WEEKLY ROUND-UP (15.04.24) | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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Image: Blindboy Podcast

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.

COMEDY
Simon Munnery’s Jerusalem
Considered one of the all-time great British comics by the inimitable Stewart Lee, Simon Munnery has forged a path in the annuls of alternative comedy with a unique and acerbic approach to the form that has earned him a sterling reputation as an unconventional trailblazer of the fine art of side-splitting.
He rose to infamy, co-founding Cluub Zarathustra, an irreverent comedy cabaret act and troupe, which rose to prominence around the great stand-up boom of the 90s and has maintained his integrity since, only briefly troubling the mainstream with a brief sojourn on BBC Radio 1 and a short dalliance with mainstream comedy with the BBC 2 show Attention Scum! (which provided early exposure to comedic titans such as Catherine Tate and Johnny Vegas). Not one to rest on his laurels, he’s out on another unique tour, taking in Newcastle’s Stand on Tuesday 16th April, that further teases at the boundaries of the form. Jerusalem takes inspiration from the iconic poem scribed by William Blake, with particular emphasis on the drastic interpretation by The Fall to form a truly unique stand-up show with one eye on the distant past, and the other locked laser-like on the future.
Tuesday 16th April @ The Stand, Newcastle

MUSIC
The Zutons
The highly anticipated return of The Zutons is just around the corner, with their first album in a staggering 16 years, The Big Decider, released on 26th April, and a live show at Wylam Brewery on Tuesday 16th April.
The multi-platinum selling band released three studio albums between 2004 and 2008, scoring top 10s with Why Won’t You Give Me Your Love? and the all-conquering Valerie. Now they return to share the fruits of their extended time away.
This long-awaited follow-up has been crafted at the legendary Abbey Road Studios, with the esteemed guidance of songwriter and producer Nile Rodgers, alongside the band’s original producer Ian Broudie.
The Big Decider emerges as more than just an album for The Zutons; it’s their cosmic odyssey through life’s trials and triumphs. Crafted amidst 15 years of experiences, it bears the weight of family tragedies and personal growth.
Lead singer and guitarist Dave McCabe reminisces on the journey, citing the influence of Nile Rodgers and the emotional significance of reconnecting with Broudie. The lead single, Disappear, features Rodgers himself, adding an enchanting layer to The Zutons’ sonic tapestry.
Off the back of an intimate UK tour, including a memorable show at Stockton Calling, The Zutons are primed to captivate audiences once again with The Big Decider.
Tuesday 16th April @ Wylam Brewery, Newcastle

Image: The Zutons by Jonathan Turton

STAGE
Hope is a Four Letter Word
Newcastle’s Alphabetti Theatre is to host a captivating production that masterfully intertwines two monologues, exploring profound themes from contrasting viewpoints. hope is a four letter word has been crafted by the imaginative mind of North East creative gobscure, and will be brought to life under the direction of Ali Pritchard from Tuesday 16th April-Saturday 4th May. The production promises a unique blend of twisted humour and liberation, with moments of childlike wonder, beauty and freedom. Starring Zoe Lambert and Rebecca Glendenning-Laycock, the play delves into the narratives of two distinct characters navigating their path to freedom and understanding.
The opening monologue draws inspiration from Kathy Boudin, a founding member of the U.S. militant organisation, Weather Underground, reflecting on a life of imprisonment and the quest for societal change. The second narrative follows an individual’s harrowing journey through a psych-ICU-prison, finding solace in Boudin’s words and discovering liberation. This production is a testament to the creative talent of an award-winning team, offering an experience that is at once magical, joyous, poetic, political and introspective. Critics hail gobscure’s work as intelligent, unsettling and entertaining, while Lambert’s performances are quietly heroic and full of love. Audiences are invited to embark on a journey that challenges perceptions and captivates with emotional depth and raw intensity.
Tuesday 16th April-Saturday 4th May @ Alphabetti Theatre, Newcastle

MUSIC
Pet Needs
It’s difficult not to mention Pet Needs and Frank Turner within the same breath, seeing as the latter’s discovery and championing of the former has since resulted in the indie punk four piece’s popularity skyrocketing in the past three years. But while Turner’s input should not be overlooked, neither should Pet Needs’ efforts to put out three records in almost as many years – and all of ‘em damn good ‘uns to boot.
Intermittent Fast Living brings us more of Pet Needs’ signature nihilistic punk rock noise for the modern age – its opening acoustic spoken word introduction literally asks us “How Are You?” They’re probably not doing great, since most of the rest of the record ponders if modern life is really worth all the effort. As they continue to grow, Pet Needs’ fast living may well become less intermittent and more constant: they’ll be fresh off a run of US dates with favourite frequent collaborator Frank Turner when they embark on a comprehensive UK/EU tour, kicking off in the one and only Georgian Theatre, Stockton on Tuesday 16th April. That DIY punk attitude and burgeoning fanbase will be housed perfectly in the indie venue – it’d be bittersweet to see them outgrow it, but I for one cannot wait to see what the impact of a fulfilling music career will be on their songwriting characteristics.
Tuesday 16th April @ The Georgian Theatre, Stockton

MUSIC
Kaiser Chiefs
The tuneful indie scamps return with a new album, Kaiser Chiefs’ Easy Eighth Album, which sees the band continue on their mission to produce breakthrough belters made for the indie dancefloor. Renowned for their energetic on-stage antics, the band will also deliver tracks from their extensive back catalogue.
Tuesday 16th April @ The Globe, Stockton

STAGE
Museum of Austerity
An arresting mixed reality installation which tells the human story of austerity Britain. A blend of theatre, history and humanity, combining the skills of theatre/XR director Sacha Wares with the in-depth knowledge of John Pring, editor of Disability News.
Wednesday 17th-Sunday 21st April @ Live Theatre, Newcastle

MUSIC
Kris Barras Band
Going from a pro-mixed martial arts fighter to a professional musician is quite the career change, and particularly impressive given the respect Kris Barras has earned in the blues rock scene. One of the genre’s breakout artists in recent years, expect technical solos, captivating choruses and hard-hitting riffs.
Thursday 18th April @ Boiler Shop, Newcastle

MUSIC
Millie Manders & The Shutup
No matter how much the naysayers doth protest, that ol’ ska punk will simply never die. Notoriously misunderstood and never boring, the all-vibe, high-energy genre has stood up despite ridicule from music snobs and buzz-killers alike, proving its worth as a ray of light in the world of up-tempo, skanky scuzz. Whilst many of the iconic bands that popularised the genre remain active and thriving, the genre has continued to inspire a number of up-starting bands, such as London’s very own Millie Manders & The Shutup, whose frenetic and high-energy ska punk transmissions have seen them gain glowing endorsements from founding members of The Specials, and has seen them grace stages at Boomtown, Slam Dunk, Rebellion and Kendal Calling, and now, Darlington’s phenomenal The Forum on Thursday 18th April.
Support comes from Cumbrian pop punkers Voodoo Radio, comprised of singer/drummer Paige and guitarist Tony, whose acclaimed 2022 mini-LP POP PILLS has bagged them support slots with the likes of The Skids and Sham 69. All in all, it’s a lovely double-bill that shows there’s plenty of life left in the genres that emerged from the punk revolution, in a cracking venue to boot.
Thursday 18th April @ The Forum Music Centre, Darlington

Image: Millie Manders and The Shutup

STAGE
The Promise
Nationally acclaimed British theatre company Deafinitely Theatre present a unique production which is inspired by the extraordinary experiences of deaf people living with dementia, presented in the company’s renowned, highly visual style. Also on Saturday 20th.
Friday 19th-Saturday 20th April @ Northern Stage, Newcastle

ART & LIT
Recording Time
A collaborative exhibition taking place at Gallagher & Turner in Newcastle, Recording Time is set to explore the idea of marking time through music, heritage, duration and experiences.
Six artists will gather to answer what happens when we are bored, how images and memories change as they are passed from one media to another and how time affects us and art. Embodied in sculptures, paintings and risographs, a rare set of coloured photos of the Beatles will also be shown – a different shade on a different time.
Turning the record over is curator Matthew Hearn, who is resurrecting his 2015 project Beyond The Goldmine Standard. The work will flaunt a collection of affordable 12” vinyl records which have been reworked by 20 local artists – giving them new life and focus. In line with Record Store Day, well established artists to undergrad art students weigh up nostalgia and aesthetics to celebrate not only the recent boom in the vinyl market but to explore the implications and creative possibilities. Of any vinyl artworks sold, half of the profits will go to Maggie’s Cancer Care.
Friday 19th April-Saturday 25th May @ Gallagher & Turner, Newcastle

MUSIC
Swim School
Edinburgh’s Swim School have a sound that’s dense and richly emblematic of the 90s shoegaze era, bands like Ride or Slowdive come to mind. But there’s also a wilder, rockier core in the mix that thrashes around and shouts. Catching them on their first headline tour in the relatively intimate space of Zerox on Friday 19th April should be a blistering experience.
Local promoter The Kids Are Solid Gold has championed the band since promoting early shows from the very beginning and watching their success as they have risen through the ranks. The trio is fronted by Alice Johnson, with guitarist Lewis Bunting and drummer Billy Martin occupying the other seats; Johnson asserts herself commandingly on stage, bouncing around with seemingly unlimited energy. The changes of pace in their songs do allow for some respite though, and they like to pitch opposites against each other musically and lyrically, which makes for a visceral, contradictory and tension-filled indie pop glee, captured so vividly on their Making Sense Of It All EP. They’ve also been known to throw in the occasional thunderous cover of Taylor Swift’s Love Story, if that’s an added selling point for you to come and assist in whipping the venue into a frenzy.
Friday 19th April @ Zerox, Newcastle

ART & LIT
verteX_RE-PORT
Sparkle Robotics are a newly formed audio-visual collective based in Newcastle and London orbiting around a shared interest in new and aged technology, digital world-building and pop maximalism.  
 For their debut event at Star and Shadow, Sparkle Robotics will present a unique audio-visual event inspired by video games and video game nostalgia. Delving into the data banks of mid-90s to mid-2000s video games (think PS1/PS2, Sega Dreamcast, Nintendo Wii etc… ) the event will consist of performances, poetry, and live music inspired by video games, followed by a night of spacey pads, electric panpipes, acid blips, among other iconic sounds from this unique and innovative era of video game music.
Friday 19th April @ Star & Shadow, Newcastle

MUSIC
Scott Hepple & The Sun Band
A cracking line-up for those who like their garage rock fuzzy and psych-infused, Scott Hepple & The Sun Band bring their glorious riffs and 70s vibes to an intimate show at Claypath Deli. Support comes from Hartlepool’s James Leonard Hewitson, who’s poised to unleash his new album of idiosyncratic pop sounds in May.
Saturday 20th April @ Claypath Deli, Durham

ART & LIT
No Last Dance
The opening celebration, with a performance from artist Debbie Bowers, of No Last Dance, a group exhibition exploring how time is intrinsic to the act of making and viewing painting. A one-day symposium exploring the themes of the exhibition takes place on Saturday 18th May, when the exhibition ends.
Saturday 20th April-Saturday 18th May @ Newcastle Contemporary Art

MUSIC
Set Your Sights
Teesside’s pop punk quartet Set Your Sights are gearing up for a monumental celebration as they mark their ten-year anniversary this month. Formerly known as Destroy The 1950s, the band embarked on a new musical journey in 2014 and have been captivating audiences with their energetic performances ever since.
To commemorate this impressive milestone, Set Your Sights are throwing a ten-year anniversary party (with pizza!) at Play Brew Co in Middlesbrough on Saturday 20th April. Joining them for a night of nostalgic revelry will be a stellar line-up of supporting acts, including Newcastle’s pop punk outfit Coastlines, Leeds-based punk pop band A Night In November and solo artist Failed To Ignite.
Formed by drummer Haz Casson in 2012, Set Your Sights boasts a line-up with decades of combined experience. Guitarist Alex Smith and bassist Roy Myers have long been stalwarts of Middlesbrough’s music scene since the early 2000s, while guitarist Dave Hope completed the band’s current line-up in August 2022.
With their latest single Circles already making waves, and the highly anticipated release of new track 17 on the horizon, Set Your Sights are gearing up for a busy and exciting year ahead.
Saturday 20th April @ Play Brew Co, Middlesbrough

COMEDY
Lee Kyle
‘England’s best comedian’ hits the big time! Following fifteen years in stand-up, gigging all over the world, South Shields funny man Lee Kyle is playing his first ever show at Tyne Theatre & Opera House on Saturday 20th April.
Kyle’s titled his show ‘England’s Best Comedian’ (tongue slightly in cheek), and he assures us his claim is completely 100% verifiable, “How do I know I’m the best? Well, I’ve been at all my gigs and, my word, the laughs hurt my ears sometimes. Also, humility has got me nowhere so bollocks to it, I’m great me.”
As one of the most inventive yet adaptable acts in the UK, he has good reason to be bold with his assertions. Known for his ability to work any audience from festivals to stag dos to kids shows, Kyle seamlessly weaves quirky stories with top notch ad-libbing, thinking on his feet with impressive creativity. The former champion wrestler is a podcast host, Edinburgh fringe regular and board member of the world’s only comedian run cooperative CIC, Felt Nowt.
His show is about overcoming self-doubt and admitting to himself – and you – that he is, indeed, England’s best comedian. So please, come watch and prove him right.
Saturday 20th April @ Tyne Theatre & Opera House, Newcastle

Image: Lee Kyle

MUSIC
NASUWT Riverside Brass Band with Field Music
A special show featuring the world’s number one brass conductor Nicholas Childs and his band performing brass classics, alongside local heroes Field Music, who play new music commissioned for Durham BRASS Festival in 2023.
Sunday 21st April @ The Fire Station, Sunderland

MUSIC
Dominie Hooper
After spending many years honing her craft whilst collaborating in folk and contemporary music – working with acclaimed artists such as Yola, Tom Odell, Rioghnach Connolly and Alabaster Deplume – songwriter Dominie Hooper has opted to forge a new path as a solo artist, which has seen her recently record a raft of acclaimed singles produced by This Is The Kit’s Kate Stables. The brilliant three-track release Hastings, (released with the support of both Help Musicians and PRSF’s Women Make Music grants) exemplifies Dominie’s vivid and rich command of the songwriting craft, with a sharp and organic sound further reinforcing the strength of her songwriting talents. It’s a bold continuation of the singular sound hinted at on 2022’s debut EP ANNO, boasting an intimate and immaculately-produced sound which allows the quality of her songwriting to take center stage. With a long-overdue debut LP in the works, an upcoming headlining tour takes in Eaglescliffe’s The Waiting Room on Sunday 21st April, and promises to be an unprecedented opportunity to witness a future alt. folk icon in the making.
Sunday 21st April @ The Waiting Room, Eaglescliffe

STAGE
The Blindboy Podcast Live
For some, it’s a bag on the head. For Blindboy Boatclub, it’s a neurodivergent’s response to fame, a work of outsider art and a critical response to capitalism, environmentalism and artistic self-expression. Crucially, it’s also a neat way to be famous and not get harassed at the off license.
Bringing his live show to Tyne Theatre & Opera House on Sunday 21st April, one of the most singularly fascinating figures in the pop culture lexicon, Blindboy contains multitudes. Originally (technically still) one half of sardonic comedy hip-hop duo The Rubberbandits, Blindboy now sits proudly amongst Ireland’s greatest cultural exports as a best-selling author, broadcaster and satirist.
Though he’d never admit it, he’s already well on course to be spoken of in the same breath as Flann O’Brien and James Joyce, firmly landing himself in the grand tradition of folk storytellers with third book Topographia Hibernica in 2023.
His podcast regularly draws in over a million worldwide listeners monthly – despite him telling newbies to go back and listen from the start to familiarise themselves with the heady, wildly evocative lore contained within – while his live events showcase his legendary penchant for the ‘hot take’ alongside his warm, deeply-penetrating interview style.
All this and he’s hilarious too. Not bad for a lad with a bag on his head.
Sunday 21st April @ Tyne Theatre & Opera House, Newcastle

MUSIC
Giant Sand
Howe Gelb has travelled a strange and meandering path these past four decades, drifting from project to project, outfit to outfit, as the mood takes him. His main squeeze has always been Giant Sand, who became Giant Giant Sand for a spell in the last decade, before splitting up. Except they didn’t split up, not really, and Howe and his gang of dusty desert comrades are back at The Cluny on Monday 22nd April for the first of a short run of dates to accompany the Fire Records reissue of possibly their finest album, 1999’s Chore Of Enchantment.
Produced when Joey Burns and John Convertino (ie Calexico) were still in the band, and with a delicious guest spot from Juliana Hatfield, Chore Of Enchantment might simultaneously be their most accessible but most diverse album and it’s going to be a real treat to see Gelb and whoever else constitutes Giant Sand these days giving us gems like Temptation Of Egg, Astonished In Memphis and Shiver live once again. Not to be missed.
Monday 22nd April @ The Cluny, Newcastle

Image: Giant Sand

 

 

 

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