Live at The Sage, Gateshead

With my ears still ringing from last night's gig - Teleman in the distinctly un-glamorous Newcastle Riverside - it was nice to cross the river to the civilised refuge of The Sage, with their civilised clientele and civilised sound levels. As the band take the stage, there's no awkward silences like you sometimes get in venues like this (did I mention that the audiences are very civilised?), The Handsome Family are well versed in the art of on-stage banter. Why start with a song when you can have a little chat first?

Live at The Sage, Gateshead

Badly Drawn Boy is back. It's been five long years since his last album It's What I'm Thinking Part 1: Photographing Snowflakes, which hinted that it was the start of a quick fire run of new albums, but the sequels never materialised and a soundtrack he did called Being Flynn for a Robert DeNiro film never got a UK release. But after a bit of quiet time/soul searching he's here to perform his Mercury Prize winning debut album, in full. As he enters the stage with a new band of young bearded musicians he deadpans "I hate this album. Its too long".

Live at The Sage, Gateshead

Artist
It could be seen as a tough job opening for Tune-yards. This is an audience that probably won't settle for run of the mill rock bands or traditional maudlin singer songwriters. Luckily, Nathalie Stern is none of those things. A one woman band who uses lo-fi synths and loops to form dark industrial soundscapes and eerie monastic chants. An adept self-harmoniser, it's interesting to see that Stern's equipment doesn't always play ball, at one point she stops a song in its tracks to start over.

Live at The Sage, Gateshead

Artist
Texas-bred singer songwriter and multi-instrumentalist St Vincent, aka Annie Clark has been making a stir and with some media hailing her the new Bush (Kate not George) and Bowie. This tour accompanies her fourth and self-titled solo album, with previous work in the Polyphonic Spree, with Sufijan Stevens and David Byrne. Mighty intriguing. Tonight the crazy grey curls are slicked back and she’s in a marvellous mini frock of sequined bleeding eyes and mouths.

Live at The Sage, Gateshead

Artist

There's something a little unnerving about walking into a sparsely filled room of civilized gig goers, a few minutes late, when the band on stage are singing acapella. Tonight I was the latecomer and the duo onstage were Cath and Phil Tyler, playing some Bob Harris endorsed trad folk/Americana that I usually avoid, but on this occasion there were numerous glimmers of hope to be found. The moments where Phil got his banjo out were particularly pleasing especially in the Sage's wonderful Hall 2 where every single string scrape and lip smack is heard with unblemished clarity.

Live at The Sage, Gateshead

Artist
I wasn’t exactly sure of what to expect of Bonobo – playing Hall One of the Sage Gateshead for the first time – on Friday 24th May. Certainly I knew the music of Simon Green, but, in fear of showing my age, the last time I really listened to Bonobo with intent was in my late 20’s and that album was ‘Dial M for Monkey’. Undoubtedly there was a quality to that album which shone above contemporaries also creating textured electronica. It was clear that through the Bonobo moniker Green was delivering a more sophisticated take on this than, say, Lemon Jelly, but there was also occasionally a danger

Live at The Sage, Gateshead

Artist
On the night of the great North East flood (the third great flood of 2012 at that) two bands and a load of dedicate punters (mostly bearded men) braved the elements and were rewarded handsomely for their efforts. First up were Bristol’s Zun Zun Egui who got straight down to business with an Akron/Family/Funkadelic-alike mix of possessed chanting, ridiculous distorted bass riffs and sharp turns around confusing musical corridors.

Live at The Sage, Gateshead

Artist
I struggled to find much info on support act Swimming Lessons, other than they are from Leeds and they play meditative, druggy, yet anthemic songs which are quite possibly about being dumped. One song segues into the next for an enjoyable half hour set which passed by much quicker. If there was one drawback it would be that, just as the songs bleed into one another, unfortunately so do the instruments, occasionally becoming completely lost in the mix.