NEWS: Harvest From The Deep | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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Illustration by Paul Burgess

North Shields is a funny old place. The paradox of the Fish Quay, with its smart restaurants and traditional fishmongers contrasts with the looming, run-down, disused warehouses behind, giving it the air of somewhere simultaneously on the way up and on the way down. Its portrait as poster boy for the alleged decline of the British fishing industry in Brexit: The Movie can’t have helped, but the village centre itself is a pleasant place to while away an hour or two, and there’s always been enthusiasm for live music – whether via the institution that is the Magnesia Bank, or by using the fabric of the river and its environs itself as a performance space, as happened when Pet Shop Boys performed their Battleship Potemkin at the nearby Swan Hunter shipyards.

Which brings us to Harvest From The Deep – A Festival. Taking its name from the borough of Tynemouth’s motto Messis Ab Altis, usually adorned with a pitman and a seaman, Harvest From The Deep’s ethos is to promote and reinforce the goodness which springs from local culture, and judging from the musical line-up, their festival perfectly sums up that ethos.

a festival which provides a salt-tinged celebration of the North East’s history and culture in an exemplary manner

It’s a two-day event, taking place on Saturday 13th and Sunday 14th August at newly renovated Grade II listed venue, The Exchange, and with one notable exception all the bands are drawn from the North East. In fact, the line-up reads like a primer of the great and the good of the local scene.  Saturday seems to be the rockier of the two days – there’s sets from Pauline Murray of legendary punk band Penetration; relative newcomers The Pale White, who bring their heavy-yet-poppy tunes; Keep Breathing are sure to supply a sense of widescreen excitement; while stalwarts The Middens provide a decent slice of Bowie-esque euphoria. Saturday sees a pair of co-headliners: Richard Dawson should need no introduction to NARC. readers – his bizarrely unique compositions, simultaneously humdrum and otherworldly, are displayed in a subtle and mesmerising live performance; while Warm Digits are a brilliant closing gambit, with their groove-enabled motorik beats and synth explorations.

Sunday is an altogether more cerebral experience, with highlights including sets from part-time punk Bugman, folk powerhouse The Horse Loom and respected songwriter Nev Clay among others, plus a couple of unusual standout appearances. Matt Abbott is a performance poet from West Yorkshire who creates his own mini-sermons on activist topics such as racism and social injustice through the prism of his own experiences growing up surrounded by dark Satanic mills. Headlining proceedings are British Sea Power, a group so intertwined with the folk history of these sceptred isles they even take to wearing pseudo-military uniforms and thronging their stages with foliage. This performance promises to be out of the ordinary, even by their own standards – they will play their own soundtrack to Penny Woolcock’s documentary celebration of the British coastline, From The Sea To The Land Beyond, which has been performed a mere handful of times, usually at unique and unusual venues. It’s telling that the band feel Harvest From The Deep is an appropriate addition to that rare catalogue, and the event is in itself a wonderfully rare thing – a festival which provides a salt-tinged celebration of the North East’s history and culture in an exemplary manner.

Harvest From The Deep takes place at The Exchange, North Shields on Saturday 13th and Sunday 14th August.

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