Gig Review: Lone Wolf Presents – The Watchers @ Plugged Inn
By Hannah D'Arcy on June 18, 2012 in Music
Sunderland is threatening to head back into a musical rut at the moment. With the imminent demolition of Independent and the closure of so many music bars, the stream of talent in the town is bursting its banks into Newcastle and Middlesbrough. Thank goodness then for people like Alex Burgess of Lone Wolf, who is making sure Sunderland still has some gigs – and decent ones at that. Saturday’s was no exception.
First on the bill were Warning!, late replacements for The Famous When Dead who had to pull out due to injury. This trio of coiled springs looked like something from a Michael Cera movie and, between songs, were shy to the point of endearment. Then they started to play and blew my head off. It’s a rare thing to see three people who can be so musical, so in sync and so mental. Someone had laced their dinner with e-numbers, yet they were tighter than Anne Robinson’s forehead. Their bass player has the potential to become my new favourite person as well, after knocking out a physical display that made me think of the Animaniacs on whizz. Go see this band.
Faced with the unenviable task of following Warning! were Parastatic, an eighties-synth-band-goes-modern-with-a-Macbook. Amid the seizure-inducing lightshow, the talent of this act cannot be denied, but for me, their set proved that talent alone doesn’t equal a good show. After three songs, I felt like I was listening to the soundtrack of a straight-to-DVD Tron spinoff. It was tight, it was rehearsed and it was musically sound, but it was quite soulless and robotic: music to revise for your maths exam to.
With so many bands around and so many local bands of varying quality, it’s not often you see one where you think “These guys deserve to be famous”. As far as I’m concerned, the headliners at Plugged Inn deserve to be playing to crowds of thousands. This is only the second time I’ve had the pleasure of seeing The Watchers – the first was at Evolution Emerging at The Tyne – and the first thing that became apparent early on was that the sound system did not do them justice. That, however, is one small negative in what was otherwise a fantastic performance. Lead singer Liam Milne has a voice that Eric Burdon would envy, which he tinges with just enough reverb to make the hairs on the back of your neck stand up. Highlights for me were the wonderfully aggressive Against Silent Walls and the explosive set-closer, The Path Of Least Resistance, during which Liam ripped one of the promotional posters off the wall and shoved his head through it, like a…like an…angry paper lion. Yeah. If you haven’t seen/heard this band yet, do yourself a favour. Get to www.thewatchers.co.uk and either watch the live videos or have a look at their upcoming gigs.
One thought that struck me on my way home from this gig was how empty it was. It was very well promoted, I KNOW it was well promoted, using social networking, magazine listings and good old posters and flyering. Yet, within five minutes of the bands finishing, the bar filled with people (mainly mods like) all flooding to the bar to drink cans of Woodpecker and listen to a mix CD. This was a free gig with a popular and locally well-known band and yet there must have been 35-40 people there. Sadly, this is not uncommon. Sunderland, you have no right to bemoan the fall of your music scene. You have no right to whinge that nothing goes on and you have no right to feel victimised that all your bands go to Newcastle to play, because you do not support them when they come home and you do not back people like Lone Wolf who try to make things happen. We have so much talent here, we deserve more than the odd local jewel at the Minster. We deserve, dare I say, a “scene”.
I just can’t see it happening any time soon.
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