Feature: A Look Back On 2022 – Ali Welford | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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So… how was your 2022?
Somehow, against all odds, even worse than the two years previous.

What was your best moment?
Finding not one, but two fossilised Ichthyosaur vertebrae at 6am on an empty beach in Dorset. I’ve wanted to find one for at least 20 years. Reticulated too!

And your worst moment?
Not a moment per se, but the continuing bastardisation of Newcastle United and its legion of useful idiots (sorry, fans) gets more depressing by the day.

Who was your favourite band/artist this year?
No obvious answer here, but Confidence Man and Los Bitchos have both done wonders lifting my mood in a pretty grim year.

Your favourite song of the year?
The Ghost by Anna B Savage (there are even better ones on her upcoming record though!).

Recommended album?
A Tarot of the Green Wood by Burd Ellen. If desolate drone-folk highlighting parallels between the art of divination and traditional song interpretation sounds up your street…

Favourite TV show of the year?
The Better Call Saul finale was magnificent – confounding in many ways, yet equally everything we could possibly have hoped for. But my answer is Prehistoric Planet. Ever since Walking With Dinosaurs blew my six-year-old mind, I’ve been desperate for somebody to make a worthy follow-up. Prehistoric Planet is that in spirit, though in practice – and with Big Dave narrating – it’s more like an episode of Planet Earth set 66 million years ago. The visuals are mind-bogglingly good, the animal designs the most accurate ever put to screen (complete with a healthy dose of novel but entirely plausible speculation), and each segment hones in on ordinary behaviours rather than the orgy of roaring, fighting and killing most dino docs resort to. Basically, the entire thing made me feel like an awestruck kid again.

Your favourite film?
A three-way tie. I loved every minute of Elvis, despite caring very little about the man, the music or the mythology. The Banshees of Inisherin is a darkly comic delight whose appeal stretches far beyond effectively being an In Bruges reunion (not that that does it any harm!) and the new (long overdue) German language adaptation of All Quiet on the Western Front is such a visceral, savage and nightmarish portrayal that I had trouble sleeping afterwards.

Best book you read?
The Rise and Reign of Mammals by Steve Brusatte.

Favourite venue that you visited?
Cobalt Studios and The Cumberland Arms remain my joint favourite venues in Newcastle – two fabulous, inclusive places with terrific programming. A very honourable mention for The Lubber Fiend – a hugely welcome addition to the city centre.

What was your favourite gig/show of the year?
Three stand out. Pet Shop Boys’ Dreamworld tour was a stupendous exhibit of elite hit-making; a shameless Greatest Hits from probably the greatest British pop band of all time. Self Esteem’s live show is an incredible, inspiring outpouring of joy. I saw her and her gang at Wylam Brewery at the beginning of the year, and the summer festival footage suggested they’re continuing to go from strength to strength. Finally, I consider The Cure the greatest live band I’ve ever seen, and their recent tour did nothing to change that. Two hours of dark, murky favourites with a sprinkling of new material, followed by the most stacked, absurdly brilliant encore I’ve ever seen – 60 minutes of stone-cold classics.

Any up-and-coming artists/acts we should keep an eye out for in 2023?
Boy Latex are definitely my favourite new-to-me local act I’ve happened upon this year – a gloriously raw and slack cacophony of noise. Fashion Tips have just announced themselves with tremendous clutch of demos (search “fucking hell” on Bandcamp and they’ll come up!). I’m looking forward to hearing where Heather Ferrier and Madeleine Smyth head next after excellent 2022 releases. Faye MacCalman’s solo album – if and when it finally materialises – is guaranteed to be a stunner. And although most folks reading this will probably be familiar with her by now, I can’t wait to wrap my ears around whatever Me Lost Me has been cooking up.

Any predictions for next year?
The spinning nativity bratwurst towers in every city’s crappy Christmas market will become self-aware and put us all out of our misery.

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