The Sonics at Riverside, Newcastle on 10th May 2014

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Tonight 60s legends The Sonics are playing Newcastle for the first time ever. It’s another great booking for the freshly revived Riveriside, following Interpol and The (English) Beat.

High Tide At 15:47 start things off. They are a great local 3 piece indie rock band, who provide us with some melodic shoegaze goodness. Those who came down early were in for a treat. Big Muff and Holy Grail pedals, coupled with with a Fender Jaguar make for the perfect recipe for shoegaze drones. The drummer trades places with the singer/guitarist for the last track and noticeably barefooted too. They haven’t yet released any material, but their debut EP is in the works. Certainly a band to watch out for.

Next up a two piece band with bluesy garage rock straight from The Sonics song book of awesome; The Approved. The vocalist has a unique melodious style like a bluesy gruff Hamilton Leithauser (The Walkmen) with a hint of Dylan. The blues riffs come thick and fast with a mean but modern feeling rhythm . A great band for the bill and I’d like to hear more of their music.

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Now for the main act. The crowd is filling up and is warmed quite up nicely, ready for the last show of the band’s UK tour. The Sonics are world class and a hugely influential band, so much so that I find it hard to believe they aren’t gigantic. That said, I am very grateful I get to see them in an intimate venue. Credited with creating garage rock and paving the way for the punk scene, many still class them as the first punk band. Kurt Cobain cited them as an influence and they have been covered by many big names over the years including Franz Ferdinand, Pearl Jam, The Fall and The Flaming Lips to name but a few.

The band has three very strong, charismatic vocalists and some very well crafted pop rock songs and classic covers done The Sonics special way. They riff their way trough old faves and we are also treated to a bunch of tracks from their upcoming album. The new ones are familiar, yet fresh with that great timeless sound. The audience reacts strongly to the new material. ‘Have Love Will Travel’ goes down well and shows another influence, the very popular Black Keys. They trawl through classics such as ‘Boss Hoss’, ‘Money (thats what I want)’, ‘Roll over Beethoven’, a fantastic version of ‘Louie Louie’, but what really gets the crowd going is the all time classic ‘Psycho.’

The band have people dancing and even pogoing and generally having a great time. There’s a really good mix of ages in the crowd, many young faces and a few people old enough to remember them from the 60s.

The Sonics left the stage to thundery applause. Great showmen with timeless songs.

Reviewer and Photographer: Graeme Baty

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