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Deer Shed Festival 2016 Review (Part 1)

By on Monday, 1st August 2016 at 2:00 pm

Right. Let’s get something straight right from the start. Deer Shed 2016 was essentially perfect: a wondrous box of delights for young, middle and old alike. Whilst the event has evolved over the years, if someone said, “Freeze. This is perfect. Don’t change anything,” I doubt there would be any complaints. The camping is spacious and quiet. The toilets are clean and useable. The food is utterly delicious. The bar is well-run and well-stocked (some of us still mourn the loss of Ilkley’s Mary Jane, however). The crowds are beautiful and well-behaved… well, at least the kids are. Oh, and someone must have paid the weather bill because the sun shone nearly all the time.

And so we come to the entertainment. Deer Shed is effectively two festivals in one – a box of delightful activities for kids – stuff so unique that they only get to do it here – and a proper music festival for grown ups. We’ll come to the kids’ stuff in due course, but let’s consider the music first. If you think a festival that welcomes so many children just tags on a few bands to keep the adults half-amused, then think again. I don’t know how they do it, but Deer Shed’s music lineup is second to none. A festival of any size would be proud to come up with such a fresh, forward-looking bill. For a modest spot of land in the North Yorkshire countryside, it’s nothing less than a triumph.

Eagulls Deer Shed 2016 / photo by Martin Sharman

By the very nature of Deer Shed, one often has a youngster tugging at one’s sleeve, wanting to go and jump around outside the bubble stall for the hundredth time. The list of missed bands gets longer and longer, but that just makes one even more appreciative of the music one does manage to see. First up for me were Leeds’ Eagulls, whose sound is the natural result of owning several Squier guitars, a floor full of reverb pedals and a record collection largely consisting of the Cure’s more introspective records. I’m not exactly sure what the frontman’s on about, and the whole shebang is based on some purposely obtuse chord progressions. But when it all comes together they create an urgent wash of heady nu gaze that urges you to close your eyes and get swept away.

Eagulls Deer Shed 2016 2 / photo by Martin Sharman

Friday night headliners Everything Everything have made the inevitable, if not a little unsettling, transformation from regular indie band to some sort of futuristic gospel praise outfit. Singer Jonathan Higgs wears ankle-length robes, holds his hands aloft and teases the crowd with his oblique commentary on the state of everything. He even retreats to his own podium at the back of the stage on occasion, cavorting and exclaiming like a greasy televangelist, except with something better to sell than false hope. A quite extraordinary performance: danceable, unforgettable, slightly disturbing. [Should be interesting to see what the Americans make of them on their first headline tour of America that begins this week. – Ed.]

Saturday dawned with the hazy memory of having an impromptu jam session around the piano in the Obelisk tent. Whether real or imaginary, such late-night escapades are soon forgotten in favour of the promise of a sunny day, and plenty to do with it. FEWS shake off the cobwebs with a pre-midday slot of their driving instrumental post-rock. It’s the sort of thing that you can get lost in, labyrinthine melodies hidden within an incessant motorik rhythm section. Teessiders Cattle & Cane give me a little “festival moment”: the weight of a child on one’s shoulders, bopping away in their own little way to a warm-hearted band… such fleeting yet timeless moments of joy make the grind of life worthwhile. TGTF has come across Misty Miller a couple of times before, and she’s never been the same performer twice. Currently in a goth-inspired phase, her rock ‘n’ roll ditties remain as strong as ever, and her passion for reinvention means somewhere along the line she’s sure to hit on a persona that really propels her into the mainstream.

Somehow I managed to get rid of the kids for an hour or so at this point, and found myself in a state of euphoric peace lounging at the back for Emma Pollock‘s set. Hardly a household name, but her former group The Delgados will be familiar to students of Scottish indie bands, and her solo set was an absolute masterclass in grown-up songwriting. One delightful tune after another fell from her guitar, and backed by an excellent band she was an unexpected treat. Her song about dark skygazing was hugely evocative: a more sublime way to close one’s eyes and lay back in the late afternoon sunshine it’s difficult to imagine.

RHAIN Deer Shed 2016 / photo by Martin Sharman

TGTF raved about RHAIN‘s double performance at Kendal Calling last year, and her set in Deer Shed’s Obelisk tent was the stuff that legends are made of. Her voice is nothing less than astonishing, and the rare beauty of her jewelled songs quickly had the tent full to capacity. Her friends Plastic Mermaids, fresh from their own storming set earlier in the day, backed her for a few numbers, but it’s when RHAIN picks some simple piano chords to compliment her extraordinary vocal performance that really showcases what she is capable of. To witness a musician of such powerful talent in such intimate surroundings is a very rare treat; the electric atmosphere and the standing ovation that followed her performance is testament to the intensity of what she is capable. Utterly, utterly wonderful.

Stay tuned: the second half of Martin’s review of Deer Shed 2016 will post here on TGTF tomorrow. Same bat time, same bat channel.


Video of the Moment #1935: Cattle & Cane

By on Monday, 19th October 2015 at 6:00 pm

Cattle and Cane have come a long way since our Martin caught them live in October 2013, supporting Goldheart Assembly at Newcastle Cluny. The Middlesbrough band, starring siblings Joe, Helen, Fran and Vin Hammill with Tom Chapman on percussion, released their debut album ‘Home’ on Quiet Crown Recordings in mid-September, and now a song off the new album has its own promo. ‘Sold My Soul’ features some truly beautiful guitar work and chief songwriter Joe Hammill’s lovely lead vocals. Watch the video below, which sees the band doing what they do best, performing to spellbound audiences.

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Live Review: Goldheart Assembly with The Shooting Of… and Cattle and Cane at Newcastle Cluny – 22nd October 2013

By on Wednesday, 30th October 2013 at 2:00 pm

Local troubadour Paul Jeans has had more musical lives than a cat, and opens proceedings tonight with his most recent incarnation, The Shooting Of… featuring just him on acoustic guitar and piano (not at the same time), and drums (at the same time!). There’s a morbid edge to his songwriting, with one song about a serial killer, and another probing the inner workings of a terrorist’s brain. Despite the sometimes uncomfortable subject matter, the music is upbeat and catchy: ‘Captain Of My Soul’ brings things back to a more conventional topic and is the standout song tonight. Jeans is always good value as a superlative songwriter and multi-instrumentalist; one wonders how many more skins he must shed before the world wakes up to his charms.

The Shooting Of... Newcastle live

Cattle and Cane are from the rock metropolis of Middlesbrough, but clearly aspire to sound as if they’ve never left Tennessee. Appropriately enough, they’re all related to each other, further reinforcing their backwoods/backwards credentials. Even though they are capable of radio-friendly country-influenced pop-rock, occasionally they manage to conjure a brew so heady it wouldn’t be out of place on the soundtrack of a remade Deliverance, the stunning vocal pairing of Joe and sister Helen Hammill melt together like two candles on a sunlit porch, there’s twangy Fender action and even an enthusiastically-bowed fiddle at the end. All the appropriate genre boxes are faithfully ticked, and when set highlight ‘The Poacher’ comes to a climactic end, the question on every sensible member of the audience should be – can Goldheart Assembly top that?

Cattle & Cane Newcastle live

To which the answer is – yes, but with a sidestep into more considered, perhaps even self-confidently aloof territory, rather than the genre-led intensity of the previous act. There’s a strong reliance on harmonies, with the vast majority of the lead vocal lines shared in an intimate bromance between James Dale and John Herbert – indeed, the whole performance relies on their rapport. That, and Dale’s habit of standing on one leg, a habit not seen since the glory days of Jethro Tull. This isn’t a performance for those looking for the ultimate in excitement – everything is very civilised, with the occasional whiff of gentleman’s club (and not the raunchy kind either). At one point Dale gently heckles the audience, whilst gently sipping from a cup and saucer – no risk of a G ‘n’ R-style Jack Daniels breakfast for these chaps.

However, what may seem a little tame from a rock ‘n’ roll perspective does suit the easy-going yet complex material. Old favourites like ‘So Long St. Christopher’ still sound fresh; there’s a decent selection from excellent début album ‘Wolves And Thieves’, including ‘Hope Hung High’ and set-climaxing ‘King Of Rome’, along with the expected inclusions from recent release ‘Long Distance Sound Effects’. The sound does roughly belong in the folky-rocky camp, which description could apply to a great number of new acts around at the minute, but the songwriting is top drawer, complex yet supremely listenable and laden with melody and hooks, which makes them stand above the crowd of also-rans. In summary, then, this is a thinking man’s band, perhaps themselves no stranger to the pages of The Chap magazine, who appreciate a lovely melody or two. All washed down with a nice cup of Earl Grey.

Goldheart Assembly Newcastle live


About Us

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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