RNS Rocks: Sage Gateshead – live review
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Maximo Park & RNSRoyal Northern Sinfonia, Field Music, Maximo Park

Sage Gateshead

21st September 2018

Celebrating their sixtieth birthday in style, Royal Northern Sinfonia rock the Sage Gateshead with two of the Norths finest!

Tonight is the opening of the Royal Northern Sinfonia’s sixtieth birthday celebrations, opening what is set to be an action packed weekend at their home Sage Gateshead. Tonight is particularly special as two of the North East’s finest bands are set to take to the stage with the Sinfonia. As the orchestra settle, Field Music take to the stage for a set packed with the well known and a couple of gems from their back catalogue.

Playing with an orchestra is something that Field Music are relatively used to, having completed a tour earlier this year with the Open Here orchestra. Tonight feels extra special though as they open with old favourite A House Is Not A Home, they’re quickly into their stride. Their set is a tour through their wonderful back catalogue all of which is beautifully augmented by the Royal Northern Sinfonia.

There is even a rare outing for Field Music classic In Context, which sounds completely out of this world when backed with an orchestra. The band close out this short but exquisite set with It’s Not The Only Way To Feel Happy. This set is nothing short of superb, every track takes on a new life when confronted with the multitude of textures that the Sinfonia brings.

However, there is still Maximo Park to come, in what Paul Smith states will be the last time we see the band for a while. They indulge a packed room with a variety of cuts from across their back catalogue and like Field Music before them there are some lesser heard numbers in there to add to the special nature of the evening. Opening up with When I Was Wild, it sets an initial sombre tone, which is quickly lifted by North By North East a track originally written with the Royal Northern Sinfonia for the recent Great Exhibition of the North.

This track is unlikely to ever be heard live again, which adds to the wonderful atmosphere, the track itself is excellent and describes the bands love for the area with a multitude of references to local landmarks. What follows though is a rendition of Books From Boxes which is unlike any other, the addition of the strings and woodwind give this track a whole new lease of life. They’re only a short way into their set but this blows everyone’s socks off!

They continue this with the lesser known Calm, which has an equal effect purely because of the orchestra. The Hero and Midnight On The Hill both get the rousing reception that they deserve, by this point Maximo Park have cranked the party atmosphere right up with the entire hall on their feet as they close out in style. First up Our Velocity rings out before the always out of this world Apply Some Pressure.

The Royal Northern Sinfonia are the key to tonight, they bring a refreshing vigour and excitement to every song. Their embellishments despite being subtle at times are vital and leave this crowd aghast, whilst also leaving them begging for more. Here’s to another sixty years so they can keep on doing great things like this!


Royal Northern Sinfonia can be found online here. They’re also on Facebook and tweet as @RNSinfonia.

All words by Lee Hammond. You can check out more work by Lee at his Louder Than War author’s archive, he also tweets as @Napzap.

Picture courtesy of Tynesight Photographic.

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