LIVE REVIEW: Natalie Sharp @ The Glasshouse, Gateshead (16.11.23) | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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Image by Deborah O’Hara

This was supposed to be a review of a Gazelle Twin and Natalie Sharp gig, but a painful yet spectacular nosedive down the steps of the venue meant that Gazelle Twin’s set was spent in A&E. Never mind, it was worth the trip to The Glasshouse for the Natalie Sharp performance, a beautiful, troubling headfuck in all the best ways.

The last time I saw Sharp, she was in her Lone Taxidermist guise, exploring the sonic and visual limits of cake sitting and sploshing: in a space walled off by plastic sheeting, Sharp and her helpers were smothering themselves and the crowd with cream and trifle and having a right old sloppy time of it. No such mess for this new set but it was no less bewildering or brilliant for that.

Sharp started out dressed in a butcher’s apron as the screen behind her span through scenes of rural (Cumbrian) life: sheep and fields, farmers and stone circles and a remarkable appearance from Maxine Peake as a demented auctioneer. All the while, Sharp conjured up field recordings, archive interviews with shepherds and the like, while layering up disturbing beats and groans and her own marvellous vocals (slipping into the Yan Tan Tethera traditional sheep-tallying system at one point). Then suddenly we were in the Seychelles as washed out video clips of dancers and drummers accompanied Sharp’s polyrhythms and dancing, cut quickly together with a Cumbrian pub singalong. Then it was Sharp’s remarkable Marra and Eh, thick-as-cream Cumbrian accents describing the violence and strangeness of small-town life as fights and hedonism flashed across the screen. There was even time for some distorted, disturbing gurning before Sharp took us to the disco with a brilliant closing cover of Chris & Cosey’s October Love Song, a fine tribute to former collaborator Cosey Fanni Tutti and another reminder that Sharp has a really remarkable singing voice.

The whole set was a mental overload, a collision of images and sounds that at times was almost too much to process, like a media server on the fritz or someone hitting the remote repeatedly as dozens of channels flew at you. It was a beautiful, batshit assault on the senses. The sort of thing that might make you fall down some stairs.


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