Marking their post-pandemic return to the live music scene, Cassettes performed a 25-minute live acoustic set at this intimate North Tyneside venue on Sunday night. I had the privilege of attending and witnessing a seasoned, soulful performance from frontman and founder Nick Reeves…
Looking effortlessly cool in lime-green turtleneck, braces and Converse boots, Nick takes to the stage, setting up in a serious yet self-effacing manner which immediately woos his audience. He starts the set with ‘Piccolo Knives,’ a lyrically dazzling composition which looks back to a bygone era ‘when Bowie had English teeth:’
‘He’d sing, he’d grin, he’d laugh, he’d bark!’ Nick remembers, rounding off the final chorus with his strident vocal rising to a bow-wow crescendo.
Next up is the much-loved single ‘Receipts,’ which exists in many incarnations, and whose chorus issues the resounding plea ‘Luella, Luella, Luella pleeeaase, keep your receipts!’ Nick hits all the high notes in this stunning rendition.
He opens the next track with the following advice to the audience, ‘if you’re gonna get a haircut, get yourself a suicide fringe.’ There then follows the eponymous track, an upbeat and catchy love song which features the immortal lines, ‘The Whitgift Centre/Angels musta sent ya,’ demonstrating Reeves’ wry humour and lyrical playfulness at its best.
Lyrical playfulness transforms into lyrical magic as the tone changes to one of reflection, tribute and pure poetic power for the closing tracks, ‘Jackdaws and Witches,’ and ‘Postcard from Kreuzberg.’ The former is a tribute to Bowie, written after his death in January 2016. ‘Some still can’t say your name/Without stretching all the wrong vowels,’ comes Nick’s mournful lament. (That’s ‘Bowie’ as in knife, not ‘Bowie’ as in bow-wow.) The closing track, Postcard, summons up the ghosts of communist-era East Berlin, who loiter in the trees, and, as we are left in no doubt, are all around us…
If you do get the chance to see this band live, do not miss the opportunity. Nick is part-storyteller, part-magician and 100% poet. You will not be disappointed.