A Year In The Life: A Review Of 2010.

A year in the life…….

Well, what can I say? 2010 was a great year. The birth of my third daughter, Leeds going up, the first full year of the Northern Line…… I said, a great year. In 2010 I probably went to more gigs and bought more albums than any year since 1988. Back then I would go to at least 2 gigs a week and buy records every week. Over time this has become less and less on both scores. But with the advent of The Northern Line I have found a new lease of life. More and more gigs, more and more records, and I’ve enjoyed every minute of it. So, as the year has finished I can look back on it and pick my favourite bits. If you agree, great. If you disagree, then let us know. Write your own end of year awards and send it to us; or become a contributor and make your writings a regular thing.

So, let the fun begin………


Frankie & the Heartstrings have been one of my favourites this year. Brought to my attention by their wonderful single sleeves, their love of the Vaux building in Sunderland and their infectious tunes. They are set for great things when they release their much anticipated debut in 2011. The return of The Orchids was much celebrated in this house. I loved them in 1989 and I loved them in 2010. The Vaccines burst out from nowhere and almost claimed first prize. Their tunes are instant classics and like the Frankie’s will hit the heights when their debut is unleashed. Local boys The Winterhill Transmission have been a firm favourite, as have The National, Woodenbox with a Fistful of Fivers, Young Rebel Set and Washington Irving, who made a late race for the prize.

A lot of runners in this race but there can only be one winner. In 1986 I saw The Smiths 11 times. In 2005 I saw the Arctic Monkeys 10 times. These two heavy weights hold the record for the most times I’ve seen a band in a calendar year but in 2010 this has been beaten. With an amazing 12 times it feels like I have moved from fan to stalker. The band in question is Thornaby’s own Cattle & Cane. Yes, I love them. Yes, they are brilliant. And yes they are going to be massive.


Again, loads to choose from. Some wonderful nights in The Westgarth and the Empire in Middlesbrough, the Cluny in Newcastle, some great festivals all packed into a hectic year. Martin Stephenson’s Christmas gig at The Cluny was wonderful. Erland & the Carnival, The Miserable Rich, Washington Irving and many others at the Westgarth. The Futureheads and Young Rebel Set at the Empire. The Wedding Presents great rendition of Bizarro and Hope & Social, both at The Deer Shed Festival in Thirsk. White Negroes at Middlesbrough Music Live. British Sea Power at the Stockton International Festival. The Vaccines gigs were a riot of tunes and afros. Special mention to The Winterhill Transmissions single launch at the Cluny 2. A special band on a special night which included the Union Choir and the debut performance from Sleepy Valley. But the winner is…..pass me that envelope…….Woodenbox with a Fistful of Fivers with support from Washington Irving, Cattle & Cane and Rikki & the Porters at The Westgarth Social Club in Middlesbrough on December the 10th. Four great bands, lots of beer supped, tears, jigs and walking home at 3 in the morning. The perfect night and the gig of the year.


Now as I still buy vinyl I think I can still call it album of the year and talk about my favourite records without sounding a bit old and silly. Again, there is loads of competition for this one; Erland & the Carnival’s self titled debut, The Orchids; the Lost Star, The Villagers; Becoming a Jackal, Woodenbox with a Fistful of Fivers; Home and the Wild Hunt, The Phantom Band; The Wants, Paul Heaton’s Acid Country, Detroit Social Club’s Existence, The National; High Violet, Hope & Social’s April, I am Kloot; Northern Skies, The Futureheads; The Chaos and the Field Music; Measure. I love all of these and they could all be album of the year. The winner is a bit of a dark horse. Up until October I’d never even heard of this bunch. I went to Newcastle to see The Winterhill Transmission and this lot were the main band. I bought their album, on vinyl, of course, on the back of their performance and it’s been spinning round on my iPod ever since!!! Yes, I don’t actually play my vinyl as I need a new deck and haven’t got round to buying one yet. The Mitchell Museums; The Peters Port Memorial Service is a fantastic album. If you haven’t heard it or heard of them just take my word for it and get a copy. Like Flaming Lips fighting Orange Juice for the last bottle of buck fast on the shelf. These boys from Glasgow are manic and magnificent. I look forward to seeing them in the flesh again this year.


Do singles still exist? Well yes, seeing as I still buy 7” singles, they must. But as more and more bands rely on MP3s/downloads etc then the future of the single is in the balance. When I was younger bands released singles with B sides and 12”s with extra tracks. Those days are gone but great songs are, happily, still with us. This year has seen some wonderful songs being brought to our ears. A lot of bands that we’ve already mentioned; Cattle & Cane’s Sold my Soul, The Winterhill Transmission’s If I ever see you again, Washington Irving’s Phantom Buck, Stornaway’s Zorbing and Erland & the Carnival’s Derby Ram are up there pushing their noses out in front. But the track of the year goes to those angelic upstarts; The Vaccines with Wreckin’ Bar. Now a lot of you will roll your eyes and mutter something about not believing the hype. I’ve heard it all. People tell me they sound like Jilted John. How many Jilted John songs do these people know? That’s right, one; Jilted John. A song I know every word to despite the fact it was written more than 30 years ago. It’s brilliant. Hardly an insult. They sound like Tenpole Tudor! Again, how many Tenpole Tudor songs do you know? That’s right, two; Swords of a Thousand Men and Wunderbar. Every male over the age of 35 could sing Swords of a Thousand Men at the top of his voice on a Friday night as he leaves the pub. Again, how is this an insult? They are like The Ramones. The Ramones!!! The Ramones!!! The Ramones are fantastic. If you want to insult somebody say they sound like Westlife or Take That or Wham!!! Don’t say they sound like The Ramones. That is a compliment not an insult!


Firstly, a confession. I don’t read books. Not because I can’t. Or because I don’t want to. But because I just don’t have the time. I can listen to music as I walk to work. Drive the car. Get dressed etc. But you need to sit down and concentrate if you want to read a book. I don’t have the time. I have 3 kids. I work. I have a season ticket at Elland Road. I go to more gigs than my wife thinks healthy. I just can’t fit reading books into this busy schedule. So my favourite book is Keith Pattison’s No Redemption. A book of photos from the 1984 Miners Strike. Brilliant. Not many words but pictures that can say more than a thousand words. Photos that bring back memories of a time we fought the law and the law won! Photos that may be almost 30 years old but may be more poignant in 2011 than we realise. Thatcher called the miners the enemy within but I think we all know who really is the enemy within; all those who vote for a party who take pleasure in dismantling our basic needs; health, welfare and education. I was fortunate enough to meet Keith Pattison at the Durham Book Festival. A lovely man who cares about his art and the community who helped him produce it. He is also doing the cover for Frankie & the Heartstrings album. His star, like theirs, is in the ascendency.

Finally, on the subject of books. Richard Milward, author of Apples and Ten Storey Love Song, has a new novel out in 2011. Here at The Northern Line we look forward to it and we will look forward to covering its launch.


Well, that’s what has been the best in 2010 but what do we have to look forward to? Debut albums from Frankie & the Heartstrings, Cattle & Cane, Washington Irving and Young Rebel Set. Second albums from Erland & the Carnival et al. More great gigs. Loads of great festivals this summer and another great year here at the Northern Line.

By peter on January 10, 2011

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2 Comments » RSS Comment Feed

  1. Nice one Peter. I’ve noticed a similar re-kindled musical passion… long may it last!

    Comment by Dave — January 11, 2011 @ 10:25 am

  2. The White Negroes @ Middlesbrough Music Live gig of the year?

    we couldn’t agree more!

    Many thanks

    Comment by The White Negroes — January 11, 2011 @ 3:36 pm

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