Hector Gannet Live at Hall 2, Sage Gateshead

Hector Gannet
Hall 2
Sage Gateshead
Saturday May 6th 2023

Before a guitar was strummed, a lone voice filled Sage 2; filmed in 1944 following the re-opening of Tyneside’s shipyards at the start of the World War 2 a cloth-capped Geordie states
 ”Tyneside’s busy enough today,
owldens and youngens hard at work makin’ good ships…
will it be the same again five years from now?” 
The  footage, courtesy of the North East Film Archive plays on a screen above the heads of Aaron Duff and his band as the music kicks in.
Tonight’s opener – The Launch was taken from their 2020 debut album Big Harcar – it’s a beautiful, largely instrumental track with only the haunting, echoey lines

 ‘When you’re ready to go, let me know’ transporting us backwards. 

Of course, this historic newsreel/live music territory has been richly mined of late by Public Service Broadcasting, but there’s a feeling tonight that Hector Gannet’s short cinematic opening set has meaning beyond entertainment; beyond commercial aspirations, beyond nostalgia.
It gave a sense of community perhaps, a sense of pride, not only in Tyneside’s industrial heritage, but pride in a band, who are on the verge of taking a step up on the music industry’s notoriously slippery ladder.

There was no support act tonight, just two Hector Gannet sets.
However, there was an interlude of sorts which featured a presentation from eco-tourism social enterprise Wild Intrigue, whose stated aim is to inspire, educate and re-wild. 
Cain Scimgeour skillfully managed to hold onto a [live music] crowd armed only with words and a few visuals and told us that after spending six months out at sea, our neighbours, the Kittiwakes return to nest on the buildings and bridges of the Tyne and as we are well aware, their calls are the audio to a jog and/or a pint along the quayside.

The second set kicked off with Emmanuel Head, the opening track from Hector Gannet’s latest release The Land Belongs to Us and there was more film, some beautiful drone footage of the white pyramid beacon at Emmanuel Head on the north eastern point of Holy Island.
It was the affecting Last of the Buffalo that marked the halfway point of the set, then bathed in gorgeous white LED spotlights, songwriter/frontman Aaron James Duff stepped forward and performed two solo tracks; The Wailing Wall and Serpentine. 
He then told us that Alan Hull’s family were with us [‘no pressure then’] as the full band returned for their version of Hull’s Blue Murder lifted from songwriter’s 1973 solo album Pipedream and also featured on 2023’s The Land Belongs to Us.

Much of Hector Gannet’s appeal lies in their love and respect for the environment (generally) and the land and sea north of the River Tyne (specifically).
The set peaked with the atmospheric Into The Deep, performed against a backdrop of stunning animation by Newcastle artist Deborah Snell – conceivably, it’s music in a genre all of its own – EAR – Environmentally Aware Rock.
Copyright pending!

I spotted a bottle of Brown Ale in the crowd, held aloft in a time-honoured salute to a local hero.
A show of kinship and respect for a young Geordie musician who is following in the footsteps of those who have gone before. The songs, though contemporary and original, have their roots in the teachings of Dylan, Neil Young and of course, local hero Alan Hull.
The bands love of these forbearers is, I suspect, a big reason why their music connects and why it reaches out to a wide demographic, as evidenced tonight. 

The evening’s close out tune, The Haven of St Aidan’s is as much of a homage to the Motorik sound of Neu! as it is to Aidan of Lindisfarne and it is arguably the highest point in the HG set.
A run-up of looping keyboards and mesmerising lights erupt into a pulsating psychedelic wig-out, which over the course of 10 delicious minutes, combined film of the crossing to Holy Island, the sound of the autobahn and the dancefloor and threatens to turn the climax of the show into a rave.
It may represent something of a Krautrock/Northumbria crossover, but this is Hector Gannet’s sweetest spot.
In a way it was a slight-shame they didn’t press this button till the end, but maybe that’s me being pedantic.
In reality, the only way is up for Hector Gannet and like any great band, it’s exciting to think where the journey goes next, both sonically and visually.

photo courtesy John Fletcher



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