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Music Editorial

cast17.jpg 1 day. 9 venues. A million bands.

For live music lovers, Stockton Calling is better than Christmas, Easter and the day you first discovered Ben & Jerry’s Caramel Chew Chew all rolled into one. It’s due to hit very soon so get it etched into your diary forthwith. (Legal note: There won’t be a million bands playing, although it will seem like it.)

Is there anything that Stockton Calling can’t do? Now in its eighth year it’s an event which always strikes the right balance between finding stage room for much-loved bands of yore, as well as up and coming acts on the cusp of exciting times, and the cream of local talent.

Among the headliners – and definitely a much-loved band of yore – will be Cast (pictured). The band, who formed from the ashes of two of the biggest cult acts of all time – The La’s and Shack – became one of the key Britpop bands of the mid-1990s, releasing four albums and a string of classic singles including Alright, Sandstorm, Walkaway, Guiding Star and Live The Dream. Noel Gallagher described watching Cast play live as being like “a religious experience” and you can grab some of that fervour when they headline the ARC stage this year.

Also on headlining duties will be Teesside’s Cattle & Cane who will head up The Georgian Theatre. Anyone who has seen them live will attest to the fact that this bunch are one of the very best live bands around, and their supremely melodic folk/rock – which is infused with the kind of warmth that would put a 30-tog duvet to shame – is perfect sing-a-long material.

The Ku Bar is the place to be if you’d like to check out Milburn who are topping the bill at that particular stage. These indie stalwarts hail from Sheffield and share much in common with that other Sheffield band, Arctic Monkeys, with their taut indie sounds and social commentary being sharp enough to slice tomatoes.

I’m particularly excited by the inclusion of White on the bill. This Glaswegian band play the kind of guitar funk that has one foot in the stomp-a-longs of Franz Ferdinand and the other in the post-punk pop-art of bands such as The Tom Tom Club (with added Bowie stylings). They’re just an incredibly exciting outfit and I imagine they’re also a thrilling live proposition (and we’ll be able to find out when they headline this year’s The Storytellers stage).

Other acts playing I’m particularly excited about include Chris Helme (the former The Seahorses man – the band he was in with The Stone Roses’ John Squire – is superb live); Kingsley Chapman & The Murder (the deliciously dark and melodic tunes from these hometown heroes won’t have fans of Nick Cave and Scott Walker kicking them out of bed any time soon); Samantha Durnan (this Teesside singer/songwriter is the real deal and has already supported Ed Sheeran – her voice will make you catch you breath); and Yorkshire’s Allusondrugs (whose glam/grunge sound and poppy know-how are right on the money).

A spokesperson for the event frothed: “Once again we’ve secured a top line-up which reflects the growth of the festival over the past eight years. We’ve managed to pull off a real coup with Milburn, playing an intimate venue after their massive comeback tour last year. We think this year we have managed to make Stockton Calling stand alongside some of the most reputable festivals in the UK, which we couldn’t do without all the passionate promoters who have helped to put together the line-up.”

Stockton Calling, Saturday 15 April, from 1.15pm, £17.50 in advance or £20 on the door. Tickets can be booked at stocktoncalling.co.uk or by calling ARC’s box-office on 01642 525 199.