Last night marked the final Holly Rees gig on UK soil for 12 months. Am I crying about that? Very possible. Holly Rees is a singer/songwriter with an ear for sad songs. She’s off to Canada to both tour and explore in 2019 so she bid Newcastle farewell in the medium of song.
Opening the night was her tour buddy sound engineer and producer, Matt Dunbar. He played a beautiful set, his first with a full band, of honest and cozy music which was perfect for a December night. Matt debuted a song for Holly called ‘Coffee’ that just stunned the room to silence. Matt Dunbar was perfectly somber for the occasion.
PICNIC are next up and they raise both the tempo and the mood. From the first notes, frontwoman Robyn Walker commands the crowd’s attention with her incredible vocals. The crowd all get involved for ‘Girls Night’, chanting over the chorus and dancing along. They even play a new song they plan on releasing in the new year, which sounds like a dream already.
Holly Rees came on stage to a hero’s welcome. With a full band her music comes to life. ‘His Thermos Song’ has a really cool sixties vibe whilst songs like ‘Missing Out’ and ‘Magpie’ pack a punch with indie sounds like Orla Gartland and Blaenavon even coming into play. ‘Arms’ comes next and exactly as expected, it’s a blub fest. The only thing you can hear between lines is sniffly noses. As if that isn’t already sad enough, she finishes off everyone with ‘Felt Something’, that had me in a STATE.
After losing drums and bass for a couple of songs, Holly’s bassist comes back on stage wearing a t-shirt that says ‘Hi, I’m Holly Rees’. It’s a perfect touch that goes completely unnoticed by Holly until it’s pointed out to her by the crowd.
A couple of songs later the band leave and come back to a rapturous encore. They finish on Simple Minds’ ‘Don’t You Forget About Me’ which has everyone absolutely bawling. It’s apt in that Holly’s leaving and that her band are called the Breakfast Club. The crowd were belting out every word from the opening ‘HEY HEY HEY HEY’ to the closing ‘when you walk on by won’t you say my name’.
The final chorus went on for what felt like forever, no one quite ready for the night to end or to say goodbye. That final chorus was purely euphoric, everyone around me (and me) were grinning through the tears. The band walked off to mass applause that was nothing short of what they deserve.
Holly if you’re reading this, good luck, remember us back in Newcastle and we miss you already. If there’s any Canadians reading this then go and catch the wonderful Holly Rees in 2019 while you can, you won’t regret it. Read our aptly named feature with her right here.
Listen to Holly Rees right here.
Featured Image: Victoria Wai