WORDS BY SARAH DORNEY
IMAGES BY LEWIS MORLEY
Live music is alive and well thanks to Great Southern Nights this November. After months of enduring lockdown, we now get to enjoy some great local music at a live venue once more – as long as you stay seated and social distance, of course.
This past weekend the Civic Theatre played host to a fantastic lineup of Newcastle’s finest bands all thanks to Newcastle Music Collective. It’s a beautiful venue to enjoy live music at, the way the stage lights illuminate the ceiling is grand. Although staying seated is a little odd, I really hope that the Civic hosts more gigs. It has a wonderful set up to showcase local talent.
First on the bill is Camino Gold, who bring surf rock with an edge to the stage. Their sound makes me feel as if I’m back at a festival on a blisteringly hot day, I couldn’t get enough of their indie goodness. I can easily see them being the soundtrack to my summer, their entire set provided great vibes all around. During their set they also covered one of my favourite Arctic Monkeys songs “Don’t Sit Down Cause I’ve Moved Your Chair” which was so much fun to hear live. They sound something along the lines of Dear Seattle mixed with maybe a little Spacey Jane – a perfect concoction of indie and surf rock. Camino Gold are definitely a band on the rise, check out their newest single, “Standing Still”.
Up next are Mango Avenue, a band whose sound I can’t even pin down to one genre. They had a very versatile sound, with each song sounding unique but also still sounding like their own. They captured the audience’s hearts with their cover of Harry Styles’ hit “Watermelon Sugar” – seriously, if that doesn’t get you dancing in your seat, nothing will. Their lead singer’s voice reminds me a lot of Ruel, as does their overall sound, as they have a palatable, radio-friendly sound that is super relevant for today’s music scene. Their slow songs are just as good as their more rock, fast-paced songs – my favourites being “Sex Wax” and “Lana”. Every song had me engaged, and I was trying my best to dance in my seat along to their tunes. Near the end of their set, they throw in a Beatles cover, which is something that even in pandemic times will always bring everyone together (They covered “Come Together”… get it?).
The main event for the night was, of course, Slapjack. If you haven’t seen Slapjack live before, where have you been – seriously? They’ve been on the scene in Newcastle since 2018 and have always provided a lively set. They start off their night with one of my personal favourites, “Too Late” and I really, really tried my best to have a boogie. The atmosphere is electric as soon as they begin the set, and it only gets better from there. Frontwoman Izzy Rendina is all-powerful and commands the entire stage during the performance of “R.H.B”, and the audience just eats it up entirely – also, now I kind of want to dye my hair red?
One of my favourite moments of the night was when they performed a cover I’d never heard from them before, “Feel The Way I Do” by The Jungle Giants. It has always been a great song to see performed live, and Slapjack give new life to it with their own groovy take on the hit.
They have a few more new surprises in the set too, playing some brand new unreleased songs. One of these new tunes was a song called “Kinda Funny” which chronicles the humorous and awkward feeling of running into someone you don’t really want to see, as Izzy described on the night. A disco ball illuminates the stage beautifully during this song, and the entire spectacle is really something to see – I wish the disco ball was on display the entire show.
They slow it down a little with a lovely rendition of “The Tea Song” which is just so cute and cozy and Chris Holburn (Trumpet) and Fernando Carvajal (Trombone) have a little waltz together because “The Tea Song” just makes you want to grab someone and sway with them. It’s a delightful tune that just makes you feel good. Chris Bass on Keys is amazing throughout this song, I think I’d have to give him MVP of Slapjack for the night.
It felt like as soon as Slapjack started, their set was over. Time really does fly when you’re having fun, and I was genuinely sad when they said it was time for their final song of the night. It still feels surreal that live music is back, so much so that I never want the bands to stop playing. Right near the end of their set, they tease a snippet of Lime Cordiale’s “Robbery” just before they exit the stage, so my final thoughts for the night were that they absolutely need to cover that song immediately!