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Live Review: This is Tomorrow Festival 2018

 
By on Wednesday, 30th May 2018 at 2:00 pm
 

Header photo by Dean Hindmarch via This is Tomorrow festival Facebook page

Starting in 2002 and for over a decade, Evolution Festival was a Tyneside event drawing music lovers to Newcastle and Gateshead during the lazy days of a May bank holiday. A few years passed with no appearance of Evolution’s return in sight. It’s unclear to me what the impetus was to create the inaugural This is Tomorrow Festival held last weekend Quayside in Newcastle. But I’d like to believe that following the last edition of Evolution in 2013 and the ensuing festival-less years that followed, festival organisers were simply chomping at the bit to provide another event to bring the music lovers of the North East together again. For 2018, This is Tomorrow was presented as a 2-day event, and I only attended on Friday the 25th. The lineup for Saturday the 26th included headliners Thirty Seconds to Mars, who were supported by locals and TGTF friends Boy Jumps Ship, Don Broco and Marmozets.

This was only my second time in Tyneside, so I made the mistake of taking the Quayside bus too far east. However, even though my trainers got soaked in the pouring rain in the afternoon, I’d argue that this music editor actually benefitted from this mistake, as I heard Everything Everything soundcheck ‘Can’t Do’ as I walked towards the box office. I’m not sure if Sam Fender was actually given a soundcheck, as I watched him dash through the rain, a guitar in each hand, onstage. Proceedings started on time shortly after 5:30 PM, with plenty of fellow locals excited to welcome the BBC Sound of 2018 nominated act and local boy done good to the stage. He began with the self-deprecating ‘Millennial’, then ran through a taut set of politically astute songs belying his relatively young age. I feel pretty lucky that I was able to see him in a club environment in March at SXSW 2018 and then got to see him play to a huge crowd in his hometown. Fender ended his all-too short set with ‘Play God’ and was rewarded with a rousing round of cheers.


Sam Fender This is Tomorrow 2018

For those not in the know, Little Comets were one of the first acts whose studio-recorded music I ever reviewed. For most of their career, they’ve been a three-piece, until relatively recently, when they expanded the core of brothers Rob and Mickey Coles and bassist Matt Hall with Matt Saxon on keyboards and Nathan Greene on drums for 2017 album ‘Worhead’, their fourth. With a pretty big back catalogue, I think it takes a lot of nerve to fill a set list with newer, probably less known tunes instead of relying on old, proven favourites. But if you know anything about Little Comets, they’ve never done anything predictable. Recent single ‘M62’ got an airing with gusto, as did the searing commentary of xenophobia in ‘The Punk is in the Detail’. But longtime Comets fans needn’t have worried: their dear ol’ girls ‘Jennifer’ and ‘Joanna’ were full of bounce as ever, and they closed their set with the ever joy-inducing ‘Dancing Song’. “This one’s for dancing!” That, indeed, it always is.


Little Comets This is Tomorrow 2018

Moving ever closer to the headline set Friday night at This is Tomorrow, the next band up were another TGTF favourite and another band with four studio albums under their belt, Everything Everything. The band originally having formed in Manchester may have lost two of their members to the big smoke, but this hasn’t negatively affected their unique sound one bit. Hard to believe that ‘A Fever Dream’ was released last summer, as its inventive songwriting has firmly been implanted in my mind. While at times I lament the loss of my favourite, earlier masterpieces of theirs like ‘QWERTY Finger’ and ‘Final Form’ to their live show, the inclusion of now perennial showpieces including ‘Kemosabe’ and ‘Regret’ alongside ‘A Fever Dream’ top tracks ‘Night of the Long Knives’ and ‘Desire’. While Sam Fender and Little Comets’ sets before them were enjoyable, Everything Everything’s set seemed to really rile up and excite the crowd right before the main event.


Everything Everything This is Tomorrow 2018

Catfish and the Bottlemen need no introduction, of course. The Welsh rockers, famous for their back-to-back hit-spawning LPs ‘The Balcony’ and ‘The Ride’ were, of course, the biggest draw for the inaugural This is Tomorrow event. The lion’s share of the shoving and pushing of the fans was all for them. While I’m not their target demographic and I consider their sound too rock by the numbers, I can appreciate that their feel good, anthemic sound resonates easily with the youth of today. The enthusiastic screams of delight rippling through the crowd were proof positive that Van McCann and co. came through with a job well done.

The festival wasn’t without its hiccups. Some fans complained they missed the performances they had being waiting for for weeks because the security queues took too long to negotiate. The rain led to widening ‘lakes’ on the festival site that were impossible to jump over, and frustration built as one such lake up front stage left prevented revelers from getting any closer to their heroes. Bottles of wine were being sold at an exorbitant £25, so naturally, I wondered how much a pint of lager or cider would have cost. Few down the front, many who had arrived to queue outside while it was still raining, were willing to brave the arduous expedition to leave the crowd to get an overpriced drink. The crush of bodies down the front eventually became too much for me, so a report about a young man having a panic attack in the midst of the festival was, unfortunately, not surprising to me. The youth of Newcastle have the infamous reputation of not dressing appropriately for cold weather, so it was not surprising to me to see kids in attendance in soaking wet clothes, shivering while the wind blew. My motherly instinct kicked in, and I felt terrible for them.

While no festival can prepare for every eventuality, it’s unfortunate that many will remember this festival for the problems they encountered. The rapid selling out of tickets to the Catfish and the Bottlemen-headlined first day is incredible validation that the music lovers of the North East are excited about an event like this and that future events will be well attended and successful. The This is Tomorrow festival organisers should be proud of this. Let’s hope that they heed all punters’ feedback, whether positive or negative, and use the feedback to make next year’s event even better.

 

Video of the Moment #2290: Little Comets

 
By on Friday, 10th February 2017 at 6:00 pm
 

North East indie stalwarts Little Comets are gearing up to release their fourth album next month. The enigmatically titled ‘WORHEAD’ will be available from the band’s own Smallest Label on the 10th of March. A short time ago, I reviewed LP single ‘Common Things’; the single now has an accompanying promo. I debated whether to post this on Valentine’s Day or not. Then I decided these surreal visuals deserved more contemplation and thought from the readers than is usually afforded ‘artsy’ things on the annual holiday for lovers. Salvador Dali would be so proud. Watch the music video for ‘Common Things’ below. They’re on a UK tour right now through mid-March. And stay tuned for ‘WORHEAD’ in a month’s time. For more on Little Comets here on TGTF, you can read our pretty massive archive on them through this link.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jXaxmZs7vRw[/youtube]

 

Single Review: Little Comets – Common Things

 
By on Monday, 23rd January 2017 at 12:00 pm
 

Popular music through the ages has, generally, been a young person’s game. You hear it every time a manufactured pop hit is rolled out to the masses of teenagers listening to BBC Radio 1. Performed by – but not necessarily written by – young people, for young people, this kind of music has become all too predictable. In this climate of chasing after the next young thing, longevity for bands is rare these days. Lasting long beyond your teenage years and twenties is now viewed as a liability, not a positive selling point. However, there have been plenty examples in history of artists who have bucked the trend, managing to stay relevant beyond their younger years, like the late David Bowie, Prince and Leonard Cohen. While Little Comets have some way to go in age, their new single ‘Common Things’ point to them continuing to be a force in British music for many years to come.

Little Comets have grown up a lot from their single ‘Adultery’ in 2009. Now family men with children, there’s no denying that their home lives differ greatly from the average Radio 1 artist who’s out late partying after a show. On their second album ‘Life is Elsewhere’ released in 2012, there’s a track on there called ‘Waiting in the Shadows in the Dead of Night’, a simply beautiful song that is lyrically very personal to lead singer Rob Coles. He explained on the band’s blog way back then that the track was all about “exploring a relationship with loss – me and my partner will one day have to part in very final terms.”

In a similar way, ‘Common Things’ explores pedantic domestic life, specifically the things he loves in his relationship with his wife. The single is a declaration that when you’re with the right person, someone who loves and respects you, and it feels just right, you don’t need anything else. At the start of the song, Coles reminisces on a night of snogging in the West Midlands, long before their relationship became permanent. He rattles off a list of places to go and supposedly exciting things to see, yet they find they can “get our kicks from the frantic / little movements of feet”, the simplest of acts of fondness and love they have for their kids.

Sonically, you feel the joyful syncopation of Little Comets’ history past on this single, but also the embrace of more pop and electronic effects favoured by those previously mentioned Radio 1 acts. Rob Coles’ Geordie voice has always had a subversive edge to it, but ‘Common Things’ sounds like the most hip hop-iest moment of their band yet. Never willing to follow the trends or sacrifice their artistic leanings to make music to fit a certain mould, this taster of upcoming album ‘WORHEAD’ is a strong indicator that Little Comets are continuing to make the kind of music and convey the emotions they want to.

7.5/10

‘Common Things’ is available now from The Smallest Label. ‘WORHEAD’, the newest and fourth album from North East band Little Comets, will be released on the 10th of March on The Smallest Label. ‘Common Things’, which will appear on ‘WORHEAD’, will be released as a single on the 10th of March. You can read through our pretty massive archive of posts on Little Comets through this link.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jXaxmZs7vRw[/youtube]

 

Little Comets / February and March 2017 UK Tour

 
By on Thursday, 29th September 2016 at 9:00 am
 

North East DIY group and firm TGTF favourites Little Comets have announced their fourth album ‘WORHEAD’ will be released at the beginning of February 2017 on their own Smallest Label. Naturally, they have announced live dates in the UK to support the new release. Both the album will be on presale (including some promised very special versions – ooh!) and tour tickets will be on sale starting tomorrow, Friday, the 30th of September at 10 AM. We’ve written quite a bit about the Geordie band since their humblest beginning in the late Noughties, so there’s a bit of a treasure trove of TGTF coverage on them this way.

Thursday 9th February 2017 – Oxford Academy
Friday 10th February 2017 – Bath Komedia
Saturday 11th February 2017 – Portsmouth Wedgewood Rooms
Sunday 12th February 2017 – Brighton Concorde 2
Tuesday 14th February 2017 – Cambridge Junction
Wednesday 15th February 2017 – Birmingham Institute
Thursday 16th February 2017 – Glasgow St Luke’s
Friday 17th February 2017 – Liverpool Academy 2
Saturday 18th February 2017 – Sheffield Leadmill
Thursday 16th March 2017 – London Koko
Friday 17th March 2017 – Leeds University Union
Saturday 18th March 2017 – Newcastle University

 

Live Review: Little Comets with Lisbon and Model Aeroplanes at London Koko – 12th March 2015

 
By on Tuesday, 24th March 2015 at 2:00 pm
 

In an era when indie rock bands strive to play international arena shows, Little Comets have instead spent the last 7 years capturing adolescent spirits across the UK’s smallest venues. The Tyneside trio have subsequently inspired a dedicated legion of fans and last Thursday night, following on from the release of ‘Hope is Just a State of Mind’ (reviewed by editor Mary here), they brought these fans together at London’s Koko.

Move aside, Kanye: this might have been your patch for a secret show a week ago, but this near sell out crowd was always going to prove very different. Little Comets added fellow Geordies Lisbon to open up, with a short but sweet taster of spritely indie pop. A tight sound and crowd pleasing set offered great variety; from the slow jam catchiness of ‘Blue Love’ that makes these guys a big tip for the future to the other end of the spectrum where the electro-pop grit of big drums and chanting lyrics on ‘I Don’t Know’ and ‘Native’, also sparked appreciation.

Already hotly tipped, Dundee’s Model Aeroplanes were also supporting and showed exactly why they’re commanding so much buzz lately. In short, this lively four-piece are the band to tell all your friends about, with driving rock melodies and an outstanding stage presence. Vocalist Rory Fleming-Stewart delivers youthful lyrics superbly on all occasions, even during the drunken sentiments of ‘Club Low’. “So much regret stuck in your teeth and you’re too proud to pick it out…”, he brims confidently, before changing tact on an upbeat chorus that the entire crowd can chant, “let’s face it we’re wasted, nowhere else to go…”.

This is a band who clearly enjoy their live sets, as Grant Irvine (guitar) and Ben Buist (bass) slid across the stage to add intricate riffs, whilst Kieran Smith gave a flawless performance behind the drums. There is an ever-present air of The Holloways in their jubilant indie refrains, and a tight set that included the likes of ‘Whatever Dress Suits You Better’ and ‘Rollercoaster’, showcased the potential for every track to be a worthy single. Don’t be mistaken by their playful charm, because this band have the showmanship and quality to hit even bigger stages in the next 12 months.

But it was when the headliners arrived that this crowd really started to get interesting. ‘Gift of Sound’ from Little Comets’ latest, independently released album – the first of their three to enter the top 40 album charts at number 31 – begins their set, followed by the timeless Brit-rock swagger of early, first album track ‘Isles’. By this point there are already fans climbing on one another’s shoulders, surging mosh pits and crowd surfing. It’s yet more evidence of how this band have channelled a youthful energy and angst, that other bands find impossible to replicate.

It would be naive however, to think their song writing has remained unchanged, and solely epitomised by these youth-cult classics. For all the excitement and wild scenes provoked by ‘Joanna’ and ‘Dancing Song’, Little Comets have also touched on as many profound and philosophical problems. ‘Woman Woman’ and ‘Violence Out Tonight’ create a chilling atmosphere, and amidst the enthused audience, still command a respectful peace. A respect that is held for just how diverse and thought-provoking this band’s songwriting can be.

They race through nearly 20 songs in all tonight, spanning across all their albums. There’s no encore here, and aside from there simply not being enough time, it would remain impossible to pick a select few to close on. Rob Coles, his brother Mickey and Matthew Hall, have been overcome by the scenes judging by their patter between songs, and it’s easy to see why: tonight undoubtedly highlights why this band are so special. This is a crowd that’s grown up with Little Comets over several years, and every time the band have reinvented themselves and their influences. It makes ‘In Blue Music We Trust’ all the more fitting to close their set, with lofty harmonies and a tale of positivity, and poignancy. Little Comets won’t be burning out anytime soon.

 

Album Review: Little Comets – Hope is Just a State of Mind

 
By on Wednesday, 11th February 2015 at 12:00 pm
 

While some artists are perfectly content staying in the same exact place musically, album after album, there are some artists who are not so easily satisfied. From when they began, Little Comets’ releases have gotten progressively more personal and also profoundly political. As we all know, sometimes the most honest music doesn’t find popular success because it says things that others are afraid to say. And goodness, who would *ever* risk alienating the record-buying public? ‘Hope is Just a State of Mind’, released next Monday, sees the band being their most outspoken yet.

Since the second LP, both Rob and his brother Mickey have become new fathers, and this album begins with a reminder of how the two of them have entered a new phase in their lives. LP opener ‘My Boy William’, named for Rob’s young son, has a bouncy rhythm matching well with lyrics embodying pure love and a hope for a bright future from father to child: “there’s more to this than meets the eye my love / don’t drown your dreams stay true but / try as I might / there’s much to learn and much to sow my love / but try as you might”.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lcaF65XixFI[/youtube]

Self-described sea shanty-styled ‘B & B’ is the poppiest one of the bunch, which might come as a great shock, considering the song was written in response to Conservative Party Chairman Grant Shapp’s Tweet about a reducing a tax on bingo and beer. This social media misstep has been viewed by many as patronising towards the working class. In one in a string of many blog posts he has written to explain the origin of Little Comets’ songs, Rob clarifies that ‘B & B’ came out not just from the distaste of this one Tweet from a clueless MP, but also from thinking further about how Thatcherism destroyed the North East. Clearly, Little Comets are not going to be Cameron’s favourites anytime soon, but one has to give these Geordies props to put their political opinion out there. Quite possibly the best part of this song is the a cappella opening, showcasing the trio’s tight harmonies that aren’t called upon as often as I would like.

‘Effetism’ is a searing examination of disgraced American Olympic cyclist Lance Armstrong, a beacon of hope for the ill and impaired until his deceit was discovered. The lighter than air guitar line seems to reflect Armstrong’s own laissez faire attitude towards his crime, as do the words, “everyone was gushing but you never did blush / bawdy implication was it part of the rush?” Another difficult topic previously tackled on ‘Violence Out Tonight’, violence against women, is again approached on ‘Wherewithal’. The smooth r&b feel this track and bird-like guitar trills belie the failings of the police to adequately respond to domestic violence, as expressed so well through its words, “I can’t trust you anyway / I can’t trust you anyway / On the tip of your cap is a badge / semper vigilo: you never ever did that though”.

The nostalgic and seemingly simplistic ‘Formula’ recalls the band’s earliest days, bashing out attempts at making pop music in a cold garage. Essentially, the environment in which they make music hasn’t changed, but the surprising addition of their original drummer Mark Harle on the song makes for an unexpected, if temporary reunion. ‘Don’t Fool Yourself’ sees the band embracing cool funk; it’s another catchy number and a welcome addition to the Comets’ arsenal.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JL9-EVfDowg[/youtube]

Some of the choicest cuts from their most recently released brilliant trilogy of EPs – ‘The Gentle EP’, ‘Salt’ and ‘The Sanguine EP’ – have also been included here, which will be a great discovery for those unfamiliar with the North East band’s work. (For those already fans, listening to the tracklisting from start to finish will be punctuated with familiar gems. Which is never a bad thing.) Thinking about both the melodic whimsy and anti-establishment industrial clanks of ‘Little Italy’ (video here) and the emotionally wrought portrait of child abuse in ‘Salt’ allows one to fully appreciate the two ends of the spectrum of Little Comets’ talent.

And then we come, sadly, to the end. ‘The Blur, the Line and the Thickest of Onions’ was described last year by Rob as his protest against songs that mean absolutely nothing, pointing to them as symptomatic of a society that have become too comfortable with the status quo. “I’m an onion, peel my layers back” is a good way I think this band views us, the fans: multi-dimensional human beings capable of feeling profound things and absorbing profound thoughts. Lyrically and instrumentally, Little Comets show us time and time again that they’re willing not only to push the proverbial envelope, they also have confidence in their listeners to be thinkers, to embrace something different.

Mean something to someone. And this is what Little Comets do.

8.5/10

‘Hope is Just a State of Mind’, the third album from Little Comets, is out next Monday, the 16th of February, on their own label The Smallest Label. For more on the writing of and the meaning of their songs from their own Rob Coles, visit the blog section on their official Web site. They start a new UK tour in 2 weeks, beginning on the 23rd of February in Nottingham; all the details on the tour is this way.

 
 
 

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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