LIVE SHOW GALLERY + REVIEW // Camino Gold and Cooks and Bakers (The Cambridge Hotel, Newcastle)

WORDS BY GEORGIA GRIFFITHS

IMAGES BY GABRIELLE CLEMENT

If the current global situation has one upside, it’s that it’s allowed more junior bands to cut their teeth playing a venue often reserved for much bigger names, with a more enthusiastic audience than most pre-COVID gigs. Newcastle’s rising stars Camino Gold were in the spotlight at The Cambridge this time, with local boys Cooks & Bakers joining them on support.

A band fast establishing themselves as Cambridge regulars, Cooks & Bakers warmed up the room with their blend of chilled-out rock. While the seated crowd were few and far between at the start of their set, by the end the room was filling fast as punters were drawn in by their Ocean Alley-esque tunes. ‘Cage’ and ‘Stay’ were the standouts of their set, with a cheeky edge to the tracks that had the crowd bopping in their seats.

Camino Gold took to the stage much later than the advertised set time, but the crowd didn’t seem to mind. By the time the quartet began playing, the main room of The Cambridge was as full as COVID-19 restrictions would allow, complete with a loud group of men at the front table and some girls trying to sneak a standing dance out of sight of the COVID marshall.

Latest single ‘Standing Still’ had its moment in the sun, with this show serving as its official launch. A fast paced romp, it’s one of the band’s more polished tracks, and it was well-received by the less-than-sober crowd. A cover of ‘Don’t Sit Down ‘Cause I’ve Moved Your Chair’ by the Arctic Monkeys went down in a similar fashion, with much of the room singing along to Camino Gold’s gritty take on the track. The band also played a number of unreleased tracks (as they only currently have three tracks released), some of which were in the same vein as ‘Standing Still’ with strong guitar riffs and a driving bassline. It was obvious Camino Gold have been using the downtime brought on by COVID-19 to their advantage, with a growing catalogue of songs to keep their fans hooked.

The highlight of the set was breakout single ‘A Heart Like Yours’. It was by far the most well-known original track the band had in their repertoire, and they leant into the crowd’s energy as they tore through guitar solos and yell-along melodies. It went down so well that they played it twice, ending the set with another run through the track as an encore. Having only released ‘A Heart Like Yours’ in December 2019, it was impressive to see how well the band had grown into the track in a live setting, given live gigs have been out of action for most of this year.

One of the only detractors of the evening was the visuals accompanying both bands. Having seen a gig at The Cambridge just weeks before, it quickly became apparent that the venue has some in-house footage that they use for most bands’ sets. This makes sense – smaller bands such as the two on show here are unlikely to have splurged on a fancy visual set-up to accompany their burgeoning live shows. However, the stock footage used by the venue is incredibly distracting for a seated audience, with a weird amalgamation of CGI animations, Sydney traffic scenes and hi-definition raindrops often overshadowing the live band in front. While it may not look as impressive, simply having the bands’ logos on screen the whole time would have been a better choice.

Overall, however, the night was a lot of fun, showcasing two of Newcastle’s brightest young bands to a crowd ready for a seated boogie. While things still aren’t quite right, watching the Camino Gold boys play while the crowd danced in their seats and one punter threw ice from his glass towards the stage, it felt as close as we can get to normal. It showed there can definitely be a silver (or golden?) lining to an otherwise underwhelming year.

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