Evolution Festival 2013 review

'A stellar line-up'

Photographer: Trevor EalesAnne-Marie Douglas on 28 May 2020

From its origins as the premier free music festival in the North East, 2013’s Evolution Festival has produced a stellar line-up of current, up-and-coming artists at an affordable cost representing good value for the number of popular acts over the two days. Set along the beautiful Quayside in Newcastle city centre, it’s called a festival, albeit minus the camping and mud but with other essential elements of a city based festival in 2013: denim shorts, neon paint, orange skin and huge amounts of extremely excited teenagers.

The Lake Poets (9) is the music of one man Martin Longstaff, and plays the main ‘Spillers Wharf’ stage on Sunday afternoon, offering a growing crowd laid back acoustic indie-folk with a distinctive North Eastern twang. It’s a soothing set, with exceptional lyrics, and Martin is an immensely likeable showman with delightful conversation with his crowd, particularly when he dedicates the poignant ‘North View’ to his Grandmother.

Everyone’s excited for Hackney’s chart-topping outfit Rudimental (6) but something’s lacking in their set, perhaps it is the volume or the charisma, however they recover with the ever popular ‘Feel The Love’ and a cover of The Fugees' ‘Ready or Not’, given a soulful seeing to by vocalist Ella Eyra, delights the crowd nonetheless.

Following second album 'Halcyon', and with a number of chart hits under her belt, Ellie Goulding (9) appears much more confident and composed in her performance. Predictably, a mass sing-song occurs for 'Starry Eyes', 'Explosions' and Elton John cover 'Your Song', during an entirely faultless set that demonstrates her ever growing fan-base.

It appears as if The Vaccines (7) are just going through the motions, despite being Sunday night headliners. It's ok if you can get away with it and fortunately they can as they are excellent musicians, though this seems to be lost on the majority of festival-goers here. However, it is cool to like The Vaccines (so I’m told), so it’s really of no consequence at this festival and they attract a huge crowd of teenagers, and not just indie kids, with choruses of resonance such as 'Post Break Up Sex' they have clearly made it mainstream, and everyone goes predictably mental for 'Wetsuit', 'All in White' and 'Teenage Icon'.

From a sunny Sunday to a rainy Monday at Evolution, but this is Newcastle so very few girls are swayed by the weather to put tights on. Thousands of short shorts and streaky tans abound once again. Most of the teens attending are thoroughly trashed before they reach the gates (gratefully with the rigorous bag and body searches enforced on entrance to the festival) but everyone’s still, ‘like so excited’ and screaming with excitement at another day of pop joy.

AlunaGeorge (6) seem to pay homage to Geordie girl fashion as Aluna Francis appears wearing hotpants and a bikini top, complete with bad girl gold chains. Other than recent hits, 'White Noise' and 'Attracting Flies' it seems an under confident and disappointing set given the hype around them and given their Brit Award Critics Choice nomination, but this is likely more to do with acoustics on the Spillers Wharf stage than their talent.

Perhaps the biggest crowd of the weekend forms for Bastille (8). With teenage anthems combined with charismatic and attractively quaffed front-man Dan Smith generating huge appeal. It’s been a swift rise for Bastille, but you’d never know, they look like they’ve been performing to huge crowds forever. These are songs you can singalong to without actually ever having heard them before, though clearly everyone here has and there are mass singalongs to 'Icarus', 'Flaws', 'Bad Blood' and City High Cover ‘What Would You Do?’ They end a triumphant set with a cover of Corona’s ‘The Rhythm of the Night’ complete with epic drumming session, and finally with recent number one, ‘Pompeii’.

Jake Bugg (9) offers welcome respite following the craziness of the Bastille crowd and displays an impressive selection of guitars.  He is mesmerising on stage, his music speaks volumes so that he does not need to act up any way and it is fitting that he is as still and peaceful as his music. The more upbeat ‘Two fingers’, ‘Taste It’ and finally ‘Lightening Bolt’ give this audience what they were after before most disappear to gain a place in the soon to be at capacity Ballast Hills stage for Sub Focus.

This means that we are afforded a great view for a glamorous Paloma Faith’s (10) headline performance on the Spillers Wharf stage and she is a delight to watch and to listen to, knowing just how to win a crowd over with her flirty banter (telling us on numerous occasions that we are all ‘gorgeous!’), cheeky comebacks and adorable retro dance moves.

Very few acts genuinely look thrilled to perform, but Paloma never disappoints in this area, and she and her band (whom she credits regularly) give it their all. Performing heartbreaking ‘30 Minute Love Affair’ and with a chorus sounding bizarrely like Mr Brightside, ‘Agony’,  she breaks for a cuppa and a chat with us all and tells of her appreciation for Jake Bugg and comments of the amount of denim knicker wearers in the crowd!  INXS cover ‘Never Tear us Apart’ is astounding and ‘Beauty of the End’ another highlight with the devastating lyrics, "falling never hurts, but landing does". Paloma’s every song is a drama delivered with the corresponding theatrical performance, and she closed Evolution Festival with true style and panache.


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