I am chuffed out of my brain to announce that I will be supporting my local heroes The Futureheads at the astonishingly beautiful Durham Cathedral on August 25th 2012. I will be doing a very intimate set and will most likely be overwhelmed by the occasion, so at the very least you will see a man cry.
I will also be sharing the bill with my favourite sand-dancing songstress Natasha Haws. This is a gig that is simply not to be missed and If past gigs like this are to go on I think it might well just sell out.
To back up that claim it’s worth mentioning that I played one of the most iconic and beautiful buildings in the North, namely The Sage Gateshead with Natasha and we were lucky enough to play to a sold-out room, The Futureheads sold-out their date at The Sage Gateshead too. Durham Cathedral is THE most beautiful and iconic building in the North so get in quick!
Tickets can be found here, I hope to see you there!
I am thrilled to announce that the lads & I will be playing this year’s Split Festival on Saturday 22nd September! It’s the fourth event since the festival’s inception and it’s looking likely to be the best too!
All of the North East bands playing have just been announced with the national bands playing to be announced in the next few weeks.
It’s such a buzz to be sharing the stage with bands such as Field Music & The Futureheads, bands I respect and looked up to so much at school & in college, and still do!
Tickets can be purchased here: It’s £25 for a day ticket (£17.50 conc.) or £40 (£30 conc.) for the whole weekend. See you there!
I’m chuffed to be playing another Communion gig, this time it’s a weekender festival at Hoult’s Yard, Newcastle. It’s an absolutely amazing line-up, as you can see in the poster; Willy Mason, Lucy Rose, Ajimal, Natasha Haws, Motion Tourist & Amy Holford are my picks for the day I am playing! Hopefully see you there!
A lovely review of my set with the lads at my sold out gig at The Sage, Gateshead. Lovely words for The Union Choir and Natasha Haws too. Many thanks to the Shields Gazette.
“SINGER-songwriter Martin Longstaff has gained an impressive following over the last year or so under the name The Lake Poets.
The 23-year-old from Sunderland has played countless gigs in the region, perfecting his simple folk songs and gaining confidence.
It has all been leading up to the release of his debut single City By The Sea, which came out last week and had its official launch here.
And what a way to launch it. The venue’s Hall 2 was packed out, with not a spare seat to be found.
The pride in the local lad was overwhelming, with supporters whooping and cheering him on throughout a triumphant set. His songs are all deeply personal and focus on his family, upbringing and his day job as a trainee teacher.
The lyrics look back with nostalgia at Sunderland’s shipbuilding past (the moving Shipyards, dedicated to his grandad), his concern for troubled children he has known (the outstanding 1996) and his relationship with the city (the single and its b-side Small Town).
He is joined by a band for the second half of his set, but I prefer him solo, when his stark, thoughtful songs demand full attention.
Longstaff was clearly overcome with emotion when he received a standing ovation at the end of the gig.
It summed up everything you need to know about him – he’s a grounded young man, proud to be where he is from and doing what he is doing.
As long as he keeps putting those qualities towards his music, I’ll be happy.
Support came from two South Tyneside acts, the unbelievably-talented-for-her-age Natasha Haws (another singer-songwriter with a pure voice and heartfelt songs) and The Union Choir (a dark and brooding band).
If she wasn’t going to do it with her songs, Haws would have won the crowd over with her personality, which shone between brittle, acoustic tracks like Happiness and Stepping Stone.
The Union Choir upped the volume somewhat with their twisted tales of love and loss.
Standout tracks for me were Eleanor and Your Melodica, when they seemed to channel The National and Morrissey in equal parts.”
“Gig of the year? Single of the year? Can these things be decided upon so early in the year? Probably not but we have some contenders already. Last night we visited the Sage in Gateshead for the launch of the Lake Poets début single. Now normally the launch of a local bands single would be done in the back of a pub with 20 or 30 friends and family. The fact this was done in a building as impressive as the Sage with a sell out crowd of 500 people tells you all you need to know. This was only my second visit to the Sage which is a shame as it is a fabulous place. Hopefully that is changing as it opens its doors to more gigs like this. It is a fabulous venue. The acoustics are second to none. It could easily be one of the best venues in the area.
THE LAKE POETS
Did we tell you we love The Lake Poets? Well, we love the Lake Poets. Ever since we stumbled upon Martin in the Head of Steam a good 18 months ago we have loved him and his songs. A friend of mine thanked me for putting the video of City by the Sea on my Facebook page. She said they reminded her of Lindisfarne!!! Lindisfarne!!!! I thought at first. But you know what. She has a point. I think we forget how good Lindisfarne were. They were not all Fog on the Tyne, they were actually a really great band. One day we might see the Lake Poets playing Christmas shows at the City Hall. And tonight’s performance was a bit like that. Family and Friends supporting their new hero. But, but, he deserves all their accolades. Martin Longstaff is a genius. He has so many great songs already it is frightening. I have compared him before to Roddy Frame and Martin Stephenson and both these still hold true. Add to that a bit of Bob Dylan and, dare I say it, Bruce Springsteen. Martin is currently training to be a teacher and he uses his experiences to write his songs. I used to have a teacher who taught by day and sang by night. I wonder whatever happened to Mr Sumner??? I hope Martin becomes as big a star but I hope he never loses his humility.
He introduces songs about love and loss and how he loves his grand parents and how he wishes he could do more to help the pupils he serves. This could be seen as trite or twee but it does not. It just seems honest and endearing. Have I said I love him? As well as the single release he is promoting he sings a number of songs that grab our heart strings and make us think about something more in life than ourselves. He is a genuinely lovely lad who deserves to be heard by the masses but I hope will not be spoilt by the masses. I doubt anything could spoil him. Here are “Small Town” and “City by the Sea” and a bit of banter….
SET LIST SOLO
(6) Lost Boy
(7) Short term, Long Term (This Aint Vegas Cover)
(10) North View
(11) Dead Tree
(12) Dead Horses
(14) Small Town
(15) City by the Sea
A big thank-you to all the bands, The Sage for putting on the event so well and especially Paul Brown at Tiny Lights. The new Alan McGee!!!!”
Thanks very much to Jonathan at The Coast Road for this lovely review of my single launch at The Sage!
“The Sage in Gateshead is an incredible building. We must have looked strange, Hannah and Me, sat agape on the concourse but you can’t help it; you find yourself looking up and around trying to take it all in. So it was after 15 minutes of gawping that we took our seats high above the stage in Hall 2 and waited for the show to begin.
South Shields’ Natasha Haws was first up and performed wonderfully. New to me, she was nonetheless instantly likeable as she wore cute pumps and chatted to us honestly throughout in warm, idiosyncratic tones. Her music left the biggest impression, however: the singing voice was undoubtedly assured, yet I was most taken with her simple but dynamic guitar work. Delicately finger-picked phrases early on in the set were contrasted later with an altogether different percussive approach. All the while, Haws made her voice fit these varied soundscapes and I found the whole set really interesting. The highlight was ‘Constant Fairytale’, the moving and ultimately uplifting story of a very poorly brother now on the mend.
The Union Choir followed and quickly altered my preconception. At least eight strong and bearing instruments as various as cellos and xylophones, I think I expected something folky. The pulsating, dense and often anthemic sound they created was probably a shock to the system following the elfin Haws, but the energy of their performance was undeniable. The singular voice of lead Jon Melvin, who I would place in the centre of a Morrissey/Guy Garvey/Jarvis Cocker Venn diagram, was a stand-out and the well constructed set built towards a triumphant end. I will certainly be trying to get hold of their music to pick up on some of the nuances that I missed in the mix!
The headlining set of The Lake Poets was brilliant and apt inasmuch as it enacted the genesis of Martin Longstaff’s creation from its beginnings as a solo act to its current guise as a full band. In this, his most important show to date, TLP gave an unerringly precise performance on guitar that was at once technically proficient, yet emotive and musical, a feat indeed. But, if one thing really blew me away about the show it was the voice of Longstaff, which seemed to find a dimension, in the fleeting moment of delivery, that can’t be replicated in recordings. Favourites such as ‘Windowsill’ and ‘Friends’ went to new places, whilst ‘Bluebell’, a song I had never heard before, showcased power and depth beneath the brilliant falsetto that figured elsewhere. If you’re thinking of seeing The Lake Poets, then go for the voice which is just superb.
Following guest appearances from Morris Ford and a returning Natasha Haws, the set intensified until its zenith, a barn-storming band rendition of new single ‘City by the Sea’. This lovely ode upon Sunderland was perhaps the one moment when eyes were not on Martin, but rather the excellent Steven Calder whose harmonica playing might soon rival his namesake Wonder. In fact, the entire band were great, but that said, I thought it was a fitting end that the final song, ‘Shipyards’ was a solo.
More often than not, good art has a sort of transformative power; it takes the bad parts of life and makes out of them something better. Most of Longstaff’s lyrics are tinged with sadness, especially ‘Shipyards’, but the reaction of the crowd at the end of the evening was totally and overwhelmingly joyous. Everybody I saw left the theatre with a smile on their face: surely that is a measure of how talented an artist he is, and an answer to the question posed in that final heart-rending song.”