Two songs in to their first ever Newcastle date and NOVACUB vocalist Louise Bartle has already found absurdly sensational form following a stirring rendition of “November”. It’s an early adopters favourite judging from wide-eyed responses in the audience - a live and loyal rendering of the first demo the band dropped last year, the pulsating beat traverses the jammed venue, augmented by her epic strains expressed in its heartbreaking refrain.
On a balmy North East night in an O2 Academy externally surrounded by a snaking queue of giddy Kaiser Chiefs fans, the opening one-two punch alongside "Imagination" begat a run of blinding new tracks that played out as a mission statement from the scintillating quartet. Owing perhaps to the famous headliners' decision to return to smaller venues for their 2019 tour, a bustling and bristling crowd packed out the floor for the support set. The swathes were rewarded by a boxfresh band already approaching show-stealing form.
But Bartle and and guitarist Russell Lissack have seen much of this before.
As drummer and guitarist (and in Lissack’s case, founder member) respectively for indie/electronica cornerstones Bloc Party, the pair have lived much of this life already. Unfazed by the sea of eyes staring back, they led proudly from the front, elevating the status some of their quiet riots lurking within a catalogue that hadn't yet been unearthed in these parts until this particularly thrilling introduction. This isn't to undermine the contributions of Iona Thomas on bass and pitch-perfect added vocals (a touring harpist beyond the band), nor multi-skilled stick steward Tony Alda on drums. The readily apparent lived-in experience as sophisticated musicians and songwriters permeated through the performances of all four.
Juxtaposed against the raw inventiveness of this novel new project, the chemistry made for an tantalising mix of hidden gems on a show with arguably more hedonistic endeavor than the headliners themselves could potentially promise.
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