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Review: Music at Marley Hill, Tanfield Railway, near Sunniside

Shivering in the chill night air, music fans sat beneath fairylights to enjoy some top notch North East bands

Mirrorpix The Lake Poets
The Lake Poets

I’m at a gig. It’s at a heritage steam railway, and I have just eaten a delightful chocolate cupcake from their cafe and been sold an official museum magazine by an enthusiastic volunteer (£1, special price, today only).

As I sit down with a nice cup of tea, made for me lovingly by a cafe lady in 1920s attire, I consider whether maybe more gigs should be like this. Am I getting old? I’m very confused, but in a good way.

Yuma take the stage first, and at once it becomes clear how beautiful the acoustics are in this place.

Their relatively minimalist set-up – resonant 12-string guitar, vocals and a couple of hand-held percussion instruments – fills the shed, and win the duo more than a few converts to their bluesy approach to songwriting.

Next up is Cohesion. And my fears about the set-up of the gig – sitting down at tables with nice table cloths and tea lights – are dispelled.

There are some very minor issues to do with adjusting to the level of sound, but frontman Matthew Watchman’s voice is strong enough to cut through and give the five piece’s indie-rock a strong showing.

As the sun goes down, and the shed becomes increasingly reliant on the streams of twinkling fairy lights to brighten up the place, Lilliput play an atmospheric set filled with pleasing, close-knit harmonies.

Indie rock band Cohesion
Indie rock band Cohesion

Broken by the occasional challenge of changing instruments on the charmingly cluttered stage, Fleet Foxes-esque vocals rise to the top of the rafters and leave the crowd shouting for more. They oblige with ‘oh, go on, then’ grins.

It’s dark outside when local favourites The Lake Poets take to the stage.

As they launch into a set, it strikes me that Tanfield Railway Museum must be the ideal location in which to listen to their tales of love, loss and the North East’s industrial heritage.

Heartbreak, industrial decay and occasional glimmers of hope intertwine in Martin Longstaff’s songs and spread themselves out over a rapt and silent audience.

My hands have frozen to ice, but I don’t care. I cup my hands around another cup of tea and enjoy it. More gigs should be like this. Age be damned.


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