Image by Nick Wesson
It seems as though Billingham-based duo Mouses have already cemented themselves as a seminal act in the North East music scene – so it only seems right that they should have an album launch show of a similar calibre – and a well-awaited one, at that.
If one were to pick key highlights of music in the nineties, it would perhaps be the scuzzy guitars of Sonic Youth, the aggression of seminal grunge bands such as Nirvana, or the blissed-out reverb of My Bloody Valentine, Slowdive, and other patron saints of the shoegaze scene. Opening act Tripper Gore manage to encapsulate all of these well, even a cover of The Stooges I Wanna Be Your Dog is comparable in regards to the original artist’s ferociousness.
The gung-ho punk of Casual Threats may have been as menacing as their namesake if it wasn’t for their playful-at-points stage antics and the cover of Skepta’s Shutdown that closes their set. Although it may have seemed a tad out of place for some, it adds to the rather celebratory vibe of tonight’s occasion.
The first song of Narcs’ set already has their vocalist prowling through the audience, yowling the vocals to anyone who dare listen. It would normally be hard for one to not be put off by a band with such sheer, aggressive power to them, but with Narcs, it feels purely cathartic, further reinforced by the well-crafted music. With such a charismatic band as Mouses headlining, it would be hard for even the heaviest of bands to feel inaccessible.
Playing to a jubilant hometown crowd of familiar faces and new fans, the duo have the theatre enraptured from the get go. Even a chorus of “reality is hell” from album opener Girl doesn’t cause the uplifting vibe the outfit offer to falter – and I’m yet to figure out what would. Their breakneck, bare-all punk should feel familiar by now, yet it doesn’t. The unique energy the pair bring to each song automatically overrides each previous experience of seeing the band – something which is rare nowadays.
The rest of their set is a triumphant celebration of their new release, and –of course – includes a stage invasion – a trademark of practically every gig that Mouses do. A highly positive night for the North East music scene as a whole, and one that’s bound to be remembered for a long time.