Evolution Festival - Newcastle - A Review In Pictures

Newcastle's one day Evolution Festival is the climax of a long weekend of musical events around the local area. With tickets selling at an amazing £3 per person the audience were guaranteed to get value for money from the acts playing over the two stages that make up the event.

I started my Evolution experience at the Spillers Wharf stage, the larger of the two arenas, checking out Manchester band The Whip running through tracks from their debut album "X Marks Destination". I encountered them last summer at one of London's one day Festivals. The photo agency I work for asked me to cover them as they were "going to be big!". Unfortunately, mainstream success has eluded them so far but there were plenty people down the front lapping up their sub New Order sounds, though can't say I'm really a fan.

Next up were Glasgow's Glasvegas, sounding like The Proclaimers on downers! The band use their Scottish accents to good effect but their set was fairly dour all round with not much in the way of uplifting songs on offer.
Already Cult favourites, Glasvegas have a huge UK tour lined up and may well cross over into the mainstream with the right single.

Lightspeed Champion was the first act on the bill that I had been looking forward to. Lightspeed Champion is the name of the new musical venture by ex-Test Icicle Dev Hynes. His country tinged debut album "Falling off the lavender bridge" has received several airings in my household as it's a real grower. I've seen Lightspeed Champion live on numerous occasions, including several sets on a Tilly And The Wall tour and a performance at SXSW, noticing Dev's confidence growing with each show, getting to the point where he's now throwing "Rock Star" shapes throughout the gig!

Dev's set was pulled from his debut album but also included new material, including a funky sounding track that appeared to be a distant relative of The Clash's "Radio Clash". The set ended with the extremely lengthy "Midnight Surprise" with an added Prog Rock version of the theme from "Star Wars" as the intro!

The song is probably the highlight of "Lavender bridge" and normally features the ever lovely Emmy The Great on backing vocals, though Dev's female drummer did a decent job in her absence.

I'm sure a lot of the crowd had come along to see Duffy as the arena was almost full by the time she took to the stage, commenting on how big the audience was.

I'm not a big fan of the lady but I've seen a couple of previous sets she's played so it's nice to see Duffy also growing in confidence with each show after having been catapulted to success very quickly. All the album faves were rolled out but I took my leave upon hearing my most loved Duffy track "Warwick Avenue" as I had a 15 minute walk to the Baltic Square stage to catch US noise merchants Crystal Castles.

Crystal Castles are Ethan Kath and Alice Glass. Their set taken from their self titled album consisted of Electro Thrash songs utilsing early video game samples with distorted vocals layered over the top. Crystal Castles aren't the sort of band I'd listen to at home but I'd been wanting to see them for a while as I'm a sucker for rowdy live acts. Crystal Castles certainly didn't disappoint as Alice took several opportunities to launch herself into the front rows of the extremely packed Baltic Square arena and stalked, prowled and rolled about the stage, delivering a passionate vocal performance at the same time, making what I saw of their set the highlight of my day!

I unfortunatly had to leave early as I had to trudge through hundreds of people to catch Kate Nash back at Spillers Wharf.

By the time I got back to Spillers Wharf the place was full to the brim with people so it was quite a squeeze getting back down to the photo pit in time for Kate Nash's set.

Kate Nash is a singer that's taken me a few months to warm to. I despised original single "Caroline Is A Victim" but gradually found myself liking her album and live shows since then. My time with Kate was very short but I did get to hear a lovely renditon of fave Nash track "Birds" and sang along to a couple of other songs as I made my way back to Baltic Square for my final set of the night: CSS.

I've seen CSS far too many times too mention but always find them a fun act to watch due to singer Lovefoxxx's onstage exuberance always bringing a smile to my face.

The band have been peddling their debut album for a while now so it's a relief to hear new songs from forthcoming somophore release "Donkey" filling up the set. There didn't seem to be another "Let's Make Love" type of song amongst the new tracks on offer that will give the band another "signature" tune but that's maybe harsh criticism as it's hard sometimes to judge songs from live renditions.

This was my first CSS show without the enigmatic Ira playing bass, having decided to stay at home to save the enviroment. She was sadly missed though I'm sure I'll get over it by their next performance!

Security had their work cut out for them during the set as Lovefoxxx called for crowd surfers throughout the show, with numerous kids taking up the challenge, some more than once!
The Festival ended with an uplifting rendition of the always classic "Lets Make Love and Listen to Death From Above" with the crowd squeezed into Baltic Square dancing as one.

My first Evolution Festival was an enjoyable yet extremely tiring experience due to the huge distance between stages. I also felt that the Baltic Square venue was a bit too small for the acts on offer but I don't know how that could be changed. The line up for both stages was very good though, especially as I avoided the one act I've no time for (Hello Reverend And The Makers!) so I'll probably head along again in 2009.

Last updated: 18/04/2018 23:19:48

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