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Review: Ty Segall, The Boiler Shop, Newcastle

Californian rocker Ty Segall in action at the Boiler Shop. Pic: Gordon Armstrong.
Californian rocker Ty Segall in action at the Boiler Shop. Pic: Gordon Armstrong.

The past year or so has seen the Boiler Shop establish itself among Newcastle’s premier live venues, with stellar bookings from some of the UK’s most acclaimed artists and acts of international renown.

Falling into the latter category, Ty Segall represented another impressive coup.

Ty Segall and his band were paying their first visit to Newcastle. Pic: Gordon Armstrong.

Ty Segall and his band were paying their first visit to Newcastle. Pic: Gordon Armstrong.

In many ways a flash from a bygone era, the Californian’s extensive cult following has largely been built on the back of his fierce work ethic.

Where most bands take two or three years to deliver new records, Segall routinely drops two or three per year.

And given that this maiden North East date fell on his birthday, it’s clear he regards time off as an alien concept.

This sense of relentlessness is reflected throughout tonight’s set, which comes loaded with the all highs, lows, thrills and frustrations you’d expect from such a prolific performer.

The second half of Ty Segall's show at the Boiler Shop was very different to the first. Pic: Gordon Armstrong.

The second half of Ty Segall's show at the Boiler Shop was very different to the first. Pic: Gordon Armstrong.

The first half is utterly breathless. Arriving onstage to a chorus of “Happy Birthday,” Segall and his four-piece Freedom Band set a blistering pace, tearing through track after track of raucous riffing and unhinged psychedelics.

There’s no real arc to speak of. It’s as though they’ve chosen 20-odd songs, chucked them in a blender and performed them ad hoc; a scattergun approach which – initially, at least – pays dividends.

Certainly, these opening stages offer no shortage of highlights, with many lifted from Segall’s most recent record, Freedom’s Goblin.

Fanny Dog, for instance, is a brilliantly bombastic garage romp, Despoiler Of Cadaver adds a rare funky groove to proceedings, while a thunderous, thudding cover of Hot Chocolate’s Every 1’s A Winner proves the evening’s biggest headbanger.

It’s not until another new addition, My Lady’s On Fire, that we’re given anything resembling a breather – and that doesn’t arrive until nearly an hour in!

Unfortunately, while this initial act witnesses its share of indulgence, the latter stages suffer as these noodling impulses take centre stage.

The highs remain tremendous, but there’s little joy in wading through 10 minutes of meandering jams to reach them. By the end, there’s a palpable sense of relief when the one-track, 45-minute encore Segall threatens fails to materialise.

Instead, what we’re left with is a set where exhilaration just about outweighs exasperation; a messy yet frequently intoxicating splurge from one of modern rock’s most restless forces.