LIVE REVIEW: Stick In The Wheel @ Sage Gateshead (06.05.22) | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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It’s been a long time since Stick In The Wheel came to Tyneside and despite recent circumstances, they’ve been busy collaborating, innovating and pushing numerous envelopes. Nicola Kearey is on fine sardonic form tonight, provocatively pronouncing folk music a dead genre in the first few minutes of the gig. The opening songs were performed by just Kearey and Ian Carter’s guitar, including a powerful Brisk Lad, but they were joined by their newish live rhythm section for a clap-driven Bedlam and for the rest of the set.

In a two-half performance, the band dipped into their back catalogue for songs like Fake Away, included some deep cuts like Robot and a took lot of tunes from their last ‘full’ album, Hold Fast – including Top Knot, Villon Song and a furious Budg & Snudg that came on like a demonic cockney knees up. The addition of the rhythm section for gigs is an excellent move, George Hoyle on bass and Siân Monaghan on drums bringing subtlety where needed and power too, and Carter is becoming increasingly exploratory in his guitar playing. Meanwhile Kearey is front and centre, a force of nature, by turns funny and intense in her chat, heartbreaking and defiant in her vocals. I’ve said this many times, I know, but Stick In The Wheel are constantly evolving and mutating from their position as the finest new folk outfit in the land into something even more powerful, more unusual, more essential.

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