LIVE REVIEW: Beauty Pageant @ The Old Police House, Gateshead (25.5.15) | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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Whilst playing a game of chess a couple of weeks ago, a good friend delivered news of the best kind: Beauty Pageant were back and playing a gig at The Old Police Station in Gateshead at the end of May! After over a year away from performing live together, the imagination and graft of events organisers Even Clean Hands Cause Damage have brought them back to the area where they formed, to once again twist and punch ears. Further delights were to colour the evening too.

Opening the night’s proceedings was Michael Bridgewater, performing as Waskerley Way. Taking off his jacket, and kissing his football shirt with a wink in his eye, he embarked upon three contrasting instrumentals built with sounds from his laptop and keyboard. The set evolved from slippery bass moans, through hip-hop influenced beats, to a final tune blossoming with a melodic prettiness.

Next we were treated to one face of Kilo Grandma; an improvisation group, this time utilising the talents of Beauty Pageant’s drummer, Dan Dixon, modular synth meddler John Bowers, clarinet player Rebecca Jennings and Charlie Bramley on pocket operator synths. Across two jams they filled the room with as much volume as it could handle, sourcing new musical patterns from one another, with phase progressing phase.

A man known as Dead Friends then brought an inspired bout of humour, playing pre-recorded compositions from his tablet whilst casually drinking from a can and indicating choice moments in each track with a point of an index finger, or a raise of a brow. This setlist of short crude extracts and melted classics supported by deadpan expressions was a perfect aperitif.

Commiserations, a raucous trio from Leeds, realigned the airwaves with noisy short songs driven by loosely tuned guitar riffs and thrusting drums, whilst the two members with microphones vocalised their aggression. A goblin decided to play tricks from within one of the guitar amps halfway through, bringing the set to a halt. The band tried to correct the issue whilst the room of people watched with hopeful anticipation. Thankfully the amp returned to its full force and the riot could play out.

Crowning the evening, Beauty Pageant started with their Torso EP opener Superplasticizer and the mood is instantly theirs. After a few tracks uniting head-bangers and the hypnotised alike, a humble thanking of all involved is given and met with audience agreement (displayed as silence). Marie Thompson makes fun with this awkwardness before encouraging BP to quickly premiere a new song, returning to the comfort of playing their musical storms. When Helen Papaioannou’s opening saxophone riff for Cheerleaders starts up, final inhibitions are cut loose, and the room rides out unbridled excitement to the finish.

Though they have been away for a while, the night’s display confirmed their united character is still strong and loved. This performance has recharged our batteries until next time.

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