WEEKLY ROUND-UP (13.11.23) | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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Image: Ben Folds by Alysse Gafkjen

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 November issue of NARC. magazine – out now in print and online.

Ben Folds
Whether he’s performing as the frontman of the oddball 90s piano punk band Ben Folds Five, or in his equally as endearing solo guise, the twinkling keys have been a leather weapon in the hands of Ben Folds. Folds’ career has been typified by a wry penmanship that added a sardonic and often bitter tinge to the otherwise euphoric sounds of the band’s ecstatic power pop, sarcastic lyrics are as playfully vulgar as they are irate and angry.
Over the years and throughout his solo career, Folds has proved himself as a thoughtful, delicate writer as well as a consummate musician. From the powerful to the poignant, Folds has written a litany of tracks that leap between genre, and he has written film scores, performed with the biggest orchestras in the world, collaborated with some of the biggest names in the industry and become the first artistic advisor to the National Symphony Orchestra. His performance at our very own venerated venue, The Glasshouse, on Wednesday 15th November, will be a real treat.
Despite the staggering highs of his career and the litany of accolades and achievements, the essential selling points of a Ben Folds show are the same as they were at the start; phenomenal musicianship and stirring  piano compositions are emotive, raw and moving – Folds’ music communicates and touches with a dazzling clarity.
Wednesday 15th November @ The Glasshouse, Gateshead

Yuko Araki
You’ve heard of J-pop and J-rock, now get ready for J-psychedelic-techno-noise-metal! While the former two may be the more recognisable exports of the (obviously actually very rich and diverse) Japanese music industry, multi-instrumentalist and composer Yuko Araki is just one in a burgeoning genre of female-led post-industrial music makers breaking international ground.
Araki started out playing classical music on the piano before seguing into metal, and she now combines her traditional training with jazz, prog-rock and metal sensibilities in new experimental ventures to create her own kind of neoclassical music. After three releases (appropriately entitled I, II and The End of a Trilogy), she’s bringing new record IV to UK audiences, including a stop by one of Newcastle’s newest DIY venues Lubber Fiend on Wednesday 15th November.
With IV, Yuko Araki delves into new antithetical territory: in a genre known for its excess, she experiments with a new form of noise. Her minimalist approach pairs down her process to the absolute minimum needed to create maximum impact. The result is an abstract, rich, deep noise where no element fights for dominance, but all shine through together. And with only the essentials to worry about, taking this music on tour should be such a breeze.
Wednesday 15th November @ The Lubber Fiend, Newcastle

Image: Yuko Araki

Durham will again become a huge nocturnal art gallery as Lumiere returns to the city with over 40 light installations for its largest and most ambitious programme yet. Since 2009, the free biennial event has seen over one million people view 270 commissions, and this year it extends outside of the city too, with neighbouring Bishop Auckland playing host to four pieces, including one by internationally acclaimed Spanish artist, Daniel Canogar at the Spanish Gallery.
Known for utilising the city’s architectural features, the 2023 festival will once again see Durham’s iconic cathedral, streets, buildings, bridges and river hosting artworks, even the loading bay in Prince Bishops Place gets in on the action, which this year will be taken over by a collective of British designers, technicians and poets. With work by artists from 15 countries on show, some of the other highlights include Rumination, a collection of larger-than-life illuminated sheep sculptures made from junk by artist Dave Young; Signed Light by Martin Glover, five signs fingerspelling the word ‘Light’ in BSL; and Colourful Chaos by Emma Allen, where animated characters will tumble, climb and paint across the façade of Durham’s Masonic Hall.
Thursday 16th-Sunday 19th November @ Various venues in Durham

Caroline Hardaker book launch
North East poet and celebrated novelist (and former NARC. contributor) Caroline Hardaker will be celebrating the launch of her new novel Mothtown at The Lit & Phil on Thursday 16th November.
Published by award-winning indie publisher Angry Robot, Mothtown is a slice of unsettling literary horror that explores questions of perception and grief, with illustrations by former Children’s Laureate Chris Riddell. At the launch, Hardaker will be in discussion with fellow North East writer Sarah Davy, where they’ll be talking “moths, transformations, and all about storytelling” to a backdrop of eerie visuals from Chris Riddell, who’ll be streaming illustrations inspired by the discussion and questions from the audience.
Mothtown is Hardaker’s second novel – her first, Composite Creatures, was shortlisted for a Kitschie Golden Tentacle award, and chosen as a Best Book of 2021 for The Washington Post. She told me: “I’m so excited to see Mothtown unfurl its wings and make its way in the world. It’s a weird story, one that I was never certain would see the light. But it made it. And I’m so glad.”
The event starts at 7pm. Tickets are £5, or £10 for entry and a copy of the book. Check out the latest episode of our podcast My Writing Life with Fran Harvey, as she talks to Caroline about her creative process.
Thursday 16th November @ The Lit & Phil, Newcastle

Gazelle Twin
Gazelle Twin – aka Elizabeth Bernholz – has long been one of the most exciting, original, bewildering artists in the UK, releasing a string of albums that always come with a complete change of approach and aesthetic (take the folk-horror explorations of Pastoral that saw Bernholz appearing in a warped Morris/hobby horse costume for live shows).
Whereas previous releases have been observational – satirical even – her new Invada Records release Black Dog is much more internalised, looking at fear, depression, the ‘black dog’ that lurks just out of sight for all of us. The lead single and title track goes hard on claustrophobic horror so – based on previous tours – whatever Bernholz has in mind for the live shows is bound to be exciting. Happily The Glasshouse is on the short itinerary on Thursday 16th November, and the magnificent Nat Sharp – visual artist, musician and body activist extraordinaire – is supporting, which is always something to behold.
Thursday 16th November @ The Glasshouse, Gateshead

Image: Gazelle Twin by Teri Varhol

James Yorkston, Jon Thorne & Ranjana Ghatak
On Friday 17th November, Gosforth Civic Theatre will host the mesmeric crossover of the musical worlds of Indian classical, jazz and folk. Our trio of tour guides on this epic trip are James Yorkston (one of the most “influential singer/songwriters on the Scottish folk scene”), Jon Thorne (best known as jazz double bass player with electro outfit Lamb) and Ranjana Ghatak.
Since 2016, Yorkston and Thorne have teamed up with sarangi player and vocalist Suhail Yusuf Khan for their Yorkston/Thorne/Khan project, having released three albums on Domino Records and toured Europe and India, receiving universal praise. Their appreciation of each other is evident in every note and every breath. In their intricate compositions, musical stylings meet and dance, trading the lead and switching steps seamlessly. Rolling Stone called their 2017 Neuk Wight Delhi All-Starsa “a game-changing masterpiece”. Their 2020 album Navarasa: NineEmotions was The Guardian’s Folk Album of the Year. James and Jon have now teamed up with Ranjana Ghatak who is hugely experienced in the classical and devotional Hindustani vocal traditions, as well as playing harmonium and tanpura. Expect new pieces exploring the beauty of sacred vocal music, and established work from the first three Yorkston/Thorne/Khan albums all played with a new flavour and excitement, as the sounds of this new trio are explored.
Friday 17th November @ Gosforth Civic Theatre, Gateshead

Mouses single launch
Mouses are back! It’s been seven long years since the legendary, stomping, thrashing two-piece’s colossal debut, The Mouses Album. Newly released singles promise that the forthcoming album will be a white-knuckle ride. November’s single single, Nostalgia, is a sucker punch of distorted garage punk. Clocking in at under two minutes, it’s a short, sharp fuzzy blast of frenetic punk rock – recorded DIY style in a bedroom and fuzzed up by the wonderful Rob Irish. This is De Stijl meets Pinkerton, with the lo-fi leanings of YUCK and the primal energy of Lightning Bolt.
At its lyrical core, Nostalgia deals with the feelings that surround the sugar-coated notions of nostalgia, tackling the trauma that stems from parental divorce at a young age. The song is deeply personal, wearing its vulnerability on its sleeve, questioning feelings of loss, grief, guilt and ultimately shame in childhood naivety. Mouses will celebrate their return with a show at Middlesbrough Theatre’s Toft House. Anyone who has experienced Mouses live show will know they’d better bring their dancing shoes as Toft House will be rocking.
Friday 17th November @ Toft House, Middlesbrough

Songs From Northern Britain
Now in its tenth glorious iteration, Songs From Northern Britain has long established itself as an iconic addition to the region’s canon of all-dayer festivals offering a brilliantly refreshing and diverse who’s-who of fledgling and established acts across three stages in The Georgian Theatre, The Green Room and the Georgian Bar.
A joint effort from the Tees Music Alliance and legendary promoters The Kids Are Solid Gold, Songs From Northern Britain is a further testament to how integral Teesside’s contribution is to the region’s creative landscape. It’s also an unbelievable steal at a mere £16.50 a ticket for the event on Saturday 18th November, considering the variety and calibre of acts on offer.
Headlining proceedings are exuberant glam goths Walt Disco, fresh from the release of their debut album Unlearning, and preparing for a UK-wide tour supporting the almighty OMD. Joining them will be Scottish indie band Gallus, emotive sextet Mi Mye, DIY artist Swiss Portrait, electronic artist Linzi Clark, genre-blurrers Flat Party, alongside Russell Stewart, Rosie H Sullivan and Jam Tub, with more acts still yet to be announced. All in all, it’s an incredible line-up with something for everyone, and a completely exquisite banquet for live music lovers the region over.
Saturday 18th November @ The Georgian Theatre, Stockton

Ayo Akingbade
Drawing upon the artist’s interest in history, place-making, legacy and power, artist, writer and director Ayo Akingbade’s exhibition comprises two new film commissions; The Fist delves into the deep-rooted politics of the Lagos-based Guinness brewery, the first to be built outside of Ireland; while Faluyi follows protagonist Ife on a journey tracing familial legacy and mysticism in ancestral lands.
Saturday 18th November-Saturday 14th April @ BALTIC, Gateshead

Books on Tyne
Returning to Newcastle for its 11th year, Books On Tyne promises a programme of literary delights across the city from Saturday 18th-Saturday 25th November. In collaboration with Newcastle Libraries and the Lit & Phil, Newcastle’s annual book festival offers the best of the region’s fiction, non-fiction and spoken word.
Whether you explore the trailblazing female writers of the 1890s with Decadent Women: Yellow Book, consider the history of selfies with Matt Colquhoun or experience a one-man performance of the Dickens classic A Christmas Carol, the festival offers something for every taste with a range of low cost and free events.
Among the highlights of this year’s programme include the latest release from Tyne Bridge Publishing, Speaking As We Find, a history of women in Tyneside industries from the 1930s-1980s, their stories told in their own words through interviews with author Caroline Barker Bennett.
Recognising the need to highlight a range of creative arts and talents through their platform, Books On Tyne reserve a space each year for the best in music writing, with this year’s slot celebrating The Art of Darkness – The History of Goth, an exploration of the origins and impact of goth music and culture, from journalist and broadcaster and musician John Robb. Check the website for more events.

Saturday 18th-Saturday 25th November @ Various venues, Newcastle

Image: Karolina Uskakovych, Common Ground

Co-produced by D6: Culture in Transit and Kyiv-based IZOLYATSIA, (Re)Grounding is part of the UK/Ukraine Season of Culture devised jointly by the British Council and the Ukrainian Institute. Initial plans for this ambitious project had to be halted due to the traumatic Russian invasion of Ukraine. The creative team re-shaped the project, which was to have taken place in Soledar in the East of Ukraine, to invite Ukrainian artists to be in residence at D6’s studios at NewBridge Project in Newcastle.
With D6 curator in residence Lucy Nychai, artists Alexandra Clod (Krolikowska) and Karolina Uskakovych respond to the climate crisis by exploring the shared industrial past of the UK and Ukraine and its impact today. Having journeyed from the industrial landscapes of Eastern Ukraine to former coal mines and community gardens of the North East, the selected artists ask what must be done to bring about the drastic change needed to limit the increase in rising temperatures. The programme includes two research residencies and an exhibition connecting practice, heritage and communities between the UK and Ukraine.
We all know the climate crisis spans social, political and environmental injustices that must be addressed to achieve a sustainable future. We see these injustices play out in Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which is deeply affecting the people and place, destabilising global food and energy markets. We see the climate crisis most impacting people with the least resources to tackle it, caused by the global impact of the industrial revolution. (Re)Grounding invites audiences to see how everything interconnects.
Saturday 18th November-Saturday 16th December @ NewBridge Project, Newcastle

Tyne & Wear Youth Music Collective
Featuring archive material from iconic music venues including The Bunker and The Station in Gateshead, Tyne & Wear Music/Youth Collectivism from the 1980s & Beyond tells the story of the teenagers growing up amidst seismic economic and industrial change, who took solace in the city’s vibrant punk scene.
A tribute to the trailblazers who fought to preserve the music scene for future generations, the exhibition is a chance to explore the history of bands including Total Chaos, The Reptiles, Model Workers and The Village Idiots. Featuring an incredible collection of video footage, photographs and memorabilia, the exhibition brings to life the electric energy of the time, and considers the enduring cultural impact seen in the North East music scene today.
Keeks McGarry, former singer with Total Chaos said: “This exhibition is an opportunity to revisit the incredible culture that emerged from the punk venues of our youth, honour the bands and performers who shaped our lives, and inspire a new generation of music enthusiasts.”
Taking place at Newcastle Contemporary Art’s High Bridge gallery, the exhibition opens to the public at weekends throughout November and December following a launch event on Saturday 18th November.
From Saturday 18th November @ Newcastle Contemporary Art

The Chase
Nottingham quartet The Chase are ready to electrify the stage at Stockton’s KU, with sounds which harness and magnify the gritty angst of Oasis and the famed harmony of The Beatles, when they rock up at the venue on Saturday 18th November.
Having performed at Isle of Wight festival and Truck, as well as supporting renowned bands such as the Kaiser Chiefs, The Chase are more than ready to be the main event. CLASH has even dubbed the band as “one to file alongside The Lathums in the UK indie resurgence.” Their most popular track, Death of Me, boasts over 139,000 streams on Spotify and their music can be considered to be an uplifting homage to their hometown roots. The past and present are ever prevalent within the music, and seem to urge them to keep reaching for new heights. Their latest EP Bonzo Bonanza, released in May, boasts solidly stirring rock tracks. Hunger and love are at the heart of their songs, and the band’s raw magnetism and earthy electricity underscore and accentuate the excellence of their sound.
Saturday 18th November @ KU, Stockton

Kelly Rickard
Reinventing crass humour and tickling ribs with her life’s tales, Kelly Rickard is taking to the stage with her debut stand-up show, Free As A Bird at The Stand on Monday 20th November. A comedian with superb wit and all the talent up her sleeve to help you giggle yourself silly, Rickard has formulated the perfect way to diffuse our tensions and bring light and laughter that puts our woes into perspective.
She regales her turbulent, hilariously relatable journey through motherhood and comedy in a show that displays her promise, determination and natural talent for all things daft. Despite being a newbie to the art of stand-up, this stunningly sharp comedian has prestigious awards to her name already, following her win of the Felt Nowt New Act of the Year award. Her story is formed following many years as a successful singer and actor, with an incredible knack for writing joke lyrics and playing comedic characters. Through this work, she discovered her calling lay in the joy of chatting to audiences about her life’s endeavours and making them laugh along the way. Free As A Bird showcases her skill for ice-breaking comedy that will leave you laughing through tears, cheering for an encore. 
Monday 20th November @ The Stand, Newcastle

Image: Kelly Rickard

Queens of the Stone Age
Queens Of The Stone Age may well be one of the biggest rock bands in the world, and now they’re coming to Stockton. For any fans of rock music, their gig at Stockton’s Globe on Monday 20th November is essential.
In the decades since their 1998 debut, Josh Homme’s band have become synonymous for their sludgy, brooding rock tracks. With several albums now sparkling with the veneer of a ‘classic’ or ‘essential listening’ status, Queens Of The Stone Age brought their slacker, stoner rock hedonism into the mainstream and have spent 24 years exploring the genre, toying with ideas and ideals constantly to keep their sound fresh. Headlining the biggest festivals across the globe, the  Californian giants have been dominating stadiums for years, armed with some of the biggest riffs of the century. 
The band’s eighth album, In Times New Roman, was released this June after a six year wait, so Homme returns to centre stage. A tumultuous few years for the frontman has seen his troubles funnelled directly into the record, with some of the band’s most introspective lyricism weaving between infectious riffs and pounding grooves; there’s a maturity underlying the band’s sound as they return to their classic, arena-ready roots. 
Monday 20th November @ The Globe, Stockton

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