WEEKLY ROUND-UP (18.09.23) | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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Image: Black Sheep by Rod Penn

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

The Cinematic Orchestra
Jason Swinscoe’s collective The Cinematic Orchestra first performed their soundtrack to Dziga Vertov’s classic Soviet-era silent movie Man With A Movie Camera (1929) in 2001 at a Porto event to celebrate the city’s status as European City of Culture. The rapturous reception it received led to further dates and a critically-acclaimed album of the music followed in 2003.
Fast-forward twenty years and Cinematic Orchestra are a very big deal – hundreds of thousands of sales, a billion streams, sold out tours and some more excellent albums follows – but for many Man With A Movie Camera was arguably their peak. And to mark its anniversary, The Cinematic Orchestra are coming to The Glasshouse (fka Sage Gateshead) on Wednesday 20th September to perform the album in full, in combination with entirely new visuals. Expect an evening of jazzy, soundtracky electronica and trip hop from this highly accomplished outfit.
Wednesday 20th September @ The Glasshouse (fka Sage Gateshead)

Francesca Pidgeon, aka Dilettante, is no stranger to the North East, having graced our stages a number of times previously with her cerebellum-bending, genre-phobic brand of alt. rock. Stone, her first release since debut album Tantrum last year, is a song fizzing with ideas that meditates on the compromises of adulthood. Inspired by Milan Kundera’s The Unbearable Lightness Of Being, Pidgeon reflects: “I was really preoccupied with the struggle that we all have in choosing between light and weight, it’s so pertinent in anything we choose – do you buy or borrow something you need? Can you enjoy just looking after someone else’s pets or children, or do you feel that you need your own? Do you want the weight of committing to someone else or do you remain single and feel free-er but ultimately quite lonely?”
Wednesday 20th September @ Bobiks, Newcastle

Image: Dilettante

Black Sheep
When cabaret-meets-theatre-meets-spoken-word poetry to relate the autobiographical story of an award-winning sword swallower, musician, poet and theatre-maker, the scene is set for a memorable evening.
Black Sheep is about learning to love yourself as a Queer woman of colour confronting what it’s like to grow up standing out, and be outstanding. Livia Kojo Alour is someone who has made performance their life. As she unpacks stereotypes, dissects otherness, blends genres, sings, rollerblades and performs in all sorts of exciting ways, she explores how lifelong feelings of self-hatred and otherness can follow you across borders.
Thursday 21st September @ Northern Stage, Newcastle

Ouseburn Folk Fest
The much loved venue plays host to an assortment of events and activities tailored for folkies of every persuasion at their annual folk festival – from old timers and familiar faces to newcomers still uncovering the scene’s myriad offerings.
Perhaps most eye-catching are the two evening shows. Characterful ensemble Brierdene program another cosy night in on Thursday featuring themselves, traditional European dance troupe Hearken Quartet and exciting student trio The Hop. Friday, meanwhile, sees the return of Cumberland alumni Kari Macleod with her band The Fugitives, with support from newly minted Scottish duo Amy Leach & Alasdair Paul and traditional interpreter Sam Baxter.
The weekend also offers a free ceilidh on the pub terrace led by Ruth Brown and Nathan Armstrong (Friday), performances from local traditional dance teams and Singing for Kids led by Becky Graham (Saturday), plus a showcase of the recently established Ouseburn Folk Choir and a chilled afternoon of global folk music courtesy of resident DJ Stagger Lee (Sunday).

Thursday 21st September @ The Cumberland Arms, Newcastle

Cozzy Livs
Chilli Studios, a charity which seeks to provide support to those experiencing mental health conditions, present their annual exhibition Cozzy Livs, which explores individuals’ perspectives, experience and survival through the cost of living crisis, showcasing a diverse range of work across a multitude of mediums from over 50 artists.
Thursday 21st September-Saturday 7th October @ Vane Gallery, Gateshead

Erland Cooper & Ensemble
Groundbreaking composer and producer Erland Cooper’s new album, Folded Landscapes is an urgent observation on themes of climate change, temperature and time and features the voices of activist Greta Thunberg, poet laureate Simon Armitage and multi-award-winning conservationist and author Dara McAnulty, as well as the pioneering Scottish Ensemble.
Folded Landscapes sees Cooper work through the lens of urgent observations surrounding climate change and his inherent belief in the need to come together and take positive action, creating a potent, experimental new work. Using drastic temperature changes – from sub-zero to the hottest on record – he developed music for string ensembles, piano, voice, harpsichord, electronics and field recordings, including the Californian wildfires and crashing glaciers. While the resulting album takes the subject matter as its underlying theme, it works ultimately as an opportunity to celebrate and cherish the natural world.
Friday 22nd September @ The Glasshouse (fka Sage Gateshead)

Image: Megson

Tees Folk
Two years on from their extensive restoration, the iconic Stockton Globe are launching the Tees Folk Festival, a richly eclectic offering taking place on Friday 22nd September which promises to be a vital addition to the rich pantheon of brilliant folk festivals thriving throughout the region, and a marvellous testament to the staying power of folk music, which has continued to thrive and evolve as a timeless and vital genre even in a modern context.
The event is headlined by local BBC Radio 2 Folk Award-winning trio The Young’uns, who’ve blazed a trail that includes performances at Glastonbury and even a stint presenting a show for BBC Radio 4. Award-winning Scottish singer-songwriter Kris Drever, guitar virtuoso and member of folk supergroup Lau, also performs alongside Teesside husband-and-wife duo Megson, Middlesbrough songstress Amelia Coburn and a closing performance from Glaswegian folk band Gnoss. There’ll be an official festival after party at sister venue The Link, and the festival will be compered by former BBC Introducing host and new music champion for BBC Tees, Bob Fischer.
Friday 22nd September @ The Globe, Stockton

Analogue Blood
What EDM lacks in lyricism, it makes up for in communicability and pure vibes. With few to no words to learn, anyone can jump in at any point and enjoy the multilayered transcendent experience of instrumental-heavy tunes. But that does leave a lot of pressure on EDM music-makers to construct something that successfully transcends the need for words – and it’s something that Darlington’s premier techno duo seem to continually take in their stride.
Analogue Blood have built their latest LP Control on a foundation of adrenaline-pumping, blood-pressure-raising fuzzy beats, with just a light smattering of lyrics when they really have a point to get across. While listening to the record cosied up at home is certainly a choice, it will never beat hearing it live and loud with a community of EDM-loving peers. Analogue Blood may have had a little rocky start thanks to one badly timed pandemic, but thankfully Control is getting an appropriate celebration for its launch with a spectacular night on local turf at Stockton’s Georgian Theatre on Friday 22nd September. Flanking Analogue Blood on the night are punk rock ragers In Evil Hour and an acoustic set from Chris Davison, in a poetic recreation of the very first show the duo played back in 2019.
Friday 22nd September @ Georgian Theatre, Stockton

Allen Valleys Folk Festival

September sees a glorious tenth victory lap for the Allen Valleys Folk Festival, which has long been revered as a marvelous showcase for both established and up-and-coming artists from a genre which continues to thrive and evolve whilst still staying true to the rich and storied history that has allowed it to remain timeless and innovative. True to form, there is a broad and eclectic line-up stacked over a full weekend from Friday 22nd-Sunday 24th September in the glorious surroundings of Allendale, Northumberland. Friday is headlined by Jim Moray, a multi-instrumentalist and producer who has previously performed at Glastonbury, the Royal Albert Hall and WOMAD, plus there’s performances from Ernie’s Shack, Grainne Eve and Cash Cows. Saturday’s headliners include Kate Young, one of Scotlands most innovative musicians, and Smash Kafana, a magnificent nine-piece band playing a vibrant mix of gypsy, Balkan and Klezmer music, alongside performances from Frankie Archer, Tarren, The Breath, Holiday Club and the Wanton String Band. Closing the festival is multi-award winning Scottish songwriter, folk singer and storyteller Karine Polwart, joined by the inspirational Grace Smith Trio and Archie Fisher. Dance performances are also featured from Hadrian Clog and special guests on Saturday afternoon, alongside a programme of workshops to further add to the weekend’s eclectic offerings.

Friday 22nd-Sunday 24th September @ Various venues, Allendale

Northern Electric Festival
Across three venues in Ouseburn nearly 20 artists spanning newbies to current North East favourites will perform at this year’s Northern Electric Festival. Some of the local favourites on the line-up include established artists like hypnotic trip-hop duo SQUARMS; hardcore music makers Badger; increasingly revered synth pop artists Iris Brickfield; electronic duo Novyi Lef; the glitzy dark disco sounds of Rudi Betamax; and ambient three piece Worry Party.
Plus, there are a plentiful selection of acts who have just started making their impression on the scene, including the punk infused synth-pop of Bled; the sonically interesting soundscapes of Blu_Aro; retrowave music producer NECR0 NOISE; space rock fusion artists The Between Space; and Tired Trace. In addition to these, there’s some newcomers who will have their debut live performances over the weekend, including the melancholic ambience of Infinite Arcade and the heartfelt electronic R&B of Gulliver, plus much more besides.
Friday 22nd & Saturday 23rd September @ Various venues, Ouseburn Valley

Image: Bled

Infinite Arcade
Infinite Arcade touts himself as making “music for the enthusiastic underachiever.” But while this description might ring true for the audience, it’s a far cry from Infinite Arcade’s work ethic. Sure, Infinite Arcade hasn’t been the most prolific musical venture the world has ever seen, but despite what toxic boss mentality would have you believe, it’s all about quality not quantity.
What this solo electro “dreadpop” project manages is to continually raise the bar for his own personal endeavours. Infinite Arcade debuts not only his first LP The Shield And Sparrow, but also his first IRL appearance at this year’s Northern Electric Festival on Saturday 23rd September. The debut album builds on the multiple mini releases that preceded it to create a sense of deep foreboding, but make it an electronic fantasy for the ages. Whether it’s almost ridiculous creative experiments regarding synth sampling a different household object on every track, or simultaneously writing and recording a second album before the first even hits the digital shelf – Infinite Arcade is less of an enthusiastic underachiever and more a chaotic overachiever with more ideas than hard drive storage. Far be it for me to criticise this artist’s process, however, because Infinite Arcade’s output should be celebrated when it does emerge.
Saturday 23rd September @ Little Buildings, Newcastle

Salty Stand-Up at Salt Market Social
A brand new night of comedy in North Shields Featuring Connor Burns, David Hadingham, Catherine Young and Si Beckwith.
Saturday 23rd September @ Salt Market Socials, North Shields

Tom Davis
Big Tom Davis is an unmissable presence. Not least because of his enormous stature, but for his impressive catalogue of hit shows. Be it his panel show appearances, his hosting of Live At The Apollo, or his TV shows Murder in Successville, King Gary or The Curse, Tom Davis is a well established presence on our TVs. Rising to prominence through the improv scene, Davis’ acerbic wit is offset by his gentle, laddish charm and laidback whimsy. His podcast with Romesh Ranganathan, Wolf And Owl, sees the two comics bounce off each other, giggling away mischievously, whereas his film roles in movies like Paddington 2 see him play on his intimidating size.
New show Underdog is a show about life, growing up working class, working on building sites, understanding fatherhood and slowly breaking into the industry. Exploring life as the longshot, Underdog taps into something universal, as well as being undeniably funny and engaging.
Sunday 24th September @ Tyne Theatre & Opera House, Newcastle

Festival of Thrift
Teesside’s Festival of Thrift has been a long-standing highlight on the region’s festival calendar, and returns for 2023 in a new Tees Valley location across Billingham town centre and adjacent John Whitehead park.
New Creative Directors Dominic Somers and Tanya Steinhauser have been installed for this year’s edition and will focus on entertainment and inspirational ways to be creative and thrifty in everyday life. Visitors can expect a vast array of workshops and performances alongside stalls, food and drink and activities which aim to help inspire and educate. Highlights include the popular fashion show Conscious Threads; performance from Autin Dance Theatre, which aims to ignite dialogue around the climate emergency; IOU Theatre present The Wheel, a giant mobile remote-controlled kinetic sculpture; Motionhouse’s WILD is a daring dance-circus production which explores our relationship with the natural environment; and The Hidden Music of Trees is a magical outdoor installation by sound artist Jason Singh in which visitors can experience music generated by trees through an app.
Saturday 23rd -Sunday 24th September @ Billingham town centre and John Whitehead Park

Project Art Works: Residential
This month marks the beginning of a celebratory exhibition showcasing the fruits of a year-long collaboration with Project Art Works by, and at, Gateshead’s BALTIC. Residential will represent the culmination of an undertaking that has aimed to raise awareness and build relationships between the Gateshead gallery, neurodiverse communities, artists and caregivers in the region.
Taking over the Ground Floor exhibition room, the retrospective will bring together research and learning from the partnership, as well as providing a programme of workshops and events for audiences.
Residential also forms part of Explorers, a national scheme designed to increase the visibility and presence of neurodivergent artists in contemporary art. Vibrant and powerful, the show will present over fifty works, many of which are large-scale paintings, while a new film by Project Art Works examines the subtle and expansive nature of speaking and non-speaking communication.
Saturday 23rd September-Sunday 25th February @ BALTIC, Gateshead

Image: Mike Nelson, Lionheart, 1997. Installation view, The New Art Gallery Walsall, 2018. Photo: Jonathan Shaw. Courtesy the artist and 303 Gallery, New York; Galleria Franco Noero, Turin; Matt’s Gallery, London; and neugerriemschneider, Berlin.

Mike Nelson
An artist renowned for sculptural art which interrogates the confluence between dystopia and colonialism, Mike Nelson is bringing his solo exhibition Hybrid Scripts to Sunderland’s Northern Gallery For Contemporary Art.
Twice nominated for the Turner Prize, Nelson’s work is striking in its dialogue between the earthly and extraterrestrial, and the exhibition illustrates a search for human meaning as well as reflecting individual meaning itself. This is most poignantly seen through the conversation between Taylor and Lionheart, his two early sculptural installations. Lionheart is named after King Richard, an imperialist crusader, whilst Taylor is an ode to the fictive astronaut George Taylor, as well as a warehouse in Liverpool. It can therefore be said that there is a convergence between manual labour and the quest for knowledge within his art. Nelson’s installations also react and reflect on human movements, both political and social, and his exhibition at NGCA will ruminate on pervasive themes of migration and trade. Nelson’s art so hauntingly blurs the line between fiction and reality, and perhaps even demonstrates a shadowed, yet sharp reflection of our own humanity.
Saturday 23rd September-Sunday 21st January 2024 @ Northern Gallery for Contemporary Art, Sunderland

Matt Rugg
Connecting Form is the first major retrospective of work by sculptor and teacher Matt Rugg. Spanning abstract sculpture, painting and drawing, Rugg’s work is continuously experimental and often rendered in found industrial materials, resulting in a simple and effortless beauty which belies the subtle sophistication with which he explores the interrelationship between two and three dimensions.
Saturday 23rd September-Saturday 13th January @ Hatton Gallery, Newcastle

Howie Reeve
For starters, it’s always excellent to see local folk heroes Nev Clay and Yakka Doon on a poster together. Clay is the meandering poet of melancholy and small details, Yakka Doon plays and sings like a crystal-clear mountain stream, and the two of them would be bill enough. But no, we also get Frise Lumière (aka Ludovic Gerst) who treat his bass guitar as a percussion instrument (not unlike Ex-Easter Island Head) and gives us a taut, post-punk/minimalist sound that’s as immersive as it is unusual.
And topping a bill already bursting with delights, we get to watch Howie Reeve, he of the broad grin and short trousers, one of the best-loved musicians on the underground circuit, revered for both his talents and for his all-round lovely-person-ness. Reeve’s music – made with just an acoustic bass and occasionally his voice – occupies a unique space between folk, punk (especially the kind of folk played by fellow Scots like Dog Faced Hermans), jazz and improv. A serial collaborator (The Ex, NoMeansNo, Mike Watt etc) and seemingly endless touring musician, the man is the living embodiment of The Minutemen’s ‘jam econo’ ethos.
Sunday 24th September @ The Cumberland Arms, Newcastle

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