Tonight was the first night of The Cult Festival in The heart of Newcastle, a rain-soaked Byker, providing the backdrop to Hoults Yard and the Warehouse 34, the venue for tonight, although the various food vans and a single fairground ride lying silent gave the impression that there may have been plans to have an outdoor stage, but the weather these days seems to deter most things without shelter. It took a good few seconds to become accustomed to the lack of light, as eyes picked out a couple of hundred brave souls that venture out on this rain soaked day.
The crowd for tonight’s festivities was healthy, with a heavy sprinkling of original rude boys and girls, as well as your punks and skins split 60-40 with late teens and twenty somethings, there were a lot of time filled Fred Perry t-shirts, collectively all here to see live Ska. Supports were not bad, first on, i was very taken with the energy of Fife’s Root Sister was a success with got a good few Trilby sporting bodies moving, remember a good end of set ‘White Lines’ going down particularly well. Next up, a young band rasta4eyes that are getting there. The local band showed promise moving numerous hips and feet, at times they sounded a little like an indie band, however those around me were taken with a strong effort from this original band.
Next to take to the the multi coloured dry iced stage were Root System, complete with brass, they covered some classic 2tone – Bad Manners ‘Lip Up Fatty’ with various early doors Madness songs from their 2tone debut album, ‘The Prince’; all of their set was meet with enthusiastic approval – got the crowd going, lead singer clad in Bad Manner-esque overhauls, a true front man carried there well rehearsed sound came across like S ’ska tunes’, like a time locked jukebox with a hallowed selection, it was not that long ago public houses were made by their sound and ambience. But my mind wanders, interrupted by a flyer for the 10th Anniversary Bash by the Tynesiders Scooter Club promoting a night in November with the Clash City Rockers.
Matter of minutes later several scores of hands and a chorus of cheers great the 9-piece 2tone originals, The Selecter, as they take to the Newcastle stage, only when the first notes of their first single, ‘Gangsters vs Selecter, at last hands lower as minds turned south to focus on dancing. If I got my sums right this was the first release by the band some 30 plus years ago back in 1979, it has not lost any of it’s lustre. Even two songs in, you get the impression that The Selecter in 2012 are on on glowing form, not a surprise, as it was normally the status-quo, but after touring the ‘Made In Britain’ album, at countless festivals and venues stages, have further honed their skills.
The album, along with the singles received well deserved success via the iTunes Chart when first released on vinyl and as a download. This becomes all too apparent with the roar which greets Arthur ‘Gaps’ Hendrickson’s announcement “This is track 1, from our new album” as the band launched into ‘Big In The Body Small In The Mind’,the anti-fascist song went down well with all, pleased to say. All the songs were striking home, I remember early into the set, working up a sweat to ‘Murder’ which I swear was beefed up and revised, especially when you hear the original. Tried for a song or two to take a breather, it was hot, loud, powerful and for me and many more an euphoric experience, but heavy going on the quads and cardiovascular system – in short, I was knackered, curse my enthusiasm, take a breath before ‘James Bond’ wakes me up again, can;t help thinking of another 2tone band The Bodysnatchers every time I hear the opening bars of the Coventry band’s song.
Looking behind me the crowd are dancing, not the first five rows, but the whole audience which went crazy as ‘Three Minute Hero’ sparked off, an outstanding single, even mow powerful live. it was so captivating and loud, no one looked up to see the flashing red lights or hear the fire alarm, until the band stopped short of the final few bars. We all had to step into the night’s air, which was rain free for the first time.
So ‘Three Minute Hero’ ended prematurely, once the tonight’s crowd were let back in to the warehouse, after around five minutes, the band greeted several minutes later by around a 100 plus die-hards stayed the course. The crowd voiced loud encouragement when the band returned for a health & Safety induced two song encore. but what songs! In a blitz of high energy, ‘On My Radio’ filled warehouse 34, with Pauline Black’s voice, in perfect tone. With many I came up for air, Sucking in the air before a rip-roaring rendition of one of their classics, ‘Too Much Pressure’ – a tour de force, a beautiful end to proceedings, squeezing every last drop of energy for the faithful. The Selecter shone, despite the weather, interrupted set and poor monitor sound at the start, all of little consequence, as the 9 piece provided a thoroughly entertaining night. 8.75/10
Steve Janes All Live photos by Lucy Galley