ever seen, and having been to three Cure shows now I’m still yet to encounter a single arsehole. Mogwai and The Twilight Sad opened this one too – a great day.

Any upcoming artists we should keep an eye out for in 2020?
She’s not exactly a brand new face, but I’m hoping/expecting that Ceitidh Mac will give a big year. On the heavier end of the spectrum, I’ve liked what I’ve heard from Nuclear Sunset, and look forward to seeing them on a few more bills. Looking further afield, Grave Goods’ doomy post-punk is aggressively up my street, and Slime City’s mix of black humour and wicked hooks has well and truly snagged my heart.

And finally, what has next year got in store for you?
Hopefully I’ll put on a few more gigs – I’ve done a grand total of two in 2019, so beating that shouldn’t be too difficult!

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