The Longsands and friends @ The Riverside 27th February 2011
By Paul Marsden
Thursday 03 Mar 2011 08:24:00
Browse all Paul Marsden articles

Sunday the 27th February saw me at the recently named and changed Riverside club on the quayside.  Formerly Sea nightclub, Riverside has taken on a live music outlook and has really taken the mantle as the best venue outside of the arena and the academy for live music in the north east.  For the upcoming and the unsigned it proves that little step closer to the big stage and for legends like Weller and the soon to play Charlatans it provides a closer, more intimate feel where their undoubted talents and true personality can shine through like no arena or stadium will allow.

The Longsands were the headline act for my first Riverside visit.  A band surely destined for great things. Supporting them were two bands of reported quality and diverse in their style.  Neither of which I had heard play before.  This was all set to be a good night.

On arrival I was greeted by a sound so very different to anything I have heard before.  Two drum kits, no guitars, no keyboards and no backing track.  The drums, playing off each other frantically in a consistent manner, but with a skill and a sound that just roped you in.    The band was completed by a braces laden wacky front man with a dangerous amount of stage presence and a clearly shown love for what he was doing.  To look at he definitely fitted into the eccentric, oddball mould which over the years has created so many greats.  As first impressions go, this definitely worked.

This unusual band was Agitator.  A Glasgow based three piece with a whole different attitude.  A soulful sound and choice of wording with a rock, sometimes even drum and bass kind of twist.  Agitator, clearly very talented and entertaining did somehow though wear thin towards the end.  Perhaps the lack of instruments and the lack of variations available with just two drum kits caused the set to turn repetitive.  Still with a peculiar and entertaining front man, coupled with some awesome drumming talents, Agitator are a band very much worth a listen. 

A trip to the bar during the break between bands showed up the venues only downfall.  A pint of shandy ordered with the car sitting out front.  A pint of shandy that caused me to miss all but the next bands final song.  A twenty minute wait to be served is just not how a venue should be fuelling their crowd.  Riverside could be huge; I’m guessing these are just teething problems.

Section 60 were the band so cruelly denied of my full attention. Carrying a typical indie, Oasis like look and a sound massively influenced by them and the Coldplay’s of the world.   Without the angelic Chris Martin style voice though for me, this just doesn’t work.  The music that this not so surprising Liam Gallagher lookalike front man was plying his trade to was cleverly put together and pushed by a young, very talented and very expressive lead guitarist.  This band will do well.  There are plenty out there whose taste will appreciate this stuff.  My missus, who I had dragged along to see the Longsands thought they were awesome.  As a whole the band and the songs they sang just aint my kind of sound.  This is also just an opinion that comes from only listening to the best part of the set through one ear whilst grumbling on at the bar for my shandy.  For me though, a lover of the guitar, this set was all about that young guitarist. 

It was time for The Longsands.  The only band of the night that I had seen before.  They have never let me down.

Excluding a Blaydon races performance on derby day I had only seen this band in close quarters as a three piece.  Whether it’s a money thing or a sound thing only three of the five play the smaller venues.  Suits a more acoustic style I suppose.  This time though, joined by the rest of the band, the drummer and the bassist and for the most part swapping stunning acoustics for some good old electric muscle.  I can’t give this band enough praise. Again, your taste in music plays a part but you cannot help appreciate the quality of sound, lyrics and the overall tightness of the band as a whole.  They walk through a set with ridiculous ease yet rock out with a gig so powerful.  Incredible vocals, awesome instrumentals and constant crowd interaction had the Riverside bouncing.

The Longsands opened with my favourite of all thier songs I’ve heard.  Worlds Collide got us off to a great start.  With the look, sometimes even the sound of the Manics and an obvious group of buddies gelling so well together they followed Worlds Collide with other musically and lyrically sound songs like Bully and The University of Life.  A song written about a former band hang out in Cramlington.  Each and every one of the Longsands songs are drawn up from experiences and theories of the band and its members. Put together in such a clever way that in almost every one you can just feel a hit.

In most cases your headline act will break half way through.  Allowing a breather for the band and a bevy for the crowd. This lot did the same, this time though, leaving one of the two guitarists where he was.  He called to the sound guy to set his effects back to clean, whipped out his acoustic and had his time.  Two shows in one.  With the spotlight on him and encouraging back pats from his refuelling band mates he churned out a couple of his own.  In a style comparable to some early James Morrison stuff (his better stuff) he owned the stage.  From lad who during the main show spends his time playing awesome electric guitar and throwing in the odd backing vocal.  This was inspirational.   This quietened down the Riverside crowd but this was an adoring hush.  It was one of those times where the music grabs you.  Heartfelt, meaningful songs expertly performed.  The talent throughout this band is incredible.

The rest of the band returned for a second half of only two songs.  Disappointing may be, but what can you do if your old Vox amp explodes.  They pulled together throwing in a little acoustic to make up for the lost amp and ended with a song they intend to release as the first from their upcoming album.  Personally I think that the song and the album will be a massive success and I really hope that it is.  A great bunch of lads both on and according to all reports off stage.  The Longsands are a must see and I am sure that whether you chose to or not you will still end up seeing a lot of these boys!

Paul Marsden

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