The Futureheads got the Mouth of the Tyne Festival off to a rousing start which combined harmonies and humour in equal measure. SAM WONFOR reports back and casts an eye over the tuneful treats still in store.
IF there’s one way to get a good conversion rate on merchandise browsers, The Futureheads nailed it on Thursday night.
Band members Barry Hyde and Ross Millard were front and centre on the stand in the foyer of the Playhouse Whitley Bay, happy to sell you a T-shirt or CD – and have a little chat while we awaited their acoustic gig.
Booked as an intimate pre-cursor to the three-day outdoor Mouth of the Tyne festivities, Ross said the performance would also serve as a bit of a line-drawer for their acclaimed a capella album, Rant.
Having just moved into new rehearsal space in Sunderland, the four-piece, who had never performed at the Playhouse before, are eager to get cracking with the next album – and are excited by what it could entail following their enjoyment of embracing an acoustic sound while promoting Rant over the past year or so.
But putting the future output of The Futureheads aside, if the gig on Thursday offered one last curtain call for a Rant-heavy performance, the boys, who remain one of the best when it comes to on-stage inter-band banter, did it more than justice.
From covers of the Black Eyed Peas’ Meet Me Halfway and Kelis’ Acapella to rousing renditions of Beeswing, Sumer Is Icumen In and The Old Dun Cow, the album tracks were rattled through in all the good senses of the word. There was also a Russian folk-soaked version of Beginning of the Twist and of course no one was going anywhere until Hounds of Love signaled the encore was over.
I can’t think of many better ways to spend a night at the theatre.
While The Futureheads kicked things off, the baton was figuratively picked up last night by eighties icons The Human League, who played the first of the festival’s three gigs at Tynemouth Priory and Castle.
Tonight , James Morrison will return to the site of his 2010 sell-out gig. It’s one of only a handful of shows he’s playing, so it’s a knocking bet he’ll be pulling out all the stops (and hits from a trio of platinum-sellers) to make it memorable.
Support will come from The Lake Poets – Sunderland’s acoustic prince, Martin Longstaff.
Tomorrow, the popular Sunday afternoon in the Priory concert features indie legends The Wonder Stuff, reggae favourites Aswad (who will doubtless be encouraging the crowd to stay facing them), electro-swing outfit Kitten and the Hip, North East high- fliers The Longsands and Newcastle trio Iceni.
Any remaining tickets for these shows will be on sale from the box office outside Tynemouth Priory.
But it’s not all about the big names. The programme at Tynemouth Station sees community groups sharing the stage with professional artists. Under the umbrella title Platform, the entertainment will include Candoco – the world’s leading company of disabled and non-disabled dancers – US breakdancer Jaron Joiner and, in a tie-in with Latin American festival ï¿½Vamos!, Flamenco, Afro-Cuban and Mexican Mariachi music.
A special area for the under-fives will also be available, with Piccolo Music among those offering workshops and activities.
For more information, visit www.mouthofthetynefestival.com