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Review: Bellowhead at The Sage Gateshead

10 years in and Bellowhead still put on shows with all the enthusiasm of newcomers while cementing their status as one of the UK's finest live acts

****
Pete Flood from Bellowhead is running a masterclass at Readipop's Reflections festival
Pete Flood from Bellowhead is running a masterclass at Readipop's Reflections festival

It would have been easy, given the length of time they’ve been together, for Bellowhead’s act to get a bit stale.

Same tunes, night in night out. Same empty platitudes to the audience, same ‘you’ve been a fantastic crowd, goodnight’ at the end.

It’s an easy trap to fall into, and one which has claimed more than it’s fair share of once-fantastic live bands.

Yet as their 10th anniversary tour rumbles on, Bellowhead showed no signs of slowing down at Sage Gateshead on Thursday night.

After strong support from Moulettes, whose orchestral, impeccably-arranged brand of folk gained them more than a few converts, the audience were treated to an energetic evening of lively folk songs and toe-tapping dance numbers.

In part, this is due to frontman Jon Boden’s energy. Bedecked in a bright pink blazer, he exhorted an appreciative but initially reserved crowd to clap, sing and eventually dance along.

Boden isn’t what sets Bellowhead apart though. Plenty of bands have good frontmen.

What makes Bellowhead special - and it was very much in evidence at this gig - is that every single one of its other members (and there are quite a few of them) looks like they are having the time of their lives on stage.

Energy levels only increased as they jumped and jigged their way through an hour and 40 minute set. Brass player Ed Neuhauser deserves a special mention for joining in with all this whilst wearing a helicon (that’s the giant, wrap-around tuba-type thing for anyone who needs to brush up on their knowledge of obscure brass instruments).

All of this while not putting a foot wrong musically. The harmonies were note-perfect. No-one missed a beat. Even jumps off the drum platform were timed to the music.

Tunes from the new album were as tight as older material, while older favourites like ‘Roll The Woodpile Down’ and ‘New York Girls’ sounded as fresh as the new stuff.

It’s easy to see why Bellowhead are considered one of Britain’s best live acts. Here’s to another 10 years.

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