LIVE REVIEW: The Bar Stool Preachers + Rats Nest + LoGoZ, Trillians, Newcastle, Sunday 1 March 2020

TJ McFaull of The Bar Stool Preachers at their all ages matinee show at Trillians. Pic: Melanie J Branagan.

Trillians has long been a place where bands and their fans can connect on an intimate level, but I bet it hasn’t seen many gigs like this in its long history.

The Bar Stool Preachers, from Brighton, have made it their North East home away from home when they’re on tour, and their gigs here are as anticipated by the band as much as their fans.

The fact there was another gig booked on the evening made the Preachers think out of the box a little when it came to this one, so it was decided to try an all ages Sunday matinee show.

That’s right, little kids at a punk rock show. Shock, horror! And guess what? They absolutely loved it, and this is an afternoon they’ll remember long into adulthood, when they’re bogged down by jobs, debt, mortgages and all the other crap that comes with being a grown-up.

When in Newcastle, drink as the Geordies drink. The Bar Stool Preachers at Trillians. Pic: Gary Welford.

Make no mistake, this is the way forward for punk rock if it wants to not only survive but thrive as the old timers fade away and … well, you know the rest.

Rebellion Festival in Blackpool has gone from being a nostalgia-fest of the old bands who we all loved in our youth to a showcase for new bands and subgenres of punk too, and that’s the way forward if it’s to exist beyond the next few years.

But who’s going to love these new bands once the old punks have gone? Their kids, that’s who.

The Bar Stool Preachers at Trillians in Newcastle. Pic: Gary Welford.

In an age where we face long years of cruel Tory government, it’s up to the people to come together and build their own community spirit, and events like this go a long way to helping.

The Bar Stool Preachers are a socially aware band, who sing not about anarchy and smashing the system, like the punks of old, but of showing respect for others, empowerment, and building something positive in hard times.

I knew it was going to be a different sort of gig when I saw TJ McFaull, the Preachers’ frontman, sat on the floor with four kids* watching the acoustic set by opening act LoGoZ, a pop-punk band from Ashington.

LoGoZ performed an acoustic set to open The Bar Stool Preachers’ all ages matinee. Pic: Gary Welford.

All the young ‘uns looked under 10, and one was proudly brandishing a Bar Stool Preachers record – and they were rapt and clapped and cheered in all the right places as LoGoZ core duo Peesh and Paul played a stripped-down acoustic set of their catchy tunes, finishing with the excellent Mexicola.

They’re a very active band, with lots of good tunes, and play regularly around the North East and increasingly further afield, and you can check upcoming gigs by visiting their Facebook page here.

One of the kids stayed on the floor for main support Rats Nest, a three-piece from Kent who were appearing at Trillians for the second time, following a debut visit last July with all-sister band Maid Of Ace.

Rats Nest were making their second appearance at Trillians. Pic: Gary Welford.

I was at that gig and they’ve improved considerably, losing some of their thrashier tendencies, and concentrating on making more melodic streetpunk, while never straying far from their message of self worth, self respect and staying true.

Their debut album State Of Suspicion came out at the back end of last year, and you can find it on the usual streaming platforms. Their gigs are listed on their Facebook page here.

Time then for the stars of the show, and the only surprise for me is how The Bar Stool Preachers are still able to play Trillians – and that’s no disrespect to the venue.

The Bar Stool Preachers frontman TJ McFaull. Pic: Sue Welford.

I’ve watched them grow from the first time I saw them, at Rebellion back in 2015 when I was one of the masses who walked out of the Boomtown Rats’ set in the Empress Ballroom and caught the end of their set in the packed Arena stage.

I was blown away by the six-piece’s energy as much as their ska-inflected streetpunk, and I’ve seen them many times since – I think was the 9th or 10th, I’ve lost count. This was probably the best of the lot, including a well-earned main stage appearance at Rebellion 2019.

Their connection with their audience is immediate and obvious, and they made sure this was a gig those youngsters in the audience won’t forget in a hurry – and neither will us oldies.

The Bar Stool Preachers performing at Trillians in Newcastle. Pic: Gary Welford.

The young ‘uns stayed down the front under the watchful eyes of their parents, and were rewarded with a child-friendly circle pit for one song, and being asked to join the band on stage for another, and the sheer enjoyment on their faces will stay with me for a long time.

The setlist? It doesn’t really matter, suffice to say the boys came on to a heroes’ welcome and blazed through a mixture of tracks from debut album Blatant Propaganda and follow-up Grazie Governo which went down a storm. If you haven’t got them, check them out at the BSP’s Bandcamp page here.

They slipped in a couple of new songs from the work-in-progress that is their third album, and finished with their traditional closer, Bar Stool Preacher, which saw TJ crowd-surf to the bar at the back of the room before being delivered safely back to the stage.

Well it’s one way to get to the bar! Vocalist TJ crowdsurfing during the final song of The Bar Stool Preachers’ gig at Trillians. Pic: Gary Welford.

After a visit to the merch stand we staggered back upstairs into the daylight, drained but euphoric, and certain in the knowledge we had just witnessed something very special.

  • Yes, I’ve got some pictures of this, but I don’t have parental consent to post them on a website. Suffice to say, it was a sight to soften even the most cynical old punk’s heart.
Gary Welford owner