Last month I published a preview of this years iconic Dr Martens STAND FOR SOMETHING Tour focusing on the headliners of the Newcastle date, VANT. As this is a band that I love, I was of course very excited for this opportunity, even more so because the gig was set to take place in one of my favourite places in the world. I've missed Newcastle so much since graduating university; its an incredible city and I feel so at home there, Bradford seems exceedingly dull in comparison.
As the gig was on a Saturday I suggested to two of my best friends in the world, and flatmates of the last two years, Harriet and Sam, that we have a little reunion. They didn't take much tempting, and a reunion was unanimously and instantly agreed upon. As Sam lives in Sunderland, he offered to have Harriet and I stay for the weekend.
So on Saturday morning I caught the train from Leeds arriving in Newcastle around noon to meet up for lunch with one of my best friends from home, Cam, who is studying in Newcastle. We took the occasion as an excuse to visit Quilliam Brothers' Teahouse, which remains one of my favourite cafes in the city. I'd recommend their seasonal toffee apple tea, and the peanut butter brownies!
Harriet's train arrived a few hours after mine as she was travelling up from London. As I headed towards central station to meet her, I happened to bump into of my darling friends Beth from my course and her boyfriend Marc, who were also visiting for the weekend to see VANT play The Cluny. Utterly delighted and surprised we had a quick chat and agreed to meet up at the gig. I arrived at the station practically shaking with excitement at the thought of seeing so many of my friends in one weekend, as another of our old flatmates, Matt, who is still studying in Newcastle said that he was free to come along to the gig too. I found Harriet where upon we became even more excited, (if that was possible) and from Newcastle we caught the Metro to Sam's house where we were reunited, and greeted with vegan cupcakes made by Sam's lovely mum Denise.
After a long needed catch up over our cupcakes, we got dolled up and headed back into the city. Upon arriving in Newcastle, so happy to be back there together, we headed to NUDO for some much needed sushi and a glass of wine. After much hilarious deliberation upon the route we should take down The Cluny, we set off, wandering past many of our old haunts and reminiscing.
When we arrived we found Matt as well as Beth and Marc, who disappeared to watch the support act, LIFE, who they knew from their home city of Hull. We however stayed at the bar for a drink and a catch up with Matt as we hadn't seen him since May(!). Then about five minutes before VANT were due to come on stage we headed into the performance area and the six of us settled ourselves in a spot in the middle of the crowd in eager anticipation.
I was extremely elated by this point to finally be seeing VANT play live; I discovered them around April time, and Harriet and I had actually planned to see them play The Cluny in May, however our final year deadlines were upon us and we decided much to our devastation we'd have to miss it. I've loved them from the first time I heard 'Parking Lot', however since being asked along to review the gig and writing the preview, discovering more about the band's political views on Brexit and the US election and what they stand for, they really fascinated me and I was curious to see how they would portray that live. If you follow them on Facebook or Twitter you've probably seen the video they uploaded last week of their impromptu street performances around London aiming to inspire discussions amongst people concerning the US election. Following the result, front-man Mattie publicly spoke out about his devastation concerning the new President elect very eloquently in an interview with NME. Their passion and use of music to promote equality, consideration and protection of the environment inspired my huge admiration of them. At last, I had the privilege of being a member of their adoring audience.
VANT's performance on Saturday night was one that they could be nothing less than proud of; they gently enticed the crowd into a contagious admiration of their playing and spirit, so by the end of their set, every audience member's mind and heart was galvanised.
I'm ashamed to say I did not recognise the song they opened with, and the atmosphere felt like it needed a kick within the first few tracks, but not even a song later, and almost subconsciously, the whole room suddenly lifted and we were all in a weightless animation. 'Karma Seeker' and 'Do You Know Me?' were met with glorious episodes of dancing and chanting, and then Mattie treated us all to a front row view of 'Birth Certificate'.
It took me a moment to work out that somehow he wasn't on the stage anymore and then spot him walking through the crowd in our direction. He put down his mic stand right behind where Harriet, Matt, Sam and I were standing and so by a stroke of unbelievable luck, we had the best seats in the house as he beautifully sung out some of his most poetic lyrics. On his return journey to the stage at the end of the song, he received countless pats on the back by his grateful audience, the band then continued with their exceptional show. They also treated us to a half-pace arrangement of 'Peace & Love' halfway through their set which seemed to make the lyrics all the more heartfelt.
There also seemed to be a turning point about halfway through, in conjunction and inspired by their playing 'Parking Lot'; what was dancing towards the front of the crowd, turned into full and unashamed slam dancing, and it was brilliant. The need for release overcame the audience and the unbeatable ecstasy that only comes with hearing your favourite songs being played live was instantly in abundance. From what was a wanting start, the show had insidiously built and by the time they played 'Fly-By Alien' the entire room was magnetised.
Towards the end of the show, Mattie took a moment to thank the audience for supporting them and fuelling their ability to perform and speak out about current issues. Almost as soon as he mentioned the US election, the whole crowd seemed to all at once throw their middle fingers in the air and begin to chant "FUCK YOU TRUMP! FUCK YOU TRUMP!" which Mattie was evidently very grateful for. It was really nice to see the political motifs in their music come through so clearly in their set and song. They of course, finished with 'Peace & Love' which was the perfect way to round of the gig; it filled us all with such a strong contentment and a humbling appreciation of what was an amazing evening of incredible music. We left with such smiles on our faces, and my hunger to see VANT perform live was thankfully appeased.
My front row seat for 'Birth Certificate'...
(Aw you guys *blushes*)
Dr Martens boots of course!
"Have a wonderful night, have a wonderful life."
VANT were the perfect band to headline the Newcastle show of the STAND FOR SOMETHING Tour; they're so outspoken about the things that truly matter and they possess all the ferocity and gumption that the Dr Martens embodies. They're a perfect match for Newcastle as well, a city full of spirit, diversity and love.
I would just like to say thank you to The Zeitgeist Agency for inviting me along to the show, and a huge congratulations to VANT on an exceptional gig. I'm also very grateful that the show gave my darling friends and I a wonderful excuse to surround ourselves with each other in the city where we met. I had such a wonderful time.
That's all for now however I will be back soon, so don't go anywhere.