Straight Lines are a band that don’t do performances by half measures. They go at it full throttle and leave a part of themselves behind on the stage.
Bursting onto the scene with the first single from their latest album, Freaks Like Us, bassist Todd Campbell and guitarist James Pugh covered every inch of the stage with manic energy: there is a gloriously uncalculated, frenetic energy about how they perform – Pugh looked like he was trying to do 10 things and go 10 places at once, all as he furiously worked his guitar.
Playing to a gig venue that was still filling up with people who don’t know who you are may have overwhelmed a poorer act, but Straight Lines are not a band to be fazed by such challenges. Pausing halfway through his songs to scream: “Newcastle, I can’t hear you” lead singer Tom Jenkins started off a theme that was repeated all night. Finishing off with Commitments, dedicated to ‘The girls disco dancing in the middle’, Straight Lines not only gave something to disco dance to, but something to remember.
Of course, We Are The Ocean were the band that everyone came to see and for good reason. Lead singer Liam Cromby has a voice that was made for belting out the type of soaring singalong anthems that made Maybe Today, Maybe Tomorrow what it was.
Kicking off with Stanford Rivers, Cromby interrupts it to hold his note, before plunging straight into the fire that is the heaviest song from their latest album, Bleed.
We Are The Ocean certainly brought the bright lights of fame to Newcastle – unfortunately they were directed straight into the eyes of sections of the crowd, making watching the band a more uncomfortable experience than it had any right to be.
Bassist Jack Spence gives the impression of a caged animal, shackled by the softer tones of Maybe Today, Maybe Tomorrow. He tried to get going, but it was clear that he was more comfortable throwing himself around to the heavier stuff from Cutting Our Teeth. And when he got to play All Of This Has To End, it was truly the first time that the assembled throng gained an impression of someone completely in their comfort zone.
Cromby is the typical cheeky Essex chappy. He asked the crowd if it’ was ‘Okay to play some of our new stuff’ before replying ‘lovely jubbly’. He worked the crowd the whole way through the set, repeatedly asking, imploring and demanding that they sang louder, jumped higher and acted livelier.
Finishing off the night with Young Heart, a singalong exercise was launched. Newcastle got three times to impress Cromby before he drew a close to their gig. The youngster in the front went mental, creating a mosh pit that would have looked more in place with a Slipknot concert. The oldies in the back tapped their feet and nodded their heads. Everyone lapped it up.