LIVE REVIEW: Pulled Apart By Horses, Shades, Mansions of Glory, Drifts @ Pop Recs, Sunderland (27.6.15) | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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Despite the pleasant summer backdrop, this Saturday marked both a sorrowful and celebratory event for musicians and fans alike in Sunderland: the closure of Pop Recs. Although it may only be a temporary state for the relocating venue, it’s pretty clear that this momentous occasion has signalled the end of a fantastic era for the local music scene.

Since opening its doors in 2013, Pop Recs has played a crucial role in the support of outstanding performance, independent music, and care in the community from its authoritative yet rebellious stance at the heart of the city. In a matter of mere months, successful indie-pop musicians – and local heroes – Frankie & the Heartstrings were able to transform the dull grey of an unspectacular setting into an atmospheric hub of artistic talent and activity. The venue has played host to a grand multitude of events, from inspiring workshops and the showcase of local music, to high-profile gigs; with the likes of Maximo Park, The Cribs, and The Charlatans each recently taking to the stage. Above all, they have continuously strived to uphold that key Northern value of authenticity (as well as the ability to put on an amazing show), which most certainly continued well into Pop Recs’ final evening on Fawcett Street.

First on the bill were Sunderland’s very own Drifts, launching straight into a satisfying cacophony as friends and supporters from across the region began to filter in. Whilst this performance was one of the band’s earliest live shows together, the familiar line-up of the group proved incredibly promising- and they most certainly delivered. The brief, six song set was a powerful one, laced with intricate melodies, immaculately executed timing, and stark lyrical brilliance, before ending with the poignant message: “Long Live Pop Recs.”

“they have continuously strived to uphold that key Northern value of authenticity (as well as the ability to put on an amazing show)”

Following this accomplished group, the equally as masterful trio Mansions of Glory had their turn- and, despite numerous technical setbacks, they quickly succeeded in utterly dominating the stage. Engaging in a sound that was not too dissimilar from the mighty Motorhead, the set consisted of an exhilarating series of heavy-handed, high-speed songs that rang of witty aggression (mostly at the scourge of hipsters), and ended, once again, on a note of undying support for independent music.

After a brief interval – in which many paid a trip to the well-stocked bar – the entire venue was heaving once again from the violent reverberations of post-hardcore newcomers Shades. Although young, this Newcastle-based group utilised every inch of the shop floor to expand their intimate idea of stage presence, winning over a crowd of potential fans with a sense of natural ease.

Finally, headliners Pulled Apart By Horses threw themselves into action; after a melancholic note of remembrance for all that had been achieved there, the place was obliterated (somewhat literally) by a triumphant and endlessly energetic half-hour of coarse tunes, with some members of the band reaching their peak in a “farewell” mosh pit.

As the crowd of well-wishers, prominent musicians, and music fanatics began to exit Pop Recs Ltd for the final time, some clutching bits of what had previously been ceiling tile, the feeling was nothing less than unanimous. As each of the performers had stated throughout the evening, the unique profit-free spirit of Pop Recs isn’t dead – nor will it ever be.

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