In the two short weeks I’ve been in Newcastle, I’ve only heard good things about The Cluny as a venue. Partnered with a fantastic band, I was excited to head down Ouseburn Road to see Meadowlark on the 7th October.
Arriving a little early, there was a lively scene both inside and out. The Cluny looks out towards the Ship Inn, a little patch of grass and trees lit with bright streetlights and people enjoying themselves on a mild October evening. Once inside, I understood why The Cluny is such a popular venue- Cluny2 is a small, but perfectly formed, underground space that puts you up close and personal with whoever is performing. An intimate and relaxed atmosphere!
But ‘intimate and relaxed’ is the opposite of warm-up act Danny Devon, an aspiring solo artist from Hartlepool charged with opening the gig. For an aspiring artist, the chance to make a good impression on a new audience seems like something to grab with both hands; Danny Devon missed the opportunity with an underwhelming set, further marred by a heady state of inebriation. His passable melodies were overshadowed by a catcalling friend, and the audience’s tension was palpable within the space as he even forgot the lyrics to one of his own songs. It was a relief to not only the audience, but seemingly the stage crew as well, when it came Meadowlark’s turn to take the spotlight.
An atmosphere that was initially anxious immediately relaxed with a sudden plunge into darkness, then the introduction of small lightbulbs on stage as the major light source, bathing the room in mellow light. It suited the Bristolian duo down to the ground, with multi-instrumentalist Dan Broadley breaking the quiet in the room to coax the audience towards the stage. Where before the room had seemed huge, suddenly it had become so much more cosy and personal.
When the instruments do kick in, it’s a delightfully hazy blend of electronic sounds, with intermittent drumbeat that drives along strong melodies.
Opening with ‘Paraffin’, the duo’s enjoyment and comfort was evident, whilst any lingering hint of nervousness was gone with a twirl of Dan’s drumstick. They moved seamlessly through a mixture of tracks from their 2017 debut album, Postcards, with Kate McGill’s poignant voice moving with ease from upbeat, towards melancholic between songs. She held her own during stripped-back tracks such as ‘That’s Life’, where Dan took a back seat on the instrumental and vocal side. When the instruments do kick in, it’s a delightfully hazy blend of electronic sounds, with intermittent drumbeat that drives along strong melodies. Charged with Kate’s polished, emotional voice, it’s tracks that partner these strong vocals with big instrumental backing, like ‘Body Lose’ and ‘Eyes Wide’ that really make Meadowlark sparkle, and something fantastic to experience live.
Closing with ‘Headlights’, I couldn’t have asked for more from Meadowlark, and happily plundered the merch table to squander my student loan. Both Kate and Dan were delightful to chat to, down-to-earth and happy to spend time with their fans. I’ll be excited to see what Meadowlark have planned next after an excellent performance at The Cluny2.