Live Review: Roundhouse Rising at Sage Gateshead with Mausi, Eliza and the Bear, Death at Sea and Amy Holford – 17th February 2013

By on Wednesday, 27th February 2013 at 2:00 pm
 

The beautiful Sage in Gateshead recently played host to Roundhouse Rising, the first time the event has taken place in association with Generator, the UK’s leading music development agency based in the North East. Martin, our correspondent from that region, was in attendance as four acts vied for the attention of the audience assembled.

First up is Amy Holford. Last time TGTF caught up with her was at Evolution Festival last year, where her delicate strummings were drowned out by the boiling hormones of a thousand 14-year-olds. Tonight, her voice done justice by a proper sound system, delicate material laid bare before a respectful, silent crowd, her full potential is plain to see. The main attraction is a soul voice of such power that it could perform any Motown single from the 60s without breaking a sweat. It swoops and bends through microtones long forgotten in this age of production tricks, one moment honey-sweet, the next buzz-saw provocative, a reminder of how powerful and sensuous a barely-clothed female voice can sound.

Amy Holford Gateshead live

The problem is, she’s singing about her grandfather’s cancer. And how a long-gone, but clearly not forgotten, boyfriend didn’t text message her frequently enough. Imagine Amy’s current set distilling down into a pleasant acoustic interlude, bookended by some full band productions in whichever style she chooses – be that soul, electronica, or Tibetan nose flute ensemble – and it is to imagine a great voice put to good use. She might even bring in some writers to put together some material with broader appeal. The current songs are clearly close to her heart, and I wouldn’t for a minute suggest she abandon them altogether. But the next stage in her career surely demands a fuller sound to do justice to that wonderful voice.

Death at Sea Gateshead live

Death At Sea (pictured above) have very little time to make an impact, and their triple-headed guitar assault was always going to struggle on first listen. They’re like your little brother’s bedroom band, all earnest pop-grunge and Converse All-Stars, so they do have their niche, it’s just that it’s a rather densely-occupied corner. Nowhere near as innocent are Eliza and the Bear (pictured below). There is no Eliza, and no Bear, in their lineup; what there are is five astonishingly fashionable haircuts accompanied by 30 minutes of quite the most bland music one might ever have the misfortune to experience. From the “and the” nomenclature, through the formulaic loud-quiet-loud-trumpetparps-quiet-loud-aren’t-we-so-folky-even-though-we’re-all-from-Romford arrangements, to the vague, pseudo-deep-and-meaningful lyrics and can’t-be-arsed trendier-than-thou delivery, Eliza and the Bear seem on a mission from the Devil himself to rid music of any meaning or relevance at all. Take ‘The Southern Wild’, for instance – two chords, some twee, twinkly keyboards, loads of “oh-oh-ohs”, stop-starts all over the place, all drizzled with the pointless refrain “You’ve got a lion’s heart / you’ve gotta find it”. And that goddamn trumpet everywhere… somebody please stab me now. They are a photocopy of a successful sound – a cynical recipe made up of familiar tastes. Like the flavour factories that create the fast food experience, there’s no nutrition involved, nothing meaty, just the baubles that sound superficially like music but dissolve into emptiness in your brain.

Eliza and the Bear Gateshead live

Everyone’s last hope is for Mausi (pictured at top) to pull it out of the bag after such a patchy undercard – and, praise be to the Gods of music, they do not disappoint. A curious combination of Italian style leavened with North East party ethos, Mausi serve up a luscious plate of uptempo stompers and downtempo emotion, Daisy Finetto prancing around the stage like the coolest girl-next-door everyone hopes to bump into. Latest single ‘Move’ has the Sage bouncing, its verging-on-cheesy Europop a delightful guilty pleasure. Previous release ‘Sol’ brings a similar slice of summery dance vibes to a chilly February evening. No doubt favoured as headliner because of their ability with a groove, nevertheless Mausi do put in the most enjoyable and mature set of the night.

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There Goes The Fear is where we tell you about the latest music, gigs, and tours we love and think you should too.

We love music that has its heart on its sleeve, tells a story, swims around our head all day or makes us dance like no-one's watching.

TGTF is edited by Mary Chang, who is based in Washington, DC. She is joined by writers in England, America and Ireland. It began as a UK music blog by Phil Singer in 2005.

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