Gerry Cinnamon, Sam Fender and Dermot Kennedy on song for Newcastle’s This is Tomorrow festival

Singer-songwriters were the order of the day at this year’s This is Tomorrow festival, and that move looks to have struck a chord judging by the size of the crowds they drew to the city’s Exhibition Park.

By Darin Hutson
Sunday, 19th September 2021, 10:50 pm
Fans at This is Tomorrow at Newcastle's Exhibition Park (Photo: Bennett Media)
Fans at This is Tomorrow at Newcastle's Exhibition Park (Photo: Bennett Media)

All three nights of the festival proper this time round were headlined by singer-songwriters appealing to a more youthful audience than last time round in 2019 – Dermot Kennedy on Friday, Gerry Cinnamon last night and Sam Fender tonight.

Irishman Kennedy, 29; Glaswegian Cinnamon, 36; and North Tynesider Fender, 27, marked a shift in demographic and genre from 2019’s event, headlined by Foals, Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds and Stereophonics, back to the first one, held at Spiller’s Wharf the year before with Catfish and the Bottlemen and Thirty Seconds to Mars with bill-toppers. Fender was also on the bill that time round lower down the roster.

Another innovation this time was the addition of a fourth night on Thursday, a benefit concert in aid of National Health Service staff, with veteran Mancunian indie rockers James as headliners, back in Newcastle for the first time since a show at the city hall in March 2019, with Liverpool indie pop act Lightning Seeds second on the bill, supported by Jango Flash, Cruel Hearts Club, Beth Macari and the National Anthems.

James frontman Tim Booth performing at This is Tomorrow on Thursday (Photo: Bennett Media)

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    James, founded in Manchester back in 1982 and together from then until 2001 and since 2007, reined in their adventurous tendencies a bit, presumably mindful that medics looking to enjoy a free night out wouldn’t necessarily be familiar with anything too obscure from their extensive back catalogue and stuck largely to golden oldies and greatest hits.

    Kennedy, Cinnamon and Fender also played it safe, as tends to be the way at festivals, to appeal to a non-partisan audience.

    Cinnamon was the biggest hit of the weekend, being given a rapturous reception by a sellout crowd as he treated fans to favourites from his two albums to date, 2017’s Erratic Cinematic and last year’s The Bonny, such as Lullaby, Ghost, Where We’re Going, Sometimes, Belter and Canter, the last being accompanied by fireworks.

    Other acts on the bill on Friday included Bugzy Malone, Blossoms and Mahalia, with the Kooks, Circa Waves, Sea Girls and the Pale White following yesterday and Fontaines DC, Nadine Shah and Goat Girl today.

    South Tynesider Nadine Shah at Newcastle's This is Tomorrow festival today (Photo: Bennett Media)
    Blossoms playing at This is Tomorrow on Friday (Photo: Bennett Media)
    Bugzy Malone at This is Tomorrow on Friday (Photo: Bennett Media)