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Live Review: Roundhouse Rising at Sage Gateshead with Mausi, Eliza and the Bear, Death at Sea and Amy Holford – 17th February 2013

 
By on Wednesday, 27th February 2013 at 2:00 pm
 

The beautiful Sage in Gateshead recently played host to Roundhouse Rising, the first time the event has taken place in association with Generator, the UK’s leading music development agency based in the North East. Martin, our correspondent from that region, was in attendance as four acts vied for the attention of the audience assembled.

First up is Amy Holford. Last time TGTF caught up with her was at Evolution Festival last year, where her delicate strummings were drowned out by the boiling hormones of a thousand 14-year-olds. Tonight, her voice done justice by a proper sound system, delicate material laid bare before a respectful, silent crowd, her full potential is plain to see. The main attraction is a soul voice of such power that it could perform any Motown single from the 60s without breaking a sweat. It swoops and bends through microtones long forgotten in this age of production tricks, one moment honey-sweet, the next buzz-saw provocative, a reminder of how powerful and sensuous a barely-clothed female voice can sound.

Amy Holford Gateshead live

The problem is, she’s singing about her grandfather’s cancer. And how a long-gone, but clearly not forgotten, boyfriend didn’t text message her frequently enough. Imagine Amy’s current set distilling down into a pleasant acoustic interlude, bookended by some full band productions in whichever style she chooses – be that soul, electronica, or Tibetan nose flute ensemble – and it is to imagine a great voice put to good use. She might even bring in some writers to put together some material with broader appeal. The current songs are clearly close to her heart, and I wouldn’t for a minute suggest she abandon them altogether. But the next stage in her career surely demands a fuller sound to do justice to that wonderful voice.

Death at Sea Gateshead live

Death At Sea (pictured above) have very little time to make an impact, and their triple-headed guitar assault was always going to struggle on first listen. They’re like your little brother’s bedroom band, all earnest pop-grunge and Converse All-Stars, so they do have their niche, it’s just that it’s a rather densely-occupied corner. Nowhere near as innocent are Eliza and the Bear (pictured below). There is no Eliza, and no Bear, in their lineup; what there are is five astonishingly fashionable haircuts accompanied by 30 minutes of quite the most bland music one might ever have the misfortune to experience. From the “and the” nomenclature, through the formulaic loud-quiet-loud-trumpetparps-quiet-loud-aren’t-we-so-folky-even-though-we’re-all-from-Romford arrangements, to the vague, pseudo-deep-and-meaningful lyrics and can’t-be-arsed trendier-than-thou delivery, Eliza and the Bear seem on a mission from the Devil himself to rid music of any meaning or relevance at all. Take ‘The Southern Wild’, for instance – two chords, some twee, twinkly keyboards, loads of “oh-oh-ohs”, stop-starts all over the place, all drizzled with the pointless refrain “You’ve got a lion’s heart / you’ve gotta find it”. And that goddamn trumpet everywhere… somebody please stab me now. They are a photocopy of a successful sound – a cynical recipe made up of familiar tastes. Like the flavour factories that create the fast food experience, there’s no nutrition involved, nothing meaty, just the baubles that sound superficially like music but dissolve into emptiness in your brain.

Eliza and the Bear Gateshead live

Everyone’s last hope is for Mausi (pictured at top) to pull it out of the bag after such a patchy undercard – and, praise be to the Gods of music, they do not disappoint. A curious combination of Italian style leavened with North East party ethos, Mausi serve up a luscious plate of uptempo stompers and downtempo emotion, Daisy Finetto prancing around the stage like the coolest girl-next-door everyone hopes to bump into. Latest single ‘Move’ has the Sage bouncing, its verging-on-cheesy Europop a delightful guilty pleasure. Previous release ‘Sol’ brings a similar slice of summery dance vibes to a chilly February evening. No doubt favoured as headliner because of their ability with a groove, nevertheless Mausi do put in the most enjoyable and mature set of the night.

 

MP3 of the Day (and more!) #565: Polarsets

 
By on Thursday, 21st June 2012 at 10:00 am
 

Whitley Bay’s Polarsets have just released their ‘Exotica’ EP, and this morning they’re treating us to their new video for ‘Distance’ (appearing on the EP), as well as a free download of the Mausi remix of the track. Both can be viewed/listened/enjoyed/partaked in below.

http://soundcloud.com/polarsets/distance-m-a-u-s-i-remix (Sorry, you have to visit the Soundcloud page to listen/download the track.)

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2lZSAjrC1ZE[/youtube]

 

Preview: Evolution Festival 2012

 
By on Friday, 2nd March 2012 at 9:30 am
 

Evolution Festival, held between Newcastle upon Tyne and Gateshead, has, appropriately enough, evolved considerably since it was first held as a free, 1-day event in 2005. Now in its eighth year, the event boasts a 2-day, two-stage line-up, held in the stunning location of the Newcastle and Gateshead quaysides. The event is no longer free, but at a mere £35 for the weekend, it represents fantastic, inflation-busting value. This year the event is held over the Sunday and Monday of the June Bank Holiday weekend 3-4 June: there surely can be no finer way to celebrate the 60th year of a monarch’s reign than going out and hearing some fantastic music with one’s fellow mankind. Here we break down the acts on the Spiller’s Wharf stage, just to prove what a delicious prospect awaits:

Sunday 3rd June
Kicking things off are the Lake Poets, the slightly confusingly-named solo project of Martin Longstaff of local favourites B>E>A>K. Amazing Radio favourites Theme Park offer intriguing ‘80s-style tunes with shades of Talking Heads. The local influence continues with Lulu James, a freshly-minted South Shields soul-step diva with huge potential; if her material stands the test she could go far. Melodic Nottingham indie five-piece Dog is Dead bring bits of summery Beach Boys vying with Arcade Fire-style bombast, which should go down well if the sun shines.

Next up are two chalk-and-cheese acts: Benjamin Francis Leftwich, limp-wristed posh-boy singer-songwriter who needs plenty of balls to win over the fickle Newcastle crowd, followed by Devlin – fresh from the streets of Dagenham, grime hits the big time with superstar MC Devlin and his hard-hitting flow. The real, undiluted deal. Good mate and collaborator with Alex Turner, Miles Kane brings his Mod-influenced solo material to Evolution. Take two measures Arctic Monkeys, add a twist of Paul Weller, and dilute to taste with the Coral. Can Kane carve a niche for himself at Evo?

Local lads and “very special guests” Maximo Park make their long-awaited comeback with new material and a new look. This set should give us a sneak preview of their new songs for 2012. And to wrap up the Sunday evening we have the one and only Dizzee Rascal: in between his own headline tour and masterminding the careers of several new urban artists via his own Dirtee Stank label, lovable urban pop scamp Dizzee is somehow finding the time to support the Red Hot Chili Peppers and play countless UK and international festivals this year, including several headline slots. This will be his third appearance at Evolution, making him the most popular act ever to grace the Evo stage. Let’s hope this festival holds as fond a place in his heart as it does for him, and that in return the audience are treated to new material from the forthcoming album on Island records. Given the Bank Holiday scheduling, chance of trance-pop anthem Holiday making an appearance? 97.6%.

Monday 4th June
Sore heads from the night before will be soothed by Mausi, Newcastle newcomers whose recent sunny single ‘Sol’ is brightening days across the land; and the Milk – party like it’s 1967 with their brand of big band soul and funk… Craig Charles, eat your heart out. Jessie Ware, urban vocalist and SBTRKT collaborator gets her own set; but with only two singles to her name, and SBTRKT with his own headline DJ set later on, what chance is there for him turning up to run some backing tracks for Ware?

In the middle of the undercard, we have widescreen synth-led bombast from hotly-tipped London quintet Spector; Luke Temple updates ’60s American pastoral psychedelia for the new millennium like a mini-Flaming Lips with Here We Go Magic, and Band Of Skulls bring some heft to a Bank Holiday Monday – sweat ‘n’ beer ‘n’ rock ‘n’ roll trio BoS will leave no ears unbled. Fans of De La Soul, Arrested Development and Madness will love cheeky Brighton hip-pop chappies Rizzle Kicks… who bring us to Noah and the Whale. After an astonishingly successful 2011, NatW richly deserve to be the last band on at Evolution 2012. Their album ‘Last Night On Earth’ (#1 on editor Mary’s Top Albums of 2011) is chock full of classic songs, surely most of which will make an appearance here. Expect crowd singalongs and lighter-in-the-air moments galore.

As a finale, there’s nobody better than deadmau5 (pictured at top). His atmospheric, dubstep-influenced dance music and enormous mouse head will surely wrap up Evolution 2012 in fine style. I’m anticipating a wild light show, deep, deep bass, and a massive crowd, paying tribute to the fine music which has passed over the previous 2 days – by dancing like mad into the small hours.

Phew. Not only that, but a full, separate dedicated dance music stage with a strong drum ‘n’ bass and dubstep influence (notably DJ Fresh, Jack Beats, Shy Fx, Toddla T, Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs, SBTRKT), an as-yet-unreleased but undoubtedly superb Americana strand from local promoters Jumpin’ Hot Club, and not to mention the chance to see the big names of tomorrow at the Evolution Emerging shows on the preceding Friday. This is an event that any city would be proud to hold, and it stands as the jewel in the crown of the North East’s popular music diary. Get your ticket now (from the official Evolution Web site)!

 
 
 

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There Goes The Fear is where we tell you about the latest music, gigs, and tours we love and think you should too.

We love music that has its heart on its sleeve, tells a story, swims around our head all day or makes us dance like no-one's watching.

TGTF was edited by Mary Chang, based in Washington, DC.

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