WASTELAND FESTIVAL 2019 - FRANK TURNER & THE SLEEPING SOULS // O2 ACADEMY, NEWCASTLE UPON TYNE
A very rainy Saturday left festival goers thankful that the venue was changed to indoors. Doors opened at 5 and the first act, Seán McGowan, opened the proceedings with his humorous personality, much like to Frank Turner’s style.
The 26 year old from Southampton lifted the dampened spirits of the crowd saying, “I bet you’re pleased it’s inside now” and had a cheeky dig at the prices of drinks at the O2, which tickled quite a few. He played a few songs from his latest album ‘Son of the Smith’, which is definitely worth a listen!
Next up were Hot Milk, a pop punk band from Manchester. Having supported You Me at Six, Deaf Havana and Enter Shikari earlier in the year, I was expecting great things and I wasn’t disappointed. They owned the stage and despite a challenging early slot they managed to get the crowd to head bang and pogo along with them. One of the band’s duel vocalists - Han Mee - was very energetic, bouncing around the stage as if it was on fire. They were a perfect crowd warmer and certainly worth going to see if you get the chance.
Where do I start with Holy Moly and the Crackers? I knew little to nothing about them before the gig, however they must go down as one of my favourite bands to photograph yet. They created a real buzz in the O2 with their Folk/Blues/Rock vibe, using a range of different instruments including trumpet, violin and accordion. Their vocalist and guitarist/trumpet player Conrad Bird was a live wire, injecting so much energy and enthusiasm into their performance and it was greatly received by the crowd. After releasing their second album “Take A Bite” this year, which has some fantastically crafted songs on it, they can only go in one direction and that’s up! They’re playing at the Sage later this year and it certainly won’t be a gig you’d want to miss!
Beans On Toast was a perfect follow up act to Holy Moly and the Crackers. The man behind the name is Jay McAllister, a very laid back guy who took to the stage in bare feet accompanied by his acoustic guitar and a bottle of beer, my kind of guy! The audience really warmed to him, notwithstanding his ‘interesting’ attempt at the Geordie accent, which I’m sure his Tyneside fans will forgive him for! He really connected with the audience, asking them to pick which one of his songs they’d like him to sing to them. However he only managed to string together a couple of lines from two that were requested and this drew great laughter. A really genuine guy who you’d love to invite to a party!
The Wildhearts, crikey! They brought Rock ‘N Roll to Newcastle and boy did the crowd agree! Originally formed back in 1989, the Newcastle based hard rock band is still going strong 30 years later. They released their latest album this year “Renaissance Men” and it is excellent. Despite not really fitting in with the folk-rock themed line up, Frank Turner has been a massive fan of theirs since he was a kid so it seemed fitting that they played one after another.
The band, that includes Ginger, Danny, CJ and Ritch, grabbed the bull by the horns and went straight in with their track “Dislocated”, which, if anyone was half asleep, would certainly give them a sharp awakening! Ginger’s ginger dreadlocks flying around during “Vanilla Radio” created one of the favourite photos I’ve taken, will be a particular highlight for me. By the time it came to their final song “I Wanna Go Where The People Go”, their strong following from the North East left to get a pint with huge smiles on their faces. Those who weren’t prepared for the hard rock, moshpits and head banging were left a bit dazzled! I hope they keep doing what they do best and that’s rock and roll!
Last but not least, Frank Turner and the Sleeping Souls. What a pleasure it was seeing them again! I saw Frank at Kendal Calling back in 2017 and he was just as good if not better this time. He played his classics “Recovery”, “The Way I Tend To Be” and “The Next Storm”, which were a trip down memory lane. Frank had the crowd eating out of the palm of his hand, describing how his sister taught him how to dance. Well I say dance more, dance with your hands. He taught the crowd the moves he’d learnt and it was quite bizarre seeing a packed O2 stood still performing hot potato and swirling their arms. His crowd tricks didn’t stop there, he then got them to create a walking circle, which from above would have made you dizzy! Then he decided to become part of the audience by crowd surfing and running around the pit.
He wasn’t the only member of the band who couldn’t stand still. Tarrant Anderson the bassist and Ben Lloyd the guitarist ran about the stage delightedly. Even the drummer, Nigel Powell got off his drum and had the crowd clapping from front of stage.
The story telling folk singer, Frank Turner introduced the crowd to the tale behind his new single “The Death of Dora Hand” and it gave off a powerful message. It was based on the true story of the Dodge City entertainer’s accidental murder in 1878. As the night drew to a close, he finished with “I Still Believe” and “4 Simple Words” to a full house of arms swaying in the air and thanked the crowd for a special gig to which, he confirmed, he hoped to return, here in Newcastle before the end of the year.