WEEKLY ROUND-UP (16.10.23) | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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Image: TV Death by Rhiannon Banks Photography

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

TV Death
Following a sell-out debut in 2021, Newcastle’s TV Death are set to deliver their signature blend of dark psychedelic punk in North Shields and Stockton this month. Ahead of the launch of their latest EP, The God, The One and The Devil, the abrasive garage rockers released lead track Village Mentality last month, before they head out on the road for a co-headline UK tour with Jemma Freeman & The Cosmic Something. The perfect act to share the stage with TV Death, three-piece Jemma Freeman & The Cosmic Something are known for drawing listeners in with their shapeshifting combination of glam rock guitar and intense dreamlike storytelling, offering fans a night of otherworldly and kaleidoscopic sound.
TV Death fans will be left hungry for more, and their shows give a taster of things to come in their upcoming EP, a multi-faceted story told through five tracks, with accompanying videos and artwork reminiscent of vintage horror movie posters.
Wednesday 18th October @ The Georgian Theatre, Stockton & Thursday 19th October @ The Engine Room, North Shields

The Bug Club
The three groovy peas in a far out pod, Sam Willmett (guitar/vocals), Tilly Harris (bass/vocals) and Dan Matthew (drums) formed The Bug Club in 2016 in the little-known rock ‘n’ roll hotbed that is Caldicot, Monmouthshire, and have since blazed a trail with their witty, tight-knit and singular alt. indie sound which arrived fully-formed on 2021’s magnificent debut Pure Particles and 2022’s Green Dream in F#.
Not content to rest on their laurels, the trio have wasted no time in bashing out a third collection of wonderful bangers in the form of (deep breath) Mr Anyway’s Holey Spirits Perform! One Foot In Bethlehem, a brisk 14-track onslaught of sonic kaleidoscopic glory. Interestingly, the entire album was captured in one live performance and is presented in a gloriously raw and ragged near-bootleg form, with a wonderfully muddy and hissy sound mingling with crowd noise and atmosphere. The songs are unsurprisingly rich in melody, harmony and character and truly take on a whole new world of charm and quality for being presented in such an unorthodox manner. It also serves as a solid testament to their power as a trio, with Sam and Tilly’s golden harmonies floating ethereally atop a tight-knit power-trio arrangements.
Thursday 19th October @ Gosforth Civic Theatre, Newcastle

Image: The Bug Club by Adam Whitmore

Co-created with sex worker activists from around the world over four years, Mycelial is a new international production from Open Clasp Theatre Company which offers a reality check on assumptions made about people involved in sex work. The creative team includes writer Catrina McHugh MBE and director Laura Lindow, both well known to North East audiences.
There are estimated to be more than 73,000 sex workers in the UK. More than 70% worked in healthcare, education or the voluntary sector. And yet it remains surrounded by stigma and misconceptions. When Open Clasp artistic director and writer Catrina McHugh facilitated a workshop for the North East Sex Work Forum, she was struck that the voices of sex workers were often missing from the narrative, explaining: “Mycelial aims to make space for debate and discussion. It is activism and theatre at its best, celebrating the strength and humanity of sex work activists who can’t walk by injustice.”
Mycelial features a nine-strong cast representing the diversity of its co-creators from across the UK, Ireland and Aotearoa/New Zealand, including trans women of colour, lesbian, Queer, straight and intersex people.
Friday 20th-Saturday 28th October @ Northern Stage, Newcastle

Get the Blessing
Get The Blessing are a Bristolian jazz rock quartet who boast two former touring members of Portishead. The quartet initially bonded over a shared admiration of the colossal avant-garde jazz titan Ornette Coleman. Their anything-goes attitude is a brilliant continuation of the innovations brought to life by that aforementioned founder of free-jazz. Recent release Oscillation Ochre, a choice cut from upcoming eight LP Pallett is a brilliant testament to this. Led by a dextrous, pulsing double bass line, the single is a crystalline slab of quality free-jazz, with a steady and taut rhythm laying a foundation for a sea of treated keys, unorthodox guitar-led lines and a heavy dose of atmospheric horns. All in all, it makes for a terrific addition to the fledgling pantheon of quality new jazz which, given Ezra Collective’s recent Mercury Prize win, is finally starting to attract the widespread acclaim it has long been overdue.
Friday 20th October @ Gosforth Civic Theatre, Newcastle

Behind the Cabaret Curtain
Local band The Jam Buddies present a fun multi-artform evening of music, comedy, dancing and more. Expect doom rock theatrics from Brass Eyed Dragons, a comedy sketch from learning disability theatre company Full Circle, DJ Gav and The Megatron are on compere duties and the night is rounded off with dancing and DJing from the ARCtic Piranha club night.
Friday 20th October @ ARC, Stockton

A unique dance collaboration based on Indian contemporary dance form Kathak, Forbidden is a powerful solo work from Aditi Mangaldas who reflects on why the world is scared of female sexual desire. Underscored by a wide range of cultures from across the globe, Aditi will journey through emotions and experiences, reclaiming her desire.
Friday 20th October @ Northern Stage, Newcastle

Image: Aditi Mangaldas by Von Fox Promotions

Hey Colossus
Currently celebrating their 20th anniversary, the ever-morphing beast of Hey Colossus – built around the twin axis of founders Joe Thompson and Robert Davis – have built a cult following with 14 studio albums, countless gigs and an amped-up yet ever-evolving sound that’s perennially tossed beneath the banner of ‘noise-rock’, for want of a better term. Theirs is an extensive catalogue, yet those seeking an entry point could do far worse than latest outing In Blood, whose dense dive into British lore and folk horror makes for one of their most eclectic yet approachable efforts to date. The best introduction, though, is simply to catch them live – and with two decades of excellence to reflect upon, this jaunt is as good a time as any to hop aboard.
Saturday 21st October @ The Lubber Fiend, Newcastle

Joshua Burnell
A rising voice on the folk rock scene” is how Mark Radcliffe would describe the transcendental baroque pop of Joshua Burnell, a musician who beautifully combines folklore with fantasy, sci-fi and the supernatural. Burnell is an artist who resists creative boxes or convention, forever boasting unpredictability and musical ingenuity. His latest album, Glass Knight, is composed of hauntingly searching tracks and ballads of beauty, awash with reverb-drenched guitars, hook-filled melodies and retro synth textures. His music is exciting and his tour will be just that; accompanying Burnell on stage will be bandmates Kat Hurdley, Nathan Greaves, Ed Simpson, Oliver Whitehouse and Frances Sladen, and their performance will contain all the eclecticism and surprises of a dream.
Saturday 21st October @ Toft House, Middlesbrough

Bristol-based musician Hannah Pawson, the folk songwriter of Fritillaries, has recently released music which ruminates on the intimacy between humanity and the earth, as well as the sinister underbelly of individuality. Her music can be considered to be a breath of fresh air and a window in a dark room, utilising the banjo, guitar and harmonium within her tracks in a way which conveys both a soft sentimentalism for folk but also a desire for originality within it. Folk Radio have even labelled her 2022 album “outstanding”, and the dreamy, searching tracks are indeed soulful evocations of peace which can be found in the darkest, or loneliest, of crevices. Receiving plaudits aplenty, Hannah is clearly a magnificent talent and a rising star in the folk world, lauded for her sublime vocals and melodic sound. Don’t miss this opportunity to see her in such an intimate setting.
Saturday 21st October @ Claypath Deli, Durham

Image: Fritillaries

Through the Noise
Classical club night Through The Noise brings world-class performances which seek to blur the lines between classical and contemporary sounds. October’s event will see Manchester Collective’s Rakhi Singh and guitarist Alan Keary present re-workings of Julia Wolfe’s seminal work for nine bagpipes, as well as the music of Bach, Steve Reich and Hildegard of Bingen.
Saturday 21st October @ Star & Shadow Cinema, Newcastle

Although 2021 saw the debut of Squid’s sprawling and meandering Bright Green Field album, 2023 saw their phenomenal follow-up O Monolith, which arguably defines the band’s most astonishing output. The debut stood out from its post-punk contemporaries, it shone a little brighter with ambition, ran a little slicker with execution and stamped a little harder with anger. While Bright Green Field had a reach and drive that was a marvel to observe, it still had the hallmarks of a band finding their feet; it was exciting, but incomplete. 
What Squid proved on their debut was that there was a need for the market to evolve and an opening for something really exciting to take place. Enter O Monolith. Having signed to Warp Records, O Monolith is an impressive and immersive experience which tinkers with a plethora of rock formats with a giddy mania. From linear, growing, broody rock odysseys to euphoric experiments that dazzle and delight, hypnotic grooves and melodramatic storytelling, O Monolith feels like an epic of the times. The journey yanks you through a series of emotions, be it from harsh, metallic instrumentation and dense rhythmic funks, to high octane choruses.
Sunday 22nd October @ Boiler Shop, Newcastle

Metamorphosis is a visceral reimagining of Franz Kafka’s timeless novella, adapted for the stage by poet Lemn Sissay (author of the gut-wrenching My Name Is Why, among many other works). 
This tale of transformation, alienation and perception is just as pertinent in 2023 as it was in 1915, the year of its original publication. It follows the innermost thoughts of travelling salesman Gregor Samsa, as he awakes one ordinary morning to find himself transformed into an unrecognisable creature of horror and contempt. As a production from Frantic Assembly – an award-winning company with a passion for delivering theatre to all audiences – the show promises to be an unforgettable one. For more insight into the production, join a post-show discussion on Thursday 26th.
Tuesday 24th-Saturday 28th October @ Northern Stage, Newcastle

Ailey 2
The renowned New York contemporary dance company Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre bring what promises to be a must-see performance from their second company to Newcastle’s Theatre Royal. Ailey 2 celebrates the creative vision of exceptional choreographers, and showcases the spirit, energy and talent of the next generation of of dance artists. The repertoire of performances includes Revelations, choreographed by Ailey himself, which uses African-American spirituals, song sermons, gospel songs and holy blues; Enemy in the Figure uses Tom Willem’s percussive and rhythmic score to superb effect, with choreography showcasing the vitality of the dancers; The Hunt uses primal percussion and a distinct urban feel to explore the relationship between modern sports and the rites of gladiators – usually performed by six male dancers, this performance will see an all-female cast for the first time in the UK; and finally, the company’s artistic director Francesca Harper’s Freedom Series explores identity and community with unexpected twists and turns, soundtracked by a montage of acoustic and electronic sounds. This production is a real must-see for fans of cutting-edge dance, even more so with the addition of a special £10 ticket offer for those aged under 30. Don’t miss it.
Tuesday 24th-Wednesday 25th October @ Theatre Royal, Newcastle

Image: Ailey 2 in Alvin Ailey’s Revelations. Photo by Nir Ariel

Tees Valley International Film Festival
Tees Valley International Film Festival returns to ARC for its second year with a packed schedule of celebrity guests, gala screenings and workshops designed to help develop new actors, writers and filmmakers across Teesside and Darlington. 
Celebrated local actor Mark Benton, famous for his roles in Early Doors and Northern Lights (and many more), will host the closing event, An Evening with Robson Green, which will also include the presentation of awards to winning filmmakers who have submitted their short films for inclusion in the festival. Elsewhere on the line-up, An Evening with Pete Bennett and Anthony Hutton sees the two former Big Brother winners tell all about the highs and lows of celebrity; Oscar-winning film producer David Parfitt will talk about his illustrious career while offering advice to Tees Valley creatives; and there’s a gala screening of Billingham-born Dunstan Bruce’s Chumbawamba origin story, I Get Knocked Down. Also of note is a gala screening of Ken Loach’s new film, The Old Oak, which tells of the last remaining pub in a County Durham pit village; the premiere of Teesside filmmaker Paul Suggitt’s Eddy – My Universe, which reveals the life of Mr Universe Body Building Champion Eddy Ellwood; informative discussions from Game of Thrones actor and Teesside University alumni Maria Caruna Galizia and History Boys actor Stephen Uppal, among much more.
Wednesday 25th-Saturday 28th October @ ARC, Stockton

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