WEEKLY ROUND-UP (12.02.24) | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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Image: Róisín Murphy by Nik Pate

Every week we pull together some of the best events taking place across the region, from music and theatre, to comedy, art and film. Read more on these, and other events, in the latest issue of NARC. magazine in print and online.

Written and performed by Sam Danson and directed by Rikki Beadle-Blair, BI-TOPIA is a coming-of-age-show that explores the highs and lows of the bisexual experience, as well as looking at the under-represented links between poor mental health, sexuality and masculinity. The show stops off at Theatre Hullabaloo in Darlington on Tuesday 13th February, and returns to the North East at Newcastle’s Live Theatre on Friday 8th-Saturday 9th March.
The semi-autobiographical story, which has received an abundance of rave reviews whilst out on tour, follows Sam, who comes from a military family, and aspires to be the action star of Hollywood films and visualises his battles with mental health and identity as actual, real-life battles.
BI-TOPIA looks to start conversations and raise awareness of not only the important issues in our society but also to highlight how ridiculous this world is.
Tuesday 13th February @ Theatre Hullabaloo, Darlington


Assemblage: Community and Care
Assemblage: Community and Care is a series of critical gatherings on contemporary art taking place throughout the week at Northumbria University City Campus. Organised in collaboration with the Finnish Institute UK + Ireland and Central Saint Martins, University of the Arts London the event will showcase artistic and research presentations, talks, panel discussions, exhibitions, workshops, and more.​ 

Artists such as Sepideh Rahaa, Syowia Kyambi, and Tamara Al-Mashouk will be exhibiting their work at Gallery North and Experimental Studio at Northumbria, curated by Lecturer in Arts, Abdullah Qureshi. The exhibition will showcase themes of race, feminism, decolonization, and migration.

Finnish feminist scholar, Susanna Paasonen, will also give a lecture on sexual platforms and the value of sexual sociality in a context where it’s weeded out from social media platforms.
Tuesday 13th – Friday 16th February @ Northumbria University City Campus

Michael Cera Palin
Serenade your loved one on Valentine’s Day with a dose of refined emo punk courtesy of the excellently named Michael Cera Palin. The Atlanta, Georgia trio are known for their coverage of heavy topics including self-harm and internal preservation, delivered with a melodic approach and knowing self-awareness.
Wednesday 14th February @ Bobiks, Newcastle

Roisin Murphy
Not many artists push boundaries for three decades yet still manage to hit creative highs and career peaks. Roísín Murphy is an ever changing recording artist and thrilling performer (please revisit her Summer 2023 festival performances for evidence) and she is coming to O2 City Hall on Wednesday 14th February to showcase her newest album Hit Parade, produced in collaboration with electronic music genius DJ Koze.
Both worked remotely from different countries over several years, which could have been a nightmare, yet Roísín insists it brought out an intimacy to her work and both freedom and focus to Koze’s work, as he was without her “distracting presence”.
Look out for Can’t Replicate, which was highly successful in clubs earlier this year and was championed by many, including Jamie XX.
The Moloko singer states she has never been happier in her personal life and describes the album as “a joyful record about love and sensuality” – so if you’re after something a little edgier for a Valentine’s Day in Newcastle – this is it.
Wednesday 14th February @ O2 City Hall, Newcastle

GZA & Phunky Nomads
The Cluny is really flying the flag for killer hip-hop shows in Newcastle and this Boiler Shop booking is one of their best yet: GZA (aka Genius) is a stone cold rap superstar, revered both for his magnificent solo work and his founding and membership of the inimitable Wu Tang Clan.
You can argue about whether GZA is the Clan’s greatest MC (there’s no argument – he is) and whether his astonishing Liquid Swords set from 1995 is the finest Wu Tang solo album (there’s no argument – it is), but either way, you’ll want to see him perform the whole LP backed by crack live band The Phunky Nomads on Wednesday 14th February.
Immaculate flow, dense and intricate rhymes, eternal bangers like Cold World, Shadowboxin’ and Living In The World Today AND a great band? That’s a night out.
Wednesday 14th February @ Boiler Shop, Newcastle

You Me At Six
One year after the release of You Me At Six’s last album, Truth Decay, the alternative rock outfit are finally bringing this newest batch of tunes to the stage. This particular release has been praised by fans as a breath of fresh air for the group, as the album derives influence from the new wave of pop-punk, while weaving in elements of industrial throughout. It feels like a throwback to the band’s older work, making it a perfect jumping on point for those wanting to get into the band or those looking to drop back in after two decades.   
Deaf Havana provide the support; a band that will be familiar to You Me At Six fans, being a part of similar emo rock circles. The band’s 2022 album The Present Is A Foreign Land was the next piece in the ever-changing puzzle that is Deaf Havana; the group have once more reinvented their sound, fusing together alternative grooves with electro pop to create a swansong on an album that dissects their own legacy.  
Wednesday 14th February @ Middlesbrough Town Hall

Bombay Bicycle Club
Bombay Bicycle Club are set to visit Newcastle’s O2 City Hall on Thursday 15th February in support of their sixth album, My Big Day. A record which is daring sonically as well as rich in its features, with guest vocalists including Chaka Khan, Damon Albarn, Jay Som, Holly Humberstone and Nilüfer Yanya.
The guitar-fronted, innovative North London group have dabbled in various genres over their career spanning the last 19 years, including folk, indie, alternative pop and electronica, and they have created a critically acclaimed body of work which stands up alongside some of the indie genre’s greats.
The gig will be Bombay Bicycle Club’s first in Newcastle post-pandemic, which fell immediately after the group reformed post-hiatus; so no doubt audiences will be keen to witness the constant reinvention of the group. The band will be supported by British pop band Kawala, also North London natives, who produce upbeat and similarly inventive songs.
Thursday 15th February @ O2 City Hall, Newcastle

Can This Place Be A City?
Contemporary Indian dancer Akshay Sharma brings his solo show to Dance City, a work that utilises text, music and voice as well as original choreography to examine race, gender, migration and environment. Sharma’s work employs the structures, scores, rhythms and tempos of traditional Indian classical music to tell his story in a thoroughly modern way.
Thursday 15th February @ Dance City, Newcastle

Image: Alien Chicks

Alien Chicks
Brixton-based post-punk power trio Alien Chicks are bringing their UK tour to Bobiks on Friday 16th February. Last year the band enjoyed several successful tours, and performed alongside similarly experimental groups such as Warmduscher and Opus Kink.
Latest single Candlestick Maker positions the trio firmly into the post-punk scene, fusing genres and fierce instrumental power to a scintillating effect. Further singles such as Cowboy and Woodlouse portray their unwillingness to dilute their craft, again cementing their status at the forefront of the punk renaissance. They self-describe as being a coherence of many genres, from jazz and rap to bossa nova and math rock, and it’s this willingness to diversify that’s clearly instrumental to their success. Their lyrical content also touches on political social commentary, with brash instrumentation further showcasing their resilience.
With just over two years of being a band, the musical chemistry of drummer Martha, singer and guitarist Josef and singer and bassist Stefan show immense promise for projects to come, as well as an exciting and subverting performance.
Friday 16th February @ Bobiks, Newcastle

Ferris & Sylvester
Nostalgic rock finds itself an electrifying new lens in the hands of Ferris & Sylvester. This husband and wife duo have perfected the ability to walk the line between dreams and reality, blurring darkness and passion, wildness and freedom, in a sound which combines Issy Ferris’s entrancing voice and Archie Sylvester’s beautiful harmonies, to huge acclaim, and their folk-induced sound has stormed the indie rock music scene since the release of their 2022 debut album Superhuman.
During their time together, their emotion and grit has featured in appearances with household names such as George Ezra and Jade Bird, and has earned them chart-topping prestige, winning the UK Album of The Year prize at the 2023 UK Americana Awards. Coming to Sunderland’s Independent on Friday 16th February, the duo prepare an eclectic set in lieu of their upcoming album release, Otherness, in March. This promises to be an album full of wonder, rush and resilience, drawing into their unrepeatable style, captured by a 1960s tape machine – an old school stylistic approach for a digital age. As composers of a genre-defying sound, Ferris & Sylvester firmly establish themselves as a not-to-be missed experience, stamped as one of the most exciting live performers on the circuit today. 
Friday 16th February @ Independent, Sunderland

Dream Wife
London-based indie pop trio Dream Wife comprise of Icelandic singer Rakel and British musicians Alice and Bella, who came together at art school in Brighton and are now bringing their trademark ‘poolside pop with a bite’ to The Grove on Saturday 17th February.
They’ve opened for the Rolling Stones, The Kills, played Lollapalooza and Primavera. Influenced by David Lynch’s women; “powerful and seriously fucked up”, the band’s lyrics reflect this, enveloping issues such as feminism, gender roles and body image in cool riffs, pop beats and dreamy vocals.
Their last album, So When You Gonna… hit the Official UK Top 20 album charts and was the only indie album recorded and produced by an all female team at that time. Digital sales proceeds went to Black Minds Matter and Gendered Intelligence and new album Social Lubrication continues this celebration of community, produced by guitarist Alice Go who intended to capture the energy of live performances. The band are known to call all the ‘bad bitches’ to the front to create a female dominated mosh pit, which is a glorious concept.  
“Music is one of the only forms of people experiencing an emotion together in a visceral, physical, real way,” says guitarist Alice. “…music isn’t the cure, but it’s the remedy.”
If you’re a fan of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs and The Slits, or you just fancy being a ‘bad bitch’ (regardless of gender) then you know what to do. 
Saturday 17th February @ The Grove, Newcastle

Philip Jonathan
North East artist Philip Jonathan’s songs are carefully crafted from deep, personal meditations on the most raw and vulnerable moments of life. Classically trained in piano and violin, the artist’s use of loop pedals result in a multi-instrumental approach. Support comes from Alastair Gordon, whose rich baritone and creative musical approach has seen him garner high critical acclaim.
Saturday 17th February @ Claypath Deli, Durham

Image: Vigilance State

Vigilance State EP launch
Offering an unashamedly vintage soundtrack to our seemingly all-encompassing contemporary dystopia, darkwave duo Vigilance State invite lovers, the lovelorn and aromantics alike to an evening of Valentine’s-adjacent frivolity…
A fixture of local goth and electro nights over recent years, the pair’s trademark fusion of high octane beats and propulsive analogue synth has previously crystalised over a pair of intoxicating singles: noir disco nugget Gladness, and robo-rhythmed banger First Class. Now, with the release of debut EP Remains they’re set to push that aesthetic to and beyond its natural conclusion, transcending the confines of conventional romance with fresh waves of effervescent, sulphur-infused vitriol.
Staged at The Lubber Fiend on Saturday 17th February, a further assortment of electronic curiosities awaits at EP’s launch show. Glasgow-based Canadian Soft Riot, for instance, provides angular, synthy post-punk with Italo-style flourishes; Stockton’s Stock Image offers slick, luxurious pop as if beamed from decades yon; while early birds will have their auditory tastebuds tingled by the molten beats of box-fresh Newcastle outfit Volcano Sisters.
For those who begrudge shelling-out on forced, overpriced meals, or dread the prospect of another Valentine’s weekend spent home alone, it’s fair to say Vigilance State’s bill presents a compelling alternative. I know where I’d rather be!
Saturday 17th February @ The Lubber Fiend, Newcastle

Coastal Crawl
The team behind the award-winning Coast Fest clearly decided they weren’t busy enough so they’ve cooked up a smaller but pretty exciting interim event, Coastal Crawl, making its debut this month.
Taking place across three well-regarded North Shields venues – The Engine Room, Salt Market Social and Three Tanners Bank, all on or around the famous fish quay – Coastal Crawl takes place on Saturday 17th February, starting at midday, and has announced a flurry of local talent in its first wave of announcements, with promises of even more to come. Maximo Park’s Paul Smith is  joined by Tom A Smith, Lizzie Esau and Megan Wynn as well as a couple of dozen more, including Swine Tax, Peevie Wonders, Deja Vega and Bear Park. Tickets for the event are strictly limited to 450, so don’t dither.
Saturday 17th February @ Various venues, North Shields

Vidura Br
Hailing from Sri Lanka, via Malaysia and Berlin, the London-based comedian, writer and director Vidura BR has garnered plenty of acclaim and a sizeable following off the back of his self-directed comedy show Monsoon Season with a long-awaited follow-up, French Kiss Tunnel, which finds him evolving his signature dead-pan comedic wit challenging conventional wisdom with a unique tone that is often irreverent, at times poignant and always hysterical.
His accolades in competition as a comedian include being a finalist in the Leicester Square New Act of the Year, Berlin Best New Comedian and the 2Northdown New Act Competition, as well as being shortlisted for the BBC New Comedy Award. His talents also extend to the screen, with his script, titled The Ref, being selected for the London Screenwriting Festival Shorts Lab. French Kiss Tunnel is set to be a brilliant new chapter in his flourishing comedic career, with a raft of shows including sold outs in Hamburg and Berlin. The UK leg of his tour takes in some iconic venues, including Newcastle’s Stand, and is guaranteed to be a bold step forward for an equally bold talent.
Saturday 17th February @ The Stand, Newcastle

Si Beckwith – Bricks
Si Beckwith brings his newest show Bricks to The Stand, Newcastle. It’s a stand-up comedy show all about his experiences as a new step-parent and touches on topics such as family, swearing, lego, films, parenting, Newcastle and being a dafty. It’s funny, heartfelt, silly, packed with stories and even has some art!
Sunday 18th February @ The Stand, Newcastle

From a converted basement, lovingly christened 333 House, the Los Angeles-based artist Pachyman expertly channels his Puerto Rican roots and his passion for the gloriously warped Jamaican dub sound pioneered by iconic producers such as Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry and Joe Gibbs. Using authentic equipment, his incredible sense of musicality and his proficient multi-instrumental skills, Pachyman has cooked up four glorious LPs. Last year’s Switched On is indisputably his finest transmission yet, with the instant classic Trago Coqueto being a brilliant distillation of the Pachyman sound. By blending authentic Jamaican production techniques with a Puerto Rican sensibility, he conjures up a gloriously rich and wonderfully authentic sound that perfectly replicates the charm, character and cool of the timeless dub sound, whilst having more than enough personality and charm to push it beyond the realms of pastiche.
His approach to live shows is also equally as charming, blending live instrumentation with multi-track recordings of the songs which he remixes on the fly, further enhancing his authentic sound. Dub disciples will be in heaven at his Pop Recs show on Sunday 18th February, but his command of melody and songcraft make for a brilliantly accessible sound that will appeal to all who are lucky enough to see it.
Sunday 18th February @ Pop Recs Ltd., Sunderland

Image: Pachyman

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