Stockton Calling: Saturday 23rd April 2011


Best day of the year so far? Without a doubt. So many great bands that the only criticism was that we didn’t get to see everyone we wanted to. I missed The View, Frankie & The Heartstrings, Little Comets and The Chapman Family but still had a fun packed day watching both local and national talent. And local talent that will soon be national. We also managed to get to all four venues. So without further-a-do here goes:


As you may be aware we love these guys here at The Northern Line and despite today being the worst performance I’ve seen from them they were still great. Like a great football team they managed to claw a victory from the jaws of defeat. Why was it their worst performance? Well, before kick-off they’d lost their bass player to the joys of labour. The guitarist was moved poition to play bass. He did this very well but they were still missing a key player. Ben, lead singer, had awoken with a sore throat. This seriously curtailed his ability to hit the high notes and we missed his goals up front. But like a great team the other members of the band sang and supported, cajoled and tackled and the victory was still theirs. Yes a bit of a scrappy win but the points still returned to Tyneside. I look forward to cheering them on with a full strength team in the near future.


This was our one and only visit to the KU BAR. A great venue that we have been to before and will be returning to soon. Now we hadn’t planned to actually visit today but on the recommendation of Jimmy (from Jimmy & The Sounds) we were told to catch these young whippersnappers. These scousers were new to us but boy did they impress. They turned out to be one of the best bands I saw all day. As I hadn’t heard them before I don’t know titles of songs etc. They reminded me of The Cure, The Wombats (in a good way!!!), The Icicle Works (does anyone remember them???) and The Kings of Leon!!! Big choruses, loads of enthusiasm and killer tunes. I will certainly be looking to catch them again. They play the Georgian in Stockton on Saturday the 28th of May as part of Jimmy & the Sounds single launch. I will be in Lourdes praying for your souls but you could do a lot worse than be there.


We returned to the Sun Inn to see arguably the most under-rated yet warmy received band of the day. With a full band (the brilliant O’Messy Life) behind him Withered Hand was absolute class. The place was rammed and everyone knew the words!!! Now I only heard of him a few months ago but his album has been a favourite ever since. Catchy tunes and off the wall lyrics make for a great sing-a-long band. The reception he/they got today was amazing. Check out my video from youtube (link below) of “Religious Songs” to gain some of the atmosphere of the day. It captures the atmosphere of the performance especially the begininng when he tells me to stop filming when they make a mistake!!!!!

Withered Hand “Religious Songs”:


We didn’t actually catch the View live but we did meet Pete and his guitar roadie in the chip shop. (see pictorial evidence below) Both great guys and a great group. As I’d seen them in Sunderland a few months back I chose to see Washington Irving. I’m sure as fellow Scots they’ll understand.


Back to a packed Sun Inn where we could hardly get through the door. From this very poor position we heard but didn’t see the mighty Chased by Wolves. A five-piece from Newcastle who blend Bob Dylan with the sort of Americana that Uncut would die for. Ryan Adams mixed with Fleet Foxes and a bit of bluesy, folky magic thrown in for good measure. The fact we could hardly get through the door shows that these lot are fast becoming a band to be reckoned with.


As we wanted to see all the venues we ventured off to the Georgian Theatre. A superb venue I have to say. Sister Rose arrived on stage as we were checking out the joint. The Verve mixed with the Roses show their influences. Easy listening to most of the ears in attendance.


The Arc is another class venue. How a small town like Stockton manages to get away with four superb venues is beyond me but we shouldn’t complain, should we? The Arc is something you would expect to find in Leeds or Manchester. An arts venue of the first order. I saw Martin Stephenson a long time ago here as well as indie superstars Shed Seven. Which is funny as Jimmy & the Sounds remind me of Rick Witter and the boys. Catchy, indie pop in the vein of The Futureheads and Vampire Weekend. Going for Gold they certainly are….


Back to the Sun Inn for the rest of the night. Andy Carr and Phil Carey (great bloke, shame about the shirt) from The Kids are Solid Gold had taken over this small but perfectly formed venue. Their line-up all day was amazing. The final three acts of the night will surely be playing bigger and better venues in the months/years to come.  First up was our “album of the year” champions; The Mitchell Museum. Mixing  Animal Collective, Flaming Lips and Clinic with the wonder of “Kimono my House” era Sparks, they make a sound that you really cannot pin down. Bursting with tunes and enthusiasm they surely must be on a bigger stage soon. “Tiger Heartbeat” is a world wide smash in any other galaxy or parallel universe. Get their album, you will, I assure you, love it.


A packed venue greeted the local heroes as they strode majestically through their repetoire of hauntingly beautiful tunes….. ok, ok, that sounds rubbish, I know. But what can I say of Thornabys favourite sons? I did tell them at the end of this set that I love them like my own children!!! Yes, I had had a few but if you don’t know yet you probably never will. Band of the day? Band of the bloody year and it’s only April. Watch the video of The Poacher below, buy the single, go see them, just to stop me from boring the pants off you all…….

Cattle & Cane “The Poacher”:


Ran Cattle & Cane and Withered Hand a close second or third. I have played their EP almost every day since I saw them supporting Woodenbox with a Fistful of Fivers at the back end of last year. Tonight they were great. I was slightly let down by the fact the venue was only half full. I assume people went off to see The View or Frankie & the Heartstrings. No disrespect to them but they should have stayed. Despite the crowd Washingto Irving were fantastic. Emotive, folky tunes that stick in the brain and make you play them over and over. Live they make a great racket. They grew and grew as this gig went on. New single; “Abbey Gallop” is another killer and you could do worse than get yourself to Newcastle on May the 21st to see them supporting The Men They Couldn’t Hang at the Cumberland Arms.  Afterwards we chatted, and they are as endearingly lovely as their tunes. Big things await these boys (and girls).

Well Stockton Calling is over for another year. I’m sure in 2012 it will be even better. A big thank-you to all the venues and all the promoters. As well as all the bands and the fans (can we call you fans??) who seek out new music and support your local venues and acts and don’t sit in the house watching Britains got Talent or other such rubbish. A big thanks to Ciara Johnson at the Georgian Theatre who sorted us out with press passes. (Makes us sound important “press passes”. Just fans really who want to get others involved in the great things that are going on.) A big thank-you to Andy Carr and his boundless enthusiasm. His side-kick Phil and his amazing shirt. (The first man I know to buy a shirt so as to fit in with the decor of the venue!!!) If you saw something we didn’t then get in touch. We are always looking for new contributors to the site.

Some extra photos of the day can be found at our Facebook page:

Or better still some excellent photos can be found at this superb web site:

















By peter on May 6, 2011

Check out all the pics

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