LIVE REVIEW: Hardwick Live @ Hardwick Hall Hotel, Sedgefield (18-19.08.18) | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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Jake Shears by Tracy Hyman

Returning for another year, Hardwick Live continues to build upon its excellent reputation whilst focusing on its core values of hosting live music at affordable prices.

Saturday sees The Discovery Stage kick off with local(ish) songstress Lucy Spraggan’s blend of acoustic soul. Wrapped in lovely melodies, tracks like Tea And Toast are well received by the crowd. It was also a perfect warm-up for the uber excited Jake Shears, who glams and glistens his way into a performance which not only promotes his new album, but showcases his glorious falsetto vocals. Blending Scissor Sisters tracks with new material, and incorporating great storytelling, Shears steals the crown for the most passionate performance of the weekend.

Art rockers Ash are up next, packing their show into 50 glorious minutes and showcasing some great work from their forthcoming album as well as classic tracks. Always blazing on the live scene, it takes a lot to upstage Tim Wheeler’s guitar playing, yet bassist Mark Hamilton does so with his aggressive bass. He’s a revelation from the start, particularly on Kung Fu.

Vintage Trouble take up the tea-time spot with their blend of soul and funk. The five-piece burn through upbeat tracks underpinned by Stax narratives about love and freedom of speech. Ty Taylor, the former INXS star and vocalist with Dave Navarro, puts on the performance of the festival with his inimitable style of funky dancing, duck walking and stage diving. His energy alone is worth the price of the weekend ticket.

It must be tough to play after Vintage Trouble but headliners Kaiser Chiefs put in their all with the type of show you’ve come to expect from them. Loud, relentless and thought-provoking on their less well-known tracks, they have a massive stage presence. A cover of The Who’s Pinball Wizard ironically steals their show.


Kaiser Chiefs by Tracy Hyman

On Sunday we’re back for more with great vibes from funk brothers Smoove & Turrell and soul sister Heather Small, both soundtracking upbeat grooves and creating music to move to.

Public Image Ltd, Feeder and Echo & The Bunnymen follow in quick succession in the afternoon, each showcasing different styles of guitar driven music; PiL with their electronic effects and reverb, Feeder with their hard rock/punk style and The Bunnymen providing some haunting emotion. All three bands remain superb performers, each choosing wisely from their treasure trove of hits. PiL’s Open Up and The Bunnymen’s The Killing Moon prove standouts in three great hours of music.

Spice Girl Mel C, across on the second stage, draws a huge crowd for a lively and charismatic set, followed quickly by Shed Seven who hit the main stage with lead man Rick on great form. They may well draw the loudest call and response singing from the crowd all weekend before passing the baton to Sunday headliners Happy Mondays, who close the festival in their typical brilliantly shambolic style; lively, humorous and full of the type of music which, seemingly, never dates.

Another great festival drawn to a close, take a bow Hardwick Live.

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