Festival Review: Wasteland 2019

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Brand new festival ‘Wasteland’ was set to take place on the banks of the River Tyne at Spillar’s Wharf over three nights last weekend, however just two days before doors were due to open - a sudden venue change and revised stage times accompanied by a total cancelation of Sunday’s show which was set to be headlined by Richard Ashcroft, it wouldn’t be unfair to say that ticket holders were more than disappointed that they weren’t going to get the outdoor festival they’d paid for.

Nevertheless, the show must go on and on Friday night, ticket holders piled into Newcastle’s O2 Academy to see the show they were promised. The show began with Mystery Jets playing a cut down set made up of a variety of album tunes and also some new material including newest release ‘Hospital Radio’ unfortunately to an only half full venue. 

Streams of people started to come in during main support Circa Waves who started to get the crowd warmed up nicely with their summer bangers starting with ‘Wake Up’ and “Fossils’ going into their newer tracks ‘Movies’ and ‘Times Won’t Change Me’ and finishing off in perfect fashion with well known indie anthem ’T-Shirt Weather’. 

Headline band Bloc Party arrived on stage just after 9:30 and the much anticipated anniversary show created a night of nostalgia for fans marking just under fifteen years since their debut album ‘Silent Alarm’ was released in 2005. Lead singer Kele Okereke just oozes cool and knows how to entertain as they start their set in reverse order of the album - which may seem strange to some, but ultimately provides the build up for the perfect encore that every band and fan alike loves to see.

‘Compliments’ opens the set which continues into ‘Plans’ before picking up the energy with ‘Luno’. Songs slide into one another and they played and the crowd grew more animated and involved and for most it seemed like 2005 all over again whilst belting out the lyrics for ‘So Here We Are’ and ‘The Pioneers’ among other album tracks. 

A personal highlight was ‘Banquet’, not just because of the pure anthem that the song is, but because the atmosphere reached sky high and was a great warm up for the ‘Positive Tension’ mass singalong. Silent Alarm was nearly over, but of course not before a big finale of ‘Helicopter’ and ‘Like Eating Glass’ and it was clear to see why the two opening songs of the album were kept until last of the show. Just as soon as it began it was over and 2000+ fans dreams had been fulfilled, what more could anyone ask for? A six song encore is what. ‘Two More Years’ and ‘Hunting for Witches’ were amongst the choices before ending on a high with ‘Flux’ and ‘Ratchet’. 

My Saturday started out with watching a small part of British folk singer Jay McAllister, better known as Beans On Toast. A really likeable musician / songwriter focusing mainly on the topics of love, drugs and politics. He entertained the crowd with his original songs ‘Im Home When You Hold Me’ and ‘Peter Pan’s Playground’ and joked with the crowd about forgetting his own lyrics, having to start over again on a couple. 

Next up was rock band hailing from Newcastle ‘The Wildhearts’ and it was clear to see that a lot of the crowd were fans. Their t-shirts plastered the crowd and fans went mental from start to finish. Starting with ‘Dislocated’ and ‘Everlone’ they played an almost forty minute set including a special performance with headliner Frank Turner himself, ending on ‘I Wanna Go Where the People Go’. 

Frank Turner and The Sleeping Souls had the O2 academy packed for night two of the festival. Welcoming fans to show number 2366 before starting with ‘Get Better’ - a song that was screamed back to the band by the crowd. ‘1933’ and ‘Long Live The Queen’ came next and it was clear that everyone was in for a great night. Frank Turner is an artist who knows how to work the stage and clearly loves getting in amongst the action as he crowd surfed. He continued into songs from his 2018 album ‘Be More Kind’ including the title track, as well as other well known tunes ‘If Ever I Stray’, ‘Polaroid Picture’ and ‘Try This at Home’ whilst giving us an insight into his upcoming album with new release ‘Sister Rosetta’. Closing the show without a fancy encore was ‘Recovery’, ‘I Still Believe’ and ‘Four Simple Words’ before thanking the crowd for coming out to see the show. The bands live set is just as good if not better than the studio recordings of the songs and I would not hesitate to go see Frank Turner and The Sleeping Souls again. 

All in all, Bloc Party were the perfect headliners for the festivals opening night, they brought the captivating stage presence of lead singer Okereke, complicated drum patterns and recognisable tunes to the toon for the rowdy Geordies and fans who travelled from afar and Frank Turner and The Sleeping Souls closed the festival in style with their sing along setlist and audience participation. 

It’s a shame that we didn’t get to see it on an outdoor festival scale, and it would have been an even bigger shame if we’d been hit by a heatwave over the weekend but Wasteland Festival worked and I would love to see it happen again next year at the place it was meant to be.

Words and photography by Lauren Stewart