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A review of...
Teleman live at The Riverside, Newcastle
Tonight's bill consists of two bands that sound quite different live, compared to how they come across in a studio. First up is hotly tipped North London band Girl Ray, and whilst the difference here is less obvious, there's still a noticeable contrast. Where their (admittedly scarce) recorded output seems for the most part carefree and whimsical (take their track "Stupid Things" which has a clear Gorkys influence running through it) their live show, whilst still leisurely, seems much more gritty. In fact, the first comparison that came into my head after seeing them for the first time here tonight was that they sound like The Band. Their music is universally slow and drawn out which may be kind of alienating for some, but for me its almost hypnotic. Another noticeable difference is that tonight Girl Ray are a four piece, and one of them is not a girl (Poppy Hankin, Iris McConnell and Sophie Moss are joined by an extra member who adds some bluesy keyboards and guitar which beefs up their live sound). The short set ambles through their gradually expanding collection of songs, all of which have a certain West Coast country-tinged feel, whilst occasionally going a bit wonky or discordant a la Cate Le Bon & Tim Presley. Singer/guitarists Hankin even shows off some impressive Vini Reilly guitar licks towards the end of their set. There's a playfulness to this music too, as evidenced when Hankin and McConnell show off some synchronised guitar steps, as if they're in The Shadows. They end on their single "Trouble" which is ample proof that there is much potential in this band, it will be interesting to see what they come up with on their forthcoming album (due later this year on Moshi Moshi).
Teleman's live incarnation seems to be to just amp everything up. Teleman live is loud and a bit psychedelic, far removed from their clean and sparse studio approach. "Skeleton Dance" is probably the first example of this shift, it's as if a punk rock band has inhabited the lineup, perhaps just temporarily. After such a raucous opening handful of songs it's actually quite welcome when the band tone it down a notch as they do on "Fall In Time" which is as sinister and atmospheric as ever. Even this early on it's noticeable just how important drummer Hiro Amamiya is to this band, his drum patterns are both unusual and restrained and i'm actually sure he'd be their star player if he wasn't so very subtle.
For the most part there's a party atmosphere, unsurprising seeing as it's Friday night and we're down on the quayside. The band bat off some strange audience participation, most notably a drunken man who asks the band to fire their wardrobe manager (note - the heckler was dressed like Jeremy Clarkson, compared to singer/guitarist Thomas Sander's early Beach Boy shirt), the comments seemed to be taken in fairly good (if a bit confused) spirits anyway. Away from these asides and distractions the band go back to their blistering renditions of the key tracks from their two albums: 2014's Breakfast and 2016's Brilliant Sanity. "Drop Out" is one of the highlights, taking on a form that sees it transformed into a desert rock jam, especially during it's one-note QOTSA style interlude. Then there's a truly energised kinetic version of "Not In Control" which goes down a storm with the packed crowd of revellers. Usually Teleman seem like such a clinical and civilised band so it seems a bit shocking when bassist Pete Cattermoul shouts "lets get fucked" in a moment of post song euphoria (maybe the Quayside was rubbing off on him). The set climaxes with an utterly joyous rendition of Dusseldorf, which would surely take pride of place in anyone's back catalogue.
As the band leave the stage, I move right to the back, in an attempt to let my ears recover* and the band return to play old favourite "Christina" and new favourite "Glory, Hallelujah" which seems like a tailor made way to end a show if ever there was one.
* My ears didn't recover for a good 24 hrs. I don't think I've had it this bad since my metal years, namely when I went to see The Almighty at Leeds T&C. Teleman must now enter the pantheon of Metal.