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Stockton Calling 2012

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“Smoke lingers round your fingers. Train heave on to Euston. Do you think you’ve made the right decision this time?” (London by The Smiths 1986)

Stockton Calling is fast becoming “THE” day in the local music calendar. If you recall we gave it our best day out of the year for 2011. And 2012 was no different. If you have not heard, it is an all day indoor festival type thing spread across 5 venues in Stockton-on-Tees. The Arc, Ku Bar, The Georgian Theatre, The Vault and the Sun Inn. It attracts big name stars like the Pigeon Detectives, local heroes like Young Rebel Set and loads and loads of others. It is so good I can think of only one thing wrong with it. And it is not that it is a negative, it is that it is TOO good. At any one time there are at least 2 bands on that I want to watch, sometimes 3. At one point I was torn between watching 4 different acts!! This cannot really be seen as a criticism but it is annoying as I missed as much good stuff as I saw. But how do they stop this? The only way would be to not have as many great acts booked and then we would complain about a lack of quality!! So we wont complain but we will apologise to King Charles, Young Rebel Set, Collectors Club, Bird Island, Randy & The Handstand Band and all the others that we did not get to see despite having every intention of reviewing.
We could have seen more if we had flitted between venues and caught half a set here and half a set there but I like to watch the whole show. I dont feel you can do an act justice if you watch a few songs then go and arrive half way through another band. So I watched seven full sets and thoroughly enjoyed everyone. A great day out.

THE CASTELLS
First up were a band I have known and heard about for a while now but not seen live. As I was in the Arc, fantastic venue by the way, and they were just coming on I thought it was too good an opportunity to miss. They have been compared to The Editors, and yes they have that frantic guitar style going on but they remind me of the first wave of fast action, gripping guitar bands. Early 80s bands whose guitarist would race the others to finish their song. From Gang of Four to Wire to Echo and the Bunnymen with a hint of PIL thrown in for good measure. Great choruses and a superb front man. The Castells are burrowing a furrow of their own and they are well worth a look at, or even a listen to.

VINYL JACKET
Now we have featured these boys on The Northern Line before but like The Castells we had not seen them in the flesh. Like a funky Futureheads or dancy Maximo Park they are a treat to behold. A packed Georgian Theatre obviously showed that these boys are going to be big. Despite it only being late afternoon it was a push and shove to get into the venue. They were greeted like conquering heroes. Their recent appearance on the NARC compilation CD has obviously got them noticed. Best track was the one featured on the CD “Lucky Soldier”. A real belter.

THE LAKE POETS
Now this was my second taste of the Lake Poets in three days. Could they match their magnificant performance at the Sage in the less salubrious surroundings of the Sun Inn? Too damn right they could. The more intimate surroundings actually made them better. Songs like “Bluebell” and “Dead Tree” are made more personal by the closeness to the band. Big hits like “City by the Sea” and “Small Town” enthrall an audience who know they are in the presence of greatness. After packing out the Sage to 500 people this might have been a bit of an “After the Lord Mayors Show” but Martin and the boys were having none of that. A top notch performance from a band we keep harping on about. Why? Because they are brilliant. No more, no less!

BEAK
Back to the Georgian, which is still rammed. And with good reason. Now if you have not seen BEAK live then you really need to. Biggest surprise of the day. I did not know what to expect. I mainly went cos I had heard the name mentioned a few times and Martin from the Lake Poets is in them. If you are expecting anything like The Lake Poets don’t go, if you are expecting anything like you have seen before, don’t go!!! Loads of mad men (or women, I could not tell) in shorts, boiler suits and BEAK masks. Playing tunes (no vocals) called things like “Pecky Bird”, “Crow Knows” and ” Culture Vulture”. You get the drift. Fun, fun, fun. Audience participation, lots of trumpets, lots of noise, lots of fun. Chirpy, chirpy, cheep, cheep indeed.

CHASING OWLS
On the theme of all things ornithological we return to the Sun Inn to see Chasing Owls. A new name to us but they came with a great pedigree. Folk is the new indie. Everyone loves it. Everyone loves Chasing Owls. Girl/boy indie, folky. Like Bon Iver, Fleet Foxes, Cattle & Cane…….. They are already getting noticed by Radio 1 and some famous faces. See them fly.

THE IMAGINEERS
“The Sound of Young Scotland”. Now our regular readers will know all about the whole host of new bands from north of the border that are kicking up a stir. The Imagineers are one of these bands and damn fine they are too. They were the band I was most looking forward to seeing and they did not let me down. They have the look, the tunes, the swagger, the out and out brilliance to make them superstars. Like Roddy Frame fronting the Doors. A little bit of The View and lots of early Postcard Records. They are West coast of Scotland mixed with West coast of the USA. A brilliant mix that sets the Sun alight. Everyone who I spoke to afterwards said how wonderful they were. Since I last saw them in October I have been listening to their 4 track demo. They played all the songs from it tonight. “Imagineer”, “Mariana”, “Spanish Sands” and “Hour of Need”. Together with other songs I was not too familiar with but certainly will be in the near future. “Fairground” and “Albert E” being two stand outs. Best band of the day? Without a doubt!!!!

CATTLE & CANE
Firstly, a big thank-you to Cattle & Cane. They stepped in at the last minute to replace Laura Gibson and save the day for The Kids Are Solid Gold. And even as last minute substitutes they were superb. My only concern is that they are still playing gigs this small. I recently saw them at the Town Hall in Middlesbrough and they had the audience eating out of their hands. They are destined for bigger and better things. I know tonight they were helping people out but I really think they need to move up a league. Their songs deserve to be heard by a bigger audience. It is great to see bands you love in small venues but eventually you realise they need to cut loose and run free. Like a child that has grown too big for the nest. Like your favourite player at a non-league club. Cattle & Cane are premier league, they need to put in that transfer request and move on up. They have the songs, the voices, the jokes of a new…… (am I going off on a tangent???) Obviously I will be sad to see them go but will be sadder to see them still here in a year or so….. “Did you see the jealousy in the eyes of the ones who had to stay behind?” Indeed!!!

Stockton Calling was a great day out. Big thanks to Ciara Johnson, Andy and Phil at The Kids Are Solid Gold, all the venues, all the bands and all those who made this the best day of the year. (again)

LINKS

THE CASTELLS http://www.facebook.com/thecastells?filter=1

VINYL JACKET http://vinyljacket.co.uk/

THE LAKE POETS http://thelakepoets.com/

BEAK http://beak.bandcamp.com/

CHASING OWLS http://www.chasingowls.co.uk/

THE IMAGINEERS http://www.the-imagineers.com/

CATTLE & CANE http://cattleandcane.co.uk/

THE KIDS ARE SOLID GOLD http://www.thekidsaresolidgold.co.uk/

STOCKTON CALLING http://www.stocktoncalling.co.uk/

EXTRA PHOTOS AT FACEBOOK
http://www.facebook.com/thenorthernline?ref=ts#!/media/set/?set=a.10150655514866640.386217.153421781639&type=3

By peter on April 13, 2012


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