Live at Hoults Yard, Newcastle
I got lost trying to find Hoults Yard...the venue is a disused (actually, there’s a gig going on so I suppose it’s now “used”) warehouse, one of a number of functioning warehouses just south of Byker, the only inkling of how to find the mythical place was the distant sound off muffled bass and the occasional puff of smoke outside a darkened doorway. Already it was starting to feel like some sort of late-80s impromptu rave-up and we hadn’t even started yet. On entering the performance space Dam Mantle (aka Glasgow based musician Tom Marshallsay) was alone on stage, creating a dizzying aura of bleeps and beats from a small selection of electronic kit. He’s energetic and thoroughly animated on stage which was a total juxtaposition to the static audience who’d arrived early doors. At one point Mantle drops an atmospheric piano piece which is reminiscent of something from Tim Hecker’s Ravedeath, 1972, but whilst Hecker would be satisfied to play this subdued moment out for keeps, here it melt’s into some full on techno which seems perfectly fitting in tonight's industrial surroundings. The audience is more responsive to these inspired moments but you get the feeling that an artist like this would be better suited to a post-band slot rather than pre. Nevertheless, Mantle leaves the stage to rapturous heartfelt acclaim from the crowd, which was certainly justified. Fellow Glaswegians Errors are back on tour on the back of a brand new mini-album, New Relics. The record sees them continuing where they left off on Have Some Faith In Magic (also released this year on Rock Action records), rather than re-inventing the wheel, so to speak. And whilst the post-rock-electro can often sound startlingly downbeat on record, it gets a whole new lease of life when played live. This owes a lot to their animalistic drummer James Hamilton who thumps his kit to within an inch of it’s life, fittingly attired in a sub-pop t-shirt, I can’t help but think that this is what would have happened if Dave Grohl had joined the Pet Shop Boys instead of Nirvana (and please note I have the utmost admiration for all of the artists mentioned). This isn’t to take anything away from Stephen Livingstone and Simon Ward who spar and flip between guitar and synthesizer and give Errors their distinctive sound. It’s sometimes hard to differentiate between the songs as they tend to have common themes, sequences and those nonsensical lyrics running through them (a minor annoyance for someone who wants to write them down for a review) but it all fits into place if you think of this as a club experience rather than a traditional rock show. Watched on by their boss (Mogwai’s Stuart Braithwaite) the band whip up the crowd and then leave them on a high with stunning rendition of “Tusk”, which again is all the more appealing in its live guise.