FEATURE: The Great Northern All Star Band | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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Words: David Brewis, Field Music

Since being asked to be the house band for The Great Northern Songbook (Sage Gateshead, Saturday 23rd June) it’s been interesting to see how the general public have interpreted the idea of what makes a song Northern. There have been a lot of EXTREMELY literal suggestions put forward and, hell, I’ll be happy as Larry playing Big River and Fog On The Tyne, but it has made me wonder about my own Northern songs. Here’s a few favourites…

The Human League – Don’t You Want Me

Have dreams of discotheque stardom ever been rendered so perfectly? Sure, there’s a superficial glamour and a touch of noire, but it also sounds like the cocktail bar is right next door to a working men’s club and they might have to head there for last orders anyway.

Kenickie – Come Out 2Nite

Or maybe they’ll stay out and go to Pzazz? This song sounds like the archetypal messy teen night on the lash in a Northern town.

Roxy Music – Virginia Plain

I do like the idea of a young Washington shop assistant turning himself into a bohemian in Newcastle Fine Art department (and the Club A GoGo) and then turning his painting of a packet of fags into one of the greatest pieces of Pop Art, complete with drumming from Jarrow’s finest. That’s the kind of Northern story I can get behind.

The Animals – We Gotta Get Out Of This Place

You can’t really sum up what it is to be Northern without facing up to the pull to leave; the want for a better, easier life than your parents had and the one seemingly lined up for you. So, okay, this was written by two New Yorkers, but The Animals wring every ounce of yearning out of it. Canny lads.

Venom – Black Metal

It doesn’t matter how many groovy coffee shops and bespoke beard parlours we have, the North separates itself from the South by being, well, not cosmopolitan. For better or worse, we are the provinces and what could be more beautifully, perfectly provincial than inventing a whole genre of metal. Faster than steel, fortune on wheels. Do yourself a favour and look up the lyrics right now.

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