Feature: Simon Beckwith – A Look Back At 2019 | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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Over the past twelve months, our magazine and website have been brimming with super-talented, creative souls. We asked a few of them to tell us about their 2019. Dishing the dirt this time around is comedian, events programmer at Newcastle Castle and NARC writer, Si Beckwith.

So, how was your 2019?
Really, really lovely. Just a proper productive year creatively. Lots of really awesome gigs, radio sketches, launched a company where we’ll be putting out a lot of creative output with fellow comic and canny egg Ken McGuinness (Hope For Proles) including podcasts, audio sketches, video stuff and a play next year.
I moved house five doors up which was the best house move in the history of house moves.
Also performed my ‘Get Lush’ show at Alphabetti Theatre which was just, well, lush really. Really well received, a lovely review from you gems at NARC and the most smashing of nights.
I also got engaged last week! Engaged. Like an actual grown-up.

What was your best moment?
I have to say the engagement really, don’t I? (It definitely was that!)
But that Alphabetti show is a close second. Or the house move. Five doors up man! FIVE DOORS!!!!
Oh, and Lee Kyle’s version of The Matrix on our Greatest Film You’ve Never Seen Podcast is something I now think about most days.

And your worst moment?
Tories! Just fuck Tories. I’m writing this a few days out from the election filled with apprehension tearing me apart. Seeing people literally not give a shit that children are dying because they’re alright and ‘Brexit means Brexit’ (it doesn’t, it’s fucking made-up portmanteau that means fuck all) is just heartbreaking.
And Steve Bruce.

Your favourite band/artist of the year?
I don’t listen to enough new music. I try, but I don’t even need to look at my phone to know the last thing I listened to was Whitney Houston’s Greatest Hits.
Priests’ album was out at the start of the year, and they’re still my favourite new band. So I’ll say them.

Your favourite song of the year?
When was Whitney Houston’s I Wanna Dance With Somebody released?
Okay, not that then.
Brother Joe released his album this year, and it’s gorgeous. America is a track I’ll pick out from that. We worked together on putting together a sunset gig on Newcastle Castle’s roof as part of the Merchant Quarter Revival Festival, and that’s one of the best things I’ve ever been a part of, so that album makes me think of that too.

Favourite TV show of the year?
I watch so much shite with the bairn I’m tempted to say Story Bots or Booba. But then I watch delightfully violent stuff like Vikings to balance it out. I started watching Vikings this year, so I’ll say that.
I was as disappointed with Game Of Thrones as everyone else.
I also got into Derry Girls this year, and it’s bloody brilliant.

Your favourite film?
I’m not sure if I’ve even been to the cinema this year. I have a list of stuff I know I’ll love and still need to watch. Everyone’s gonna say Joker, right? And I’ve not even seen that. I host a film-based podcast too. I’m a bloody shambles me.

Best book you read?
There’s a running theme here, but I’ve struggled to find time to read books at all. I’ve got a Simon Amstell book and a Patti Smith one that’ve been sitting there since my birthday in June, so had I found time to read them, it would have been one of those. The Patti Smith one has the nicer cover, so let’s say that?

Favourite venue of the year?
The Stand is still my favourite place to gig and that Alphabetti Theatre show was something special. I’ve fell in love with the function room at The Bridge Hotel and we’ll be putting more stuff on there.
Gotta say Newcastle Castle too since I programme events there. That rooftop gig was something special.
I compered some gigs at Open House & The Spare Room this year and that as a venue is unreal. Upstairs is a dead nice vintage clothing shop and ethical lifestyle store. Downstairs is this amazingly intimate little venue that was just perfect for comedy and more. Richard and Ste are both so switched on it’s lovely to see somewhere like that in Low Fell and feels like that could become a central hub of a great cultural scene in Gateshead.

What was your favourite gig/show of the year?
Personally, my show at Alphabetti was lovely. I’ve hosted a couple of gigs at The Sunderland Comedy Project too that have been lush. Proper lively, fun audiences and they’ve been getting some well good line-ups in.
To watch, The Unfortunates by Timeworks Theatre was a smart, thoughtful, inventive piece of theatre. I’ve missed loads of my favourite bands this year because I’ve already been gigging myself.
PUG was great at The Stand. What’s That Dance (Jenny Chrisp and Megan Brown, who are two of my favourite people) and their piece Dare You: Question The Love Between Girls was incredible and hit me hard. They also deserve a mention in my 2019 highlights for buying me a giant inflatable sloth for my birthday that I still don’t know what to do with.

Any upcoming artists we should keep an eye out for in 2020?
Whitney Houston? She’s gonna be big….
Kieran Rafferty and his band Lovely Assistant release an album next year. I had an advanced listen and it’s wonderful. Annie Griffiths who plays in that band is also worth keeping an eye out for.
Comedy wise, Louise Young is incredible. I work with Ken McGuinness a lot, and he’s a smashing new act. Shall I just list my mates now? Neil Harris, Joby Mageean, Anja Atkinson, Lee Kyle, Hal Branson…the North East is full of loads of good comedy talent that are doing really inventive and properly funny stuff. Go and watch live comedy as much as you can.

And finally, what has next year got in store for you?
It’s a proper exciting year ahead actually. Two new podcasts will be launching to run alongside The Greatest Film You’ve Never Seen.
I’ve got my ‘Get Lush’ show at The Stand on Monday 3rd February.
I’ve also got some great line-ups to come at the South Causey Inn gig I run.
I’ll be on BBC Newcastle doing more sketches for Grin Up North.
And just gigging. Lots.
Or foraging for food in a post-Brexit wasteland. (I am sure I wrote this as an answer in last year’s Q&A? If so, what a fucking horrendous state of affairs that I’m able to re-use such a piss poor joke again because the Tories are even worse than that. Fuck Tories).

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