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Review: Hector Gannet – 29/11/19 – Tynemouth Social Club, Tynemouth

06/12/2019

Hector Gannet have quietly cultivated a fanbase through two key factors. 1. A mutual love between the band and their local community. 2. Unadulterated musical talent. As they play more shows and word of mouth spreads, their following is bound to snowball… 

I was lucky enough to get the chance to see the band play a sold out show at Tynemouth & District Social Club. The special one-off performance was to celebrate the release of their single ‘All Hail, All Glory’.  

Upon entering the building a man gestures across the room and says frankly “Straight doon the middle. Up the stairs”- he can probably tell I’m not a regular. The function room upstairs is certainly a warm refuge from the bitterly cold November night. 

Everyone in the room seems to know each other. While an outsider may feel like they are invading a family or parish do, it’s still possible to feel at ease. There is an undeniable feeling of that North Eastern homeyness that no other region can mimic. Although neither the support act or headliner have performed yet, a sizeable crowd has already gathered. 

First act on stage are Blamire. As the set begins the band’s charismatic frontman, Alex Blamire, ushers the initially shy crowd to move in a bit closer. 

Blamire wear matching shirts scattered with red and black motifs resembling equals signs with a third horizontal line in the mix. Their commitment to giving a theatrical performance doesn’t stop here. Alex sings and plays synths and performs with such animation that his presence could fill a room three times the size of the actual venue. 

After Blamire have thanked the headliners and left the stage a friendly hubbub fills the room. Members of both bands mingle with the audience, mostly made up of their friends and family. It definitely feels like a homecoming of sorts. 

The interlude continues until out of nowhere we hear a cry followed by music. Everyone in the room turns to the stage to realise the cry was from Hector Gannet frontman/ lead songwriter Aaron Duff. This opening song, ‘Serpentine’, is a hypnotic guitar lead effort that I hope to hear again at some point. 

One seamless transition and another song later Duff says “Can’t believe so many came to watch wor”, in awe of the tightly packed venue. 

Each track is consistently high quality, often characterised by warm instrumentals and hypnotic vocals. One track, I don’t catch the name of but is about Northumberland, has a hearty instrumental vaguely reminiscent of ‘Albatross’ by Fleetwood Mac. 

Duff eventually says “It’s probably time to play the single I suppose…” and the audience erupt with enthusiasm. The live rendition of ‘All Hail, All Glory’ is a triumph- vivid, celebratory and sounding just as good (if not even slightly better) than the recording. It’s a clear crowd favourite with cheers drowning out the sound of applause. 

Another standout from the gig is ‘North Shields’ a heartfelt love letter to Duff’s coastal hometown featuring a soothing refrain of ‘will you take me to sea?’. The flattering depiction of the town seemingly acts as an antidote to ‘Leave Fast’, a track by fellow Shields native Sam Fender, who Hector Gannet have previously supported.

After ‘Into The Deep’, a strong contender for the heaviest instrumental of the night so far, the band all leave the stage except for Duff. As Hector Gannet was initially only Duff’s project, it seems appropriate for him to do at least one solo number with guitar in hand. He plays ‘Winter Song’ which ventures into carol territory by mentioning Christmas, Santa and Jesus. 

“Thank you very much and merry Christmas I suppose,” Duff says before being met with another friendly audience response and exiting the stage. 

There are countless collective calls for an encore and the crowd are in for a treat. The full band return to the stage for one glaringly obvious song missing from the set: ‘The Haven Of St. Aidans’. The track flawlessly transitions from it’s lilting introduction to a full blown sonic assault that crashes like waves against rocks. 

With lyrical themes deeply connected to the North East and substantially skilled musicianship, it’s hard not to rave about Hector Gannet. While there seemed to be fewer people getting their phones out at the gig than some I’ve been to recently, word of how great the performance was will likely spread through word of mouth, in the same way tales of local heroes used to be told.

WORDS: TESSA BURY

There are more upcoming chances to see Hector Gannet in the North East in 2020 at Hit The North festival and Sunday at This Is Tomorrow festival. 

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