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Reliably informed

The February issue of NARC. is available now from over 200 outlets across the North East.

This month’s cover stars are ambitious Middlesbrough band Nel Unlit; Steve Spithray talks to them about their concept album based on Neil Gaiman’s Sandman: World’s End series. Exclusive images by Amelia Read.

Also this month, we pick out some highlights of the cultural calendar, including Lost in the Woods’ winter gathering at The Studio, Picasso Baby 3 at Disgraceland, The Ballad of Johnny Longstaff at Northern Stage, Harriet Dyer at Alphabetti, Alex Edelman at ARC and many more.

There’s previews of Jemma Freeman & The Cosmic Something at Base Camp; Dom Joly at Gala Theatre; BROFest at Newcastle University SU; Guy at various venues; Kele at The Cluny; The Last Temptation of Boris Johnson at Northern Stage; Fitting at Alphabetti; Julian Cope at Riverside; Received Wisdom at Sunderland Museum; Japanese Television at The Tyne Bar; The Political History of Smack & Crack at Live Theatre; The Unthanks off-grid at Cobalt Studios; Ed Byrne at Tyne Theatre & Opera House; Ladybones at Alphabetti; PINS at Independent; Otoboke Beaver at Sage Gateshead; TWEN at Head of Steam; John Otway at Old Cinema Launderette; Folklub Newcastle; MAPS Festival; BodyVice at Cobalt Studios; and we chat with Polestar Studios about their 30th anniversary and theatre company BRASH about their show Raising Shame at Byker Community Centre/Northern Stage.

Interview-wise, our writers enjoy in-depth conversations with musicians, filmmakers, comedians and more. Damian Robinson talks to comedian and writer David Baddiel about honesty in the social media age; passionate Hartlepudlian James Leonard Hewitson tells Linsey Teggert about his debut album of off-kilter slacker pop; Caitlin Disken talks to transgender spoken word artist Edalia Day about their show on being trans in 21st Century Britain; Ali Welford talks to talented multi-instrumentalist Heather Woods Broderick about finding time for her own projects amidst appearances with the likes of Sharon Van Etten and Efterklang; Becca Fergus talks to South Shields songwriter Brooke Bentham about becoming indie folk’s newest treasure; Helen Redfern talks to North East duo Lauren Stone and Liberty Hodes, who strive for better representation for women in comedy; with their long-awaited debut album now arriving, Behold A Pale Horse delve into its creation with Mark Corcoran-Lettice; Beverley Knight talks to songwriter Hazel Wilde from Newcastle band Lanterns on the Lake about their expressive new album; Sophie Bell talks to activist comedian Josie Long about her new show dedicated to kindness and joy; Kate Murphy drinks the Kool-Aid as she’s indoctrinated into the glory of the Church of the Cosmic Skull; Leigh Venus talks to Jonny Tull and Chris J. Allan, the brains behind Sunderland’s new independent film programme Filmhouse Sunderland; Damian Robinson talks to Newcastle-via-Durham heavy riffers Fast Blood about their new EP; Beverley Knight talks to songwriter Joe Gideon about his pleasingly surreal new album; Teesside rapper Shakk reflects on the importance of the messages in his music with Lee Hawthorn and comedian Si Beckwith tells us about some of his favourite music in Mixtape.

In the Review section, there’s live reports from The Futureheads, Avalanche Party, Maisie Adam, Paul Smith and friends, No Teeth, Shrug and many more; demo reviews of Jon Page, Sewer Cops, Cellos, Elements featuring Rob Obasi and Indoor Kites; reviews of singles by Phantom Radio, Cazimi, Laurens Court, Pave The Jungle, Club Paradise, Swine Tax, Nadedja, Lewis C among others plus new releases from Agnes Obel, Caribou, Pictish Trail, Spooker Rekkids, AXLS, Nova Twins, Douglas Dare and more.

Enjoy!