Tramlines 2012 – Guest review #3

Tramlines 2012: Sunday 22nd July

We asked people on Twitter and Facebook to send their reviews of Tramlines. About 3 people answered (ok, 4, but that was a spambot). Here’s another review by Simon Roberts. 

After Saturday’s music marathon, Sunday at Tramlines is usually a sedate affair as everyone staggers around, worse-for-wear and then heads home early as Monday morning work looms to spoil the party. Due to transport/lethargy/motivational issues, I didn’t crawl into the city until 3pm, missing my first two intended targets (Louis Romegoux and Oblong). Number three on my ‘to see’ list were House Of Charms, an acoustic duo made up of Chicken Legs Weaver/Baby Long Legs’ Norton Lees and Rumpus/Baby Long Legs’ The Wheel. I got comfy with a pint and tried to get to grips with their George Formby-influenced tunes. The audience were jovial, as were the band and it was all good fun (songs about trampolines and such) but I wasn’t really feeling it (even the beer didn’t help). It’s great to see these guys back on the local circuit but it was a case of wrong mood/wrong band. I decided to scrap my planned viewing list and roll the dice…

A quick flurry of texts to find out where friends were lead me to The Cathedral for Laura J Martin. Like Juffage on Friday night, I knew little about the artist so went in with no expectations and came out pleasantly surprised. She’s a tiny Liver bird with a loop pedal, flute, mandolin, piano and a voice that could give Bjork a run for her money. The most impressive tunes, for me, were built around flute loops and her sweet vocals. The words ‘flute’ and ‘impressive’ are not something I ever thought I’d be writing in a review but this is the kind of thing that a festival can throw at you: an unexpected pleasure. She’s now firmly wrestled the instrument back from the likes of Jethro Tull and Anchorman, that’s for sure!

Scatter-shot choices were now the way forward so I made my way back up though town watching the tail end of Let’s Buy Happiness on the New Music Stage, who reminded me of Asobi Seksu with their shoegaze guitars, heavy bass and dreamy female vocals although the sound seemed to waft around a lot (to be expected outside). Then I headed for Soyo and caughtBlessa, who were also very shoegazy with a female vocalist but more like Howling Bells. Nothing too exciting so I took a trip to the main stage

One of the few ‘big name’ bands I really wanted to see were Field Music and the size of the queue, coupled with a 7pm deadline in which to get back to Soyo, meant the odds of me watching the Tyneside pop architects were slim. I got stuck into the queue anyway, stuck behind a collective of gangsters who were more interested in checking their trainers and hats than actually getting into Devonshire Green. The line was mercifully swift and Field Music came on just as I passed through the gates. I really enjoy their stuff on record but was a little worried it wouldn’t translate live but I was proven wrong as they blasted out perfect song nuggets in the late afternoon sunshine. ‘Them That Do Nothing’ and the closing ‘(I Keep Thinking About) A New Thing’ sounding equal, if not better than their recorded versions. My only complaint was their placement on the main stage – fair enough, they are one of the bigger names in what was a pretty slim year for big names at the festival but they are still quite a cult band and would’ve been better suited to The Leadmill as their arch chamber pop was lost on most of the large crowd. Which was a shame as they were great!

I made it back to Soyo in time for local folks Cats For Peru who rarely disappoint with their excellent tunes, cool mix of instruments and pleasing boy/girl split to their line-up. New songs were the order of the evening as top Cat Adam Follett apologised to the healthy crowd before realising if no one liked these new tracks they’d just wasted a load of money recording them. He need not worry as all the instument-swapping and multi-vocals (with added hand claps – audience participation! Yay!) went down a storm and each new song that was introduced bettered the last. My favourite of the night was the final song – didn’t catch the title, sorry – that seemed to build and build until it imploded in a barrage of synths, effects and guitar smashing. Glorious!

Things got a bit loose again after Cats For Peru: stayed in Soyo for Screaming Maldini who I found pretty irritating and happy-clappy, then moved on to The Bath Hotel up the street for Roaming Sons but after having a pint and talking to people outside before the band came on, we found we weren’t allowed back in the place as it was full! It is THE smallest pub I’ve ever been in and therefore to be expected so we hatched a new plan and opted for Toy at The Harley. The only thing I’d heard about these guys was they are popular with The Horrors, who I hate, so I had very low expectations. As their set began, things didn’t improve for me as they looked like Kings Of Leon and sounded like The Horrors via Sisters Of Mercy with the synths too high in the mix BUT by the last two songs I was sold. They seemed to go for it a bit more on these closing numbers and the energy of a packed Harley combined with the climax of the music made for an impressive finish to my Tramlines 2012 and everyone braced themselves for the Monday morning comedown with a smile on their faces. Here’s to 2013!

Words: Simon Roberts

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