LIVE REVIEW: The Wave Pictures @ The Cumberland Arms, Newcastle (21.02.16) | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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Another chance to see The Wave Pictures live is always a treat, but given they surely must rank near, if not at the top, of the most prolific bands in the country, one never has to wait that long to see them.  Returning to the Cumby for the second time in not-very-long, the three-piece band continues to be fronted by the boyish charms of Dave Tattersall, with the addition of a chap on percussion, whose various scrapes and bonks conspire to add a subtle sense of the exotic to the superficially conventional line-up of bass, drums and electric guitar. The great magic of The Wave Pictures is the brilliantly diverse palette they conjure from such humble primary colours.

They play a few from new album A Season In Hull, the recorded acoustic arrangements updated for a full band, and sounding just as well for it.  Occasionally drummer Jonny Helm sings, and his voice is practically indistinguishable from that of Tattersall’s: a remarkable coincidence.  There’s a few from Magnum Opus Long Black Cars, but, in common with most other Pictures gigs I’ve seen, it eventually ends up as a request show.  They play a hazy, drawn-out, spectacularly psychedelic version of Creedence Clearwater Revival’s Green River, and then pretend to not know what to play next, at which point audience suggestions come thick and fast.  A brave thing to do, given the breadth and depth of their back catalogue, but clearly concerns about remembering chord changes and lyrical structures are for others to worry about, as they rattle them off without pausing for breath.

The concept of the ‘guitar hero’ has been with us for a several decades now: practically since the invention of the guitar, virtuosi have emerged, some of them even selling their soul for the privilege.  But in this era of YouTube celebrities, gurning show ponies like Joe Bonamassa and Greg Koch are proving that the ability to play the guitar and play a decent song are increasingly mutually exclusive.  So, in the slight, humble figure of Dave Tattersall, who plays a Gibson SG with just a volume control between him and a – gasp! – solid state Fender amp, we have a genuine guitar hero, one who can play the guitar exceptionally well, but always in the service of his humourous, charming, funky and noisy music.  So, save your £75 a ticket trip to one’s nearest mega-stadium to see some corporate endorsee knock out tired blues covers – if you want to see what a proper band looks like, just check out a Wave Pictures gig.  They’ll be back round this way, ooh, probably next week.

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