NEWS: Songsmiths #9 @ Bar Loco | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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Image: Ten Degrees of Pitch

Anyone window shopping at Barker & Stonehouse in Newcastle of an evening might have wondered exactly why there was an attractive crowd of hippies, hipsters and general creative types hanging around a townhouse just across the road. Wonder no longer, because it’s Bar Loco, rapidly earning a reputation as one of the city centre’s finest bars, live music venues, and – no kidding – pizza joints. One of the jewels in their musical crown is the monthly Songsmiths night, which brings together local musicians, from solo acts to full bands. It’s not an open mic night (although many of the faces will look familiar from the also excellent and oversubscribed Tuesday night turn-up-’n’-play event) so quality is guaranteed.

Opening this month’s instalment is Abbey Murphy, a regular on the pub circuit around these parts, which means she’s grafting in front of punters while other bands are preening in front of the mirror. Expect a mixture of covers and originals, and a withering way with a heckle put-down.

Greg Genre will be promoting his latest EP, Dream State, whose title track, in all its reverby glory, sounds as if it’s a great lost early Britpop ballad. Thoughts Into Action is closer in sounds to what I remember a Greg Genre gig being – an artfully rickety combination of acoustic guitar, semi-rapped lyrics, beatboxing and voice kazoo. He’s an amusing and touching performer, is our Greg, so expect to come away charmed.

Ten Degrees Of Pitch are a classic ‘post-kids’ band – two years in the rehearsal room before their first gig, lyrical themes that read like the international section of the Independent, and a name taken from a real-life air disaster. So far, so pretentious. But all three members have been around the block a bit, in bands since their teens, with bassist Jon claiming fame – and a songwriting credit – as a sound effects guru on the Grand Theft Auto videogame franchise. So they should, in theory at least, know what they’re doing. What actually happens is a combination of their formative musical styles – 90s grunge and funk, some country and western, a touch of pseudo-punk here and there – with a mature take on songwriting: no talk of ‘hoes’ or ‘homies’ to be found.  The lyrical themes of songs like Fly The Flag (war from the point of view of the soldier), Shed These Skins (ageing and euthanasia) and Nigel’s Garage (erm…), might make for thoughtful and perhaps uncomfortable listening if you read the lyrics, but they’re all put to such urgent soundtracks you can just ignore the words and rock out instead. The set will run for an hour, so there’s plenty of time in the middle for a spot of solo guitar looping from Martin, before climaxing with the end of human civilisation in Yellowstone Disaster.

Songsmiths #9 featuring Ten Degrees of Pitch, Greg Genre and Abbey Murphy takes place at Bar Loco, Newcastle on Thursday 19th November

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