The Spangles - Trillians Rock Bar, Newcastle 15.02.2020
Storm Dennis might be trying to do its best to batter the living hell out of the country but it'll take a lot more than that to stop the people of Newcastle from coming out on a Saturday night.
Trillians is an institute in the North East, a mecca for anyone who loves Rock, Punk and Metal. A subterranean bar just off the city's main shopping street, it's been the home to some brilliant bands and gigs over the years. There's a real legacy to the place; in fact if you head down the corridor to the toilets you can see a board listing some of the many great bands that have played here. Trillians is a real part of the local Rock history, but it's still going strong, still putting on great bands.
Tonight sees the third date of The Spangles "Everything Sweeter Than Everything Else" tour. The Pop Punk trio are currently touring their debut album with a nine date tour, tearing around the country and bringing a smile to everyone's faces.
Saturday kicks off with 2Sevens, a Scottish four piece that have enough Punk spirit running through their veins they could reanimate any of the fallen Punk heroes of the past. They're loud, brash and are making no compromises to what they want to do. They start off with their foot placed flat to the accelerator pedal and they don't let up. Murray and Slamms, the band's rhythm section, are the engine fuelling the ride. Andy peels off licks and leads effortlessly whereas frontman JK spits out lyrics and guitar rhythms, driving the band forward. He doesn't just take his guitar off. It's thrown to the floor like it's just pissed in his pint before it gets picked back up or swapped for another victim. They burn through their set without wasted momentum, winning over the cold and wind battered audience.
The Jon Doe Experiment are tonight's local support and they're not taking the opportunity for granted. Louise and the boys have had a rough turn of luck. They released the album "It's Not Me, It's You" last year before losing their old bass player, meaning they've struggled to play shows. Tonight they're joined by Chris Baker on bass who's learned the set after a few practices (something they share with tonight's headliners). They're more Rock than Punk, styling themselves after bands like The Wildhearts, so tonight could have seen them fall short. That's not an option for TJDE; they get their heads down and play their hearts out. Choruses are big and spiky, Mark holding everything together as the twin guitars of Tom and John splash colour and melody all over the place. Louise has stepped up a hell of a lot since I last saw them. She's comfortable onstage and her voice is powerful, capturing your attention. With songs like 'Kryptonite' they certainly show no weakness, The Jon Doe Experiment showing the Trillians audience what they're capable of.
Fizzy Pop Punk is what The Spangles do best and tonight they’re on top form and for a three piece they make a great racket. Their formula is simple and in other hands it could become really stale really fast but these guys approach it all with a great sense of fun. In fact, I interviewed the band shortly before they went onstage and I don’t think I’ve laughed as much in a long time.
Up at the front of the stage on guitar and bass are Ben and Polly. Although Ben leads the band they both act as frontmen, joking around with each other between songs in a way where we feel like we’re more in a practice room with the guys rather than at a gig. They tear through their sixty minute set with style, throwing out songs from “Sweet FA”. Even if you hadn’t heard any of the songs before you’d still be singing them shortly after. They just burrow straight into your brain really fast.
Ben has got chance to show off his skills on guitar and vocals quite a bit. Previously he was in the Main Grains with his band mate Ginna but with this lot of Pop Pirate Punks he’s got chance to shine. And shine he does, constantly grinning away under a waterfall of curly hair. He beats Lewis Capaldi to the punch by a few days by sharing his love of the large bottle of Buckfast that he’s brought with him from the previous date in Glasgow (they jokingly refer to it as tramp juice between songs). Guitar wise he’s in complete control of his instrument, making it look like child’s play. You can tell why so many people want him in their band at the moment (at the moment you can also find him in Ryan Hamilton and the Harlequin Ghosts as well as Warner E. Hodges' (of Jason and the Scorchers fame) touring band). Polly, meanwhile, is currently moonlighting from his other job as frontman of The Idol Dead. Here though he comfortably adds the bottom end very nicely. He’s not static either as he still manages to move around the stage quite a bit, even when it’s his turn to handle the vocals on ‘POTUS’.
The band are a member down for a few dates of the tour as drummer Ginna has some back problems so his place is taken by Ace Carlton from the Matty Cassidy band who’s stepped up to fill the drum seat. You can’t tell he’s only had a stupidly short time to learn the set as everything is played to perfection. The only downside is the loss of Ginna’s vocals which really add something to the overall sound of the band (and missing Ginna himself too. Get well soon).
It’s a case of blink and they’re gone, the hour flying over faster than Ben drinking his Buckfast. It feels like they’ve only just started the night before they closing with ‘Ramone’ their tribute to a band that’s clearly had an impact on them. Guitars are put down and farewells bade from the stage. The hang around though, ready to chat to all and sundry, laughing away and talking to old friends and new fans alike. It’s not too long though before Charlie, their tour manager, is trying to get them together so they can break down their gear and head off to the hotel. And, with that, I take my leave. They maybe sweet to the taste but The Spangles will leave you desperate for more. Here’s hoping that it won’t be to long before they’re back out again.
The Spangles - https://www.facebook.com/thespanglesuk/
The John Doe Experiment - https://www.facebook.com/TheJohnDoeExperiment/
2Sevens - https://www.facebook.com/thetwosevens/
Photos - G's Gig Shots
Review - Scott Hamilton