Last weekend I headed up to Newcastle for the debut single launch gig of my brother’s band, Great Man Theory. Some of you might know that Newcastle is one of my favourite northern cities so I was excited to be back there, especially as I was staying at the very lovely Jesmond Dene House Hotel, a place I had wanted to spend a night ever since last summer when I spent an afternoon on their lawn terrace in the sunshine, pretending to be posh and trying to make one glass of wine last for two hours.
Housed within a Grade 2 listed Georgian building, the hotel was previously the home of Captain Andrew Noble, a ship-building and armaments tycoon who was knighted in 1902. The place is steeped in history and atmosphere; guests such as Rudyard Kipling, Lord Baden Powell and various Japanese princes have walked it’s halls and it retains many strikingly eclectic Arts and Crafts features including beautiful stained glass windows.
I arrived around 2pm and managed to get some work done, curled in a plump corner chair in the cozy and inviting lounge area, before succumbing to the ridiculously good-looking plates of food being delivered to the tables around me and ordering a huge chicken and avocado doorstop of a sandwich with crispy, salty french fries and a peppery pile of rocket salad.
After meeting up with my parents we were shown to our rooms, which were elegant and full of character. Each room is distinct with it’s own features; their room was in the eaves with beams and teal walls and skylights in the bathroom whilst mine had large windows and french doors leading to a small garden area and a walk in shower. Together with the gorgeous surroundings, infinitely helpful staff and incredible food, Jesmond Dene House is definitely the perfect hotel escape in the city.
That evening it was off to the gig, taking place at the Cluny 2 in the city centre. Great Man Theory are based in Newcastle, they’ve been playing together for about 2 years and involve my brother Matt rhythmically beating the shit out of a drum kit, James singing and throwing his hair around in a rock star, if-Layne-Staley-and-Myles-Kennedy-had-a-love-child kind of way and the two Robs doing various kinds of awesomeness on guitars. There’s sweating. People take their tops off (mainly Rob). They are really, genuinely talented. Obviously I’m biased, but they seriously are . I like ALL their songs, even the ones I technically shouldn’t like because I, apparently, have a preference for ‘hippy music’ (thanks Suts) and they play heavy, classic rock music, a bit bluesy with a raw grungy edge and a grinding bass that shivers through your feet.
The gig was predictably a huge success. James’ vocal was soaring and gravelly, the riffs were sharp, the bass swampy and dark. Matt’s drumming was intricate and catchy and pulled everything together. Debut single ‘Let Him In’ was met with an enthusiastic reception involving people throwing themselves around and shouting; a mid set acoustic session changed the pace up nicely and demands for an encore were met with new material, giving a taste of things to come.
Everyone headed out into the freezing night tired and happy, some to bed and some (me) to carry on the party well into the early hours of the next morning when I finally crawled into bed and proceeded to eat the entire contents of the mini bar.
The next day I woke to a thick coating of snow on the ground, turning everything into magic. We met at the nearby Brandling Arms to reminisce the events of the night before over burgers melting with cheese and avocado and pints of orange juice, before heading home. Newcastle, it’s been great – I’ll be back soon.
Great Man Theory’s debut single ‘Let Him In’ is available to download from iTunes and Amazon. Buy it.