Erland And The Carnival, Chased By Wolves And The Winter Hill Transmission. Middlesbrough 23/09/10


“An earwig crawled into my ear. Made a meal of the wax and hair. Phoned friends had an insect party. But all I could hear was the bass drum drum. All I could hear was the bass drum drum.” (Skullduggery by James. Stutter 1986)

Most reviews begin with the support and work their way through to the headlining band. I suppose this makes sense as the review runs in the order that the bands did. Does that make sense? Well, its 7:00 am on the Sunday after the Thursday night before so I’m going to do what I like. As most of you will know there is a club in Middlesbrough called The Westgarth. It regularly puts bands on. A lot of these are done by The Kids are Solid Gold which is Sir Phil “The esteemed” Carey and his trustworthy side-kick Andy Carr. Now everyone knows that Andy is the brains behind the operation. (Sorry Phil, but I think you got the looks!!!) Here at The Northern Line we try to make it to every gig they put on. In normal circumstances this would mean enduring some good and some bad bands. But not here. Every gig has something special. Not all the headliners have been great but if they aren’t it is a guarantee that at least one or more of the supports will be excellent. If the supports are weak the headliners will blow your mind. Most gigs combine the two and you get to see not only 2 or even 3 brilliant support bands but a headliner that should be filling stadiums not the upstairs room in a club in Boro on a wet Thursday night. Tonight was again one of those nights when we were honoured to receive not one, not two, but three excellent performances. Erland & the Carnival, tonights headliners, are brilliant. Not good, not ok, but absolute classic masterpieces as Lawerence would say. I’ve had the album for a while and liked it. It reminds me of Stutter, that fabulous debut by James when they still wore big jumpers, shaved their heads and ate veggie food. It has hints of The Coral and Nick Drake. But it didn’t prepare me for tonights aural assault. The singer combines elements of Nick Cave, Ian Curtis and a bit of Leonard Cohen. He captivates the audience and the band provide tune after tune after tune. They play for at least an hour but it honestly felt like 10 minutes. Jonathan Fire Eater also spring to my mind. (Anyone remember them? They mutated into The Walkmen, if my memory serves me well?) Songs from the album are played and enjoyed but the new songs (names I don’t know yet) are even better. The second album, on tonights performance, is going to be a belter. This is how Andy Carr described the band before the show;

“Next up for us is Simon Tong’s new band. The ex-Verve, Blur and The Good,
the Bad & the Queen man brings his critically acclaimed nu-folk outfit to
town tonight for a debut Teesside show. E&TC’s debut album received
brilliant reviews and we were actually expecting to put them on back in May
but they were subsequently asked by Paul Weller to support him over four
nights at the Royal Albert Hall and we missed out back then. However, good
things come to those that wait and we’ve finally been able to land them -
well worth the wait, we’re sure.”

It was well worth the wait and we wont be waiting as long to go and see them again. Next up in the review and in reverse order, still with me? are Chased by Wolves. Here at The Northern Line we have come across these scamps before. At the Stockton Riverside Festival in the summer. Tonight they are doing an acoustic set. Although not as instant as they were in the summer I found their atmospheric sound quite beguilling. The female singer has a superb voice and tonight in the acoustic setting it stood out far more than on the bigger stage at Stockton. Can’t work out if I like them more rocking than rolling gently along. I think both have their merits. Looking forward to the forthcoming album that they promised.

“I have really let myself go. I have. I have really let myself go. My hair is as long as the dandelions stalks grow.” (April Snow)

Final band on are one of my new favourites; The Winter Hill Transmission. I am sat now listening to the 3 track CD they had on sale. Over and over and its great. The 3 tracks are all aired at tonights show. If I ever see you again, April Snow and How could we ever know are all stunners. Again the band and sound that jumps out at me is James, and their early Factory recordings, and their debut; Stutter. That folky, chanty, swirling sound with off the wall lyrics about dandelions, bumble bees, twister and solitaire. We look forward to seeing them again and involving them in some Northern Line shenanigans in the future.

The Kids are Solid Gold have some great things lined up for the rest of the year. So many that we are going to have to do a separate feature rather than tag it all onto the bottom of this review. Keep those eyes peeled.

A big thank-you to Phil & Andy and all at the Westgarth for providing the good people of Middlesbrough with such fantastic entertainment. A big thanks to Simon Carey for providing the photos from his new iphone. Don’t give up the day job. Whatever that may be!






By peter on September 26, 2010

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1 Comment » RSS Comment Feed

  1. Quite enjoyed the gig too. For Erland and the Carnival I think you need to mention the Doors with what was going on on the keyboards.

    Comment by Yaffa — September 26, 2010 @ 8:54 am

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