LIVE REVIEW: Isle of Tyne @ The Tyne Bar, Newcastle (24.08.19) | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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Image: Warm Digits

With its popular outdoor stage and plentiful space for food and drink stalls, it’s a wonder it’s taken until now for The Tyne Bar to host its own mini music festival. Belated though it may be, the inaugural Isle of Tyne has all the ingredients of an August Bank Holiday staple; an ideal setting, a busy, mixed and enthused audience, and best of all an enticing line-up curated by local promoters Wandering Oak.

It’s a brilliant, sun-soaked day for it too – and however you feel about a tribute band kicking us off, there’s no doubt The B Hives earn kudos for braving the heat in their trademark all-black apparel. With beaming smiles and theatrical flair, the quintet dust off the likes of Walk Idiot Walk, Tick Tick Boom and Hate to Say I Told You So to great acclaim, though grumpy old me can’t quite hack all the schtick which goes with it – the “PHDs in rock ‘n’ roll” and so forth.

Thankfully, it’s the brilliantly bonkers GGAllan Partridge who’re up next, turning in a half-hour which even by their own standards ranks as a colourful, discordant mess. It probably won’t have appealed to anybody here (or indeed up the hill at the Free Trade) for a quiet early evening pint, yet there’s something innately entertaining in seeing a group attain such joy in their own racket – particularly with electric viola now added atop their wailing clamour of sax and guitar. For all their efforts to prove otherwise, the five-piece are hardly short of tunes either. Signature song Eyesore, for instance, is a flash of spiky art punk excellence, while the wild, untethered chaos of Patience underlines the Gee Gees as one of the region’s current must-sees.

With the sun creeping beneath the horizon, it’s difficult to imagine a more appropriate dusk soundtrack than the hazy, luxuriant electronica of Grey Tapes. With Ten Sticks’ Mark Cooper deputising on drums, the quintet’s rich amalgamation of live and electronic textures is as delicious a prospect as ever, though truth be told it’s a palette which thrives in intimacy – not noisy outdoor stages with inherently limited pop-up sound systems. Questionable mix aside, the collective’s lush, effervescent grooves prove an ample warm-up for visiting maverick Paddy Steer. A more propulsive, instinctive performer, the Mancunian’s kaleidoscopic acid funk is a sure-fire summer hit, serving up an invigorating, surrealist melange of synths, samples, loops, live drums, manipulated vocals and Christ knows what else; all delivered from beneath his usual array of spangled helmets, robes and headdresses.

Capping off a string of superlative percussionists, the evening’s bill is topped with an extra-special cherry; a first local appearance in over a year from the irrepressible Warm Digits. Propelled by tireless motorik engine Andrew Hodson and the technicolour guitar and synth patchworks of Steve Jefferis, the duo possess a balance of jet-fuelled rhythms and gold-coated tunes fit to grace any festival stage, providing the event with pitch-perfect, eminently danceable finale. Constructed primarily around the whirlwind euphoria of 2017’s Wireless World, tonight’s set offers an added fillip in previewing its in-the-works follow-up. As such, we’re treated to a pair of electrifying new songs, the first of which – a shape-shifting, boogie-inducing kraut-disco stunner – is easily the equal to End Times, The Rumble and the Tremor or any other sterling Digits gem you care to nominate. If this full-throttle pilot is anything to go by, there’s every chance they’ll be shooting up bills further afield come 2020.

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