LIVE REVIEW: New Year New Artists – Paul Thomas Saunders, Brooke Bentham, Harri Endersby @ Sage Gateshead (26.01.18) | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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Image: Brooke Bentham by Jordan Hughes

The opening show for this year’s New Year New Artists showcase kicks off at Sage’s Hall 2 showcasing emerging artists Harri Endersby, Brooke Bentham and Paul Thomas Saunders.

First up, singer-songwriter Harri Endersby coaxes the crowd with her heart-meltingly sincere brand of nu-folk. The dual guitars of this husband and wife duo wrap a cocoon around the spellbound audience. With lyrics on a pastoral theme, this is a homage to the earth and sea, Harri paying tribute to the natural world around her with touching emotional depth.

Paul Thomas Saunders, although billed as headliner, leaves me wanting, but not wanting more. A menu of laid back, weighty angst-rock anthems that wouldn’t be out of place on an episode of The OC are accompanied with self-deprecating anecdotes. Chantable choruses and meaty refrains are scattered with four-part harmonies which are well intentioned but a little lacking in impact. The gig comes to an abrupt end as the set is unexpectedly cut a song short. Star performer is keys tickler Ed Ryman (AKA Hilang Child).

With her effortlessly cool songwriting and deceptively powerful vocals, Brooke Bentham steals the show. The minimal instrumentation used is perfect for this setting as dreamy keys and guitar dissolve into expansive waves that rise and fall to fill the space. Her lyrics are gritty and passionate; melancholy, edgy, current and relatable, there is a darkness to these songs. Fans of Lana del Rey, London Grammar and later-era Laura Marling will find much to enjoy here, and she’s one to watch for 2018; Brooke is destined for world domination, I have no doubt.

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