Today is Wednesday 13th March 2019. What I am about to write really should have been posted about a month ago but you know how life gets!
I attended two gigs earlier in the year that celebrated ‘new artists,’ those that have been making their way onto the music scene in recent years and ‘should be on your ones to watch list.’ One of these events was in the Gateshead in the North East of England and the other one was in London in the South and 10 days apart. There was a lot of variety at both events even down to the crowd.
19th January 2019, Sage Gateshead in conjunction with BBC Introducing North East and NARC magazine held their event dubbed New Year New Artists. It featured two artists that I have known of and seen over the years – Talk Like Tigers and Beth Macari – think electro pop and funk-soul. The headliners of this event was Another Sky who I guess you could class as indie, dark and cinematic. This quartet are very new to me as they supported the artist Laurel at the end of October, who I would then get to see at the London event.
New Year New Artists was a SOLD OUT event and had people actually queuing to get in. I’ve not even seen this happen at other sold out events of established artists in this venue. Talk Like Tigers kick started the night and people milled around excitedly. They even had a fan club in tow that were dancing up front. It was a sleek and polished set with cheographed moves and harmonies on point.
Beth Macari is a VOICE! As soon as stepped out to join her funky band she had your attention. I’ve seen her before over the years but then there was a bit of a gap and in that time, I don’t know what, but something happened that the only way I could describe it was that she went from a solid 8 to a 12 out of 10 in a review featured on Blank Slate. Her personality matches her powerhouse vocals and the band compliment her that I’d be surprised if you were able to keep still. She brought the party atmosphere to this night.
Another Sky came out of nowhere, for me at least and it was like WOW as soon as I heard Catrin Vincent vocals. Many have said it’s androgynous-like, I say it’s simply captivating! The strange thing about their set is that the audience seem to fill in the floor space but more huddled and into the darker parts of the venue. Okay, of the three acts they might not have been as ‘danceable’ and it seemed that although Catrin is the one member most people talk about, this audience wanted to feel and see the whole band and if I am honest it did give a greater feeling than being ‘stuck under’ one member right up against the stage. The room did get darker and smokier and it lent to the ambience of the set and each member was given a chance to shine. This event was to celebrate some of the North East finest new artists and credit to bass player Naomi for being the Northern member to get Another Sky on this billing and also the fact that she is a fine bass player. By the time you read this, they have probably started their SXSW campaign and will definitely get those ears burning.
My first London trip of the year came with the joint venture of DIY Magazine and The Old Blue Lasts’ event, Hello 2019. It was a crazy trip that saw me arrive at 3pm on the day and leave 7am the following morning but for the love of music (and keeping an eye on that bank balance) needs must. I was lucky to gain photo access (thank you The Old Blue Last events team) as this event was also SOLD OUT and when I arrived the queue inside this cozy pub downstairs was, well, cozy! I got into the venue and it was a tight squeeze. Unlike the Northern venue I visited 10 days before we were very close to our fellow music lover and there was also a lot of respect with the taller people letting a few of the smaller one’s get in front of them but not too many otherwise they might have been put to the back of the room.
Hello 2019 celebrated four acts – two I heard of and two I hadn’t. It is always great going to see a favourite artist, and on this occasion they were Art School Girlfriend and Laurel, and then to discover new acts that excite you as soon as they step on the stage and that came with both Ellie Bleach and Lucy Lu.
I am not quite sure how to describe Ellie Bleach but she definitely has captured the attention of a few in the crowd tonight and I can see why. There’s something endearing about her and the band that has you smiling as they run through the set and they seem like 1980s throwback kids in the way they dress. Ellie also holds her own as she sways behind the keyboard and has her stare intothe audience perfected. The stage persona is serious but the set they bring us on this night is fun.
Neo-soul from Lucy Lu then entices us adding funky vibes to the night and we are even treated with an added brass section. Lu’s soulful vocals as he works his energy over his bass binds the whole band together. Lu is the perfect frontman. The energy is high that it feels like we should be making room on the dance floor busting some moves but we are getting hot and sweaty on the music and it felt good!
Art School Girlfriend has been on my personal ‘ones to watch’ list after I missed her in my home town by minutes due to a ‘festival photography schedule’ but I soon made up for this weeks later at Brighton’s ‘The Great Escape.’ We were running a bit late into this set but Polly Mackey and her band made up for it. The set felt a bit on the shorter side than it should have been but it definitely got the crowd. ASG is very much a contrast to the first two acts and felt like the ultimate chill factor that one guy even shouts “fucking beautiful” mid way through and no matter the subject of the songs, live or recorded Art School Girlfriend is simply that. At time of writing ASG is stunning American audiences at SXSW and then will return to the UK for a headline tour then back out to join The Japanese House on her American tour as she did at the end of 2018. Basically 2019 is where ASG is going to cement herself firmly on the music map.
Headlining ‘Hello 2019’ is Laurel and for the lucky one’s still queuing up downstairs gone 10pm a handful were let in as others left for home. Yup, three acts done and dusted and I heard there was still 30-40 strong waiting to get in. This night was highly tipped and if you got in just for Laurel you were still in for a treat and it was worth it.
There was definitely a strong Laurel following as the tiny section at the foot of the stage got tighter as people were scrambling to get into the spaces bear in mind wherever you stood in the venue, if you were tall enough you would have seen something but there was a reason for Laurel headlining. As soon as she and her band stepped on this tiny stage the audience were louder through excitement and downing a few pints waiting for her set. Saying that Laurel admits herself that she has always wanted to play in this venue but normally is found using this as one of her favoured watering holes. Many are singing along to the whole setlist and the ‘yeah’ bit in Lovesick is shouted at high volume by most of the audience which sends a big beaming smile from everyone on stage. Laurel has a very engaging personality and musically you cannot help but get lost in her performance. She has been on my radar a solid few years now and with the release of her debut album Dogviolet late last year and now in the middle of a tour with KT Tunstall and her set going down a storm each night the time is definitely now for Laurel in the music world if it wasn’t before. I (finally) write this entry two days after seeing her on the support slot for Tunstall at Sage, Gateshead and the queue to see her after her set seemed never-ending and even when the night ended there was still a good strong line waiting to see her.
So at almost two months after these two events covering artists from the North-East of England to the South Coast and each one bringing a different vibe, two of them are taking on America and one is about to head to Australia after a very successful support slot with a well established artist. The music press and airwaves are also featuring them at every opportunity so make sure you keep an eye and ear out for all the artists here as they will most definitely connect with you one way or another.
For the love of music keep seeing the support acts and going to showcases as you may walk away with your next favourite who may just be the next big thing too.