Alphabetti Theatre, Newcastle
26th May 2016.
Established back in 2013 Sofar Sounds was on the idea for bringing musicians into your living room, although you don’t know who it’s going to be until the day before, or you turn up to the location. It a real treat for true for music lovers. There’s no bar, so no loud people talking over each other. You are there for the love of music and for the respect of the artist alone.
I have only been to one back in October 2015. We were actually in someone’s living room, but fast-forward to May 26th, 2016 and we are in the Alphabetti Theatre in Newcastle city centre.
Unlike the previous gig, I got a bit of inside info of the opening act so had known for a few months they were appearing; and it was so hard to keep the secret, even though I wanted to shout it from the rooftops.
I love music. I love discovering music. About this time last year I delved into all those music upload sites trying to find new sounds, then I heard an artist who I have now fallen head over heals for called Robyn Sherwell; and it was from one of her Sofar Sounds playlists that I discovered tonight’s opening act Oh Sister!
From the very first second on hearing For The Dales by Oh Sister I knew I had found something special and I have now made three journeys on the Big Blue Bus to London and back specifically to see this act and I have been asking time and time again, ‘when are you coming to Newcastle?
Half of the band did come tonight and they were far from the ‘dire version’ of Oh Sister that lead singer Sarah described; but I may be biased.
But, I believe tonight was the first time most people in the room had even heard of Oh Sister, so they wouldn’t know any better yet I saw a lot of CDs being bought and can vouch that they witnessed something special as this performance was very stripped back and without the electro beats you hear on their debut EP Watch The Water. In place of the beats was a bit of audience participation. Sometimes these things can be a bit cheesy but there’s something about the way a Sofar Sounds audience gets involved with these things that made it very far from cheesy. In fact I think we could feature on the next EP!
Well, Sophie the other half of the half that made the journey up actually did some superb backing vocals; and she normally plays electric guitar but tonight she was without and she complimented Sarah to a T.
Normally a Sofar Sounds night has three acts, but unfortunately one act had to pull out due to illness but on hearing who was going to close the act most of us in the know got quite excited.
From the Southern most city in the North East, up and coming Sunderland act Lilliput were the headliners. Again, a few members were missing; but we still had five of the six members and they all squeezed into the tiny space perfectly. I have only seen Lilliput a few times with the last time being the summer of 2014, when they had a spot on a local festival stage so it was a totally different experience to tonight, which was a very stripped back sound full of harmonies. Plus Lilliput even managed to bring a little bit of funk to the room with added ‘coat hanger’ from Joe. We are told the songs were all from an imminent album that was recorded a few months ago in Liverpool and from tonight I will say I shall be one of the first buying this on release. There was a lot of banter between the band members and they made the audience feel very much part of it too as there was a lot of laughter in between the songs. I very much fell in love with their harmonies all over again like the very first time I saw them.
Although I have traveled a lot this past year to London to see some of my favourite new discoveries, this is by no means a reflection of the North East music scene. The North East has a vibrant music scene and it is special that we get to see them in environments like a Sofar Sounds and that local musicians that sometimes slip by me get put on the bill. Although Sarah from Oh Sister is now residing in London it was great to see her play the North and it was brilliant that Lilliput crossed over to the other side of the North East. This Sofar Sounds was a special night of some very special talent and a huge credit to the team for making this happen in boroughs of Tyne and Wear. Sofar North East is taking a little break over the summer and they could not have had a better send off than having these two acts on the bill.
Courtesy Victoria Ling aka Li’l Vik