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Still dazed from hectic three days.

Byline: By Rob Nichols Evening Gazette

Teesside was back on the musical map last week thanks to the successful North East by North East convention. There was a real buzz around Stockton for three days and nights and it was so good to see the Arc a vibrant hub once again.

The live stuff started in style with a storming performance by The New Lev Yashin who are dynamic and driven, they just get better and better.

We shifted from The Point to the bar for Sunderland's Paul Liddell, an acoustic performer with a bright and powerful voice and real pop appeal. I love that heartbeat punched out on the frame of the guitar.

Through the doors back to The Point venue to see The Hitchers, the second act of the evening from the excellent Redcar label Toddler.

They're such a class act their 21st century rockabilly punk will soon win them friends well beyond these shores. In fact, they're off for a festival in Toronto next month ... the Canadians will probably try and keep them.

The sharply dressed trio are every bit as hot with their melodic bursts of punky sound. Their Perfect World is a real classic that will one day be re-released and storm the charts.

Back through the double doors for Andy Jones in the bar. Talking of class acts why is this man not a household name? Listen to his brilliant guitar playing, savour his phenomenal voice and stand back and applaud his songwriting craft. Step up and step out Mr Jones you're far too good to be playing background music in a bar.

So, to the headline act of the first night and Mercedes played an absolute blinder. It's wonderful emotional music that gives you the real tingles. At the epicentre is a voice to die for, soothing or soaring it lights up your life. Their new single is out soon, I feel like a little kid again I cannot wait.

I did have to wait 24 hours before the next showcase from another Hartlepool band and another act with a release on a local label about to strike out with a national.

Demon Summer kicked off in style. They always play from the heart and, on this performance, showed a real maturity to match. It's music of an inspirational appeal, soaraway vocals of the Puressence school.

I was still floating as I entered the bar for James Riggall an acoustic performer with a vocal sound that reminded me of Jeff Buckley with a hint of Coldplay. I want to hear more of this talented young performer.

Stories and Comets emerged from the implosion of My Favourite Co-Pilot and Caught In The Headlights and showed why they are such big news with a raging bull display. Tipped for the top, they play like they mean to get there fast.

Elaine Palmer silenced the chatter at the bar with a sensitive set of truly gorgeous songs that demanded and received full attention. Back in the Point and The Hayze closed the Arc's showcases with a maximum points display.

Another band bound for success, their chirpy style rings comparisons to the Libertines or Supergrass.

What a lot of talented folk. Teesside's time is coming.
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Title Annotation:Ents Music
Publication:Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)
Date:May 21, 2004
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