WEEKLY ROUND-UP (20.11.23) | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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Image: Nuha Ruby Ra by Billie Turnbull

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.

This Is The Kit
The arrival of This Is The Kit at Gateshead’s The Glasshouse promises to be a special moment. There is an inevitability about the meeting of these two great British institutions. As The Glasshouse’s grand halls feel warm and inviting, This Is The Kit manage to infuse their gentle melodies with an air of great significance.
This Is The Kit, the alias of Kate Stables, has been in existence since the ’00s, when Kate moved to Bristol and started playing and collaborating with local musicians. “The aim is to have fun playing with people whose work I really like,” says Kate in her simple and direct fashion. She has continued her collaborative approach from her debut album Krulle Bol, with PJ Harvey’s musical collaborator John Parish, through her 2015 album Bashed Out, produced by The National’s Aaron Dessner. Bashed Out received critical acclaim, and the album was picked as Guy Garvey’s Album of The Year for 2015 on BBC 6Music. Having caught the eye of Rough Trade, This Is The Kit signed up to the legendary label in early 2017. Three more critically acclaimed records followed with the Gruff Rhys produced Careful Of Your Keepers released earlier this year.
Wednesday 22nd November @ The Glasshouse, Gateshead

Rachel Fairburn
Having been heralded as “the rock ’n’ roll star of British comedy” (by Rolling Stone, no less) Manchester-hailing comedian Rachel Fairburn may be familiar to some as the co-host of the iconic, darkly comedic true crime podcast All Killa No Filla (which recently hit a milestone 100th episode) and for her brilliantly acerbic and ruthless comedic talent. Following on from six previous tours, Rachel’s currently in the midst of a colossal UK tour for her new show, Show Girl, taking in a stop at Stockton’s ARC on Thursday 23rd November.
The show itself finds Rachel casting her acerbic eye over everything from your children to her (in her words) “pretentious new alcohol-free life” (accurate at time of writing). The plethora of glowing reviews the show has already attracted make it clear that Show Girl is a rip-roaring, side-splitting and uncompromising glimpse into everything from her disdain for people bragging about their air-fryers, to social divides and the trials and tribulations of ‘making it’ and sustaining a career on the comedy circuit. The consensus is clear: Show Girl is an unapologetically honest and relentlessly funny dive into what makes Rachel tick, and a milestone in the career of a refreshingly singular comedic talent.
Thursday 23rd November @ ARC, Stockton

Image: Rachel Fairburn

Hector Gannet
2023 started with a whirlwind of activity from Hector Gannet, the North Shields-based indie folk rock group having released their second album The Land Belongs To Us to critical acclaim, played an eventful and memorable US tour and supported fellow North Shields phenomenon Sam Fender at St James Park.
With the wind still in their sails, the Aaron Duff-led group are embarking on their Last Smoke Before Sail headlining tour, kicking off with an already close to sold-out show at Playhouse Whitley Bay on Thursday 23rd November and including The Georgian Theatre in Stockton on Sunday 26th November.
With sterling support from The Early Purple at both shows, Hector Gannet are promising some new songs and alternative versions of old favourites. There’s a timeless nature to the group’s songs, rooted as they are in past traditions, but always concerned with the here and now and the immediacy of the small, meaningful moments when we connect with our environment and those around us. These shows are sure to be very special and, going by past precedent, are likely to sell-out quickly, so don’t leave it too late to get tickets.
Thursday 23rd November @ Playhouse Whitley Bay & Sunday 26th November @ The Georgian Theatre, Stockton

Unknown Realms
A dynamic collaboration between internationally acclaimed choreographers and ACE Dance and Music brings African culture to life at Dance City on Thursday 23rd November.
Unknown Realms explores universal themes of mortality, perseverance and hope in the face of adversity in a powerful double bill of contemporary dance choreographed by Serge Aimé Coulibaly and Vincent Mantsoe.
A multi-dimensional piece drawing expertise from a team of creatives, Unknown Realms features two starkly contrasting pieces performed by six dancers, accompanied by a sound world created by Andy Garbi and Yvan Talbot.
A timely and poignant double-bill intended to make audiences think, the first piece explores the idea of coming together to escape reality in a “last dance before an uncertain tomorrow”, while the second celebrates the power of nature and the sacred rituals we perform to honour it.
Thursday 23rd November @ Dance City, Newcastle

Sam Sweeney Band
The Bellowhead fiddle player and BBC Radio 2 folk award winner brings his barnstorming band to Sunderland’s Fire Station for what promises to be a raucous night of feel-good music. Sam’s new album, Escape That, has been described as an honest and fearless expression of himself, featuring pop hooks and folk-infused instrumentation.
Thursday 23rd November @ The Fire Station, Sunderland

Image: Sam Sweeney

Wintertide Festival
As the winter nights draw in it can be all too tempting to stay huddled on the sofa, but those who venture out will be rewarded with events such as Wintertide, a weekend of magical art, music and entertainment which runs from Friday 24th-Sunday 26th November throughout venues in Hartlepool.
The historic Headland will be transformed by illumination, animation and sound, as the festival’s ‘Ignite’ theme sees public spaces revealed in new lights. Seven streets will be transformed into temporary exhibition spaces, with installations including a sound piece by electronic music pioneers A Man Called Adam, a quirky ‘glow stick knitting’ string of EL tape knitted jumpers, and three stunning light pieces on loan from Durham’s Lumiere festival, alongside sound pieces, poetry, dance and fire acrobatics. A community lantern parade encourages everyone to take part, and Fuzzy Bosom Maker’s Market in the town’s historic Borough Hall will please shopaholics. Internationally renowned artist Alex Rigg’s contribution to the event has echoes of the Wicker Man, as he creates a towering willow structure which will be set alight at the festival’s end.
Music lovers will be kept enthralled by a genre-defying music programme which will see live performances take place in venues, pubs and clubs across the Headland. Check the website for full line-ups.
Friday 24th-Sunday 26th November @ Various venues, Hartlepool

James Cabaniuk: There’s a hole in the bucket
There’s A Hole In The Bucket is a solo exhibition from Manchester-based artist James Cabaniuk. Cabaniuk works predominantly in painting, using it in a way similar to a personal diary; exploring themes around trauma, Queer identity and community. Through this way of working, they pull at various historical threads – including their personal past, shared communal histories, and the canon of painting.
Friday 24th November-20th January @ Slugtown, Newcastle

Boundaries Festival
Having rapidly established a niche among the North East’s boldest, most idiosyncratic annual gatherings, Boundaries Festival returns to set Sunderland’s music and arts scenes alight with its third edition. Taking over The Peacock, The Dun Cow and Sunderland Minster on Friday 24th and Saturday 25th November, this thrillingly offbeat weekender is tailor-made for deep divers and curious minds – the kinds of listeners who thirst for experimentation and relish the brand of challenging, truly independent programming Boundaries provides.
Each day offers a truly extraordinary breadth of performances – whether you’re inclined towards the free-flowing guitar and percussion ensemble Ex-Easter Island Head or crushing disembodied beats of Mun Sing (one half of Giant Swan); the hypnotic, evocative repetition of Haress or the skronking excess, fiendish noise and discordant wail of Sly & The Family Drone. Locale is no barrier either. You’re just as likely to encounter local bedroom pop musician Competition as Canadian sound artist Crys Cole, Chinese alternative hip-hop duo Li Yilei and Joan Low or Australian guitarist Julia Reidy. Once again, the name Boundaries proves a misnomer – there really are none.
Friday 24th & Saturday 25th November @ Various venues, Sunderland

Image: Ex Easter Island Head

Ouseburn Open Studios
The winter iteration of Ouseburn’s weekend of arty goodness offers a great opportunity for Christmas shopping for that awkward family member. 14 venues across the Ouseburn Valley will throw open their doors to show off the work of artists and artisans who make the area their home, with plenty of galleries, studios and hidden corners worth exploring.
Saturday 25th-Sunday 26th November @ Various venues, Ouseburn Valley

Withered Hand & Darren Hayman
Promoter Hapless Museum Worker and Pop Recs Ltd. present two of the UK’s finest singer-songwriters, returning to the North East on Saturday 25th November for what promises to be a memorable co-headliner set for fans of their esteemed back catalogues.
Dan Wilson (aka Withered Hand) is a beautifully original songwriter whose work takes in grief, love and elation; the music of Withered Hand sparks a heartbreaking response in his devoted audience. Similarly revered are the compositions of Darren Hayman, both in his solo work and with cult band Hefner. Darren effortlessly weaves sorrow, pain and humour through his 20 albums.
Dan and Darren are also best friends, meeting in 2010 when Darren produced a mini album for Dan. After many years of sporadic shows together they found themselves sharing a cabin in a Norwegian fjord together earlier this year; the pair laugh easily together and wanted to share their best work and friendship with you on stage. Expect two headlines sets and some songs and chat together too, resulting in a unique occasion not to be missed.
Saturday 25th November @ Pop Recs Ltd., Sunderland

Angela Barnes
In a cultural climate brimming with tips on self-improvement and ‘how to be the best you’, it can be somewhat second nature to us to feel like we’re in a constant juggling match with life’s shoulder-hunching demands. But amongst our good intentions and attempts at positive thinking, an unconventional voice of reason shines through. The extremely masterful comedian, Angela Barnes offers a new perspective with her hit stand-up show, Hot Mess, on how sometimes, in the balance of trying our best, things can go belly up.
Preparing to kickstart the latest leg of her UK tour, Barnes brings her wit and very amusing life tales to Northallerton’s Forum (Monday 27th), The Witham (Tuesday 28th) and Hexham’s Queen’s Hall (Wednesday 29th). With post-feminist woes (the dilemma of slimming for her wedding in contravention of her feminist principles) and wisened, relatable content founded in intense introspection and intelligence, Barnes earns her place as one of the UK’s finest comedians and shows us why she’s a panel show favourite. Woven together through her side-splitting humour, she accomplishes a show that satisfyingly unites the threads of a 70-minute set and brings us closer to the real comedian at heart. This is a not-to-be-missed special about joy, sorrow, and the oftentimes brushed-over tribulations of living your best life.
Monday 27th November @ Forum Northallerton, Tuesday 28th November @ The Witham, Barnard Castle & Wednesday 29th November @ Queen’s Hall, Hexham

Image: Angela Barnes

Nuha Ruby Ra
If there’s a chance to get in on the ground floor of something that could go all the way to the top, take it. Atmospheric punk soloist Nuha Ruby Ra made it onto plenty of 2023 ones-to-watch lists, and the arrival of latest EP Machine Like Me validated such strong opinions. Released back in March, it’s short but sweet, subdued but chaotic, and refreshes old school punk attitude with trance-like experimental (almost primal) beats. Since NRR has spent an awful lot of time bouncing from one international festival to the next this past summer, seeing a UK tour with smaller branches from their home in East London is reassuring: there’s still time to catch ‘em on their way up. On her first stop of the tour at Newcastle’s Star & Shadow Cinema on Tuesday 28th November, she’ll be joined by London-based Anglo-American duo Baba Ali. They’ll bring an entirely different tone for the evening, so don’t be surprised by their retrofit electro-punk disco vibe. You’re not stuck in a Nintendo 64 game cartridge, it’s just Baba Ali going all out on the synths again. The two together will either make for the most relaxing, chilled out experience ever achieved at a gig…or the most unhinged.
Tuesday 28th November @ Star & Shadow Cinema, Newcastle

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