Whilst the day starts gently with Cattle & Cane, and Yonaka, it’s Embrace who kick the main stage off properly today with their shoot from the hip blend of emotive indie. Standouts ‘Come back to what you know’ as well as cut’s from last years ‘Love is a basic need’ prove that whilst some older indie acts seem content to go off and ‘play the hits’, some are still taking risks and pushing themselves hard. They may not be to everyone’s taste but they’re certainly an act who act as a talisman for never resting on your laurels and putting everything into your live show.
Damaged by downpours, and clearly hiding in the shade, there’s a huge groundswell of people as Lewis Capaldi enters the stage, cramming up the front of the sage and singing every word. Capaldi himself puts on a competent, confident, show walking a fine line between comedy and bravado with his talk of having a number one album and being able to buy a house. It’s managed well, but it’s right on the edge of good taste and needs the backing of a spirited live show to back up the bravado.
Mt Misery provide competition to Capaldi on the BBC Introducing stage with their blend of upbeat jangly indie (including standout ‘Heartbreak’) and covers of Brian Eno. The fishing gear attire might need work though.
Building up nicely to the climax of the festival, the best one-two of the day, Glasgow’s The Lafontaines on the Richard Hamilton stage and then God-like Jonny Marr on the main stage both provide ‘shows of the day’ with their full intensity, humour and good grace. Opening with ‘hi, we are Lewis Capaldi’ The Lafontaines brand their set with genuine wit and attacking rock/metal whilst Marr, well, picks up his guitar and shows everyone else how to play it for the next 70 minutes.
A quick switch over prevails on the main stage before closers The Stereophonics do exactly what you know they’ll do, and have everyone singing along to their back catalogue. Standouts ‘Superman’, ‘Step on my old size nines’ and ‘Have a nice day’ prove their influence on the cultural pop charts over the past twenty years as well as just how well Kelly Jones can sing the hits. The Phonics are great. If you like that kind of thing.
And that’s us. Three days of music gone in the blink of an eye.
Congratulations to the organisers who, bar some barrier issues on the first day, seem to have done a great job of bringing big acts to the centre of Newcastle. We’ve seen before that this isn’t an easy thing to do.
The one request would be to mindful that their biggest risk, of placing Lewis Capaldi so high up the line-up, paid off handsomely. Let’s have more of that next year.