Monday, 24 February 2014

Review: Nine Below Zero at The Cluny, Newcastle 22/02/14

Blues Rockers Return to The Toon

I last saw Nine Below Zero last May at the Cluny and their onstage performance blew me away. So the opportunity to see them again was not to be passed up. This gig was a little different, with a selection of songs the lads recorded with tonight's guest Ben Water's as well as a few Nine Below Zero standards.
Another change, as well as the addition of a boogie woogie piano from Ben was some sax from Ben's son Tom. At only 13 Tom is an accomplished blues saxophonist and impressed the crowd no end.

This was an outstanding performance which had me smiling all the way though, while trying to handle my camera, a beer and dance at the same time. Nine Below Zero are blues-rock experts with every one of them an exemplary musician.
After 4 decades in the game Nine Below Zero still show their love for the genre and clearly enjoy their live work. This is what makes every gig a corker. This crowd left very happy.

If you missed them this time they are back in Newcastle next month supporting The Stranglers, on their 40th Anniversary Tour at the O2 Academy on March 14th. You can buy tickets online here or save yourself a booking fee and get them direct from the box office using cash...I would always advise this if you can do it. 

Sunday, 23 February 2014

Review: Emergency Door Release return to the stage @EDRband at @O2Academynewc

Emergency Door Release
Please the Twang Crowd

I could review the whole gig, but in truth I was at the O2 to see EDR in their support slot for returning indie rockers The Twang and 90's baggy revivalists the Towns. To be fair, 3 great bands on the bill. But, as I say my reason for attending this gig was to see just how good is this band? After all I've taken them on as a PR client, and heard only a couple of songs. They are good tunes, but I wanted to see them play a full set and watch how they interact with a crowd, and each other. I was not disappointed.

James Rooney is a confident and likeable frontman. He didn't allow the audience to be passive and encouraged the requisite amount of dancing and bouncing about. It was clear that a good portion of the audience were Emergency Door Release fans and as the band went through their repertoire, it was met with a positive response from the crowd. The band have been working hard to prepare for this gig and it showed in their performance. They work really well together on stage with a pleasant chemistry which is great to see. New drummer Adam Pizey..only 18, the "baby" of the band was apparently slightly "bricking it" before the gig. This did not show in his superb rendering of rhythm for every song. 
With Tom Backhouse providing some very tasty guitar and the perspicacious pickings of the bass from David Lloyd, this is a great band.
I'm really glad to have them as a client and I'm looking forward to sharing all their new music. If you like the rythmic style of The Jam, there's a bit of that. But there's something else. The Wedding Present have been mentioned in reviews, but I'm not sure. I just like the energy of both the songs and the band, and with a pack of great tunes up their sleeve and a whole lot of ambition, they'll go far. 
New releases and and a UK tour is planned. As Tom Robinson said of EDR, "Watch this space". I bought their pre-release single Watch Out on CD..yeah I know, but it was only a quid and the young 'un wanted it to play incessantly in his bedroom. And it really is a good song, so look out for the official release.

You can see Emergency Door Release strutting their stuff again, headlining the Head of Steam on Friday 7th March. No excuse, not a school night, great beer and cracking tunes guaranteed. See you there!

Jo Oliver
Jowheretogo PR

Wednesday, 19 February 2014

Vintage Fashion, Food, Music and Fun in Ouseburn opening 14th March

The Small Change Warehouse:
A Big Change in Ouseburn

The Ouseburn area is fast becoming the centre of musical and artistic industry and leisure in Newcastle. Printworks, art galleries, recording studios and  practice rooms all mean work and creativity for a great number of people.
Jeans and shirts galore.

The newest addition to the art and music community of Ouseburn is the The Small Change Warehouse at the top of Stepney Bank next door to the Star and Shadow Cinema. The converted warehouse is home to a number of small businesses where you can while away a happy afternoon, or have a great time at a gig. Coffee and Cigarettes is a comfortable bohemian coffee house with a kitchen serving vegan food from a Texan-style trailer called Starving in the Belly of a Whale and a large, heated outdoor smoking area. You can enjoy free pool, mini golf (crazy, recycled and nautical) and darts, browse in the Knowing Flame comic book shop and look around Small Change , the large vintage clothing warehouse and get yourself something really individual for your night out. The lovely range of furry hats at around £10 are very tempting in this weather.

The clothes really are inexpensive and you could walk away with a whole new wardrobe for the price of a new coat. If you want something bespoke, there's an in-house dressmaker: Ebb And Sew, and enough shoes to placate Mrs Marcos's ghost. The building also houses the successful online vintage clothes retailer Thrifty Beatnik.

Bands can benefit from a demo-recording service from Oli Heffernan of Ack Ack Records and get their own guitar effects pedals made to order. Band T-Shirts can be printed, any colour you want as long as it's black on white. The Heart Attack and Vine venue is back but at this new location and multiplied by two. The venues will run on a "bring your own beer" basis for the time being and promises to a be a new exciting live music location.
Everyone needs at least one feather boa!

Artists can display, free of charge, their work around the building. There is to be a cinema especially for the screening of the work of independent film makers. This complex will truly cover a large part of the arts spectrum. There are also chickens, and an allotment, to bring a bit of nature into the venture.

The opening night is going to be a big one with something happening all over the complex. On the 14th March music, provided by Year of Birds and support,will be in the Heart Attack and Vine. The venue will be decorated, or defaced, depending on your point of view, by Roberta Louise Green. More bands will be playing in Coffee and Cigarettes on opening night and the Starving in the Belly of A Whale trailer will be challenging you to consume the World's Hottest Chilli Burger or help yourself to some free vegan food. The The Ocean Doesn't Want Me recycled mini golf  course will have its grand opening and the Small Change vintage warehouse will be playing vinyl-only jazz. Ebb and Sew will have their launch and there will be a comic book auction in Knowing Flame

Tuesday, 18 February 2014

@Opera_North return to @TheatreRoyalNew



Opera North returns to the Theatre Royal, Newcastle this March with the Company’s first productions of 2014, featuring a long-awaited and critically acclaimed new production of Puccini’s thrilling opera of the American West, The Girl of the Golden West.

Dubbed ‘the original Spaghetti Western,’ The Girl of the Golden West is a story of true love and second chances, set in a tough mining camp during the California Gold Rush. Puccini’s melodic gift and rich orchestral score is a perfect match for the love triangle between Dick Johnson, also known as the bandit Ramerrez, the embittered Sheriff Jack Rance, and Minnie, the Girl of the title, who runs the Polka saloon.

The intensely lyrical and human score reflects the maturity of Puccini’s characters, experienced in life yet unhardened by it. Filled with delicately poignant moments, this opera presents a dramatic and stunningly beautiful love story, featuring powerful performances from Lancastrian soprano Alwyn Mellor, as Minnie, Mexican tenor Rafael Rojas as Ramerrez, and baritone Robert Hayward as Jack Rance.

Conducted by Opera North’s music director, Richard Farnes, this new production is directed by Aletta Collins, who returns to the Company following the success of her double-bill ofLa voix humaine and Dido and Aeneas which visited the Theatre Royal last year.

Joining The Girl of the Golden West this March is director Tim Albery's gripping production of Macbethwhich returns to the Company following the huge success of Albery’s Otelloin Winter 2013. This excitingly dramatic, modern-dress production depicts the vivid world of the supernatural through the “bleak and elegantly styled” design of Johan Engels.

Seduced by a dark prophecy and goaded by his wife, the warrior Macbeth becomes consumed by ambition. Having murdered the king, he discovers that to keep power, more and more blood must be spilt. Verdi described Shakespeare's play as 'one of mankind's greatest creations,' and filled his opera with music of extravagance and true originality, of which the famous chorus of Scottish refugees, “Patria oppressa!,” is just one of the many highlights.

The Hungarian baritone Béla Perencz, who regularly performs with the Hungarian State Opera, returns to Opera North to sing Macbeth after his critically acclaimed performance as Wotan in Die Walküre last year.

American soprano Kelly Cae Hogan will take on the role of Lady Macbeth having flown in at extremely short notice to sing Brünnhilde for the first two performances of Die Walkure.Kelly works extensively in Europe and the US, and her roles include Blanche Du Bois in A Streetcar named Desire for Norfolk (2013), Leonore in Fidelio (2012) for Kassel and the title role in both Norma (2012) in Bonn and Salome in Phoenix (2009).

Opera North completes this visit to the Theatre Royal with a charming journey through the music of the renowned ‘City of Romance’ in From Paris with Love.

This special theatrical concert explores the music that helped create the iconic images of Paris as the most romantic city in the world, and the heart of all things bohemian. Leading soloists Jeni Bern, Peter Auty, Geoffrey Dolton and Gabriela Iştoc join forces with the ladies of the Chorus of Opera North to delve into sparkling classical favourites which capture the timeless character of Paris, including 'Musetta's Waltz' from Puccini's La Bohème and arias and duets by Massenet and Charpentier.

Leaving the glamour of the French opera, the evening turns to the intimate cabarets and bustling cafés of Montmartre, infused with cigarette smoke and with the songs of love and heartbreak popularised by Edith Piaf and Jacques Brel. James Holmes leads the on-stage café band and soloists in songs including La vie en rose, L'accordeoniste, and Paris, tu na's pas change. The programme ends in the seductive underworld of the Moulin Rouge, with Offenbach's 'Galop Infernal' better known as the music from the ‘Can-Can.’

Soprano Jeni Bern returns to Opera North after singing the roles of Tytania in A Midsummer Night’s Dream (2013) and Musetta in La Bohème (2010). Romanian soprano Gabriela Iştoc performs with Opera North for the first time, ahead of taking the role of Mimi in the Company's upcoming production of La Bohème (2014).

Tenor Peter Auty has made recent appearances with Opera North in two of the most famous of French operas, as Don José in Bizet’s Carmen (2011), and in the title role in Gounod’sFaust (2012), while baritone Geoffrey Dolton is also a familiar face to Opera North audiences. His previous roles include Baron Zeta in Franz Lehár’s operetta The Merry Widow(2010) and Starveling in A Midsummer Night’s Dream (2013).

Richard Mantle, Opera North’s general director commented: “Not since the mid-1980s have Opera North audiences had the opportunity to revel in the exhilarating score Puccini created for the  rip-roaring tale of The Girl of the Golden West, for which we are delighted to welcome back Aletta Collins, one of the most imaginative young British directors working in theatres  today. For Tim Albery’s gripping production of Macbeth the central roles will be performed by Béla Perencz and Kelly Cae Hogan as Macbeth and Lady Macbeth respectively, who gave sensational performances as Wotan and Brünnhilde in our Die Walküre  last year. We also look forward to whisking our audiences off to the quintessential city of romance in our musical love letter to all things bohemian – From Paris with Love: Puccini to Piaf.”

Opera North are at Newcastle Theatre Royal from Tuesday 11 March until Saturday 15 March. Tickets are available from £15 (a booking fee of 95p - £1.95 will apply to most tickets) and can be purchased from the Theatre Royal Box Office on 08448 11 21 21 or select your own seat and book online at

Tuesday, 11 February 2014

Review: Women of Troy at People's Theatre

Euripides Classic adapted by Don Taylor

Unaccustomed as I am to Greek tragedy, this does not compare to the unfamiliarity of the situation in which the characters in this story found themselves. Noble women suddenly find themselves with no men, no subjects, no servants and a falling country. Queen Hecuba, widow of Priam, King of Troy left us in no doubt as to the level of her loss and despair. Played tirelessly by Rye Mattick, Hecuba has lost her sons and sees her young grandson taken away by the Greek soldiers to be killed as he is seen as a threat despite his youth. The women are variously to be taken back to Greece to be enslaved, married off, made concubines or just killed. Not only do they suffer the loss of their children and husbands but they will suffer the rest of their lives as paupers. This is too much for someone like Hecuba to bear, her sorrow for her family more than equalled by her sense of loss for her royal lifestyle. Hecuba's daughter, Cassandra is a prophetess and clearly out her mind, but sees her imminent marriage to a powerful Greek as an opportunity for revenge. Cassandra's hysteria was played expertly by Kelly Godfrey. 

Helen the instigator of all this strife between Greece and Troy, was played in a manner I recognise slightly from Horrible Histories by Emma Jane Richards. But this is exactly as we imagine this awful woman. She is portrayed as a manipulative, power hungry hussy who is hated by the women of Troy for her betrayal of her Greek husband and bringing the terrible retribution upon Troy. The Greek men were all dressed in modern military uniform, as was the god Poseidon in his naval uniform, separating the men from the women using the era of their clothing. The show started in modern Syria with Syrian women being ushered into captivity by allied troupes before the situation was taken back to Euripides version of the story of the fall of Troy.
The cast were utterly absorbed in this performance and played their parts with complete conviction and the subtle use of music enhanced the atmosphere at just the right time. This was an amateur production but the passion the players put into it raised it to a higher level. I've decided, however Greek tragedies are not for me. 

Words: Joanne Oliver

Tuesday, 4 February 2014

@Ninebelowzero1 coming to @thecluny & @theSpaSaltburn on 22nd and 21st Feb

Nine Below Zero Return to The Cluny with Ben Waters

London blues-influenced band Nine Below Zero will be joined on stage by world-renowned boogie woogie piano player Ben Waters, who has played with the likes of The Rolling Stones, Chuck Berry and Jerry Lee Lewis at The Cluny in Newcastle on Saturday February 22.

Travelling the world for more than 20 years, Ben’s reputation as an internationally acclaimed musician was learned the hard way – playing in every imaginable type of venue from the bottom of whisky vats to the Royal Albert Hall and the Royal Festival Hall where he and his band were selected by Ray Davies as one of his 12 favourite bands to perform at his Meltdown Festival.

In 2013 he recorded the album Boogie4Stu, and was joined by all the Rolling Stones, PJ Harvey and Jools Holland - who loaned his studio - in aid of the British Heart Foundation in memory of The Stones' pianist Ian Stewart.

Nine Below Zero's frontman Dennis Greaves said, " We are delighted to be able to get Ben to join us for a whole a month, for nine dates. He is very much in demand around the world. But the few gigs we did together in 2013 went so well, we all agreed we wanted to play more.

"Ben brings a huge extra dimension to the band, and it's great for me to allow him to take the lead at times and for me to play over and around him. I think our fans will be delighted with just how deep and rich the sound is."

Nine Below Zero built an almost obsessive following in the early 1980 with their take on American blues, while maintaining the energy of punk in their live performances. It was captured in their first album, Live At The Marquee, which was re-released towards the end of 2012.

Frontman and founding member Dennis Greaves said: "We decided to put it out again after Universal found some film from the night that we didn’t know still existed. They also found the encores we did, which were not on the original album. In those days, you couldn’t get much more than about 50 minutes on a album. So this will be of great interest to our fans."

Nine Below’s success continued to build during the 1980s. They performed their single 11+11 on the first episode of cult TV show The Young Ones, featured in a South Bank Show and supported both The Who and The Kinks. However, at this point the band split up and Dennis formed The Truth, who enjoyed two UK top 20 hits. But in 1990, Nine Below reformed for their 10th anniversary and sold out the Town and Country (now the Forum) in London.

Dennis said:"It was great to see the fans still had the appetite for what we were doing."

A sell-out UK tour followed and the band were invited to join the likes of Eric Clapton, Ray Davies and Brian May

Dennis Greaves will play along side his friend of more than 30 years, also a founding member of Nine Below Zero, harmonica player Mark Feltham.

Mark is regarded as one of the leading harmonica players in the UK and has appeared on albums by by the likes of Oasis, Robbie Williams, Johnny Cash, Texas, Joan Armatrading and Will Young. He has also played on countless movie soundtracks, including Tootsie, Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels and Notting Hill.
Unlike many bands who reform and just play their back catalogue, Nine Below Zero have continually gone back into the studio to record new material. Their last studio album, Never Too Late, released in 2011 gained wide critical acclaim and an album of new material will be released later this year.

More than 35 years after forming, Nine Below Zero are shaping up for a busy 2014. They have just released a digital only best of, A to Zed and Universal are reissuing two of the bands A&M albums, Don't Point Your Finger and Third Degree. Both will be double CD releases, with a live performance and unreleased tracks.

To mark their release, NBZ are reforming their classic line-up for an extensive tour of the UK and Europe.

Nine Below Zero, with Ben Waters, play The Cluny, Lime Street, Newcastle, NE1 2PQ on February 22. For tickets call 0191 2304474. Or buy online here.
But not before they play the Spa Hotel, Saltburn on Sea TS12 1HH on Friday 21st February.
All photos ©Jowheretogo...I find them anywhere without my permission, I may chin ya! (in law not a threat as it is conditional)  Jo

Sunday, 2 February 2014

Review of Dracula at Queens Hall, Hexham

Found on Steve Oliver's blog
Dracula finds fresh blood.

Beautiful girls with mysterious puncture wounds in their necks? Count Dracula must be in town!

Dracula has been a part of modern culture for over a hundred years. It has been the subject of countless films and plays through its clear imagery. The Blackeyed Theatre Company aim to produce honest touring plays that will attract audiences around the mid-sized venues. In their interpretation we have a fast paced play in which the 5 extremely hard working actors succeed in covering a variety of roles in this highly efficient and entertaining production.

Jonathan Harker (Will Bryant) has passed his law exams and has been sent to Transylvania to sort out the personal affairs of Count Dracula (Paul Kevin-Taylor). His fiancé Mina (Rachel Winters) agrees to get married beforehand and decides to visit her romantic friend Lucy (Katrina Gibson) in Whitby. Meanwhile Doctor Seward (Gareth Cooper) studies his inmates, including Renfield (also Will Bryant) at the asylum near to the new house that the Count plans to buy.

Once the scenario is set up the play unfolds at a rapid pace. The ensemble occasionally turn musicians and we are entertained to a number of songs and a musical journey through Europe for our intrepid Harker.   John Ginman’s script remains faithful to the Bram Stoker text. The sometimes brutal Victorian turn of phrase producing the occasional laugh from the audience. Eliot Giuralarocca’s direction is in a style that we imagine to be contemporary to its story. Keeping pace on stage is a challenge for any play and the flow is helped by Victoria Spearing’s set design and Charlotte McClelland’s lighting.

Act 2 brings a return of the story to England and Professor Van Helsing, also played by Paul Kevin-Taylor, seeks to solve the mystery of Lucy’s health problems and the disappearing children. The audience, who are used to computerised special effects on the screen gasped as the previously empty coffin suddenly had a body on it. More special effects were to come as Lucy had had head cut off resulting in applause from the appreciative crowd.

After two hours of pure theatre the five highly skilled actors took their well deserved curtain call, as they had carried us through the whirlwind of a story without any cynicism.  Too often is theatre seen as been too elitist and removed. This production won over the folk of Hexham and at just £10 a ticket it was brilliant value.  Final mention goes to Paul Kevin-Taylor’s Dracula who managed to freak out the audience at the end. He had everyone in his grasp and produced a memorable finale.

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