WEEKLY ROUND-UP (30.10.23) | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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Image: Hilary Woods by Annie Mitchell

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.

Forest Swords
Forest Swords, aka producer and composer Matthew Barnes, is renowned and respected for his unique blending of musical genres. In a career tracking back over a decade, his uncanny sounding mixes of ethereal looping melodies, choice samples and glitchy, jagged R&B and hip-hop beats have resulted in an acclaimed if sparse discography. His newest album Bolted is out now and the time taken to produce the fragile, organic sounds – almost six years – is well spent. The Forest Swords live experience has all the makings of being a transcendent sonic event, as the visuals are as much on Barnes’ mind when composing and playing as the music itself, resulting in an immersive experimental, ambient and electronic universe. If otherworldly storytelling and that tapestry of beats are your thing, grab the opportunity to witness his first live shows in over three years.
Friday 3rd November @ The Cluny 2, Newcastle

Image: Forest Swords

Hilary Woods
A mesmerising evening of ethereal music, captivating soundscapes, experimentation and brooding compositions. Ireland’s Hilary Woods will be airing material from her trio of albums The River City, Colt and 2020’s Birthmarks as part of a rare live tour. Prepare to be transported into the tender and haunting magic of her music, and be spellbound by her beautifully crafted ambient folk soundscapes. This gig is also notable for including one of our region’s most enthralling and exciting musicians, Nathalie Stern. Her acclaimed work, including the album Nerves And Skin, reaches out into the corners of improv, experimentation and folk amidst intricate guitars and deft, hauntingly poetic lyrics.
Friday 3rd November @ Cobalt Studios, Newcastle

High Times & Dirty Monsters
High Times & Dirty Monsters shares the good times and the not-so-good times of being young and disabled in 2023. This hard-hitting hip-hop gig theatre show has the rhythm laid down by amazing beatboxers, with compelling storytelling from the actors and great visuals from the dancers. Expect heavy beats, stunning visuals and full hearts. High Times & Dirty Monsters is sometimes sad, sometimes funny, and sometimes so surprising. It’s raucous, radical and celebratory. Whilst the show is full of jokes, empowerment and feel-good moments, it also explores challenging themes around ableism, homelessness, substance misuse, financial difficulties and emotional trauma.
Friday 3rd-Saturday 4th November @ Northern Stage, Newcastle

Calexico arrived just in time for that first, fertile wave of what we probably still call Americana, back in the late nineties alongside Lambchop, The Handsome Family and the like, and their unique blend of cinematic western soundscapes, classic songwriting and mariachi flourishes was absolutely thrilling. Built around drummer John Convertino and guitarist/bassist Joey Burns – essentially the rhythm section for some of Giant Sand’s greatest records – Calexico are still going strong, but we can allow them something of a victory lap to celebrate twenty years since they released Feast Of Wire, probably their breakthrough record and a strong example of their country/soundtrack/Latin/rock fusion.
Friday 3rd November @ The Fire Station, Sunderland

Hafdís Huld
Hafdís Huld’s unique blend of folk, pop and indie sounds and hauntingly beautiful melodies will take you on a journey through her storytelling lyrics, evoking emotions you probably never knew you had. Huld’s beguiling voice and mesmerising presence in such an intimate setting presents a unique opportunity to enjoy her evocative lyrics and music that seems to have been plucked from the pages of a fairytale. This event promises moments of poignant reflection, spontaneous laughter and an opportunity to lose yourself in Hafdís Huld’s evocative melodies. Mark your calendar for this extraordinary evening, she’s only playing nine UK dates so it’s a rare privilege to have her in the city.
Saturday 4th November @ The Globe, Newcastle

Image: Hafdis Huld

Pindrop 13th birthday
Hartlepool promoters PinDrop have a trio of great shows planned to celebrate their 13th birthday. Kicking off with country and gospel blues artist Tom Blackwell at The Owl on Sunday 5th November. A regular performer at PinDrop, Blackwell’s recent Regency Cafe album has seen him rightfully praised for heartfelt music, typified by plaintive vocals and expressive instrumentation. He’ll be joined by Teesside’s own bluegrass band The Alice Charmers and prodigious duo Finn & Jasmine Weatherill. Wednesday 8th November will see a ‘pay what you decide’ acoustic showcase take place at Hops & Cheese featuring Kyle Cullen, Ian Harrison and more TBA. And finally, on Friday 10th November The Studio will play host to a special candle-lit evening of unusual sounds courtesy of Toria Wooff, a singular talent whose skills range from painting and poetry to storytelling. Expect a folk rock soundtrack which pays homage to the likes of Led Zeppelin, Alice Cooper, Joan Baez and Crosby Stills and Nash, shot through with elements of gothic romanticism and pagan tradition. Support comes from songwriter and composer Andy Oliver and inspiring folk artist Drew Flanagan.
Sunday 5th-Friday 10th November @ Various venues, Hartlepool

If you were to take the scratching guitars and droll, drugged-up anarchism of The Fall and merged it with the infectious, looping grooves of LCD Soundsystem, you’d get close to what makes DEADLETTER so endearing. With a self-aware penmanship that draws from Mark E Smith’s satirical fury as much as it does James Murphy’s humour and penchant for euphoric choruses, the band are making something that is as vibrant as it is noisy. Armed with explosive climaxes and acerbic stabs of guitar, bass and saxophone, their catalogue of dynamic and engaging post-punk tracks, have given them a reputation for their rapturous live shows; check out their highly marketable and modern twist on Krautrock and post-punk.
Monday 6th November @ The Cluny 2, Newcastle

Salt House
Having been a mainstay on the folk circuit for over 10 years, Salt House’s carefully honed sound is inspired by place, politics, landscape and wildlife, and the trio’s interpretations of both old and new musical worlds has seen them revered as exceptional talents and proponents of a rich Scottish folk scene.
Tuesday 7th November @ Bishop Auckland Town Hall

Disciples is a show created by those who identify as D/deaf and disabled. However, it is not a show about their disabilities. Led by poetry, Disciples is a joyful, dynamic performance that comes to life through a blend of music, movement, text and image. Themes include finding joy, faith and power, exploring what happens to the parts of ourselves that we are asked to hide. This brand-new production from Scotland’s leading intersectional feminist theatre company Stellar Quines is devised in collaboration with five women and non-binary performers who identify as D/deaf and disabled. Disciples will be an intimate and tender experience for cast and audience members alike, looking to welcome those with their own experience of visual impairment, deafness and disability into the space to share in stories that are too often overlooked by theatre and dance.
Tuesday 7th-Thursday 9th November @ Northern Stage, Newcastle

Image: Disciples – Irina Vartopeanu, Laura Fisher, Emma McCaffrey, Sally Clay and Rana Bader. Image by Mihaela Bodlovic

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