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Sunday, 18 November 2018

Afro Celt Sound System had them dancing in the aisles!

The Tyne Opera House
Gets Jiggy With
The Afro Celt Sound System

I don't claim to know a lot about the Afro Celt Sound System. I'm writing this as a latecomer to the music, apart from a memory of the collaboration with Sinead O' Connor Release. We feel people should always try something different, step out of your musical comfort zone. Also our son is studying music GCSE and fusion is likely to be something he should know about. But before we know it, we were on our feet dancing.

The band numbered 10 on stage. The cultural mix of both the people and the music creates a perfect storm of joy and a need  to dance. I have never seen so many people get up and dance at the Tyne Theatre and I gave up taking photos after a song and a half...rather than the customary 3, as I didn't want to interfere with the happy dancing people at the front. There was also a drum solo the like of which I've never seen before. The venue's acoustic qualities really did the complex sound justice and deserves a mention. 

Simon Emmerson was joined by long-term members’ vocalist, kora and balafon player N’Faly Kouyaté and Dhol drummer Johnny Kalsi. There were contributions from a host of other outstanding musicians, including guests Tyneside's own Peter Tickell on fiddle, Ged Lynch on drums, Simon Richmond on keyboards and Lottie Cullen on pipes and whistle. 

The show opened with the beautiful Sanctus from Flight and the set included the intensely rythmic Desert Billy, the massive After The Rain and of course Release which opened the second half of the show. The phone torches were lit for Dark Moon High Tide. There truly was dancing in the aisles and the audience had a fantastic evening. 

The music blends various African styles, Irish folk, North Indian, western dance, rock, blues to create something really special. 

There were instruments I had never seen on stage before, like Kouyaté's kora and the xylophone-like balafon. At least 3 percussionists on stage and the massive beats  bass created by Simon Richmond's synths made for a big dance sound made jiggier by the fiddle, flute and pipes. There were wonderful vocals also by two great female singers from Hackney and D.R. Congo whose names I didn't catch.

We came away with the new album Flight, as what we heard made us feel we needed this in the collection. With sales now topping one and a half million albums and two Grammy nominations to date, Afro Celt Sound System recently celebrated their 20th Anniversary.  With such a fabulous and diverse collective of musicians this can only keep evolving for the next 20. I'm so glad to have had the chance to see such a great band.

Thursday, 15 November 2018

Skinny Lister play Newcastle April 4th 2019






“This. Is. Not. A. Drill…” 

Batten down the hatches ladies and gentlemen, for tempestuous folk-punk renegades - SKINNY LISTER - are back with an explosive new single: “38 Minutes”. 


Take it as a forewarning, for the London sextet today also lay out the incendiary plans for their long-awaited fourth studio album: ‘The Story Is….’, a record set to drop from Xtra Mile Recordings silo on 1st March 2019

Lead single “38 Minutes” is a tense new track inspired by a ballistic missile alert triggered in Hawaii at the beginning of 2018. For a terrifying 38 minutes officials led the populous of the volcanic island to believe that the end was nigh. As sirens wailed and panic prevailed, the locals were starkly informed: “This Is Not A Drill”…

But it was of course, just that. Whilst it might not go down as a red letter day for the Hawaiian authorities, Skinny Lister fans can rejoice as this episode arrives transformed some months later into an ebullient new single “38 Minutes” and the first to emerge of many stories that make up their imaginative new album ‘The Story Is…’.  

If Skinny Lister’s intriguingly titled new album sounds like something of pick’n’mix of assorted tales ready to share with you, well that’s because it is. A loosely-based concept album, ‘The Story Is…’ anthologises a series of personal vignettes inspired by a chaotic few years for the band and binds them into 14 tracks of unmistakably Skinny-sounding rock’n’roll. 

Gather-in close and lend your ears as Skinny Lister rifle through ‘The Story Is…’ and pull out: scorched stories of aggravated arsonists (‘Artist Arsonist’), rib-tickling tales of regretful re-fuellings (‘Diesel Vehicle’), and even polemic pleas inspired by some of life’s hardest lessons (‘Stop & Breathe’). 

From tales inspired by the minutiae of our day-to-day lives to paranoid ruminations of impending apocalypse, ‘The Story Is…’, sees Skinny Lister deliver their most lyrically and conceptually complex offering to date. Coupled with a veritable sonic smorgasbord of new sounds and songcraft, there are plenty of tell-tale signs that ring true of a band on stimulated form and at the top of their game. From the new wave nuances of The Jam’s classic output (‘Cause for Chorus’) to vintage ska-janglings (‘Second Amendment’), not to mention lashings of the band’s trademarkedly barnstorming folk-punk too (‘Rattle & Roar’, ‘Sometimes So It Goes’), the sextet’s latest release not only sees them expand their horizons but arguably finds them in the most potent pop form of their career.

Produced and mixed by the highly capable Barny Barnicott (Arctic Monkeys, The Enemy, The Temper Trap), ’The Story is…’ is released via Xtra Mile Recordings on 1st March 2019.  Pre-order the album here:
But the story doesn’t end here. With one of the most reputable live shows in the business (hailed as “a deafening and visceral experience” - The Independent, 5/5), Skinny Lister will also be touring ‘The Story Is…’ with a series of their tenacious live shows across the UK & Europe in 2019

Don’t miss your chance to become part of their latest adventures as the band embark on a two-leg UK tour, plus fix dates in Germany, Czech Republic, Switzerland, France, Holland and Belgium throughout the Spring(Dates below). 

Tickets for all dates will go on general sale Friday 2nd November, with pre-sale available today from:


28th - Brighton Concorde 2

1st - Norwich Arts Centre
2nd - Southampton 1865
6th - Bristol Fleece
7th - Glasgow King Tuts
8th - Leeds Key Club
9th - Leicester Academy



13th - Berlin SO36
14th - Kiel Orange Club
15th - Erfurt Kalif Storch
16th - Prague Futurum
17th - Nurnberg Der Hirsch
19th - Frankfurt Batschkapp
20th - Wien Arena
21st - Munich Strom
22nd - Bern Bierhubeli
23rd - Zurich Dynamo
26th - Paris La Maroquinerie
27th - Rouen Le 106
28th - Amsterdam Paradiso Noord
29th - Cologne Stollwerk
30th - Antwerp Kavka



3rd - Edinburgh The Mash House
4th - Newcastle Riverside
5th - Nottingham Rescue Rooms
6th - Manchester Club Academy 2
10th - Cambridge Junction 1
11th - London Electric Ballroom


Since 2009, Skinny Lister, have never done things by half measures. Passing the growing flagon of their experiences with every album and tour, they’ve led an endless parade gathering fans old and new, from the respected folk circuit to the riotous Download Festival, igniting pogoing mosh-pits at each. Over the past ten years they’ve travelled from rain-soaked London to the vast arteries of the USA, upgrading from narrow boat to Salty Dog Cruise, played huge tours across Europe and North America with Frank Turner, Dropkick Murphys and Flogging Molly as well as headlining themselves across festivals, sweatboxes and ever-larger venues. 

With three previous albums under their belt, Forge & FlagonDown on Deptford Broadway and The Devil, the Heart & the Fight, the band have explored a lexicon of tastes through a whirlwind of adventures across the globe. And in 2019, Skinny Lister will open an all new chapter as they release their fourth studio LP ‘The Story Is…’.





* * * * *


Reviews of The Devil, The Heart & The Fight:
“…considerably upped their game.” 4/5 Q Magazine album review

“…a deafening and visceral experience.” 5/5 Independent live review from London Garage.
 “Skinny Lister knows how to have a good time. Throughout their performances, there are various Celtic references, acoustic instrumentation and a ton of fun. It’s a kind of show where you need to hold onto your bootstraps.” Noisy

“‘The Devil, The Heart & The Fight’ sees them break their own mould, in places amplifying the popular influences on their sound yet retaining their fundamental roots.” Punktastic

“...(a) kaleidoscope of high-octane folk punk via Dexy’s and The Pogues.” Louder Than War

Sunday, 11 November 2018

Review: Blancmange at The Cluny 10/11/2018

Last Night I Dreamt I Had A Job

Newcastle Loves Blancmange! 

Even before we got to the Cluny building the penetrating bass of the music of Finlay Shakespeare greeted us from across the car park. This was loud: a loudness I hadn't experience maybe since Amphifest in Cologne. Some of Finlay's music would have been at home there. The intensity of his lyrics and vocals, the complexity of the beats, bass and his skills on the electronic bits and bobs (there was something suspiciously big and analogue in the centre) were mightily impressive. I felt this was a fitting support for Blancmange and I look forward to seeing him again. 

Blancmange took to the stage in a very well-attended Cluny 1 venue. It's obvious the current lineup enjoy playing together and Neil Arthur made it obvious he enjoyed the Newcastle banter between songs. He's such a warm jovial, likeable guy on stage when he's not singing, and yet so intensely focused when performing. I enjoyed Blancmange's last Newcastle gig at the Boiler Shop and I was keen to experience this at a more intimate venue. Neil was flanked by a synth player and a percussionist/ programmer whose names I have tried to find and failed miserably. They are incredibly talented and carried the songs with great skill. 

The crowd clearly loved the music and the band and there was dancing and singing along especially on the big hit Living On The Ceiling. The mix of music worked so well. Often older and newer music can grate, however, with Blancmange the music has evolved without losing its individual style. Songs such as What's The Time (from last years Unfinished Rooms) and Feel Me (from 1982's Happy Families) sit comfortably next to each other. The older songs as fresh as the new. Neil likes to cut a bit of the rug on stage, which is good to see. He's a canny mover. The insertion of Fader's (Neil's 2016 project) I Prefer Solitude prompted us to aquire the album from the busy merch desk at the end. The new album Wanderlust was so promising, judging from TV Debate and I Smashed Your Phone, that we picked that up as well. I'm considering breaking a personal rule and reviewing the album.

A superb performance of Blind Vision and a group bow, was then followed by an encore of Waves. Another fabulous gig by Blancmange. The music remains dark, sharply observed  and with a sense of humour, the show is not to be missed. I'd do this again!

Wednesday, 7 November 2018

Afro Celt Sound System Comes To Newcastle!

An Evening with Afro Celt Sound System Saturday 17th November 2018

As Tyne Theatre & Opera House expand their programme of musical events for 2018, they are thrilled to announce An Evening with Afro Celt Sound System on Saturday 17th November.

Formed by Grammy-nominated musician and record producer Simon Emmerson, Afro Celt Sound System are a European and African based collective who’ve been a ground-breaking force in music ever since they started. 

Their acclaimed live performances are energetic and captivating and innovatively combine folk traditions of different cultures to breath-taking effect. They won Best Group in the 2017 Songlines Music Awards.

Simon Emmerson is joined by long-term members’ vocalist, kora and balafon player N’Faly Kouyaté and Dhol drummer Johnny Kalsi. Their live show features contributions from a host of other outstanding musicians including Armagh-born vocalist and flautist Rioghnach Connolly and bodhrán player and percussionist Robbie Harris. They will also be joined by special guests Peter Tickell on fiddle, Ged Lynch on drums, Simon Richmond on keyboards and Lottie Cullen on pipes and whistle. 

With sales now topping one and a half million albums and two Grammy nominations to date, Afro Celt Sound System recently celebrated their 20th Anniversary. The band are currently in the studio writing and recording a much-anticipated follow-up to 2016’s ‘The Source’ which Roots described as “a colossus of an album”.

“Bigger, better and bolder than ever before” Songlines

Tickets are priced £25.50 and are available now from 

Monday, 5 November 2018




In 1980, Kirk Brandon formed THEATRE OF HATE from the ashes of heralded punk band The Pack.  Joining Kirk on vocals were notable punk musicians Stan Stammers and Luke Rendall, along with old school friend, Steve Guthrie and Canadian born John “Boy” Lennard, who revolutionised the band’s sound with his haunting sax lines.
Theatre Of Hate’s debut double-A-side single, “Legion”/”Original Sin”, topped the independent chart in 1980, and “Westworld”, their debut album, produced by Mick Jonesfrom The Clash and released in 1982, held the number one position for 21 weeks.  The single taken from the album, “Do You Believe In The Westworld?” has become an anthem and is still widely played in clubs and on international radio, as well as featuring on numerous compilation albums.
Supporting the likes of The Clash & Ian Dury lead to Theatre Of Hate headlining major venues across the UK & Northern Europe.
Theatre Of Hate imploded in 1982, with Kirk taking Stan forward to form Spear Of Destiny, but the band has resurfaced over the years to play some very special shows.
Having been asked by John Curd to join The Damned for a massive show at London’s infamous Roundhouse in December 2014 the band once again joined the fray. A short set of dates around the London anchor show attracted rave reviews, as did a 6 night night SOLD OUT run in December 2014. (see reviews below)
2015 saw the band play two short jaunts across the UK in April and December both sets of dates wowed large crowds.
During touring in 2014 and 2015 the band constantly recorded at Oxygen Studios in Manchester, the first new studio album in 30+ years is now complete and released via a private pledge! 'Kinshi' was released on October 14th 2016 on CD, Vinyl, Download & Dub to pledgers. The 12 brand new songs are simply stunning.  2018 is looking like a very busy year with the album getting labels releases in Europe & the USA. Shows in the UK, Europe and the USA are already on sale.
Kirk, Stan and John will be joined by current Spear Of Destiny band member Adrian Portas (New Model Army) on guitar and Chris Bell (Hugh Cornwall) on drums to pay homage to the iconic TOH sound.  
1.Sensou Tour 2018
Fri 9th BRIGHTON Patterns
Sat 10th LEUVEN Het Depot
Sat 17th ST BRIEUC Ink' Mas Street Party
Wed 28th NORWICH Waterfront
Thur 29th NUNEATON Queens Hall
Fri 30th LEEDS Brudenell Social Club
Sat 1st STOCKTON Georgian Theatre
Sun 2nd GLASGOW King Tuts
Mon 3rd BRISTOL The Fleece
Fri 7th DUNFERMLINE PJ Malloys
Sat 8th HUDDERSFIELD The Parish
Sun 9th WREXHAM Live Rooms
Thur 13th NOTTINGHAM Rescue Rooms
Fri 14th SOUTHEND Chinnerys
Sat 15th MANCHESTER Academy – SOLD OUT
Sun 16th LONDON Islington Assembly

Advance Tickets & Venue Information

Release Date: 9/11/18
10” Vinyl/CD+DVD/Download

John Fairhurst winter tour ..album coming 2019




British blues-rock prodigy -  JOHN FAIRHURST - is gearing up to greet the new year head-on as he blasts out of 2018 with a sixteen date tour this Winter. 

On the eve of the tour, Fairhurst is delighted to share a new live video of his set-staple ‘Hungry Blues’ - which you can watch here:

Recorded at Tottenham’s That Sound Studio, this 9-minute free-wheeling thriller offers an exhilarating example of the firepower the world class bluesman will be bringing to his Winter UK shows. 

Kicking off at Bristol’s The Golden Lion this Friday, the UK jaunt will see Fairhurst making pit-stops in Bristol, Exeter, London, Newcastle, Manchester, Southampton, Brighton, and beyond, before bringing proceedings to close at Sheffield’s Yellow Arch Studios in December. Full dates and details outlined below. 

Channelling a kaleidoscope of sounds, Fairhurst is a master of shifting between his customary acoustic solo Delta Blues show, to a powerful raw rock duo. With Toby Murray on drums, the pair hit the road in November for a full UK tour to preview material from what will be Fairhurst’s first studio album in 5 years (currently expected 2019). 

Through an expansive and patient stomp, Fairhurst and Murray circle around each other with menacing intent, plotting gory revenge over 6 minutes, drawing equally on the fire and grit of Black Sabbath and Tom Waits.

A John Fairhurst show is a true testimony of his versatility, capable of captivating audiences across UK, Europe, the US, Canada, New Zealand, Australia and South East Asia as a solo artist armed simply with his trademark resonator or supported by the flair of Toby’s percussion; his music takes the audience on a musical voyage of spell binding improvisations drawing freely from a rich tapestry of influences that span from the Mississippi to the Ganges and all that is worthy in between. As a duo, Fairhurst and Murray draw freely from rock, blues and world music, with a penchant for slide guitar and through his distinctive deep growling voice, the songs, delivered in pure raconteur style, narrate the hardships of a life on the road and the bleakness of our times.

John Fairhurst has for the last 5 years been constantly touring, visiting The Netherlands, The UK, Poland, Belgium and The Czech Republic on his travels. His headline slot at the Blues Alive Festival was aired across Czech National Television, while his music has also featured on several international TV soundtracks including The Commonwealth Games, BBC’s Panorama, The Americas Cup Boat Race and movies ’Plan Z’, ‘The Beat Beneath My Feet’ and Martin Scorsese produced feature,’ Tomorrow’. In 2017 Acoustic Guitar Magazine USA hailed Fairhurst as one of the Top 3 Resonator guitar players worldwide - the only European on the list. He kick-started 2018 performing alongside American Primitive guitar luminary Charlie Parr in Belgium before decamping to Panama to perform at Global Tribal Gathering, where he performed both his own show and two live performances with Dub godfather Mad Professor.

Following 2014's highly acclaimed ‘Saltwater’, Fairhurst is currently preparing his first album in over half a decade. The album, scheduled for release in the Spring, promises a real melting pot of diverse musical influences and styles drawn from all of his experience. He will again be working with his long term go-to producers Alex Beitzke and Bradley Spence (Radiohead, Prince, Florence and the Machine, Stereophonics, Iron Maiden, The Strypes, Kasabian). 

Get an early taste of the record at Fairhurst’s Winter UK tour. Don’t miss out… :


NOV 02 - Golden Lion - Bristol
NOV 03 - Phoenix - Exeter
NOV 09 - The Con Club - Lewes
NOV 10 - Thousand Island - London
NOV 14 - The Cluny 2 - Newcastle Upon Tyne
NOV 15 - Eagle Inn - Manchester
NOV 17 - Ty Pawb Art Gallery - Wrexham

NOV 18  - The Musician - Leicester
NOV 21 - The Joiners - Southampton
NOV 22 - Old Bakery Studios - Cornwall 
NOV 23 - The Underground - Plymouth
NOV 24 - The Palladium Club - Bideford
NOV 29 - The Brunswick - Brighton
NOV 30 - Holroyd Arms - Guildford
DEC 01 - The Lost ARC - Rhayader 
DEC 02 - Yellow Arch Studios - Sheffield

Tickets on Sale now from: 




JORDAN ALLEN : New single, video, tour




With eyes locked on the dance floor, JORDAN ALLEN, are back to raid your local indie disco with their simmering latest single: ‘Naked’. 

With sultry shades of Pulp, Friendly Fires and Foals, ‘Naked’ is a hip-swinging and anthemic new addition to the Bolton band’s catalogue. Fitted-out with a chest beating chorus, a cocksure guitar strut and even a 90s Ibiza-inspired break down (yes really!), ‘Naked’ is engineered to have you let-go your inhibitions and arrives as the band’s most sonically diverse and biggest sounding release to date.

Beyond the brave new stylings and its cheeky title (an in-joke of the band, its original working title was ‘Without Any Clothes’ it would seem), there is of course Jordan’s unique turn of phrase and compelling bare-all lyrics that make stand him out from the pack. Speaking about the track’s sensitive subject matter, Jordan says:
“‘Naked’ is about how trying to change the way you live your life to suit someone else doesn't not work, not matter how much it feels like they are the right person for you. If you can't be yourself with someone, they will never truly get to know you, no matter how much you enjoy each others company or how you think you can or should change to make them think better of you. Towards the end of the track the lyrics ‘you can't believe it, it's going cold, why can't you see that we're juxtaposed" hammer home that this isn't always something the other person will understand or handle particularly well.”’

The single arrives with apt cover art of an exposed heart as designed by emerging artist and friend of the band David Considine.

Much like their adventurous and most radio-played single to date, ‘Synchronised’, which received airplay across Radio X, BBC Introducing, XS Manchester and beyond, ‘Naked’ shows that Jordan Allen are anything but a one trick pony. As Jordan adds:
“We want to be don't want to be a band that releases the same song over and over again. Every track has to have a unique style and feel, we want to be a band from which you can expect the unexpected while still capturing the energy we're renowned for when we play live.” 
Bristling with ideas and clearly hungry to show the world what they’re made of, the band will be taking their bold new material out to be consumed on the global stage as they line up their first international shows next month at Canadian Indie Week.

With their live show well-honed after some dates in front of big audiences on tour with The Bluetones and The Sherlocks this Autumn, the band will be giving it 110% in Toronto before returning home for their own headline UK live dates throughout November and December. See Full dates and details below.



6-11 November - Indie Week Canada, Toronto, Various Venues
15 - Hy Brasil, Bristol - Headline
16 - Heartbreakers, Southampton - Headline
17 - Tramshed, Cardiff - Headline
18 - Camden Assembly, London - Headline
20 - Underground, Plymouth - Headline
22 - Birmingham Sunflower Lounge - Headline
30 - Arts Club, Liverpool - Headline

1 - Independent, Sunderland - Headline
2 - The Garage, Glasgow - Headline
3 - Sneaky Pete’s, Edinburgh - Headline
4 - Think Tank, Newcastle – Headline
5 - Key Club, Leeds - Headline

Comprising the formidable talents of Danny Quin (Guitar), Kieran Loughran (Bass), Nathan Howard (Drums), and front man Jordan Allen (Guitar, Vocals), this Greater Manchester four piece continue to surprise and captivate with every radio-storming single and riot-inducing gig fixture they put their name to.

As their promising future continues to unfold, so far the band have hurtled through sets at major festivals such as Isle of Wight, Truck Festival, Kendal Calling, Y-Not and Isle Of Wight; had a blast on the road with touring buddies The Sherlocks including an incredible performance to a 2500 capacity crowd at Manchester Academy; bothered the airwaves once more with the unleashing of rowdy fan-favourites ‘Synchronised’, ’R.O.S.I.E’ (as produced by David Rahad-Jones) and ‘110 Ways to Make Things Better’ which both tallied up plays on BBC Introducing, BBC Radio 6Music, and Radio X-Posure Playlist as well as being made Mark Richardson’s Record Of The Week on Virgin Radio ; bowled fans new and old over with a 16 date sell-out UK winter headline tour; plus, to cap it off the band were even granted the honour of illuminating the Bolton Christmas Lights.
Propagators of intelligent rock’n’roll with true heart, Jordan Allen are a band you can believe in. 

Twitter: @JordanAllenUK/
Instagram @jordanallenuk

Afro Celt Sound System had them dancing in the aisles!

The Tyne Opera House Gets Jiggy With The Afro Celt Sound System I don't claim to know a lot about the Afro Celt Sound Sy...