FEATURE: LAST TRAIN HOME FESTIVAL | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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Image: The Van T’s

Attention countryside dwellers, budgeting music fans and those who like to be in bed by 10pm – this one’s for you! When attending a gig, an eternal frustration for me is transport. Living in Morpeth (also being a cheapo and too old for late nights) means I often miss the end of a headliner’s set due to a manic race for the last bus. The good folks at Tracks have obviously heard my rallying cry for an easily accessible early finish, as they’ve put together an entire festival in venues located within easy distance to Darlington’s train station.

Taking place on Saturday 22nd September, the cannily titled Last Train Home festival will feature live music and comedy, and will wrap up in time to…you guessed it…get the last train home. Being a Tracks event, you can be certain of a varied and interesting line-up, and they’ve drafted in some experts in their fields to give them a hand. Teesside’s comedy connoisseurs Hilarity Bites have put together a line-up of comedians, Darlington-based hip-hop record label Legitimate Anarchy bring the beats, while us here at the good ship NARC. have programmed a stage of synthy, folky, weirdy wonderfulness, and there’s loads more besides.

Tracks’ David Saunders lays it on the line… “Darlington’s transport links are some of the best in the region and lately the town has been undergoing a cultural renaissance. We thought it would be a great idea to hold a really exciting music and comedy festival to celebrate and showcase what is going on, but also have the festival timings revolving around the train timetable so that people from surrounding areas can come down and enjoy the fun.”

It’s hoped that the fast growing ‘cultural quarter’ around the train station will be injected with vibrancy thanks to the festival, as Tracks’ Sarah Wilson explains. “We hope to re-energise an area of the town that largely gets overlooked. There will be exciting new hip-hop artists, folk bands, rock ‘n’ roll, electro, punk, rock and a comedy stage, all for the bargain ticket price of £15 if you book in advance. There’s something for all tastes and will hopefully bring a few new faces to the town whilst reconnecting and providing something new for the Darlington music fans.”

Given the knowledge and experience of the organisers, it’ll come as no surprise that the line-up is highly worthy of your time and money. All that remains to do is grab your tickets and clamber aboard! (Sorry…)


Theatre Hullabaloo
Two drummers, astonishingly well-received releases and mates with Iggy Pop, surely it doesn’t get any better than Mancunian five-piece PINS? The band will be on headline duties at the Hullabaloo stage, bringing their vibrant sound and understated cool to Darlington. ‘Viciously loud’ YOWL will ably assist, thanks to a barely contained rage fused with an irresistible rock ‘n’ roll attitude. There’s also sugary surf-pop thanks to Scottish foursome The Van T’s, dark post-punk courtesy of The Howl And The Hum, one-man folk and blues busker Cam Cole, experimental electronica from the excellently monikered Ronald Raygun, Darlington’s alt. lo-fi indie four-piece Sonder Minds, and indie rock from Teesside’s Salsola.

A sure-fire must-see at Last Train Home are eccentric duo The Lovely Eggs, who fuse their punky psych sounds with oddball observational lyrics and a DIY attitude which is highly endearing. Sleazy alt. indie noise makers Vulgarians bring the ruckus, while hip-hop trio Ronin Clan provide thought-provoking lyrics and heavy beats. There’s also reverb-drenched indie from Courtyards, psych with a bluesy edge from The Mysterines, garage rock ‘n’ roll from Newcastle via Darlington’s The Salvadors, plus sets from garage blues fusion band Oilbirds and noisy rockers Petals.

 St John The Evangelist Church
The sonically daring Bang Bang Romeo will no doubt set bells ringing on the St John The Evangelist stage with their headline set. The trio’s lead singer Anastasia Walker’s powerful vocals catapult their sound to a soul-filled bluesy rock ‘n’ roll masterpiece, miss their performance at your peril. Another endearing voice comes in the form of The Futureheads’ Barry Hyde, whose solo material runs the gamut of introspective, heartfelt and compelling songwriting. Yet more lyrical talent comes in the form of Teesside’s own Tom Joshua, there’s stunning folk sounds from Samantha Durnan, country stylings courtesy of Hayley McKay, the melodic blues of James Grey Robson, gospel blues from The Dead Seat and rootsy sounds from Peg Powler.


Bank Top Central
Here at NARC., we’ve filled the Bank Top Central stage with celebrated regional talent. Shining a light on folk traditions, with a fusion of electro-folk and stunning songs, Durham’s Harri Endersby headlines the stage, she’s sure to produce a mesmerising live show. A rare full band show from alt. blues songwriter Martha Hill will provide yet more songwriting prowess, plus there’s Gospel-inspired vocal loops from Eve Conway, crisp electro pop from sisters Talk Like Tigers, alt. rock from Gateshead trio Duchess, shoegaze-drenched psych courtesy of Sticky Pearls, and indie upstarts Dolphin Centre, who open proceedings.

Legacy Skate Store
A fitting venue for Legitimate Anarchy’s variety of rhythms, beats and verse, the Darlington label offer up a smorgasbord of hip-hop sounds and styles. Expect everything from chill-hop courtesy of Jister, the angst-filled alt. hip-hop Kv$hnoodle, grime from Liam Hope, ‘Boro-based rap from Shakk, plus hip-hop godfather Rex Regis and the poetic fusion of rapper Endem and producer Leum.

The Greyhound
Why limit yourself to live music? The Hilarity Bites comedy stage offers a blissful respite from noisy bands, where attendees can get their ribs tickled by a variety of local funny-people. Hilarity Bites’ main-man Neil Jollie explains what’s on offer: “We’ve tried to bring a bit of something for everyone, with some of the cream of the comedy circuit joining brilliant local comedians. We’ve also got musical comedians, impressionists and even a mind-reader, so there’s sure to be something to entertain everyone.” Tearing up the stage will be impressionist Cal Halbert, awe-inspiring mind control from Doug Segal, TV regular Steve Shanyaski, in-demand headliner Eddy Brimson, plus sets from Ruth Cockburn, Sully O’Sullivan, John Whale, Rob Mulholland, Stephanie Laing and Nicky Wilkinson.

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