LIVE REVIEW: KEIANDRA, THEM THINGS, MAT HUNSLEY @ NEWCASTLE CASTLE (11.03.16) | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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If you’re making haunting chamber pop then there’s probably no better location to host your debut EP launch than in the gothic surroundings of a Medieval castle. With its high ceilings and exposed brick walls, as well as a slew of fairy and tea lights, Newcastle Castle proves to be a good location to house Keiandra’s melancholic tunes.

Mat Hunsley was on hand to warm up the crowd first though. Quite literally. Hunsley noted that it was the first time he’d played in a location where he could still see his breath when he sang but his treacly tones and gentle, warming guitar helped to take the edge off the cold environment. Currently gearing up to release his new EP, Hunsley’s lovingly crafted tales are still as beguiling as ever.

Them Things provided something a bit different; filled with exuberance, their upbeat guitar-based songs connected well with the youthful audience, even if at times their sound drifts confusingly between the twang of psych pop of Peace and the blander end of Britpop. Despite being a bit sonically muddled, it’s not difficult to see how Them Things might develop into something greater; each member of the band is technically accomplished and their enthusiasm is infectious.

Clearly Keiandra had put a lot of effort into the night, having decorated the room and providing a warm welcome. But it was in Keiandra’s performance that the hard work really showed. Her beautiful, gliding vocals and looping guitar rhythms were backed by a band for the first time, featuring Reece Spencer and Ollie Winn of A Festival, A Parade, the band provided some hefty atmosphere. The pounding, fuzzy drums in particular lent Keiandra’s heartfelt songs some real weight and reverberated off the walls, while Spencer’s guitar and Winn’s bass added to the ethereal squall. But as Keiandra adeptly weaved through the haunting Wanted and lovelorn Icing Sugar, she proved herself to be the star of the show. The entire set was too short but, with this very first live showcase of her songs in their fullest form, Keiandra should have a long career ahead of her. And that means more tantalising chances to hear her otherworldly pop at length in the future.

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