Sunday Special: Teleman/NZCA Lines live at Think Tank?, Newcastle

I don’t make a huge amount of last minute impulse decisions, it’s not really in my nature. So when I arranged to go up to Newcastle and bought to tickets to see Teleman the day before the gig, it was a more of a sudden panicked change of plan than a cool edgy spur of the moment decision. I am not edgy or cool, sorry. I’m really glad I did though, for a bunch of reasons, including the fact that I would be getting to see a friend of mine who not just kindly agreed to put me up, but had also agreed to go with me to the gig, because she is a lovely person like that. Anyway, in my crazed mind, this was the best double bill that I’ve seen so far for a gig this year. It was at a teeny-tiny venue in central Newcastle, which was great because we were basically within spitting distance of the stage (we did not spit, but mostly unimpeded viewpoints are great) so we got a good look at what these guys had to offer live.

As it turns out, quite a lot.

NZCA Lines are a really, really solid live act, and deserve way more hype than they are currently getting. It was just two of them, so no Charlotte Hatherley and her bizarre silver mask, unfortunately, but crikey did they put out a lot of energy for two people. Michael Lovett is a pretty talented musician, and his live bit is no exception, with his single-minded dedication to playing all the synths ever (he does a lot of guitar, as well) looking pretty impressive to watch in the flesh, not to mention being really good to listen to. However, as I suspected beforehand, it was Sarah Jones who took the performance to another level: she is frankly mesmerising to watch, and I think both me and my friend were a little bit in love with her. The ability to play the drums that handily while singing so well often at complete cross purposes to each other is a rare one, and Jones makes it look both so easy and so, so cool. If you have even the remotest affinity with electronic music, take the opportunity to see them live if it is presented to you; they did a tidy, fun and quite snappy set, getting in, playing the best tracks on the album and then getting out again. Plus, they were both incredibly snappy dressers, which is always a plus.

Bit of a gap, and then Teleman wandered out, kind of nonchalantly, before chatting with the crowd a bit, which I thought was a nice touch. Actually, they were in good humour all night, which always makes a gig a bit more fun for me; if the band seem relaxed and not too stuck up, I feel a bit more at ease. They started out with a couple of older tracks to get the crowd a bit more fired up, which was pretty ace (I had a big goofy grin on my face when they did ’23 floors up’, which was lovely), and they had enough energy to generate excitement while still seeming laid back and relaxed, which is a pretty good sweet spot to be in for a smaller venue where the crowd is in your face constantly (even if it’s a nice crowd like that one was). They seemed pretty glad to be playing new stuff, and one of the new songs I heard (‘Fall In Time’) I fell in love with right away, which is always a bonus when you go see a band. Their live set up is what you’d expect, being guitar, bass, keys, drums (with the occasional second keyboard). They didn’t stray from this at all because they didn’t really need to; this a formula that works pretty well for them and they can use it to go lots of different places, such as towards the end of the set where they marched screaming down psychedelia avenue with nary a care in the world. They did a good encore, the lead singer went on one guitar based adventure into the crowd (didn’t get lost or die, so full credit to him), and I’m really, really glad I got to see some of those songs live (‘Cristina’ and ‘Skeleton Dance’ were particular highlights).

The bands seemed pretty happy with the show on the merch store afterwards (I like bands that still work their own stalls), and we were in a such a good mood we eschewed a taxi and went for the hour long walk back to our beds, so all in all I’d say it was a pretty great night out. I think this tour is onto Europe now, but both these bands will be back at some point, and I would recommend both of them if you are in town and fancy a great trip out.

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