LIVE REVIEW: THE SUBWAYS, GAFFA TAPE SANDY, BIGFATBIG @ Independent, Sunderland (28.01.23) | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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Image: The Subways by Laura Lewis

bigfatbig’s Robyn once had to sell her ticket to see The Subways at this very venue due to being underage, so she’s keen to grab the opportunity to support one of her childhood favourites. And that she does, bopping around the stage on the feisty take-no-prisoners punk pop of Shut Up, whilst a straight-up cover of Alanis Morrissette’s classic You Oughta Know strengthens the nostalgia vibes. The band’s anti-misogyny debut single Science has lost none of its sense of injustice and the bouncy Don’t Wanna Be Sad is the perfect happy closer. 

There couldn’t be a more appropriate band to support The Subways than Brighton’s Gaffa Tape Sandy. The melodic garage rock three-piece come loaded with instantly memorable future indie disco classics like Beehive, from their 2019 Family Mammal mini-album. Bassist Catherine takes a lead role on vocals, giving the band a cracking dynamic and resulting in blistering tracks such as Meat Head. The unreleased Evil has the audience singing it back after just one airing which makes the prospect of the band’s debut LP all the more enticing. 

Forming way back in 2002The Subways were one of the first next-gen bands brought up on Nirvana and the grunge scene to grab the attention with simply brilliant melodic pop punk songs such as opener Oh Yeah. “These teenage years well they don’t last…” screams Billy Lunn, and yet here we are, as a couple of hundred voices join him in rolling back the years. Having lost none of the exuberance of youth, a Subways show is both energetic and, more importantly, fun. We Don’t Need Money To Have A Good Time further hammers home the point and showcases Lunn as, not just a great songwriter, but also as storyteller; the frontman charmingly recounting tales of how these songs we’ve been singing for so many years came about. The set only loses pace for tracks like Love Waiting On You from this year’s Uncertain Joys album when bassist Charlotte Cooper sadly runs out of rock star moves and lays down her bass to play synth. But the energy soon picks up again for a blast through of Blondie’s Hanging On The Telephone before finishing off with the ultimate anthem, Rock & Roll Queen, complete with stagedive. May their youth be eternal.   

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