For the fifth stop on their UK summer tour The Picturebooks found themselves back on Tyneside for an intimate show at The Cluny2. HRH Mag’s Johnathan Ramsay went down to find out what the guys from Gütersloh are all about.

 

Local three-piece Dunes were first up for the eager few that had turned up early. Despite what looked like a rather cramped space, even for a trio, Dunes did their best to start the night off with a bang. Armed with a high energy stoner rock set, that also included a handful of new tracks, theirs was a belting show surely befitting a bigger audience.

It turned out that the ‘eager few’ were pretty much the eager lot, with the half an hour before The Picturebooks’ headline set only seeing a few more clued-up rock fans join the already thin looking rabble.

Nevertheless, the main men took to the stage and instantly gripped the room with the bluesy head-bopper PCH Diamond, before addressing the elephant in the room. “Newcastle always gives us a hard time,” said frontman Fynn Grabke with a defiant smile. “I remember we once played the Riverside to like one person. But we’ll never give up Newcastle – we’re just going to keep coming until we sell this city out.”

On the surface The Picturebooks don’t seem all that unique. They look like two regular American guys, one dressed like Elvis Presley at a funeral, both with long black hair, playing hard blues rock that makes you feel like you’re stomping down a barren highway with your favourite embroidered leather boots on.

But look a little closer and there’s a lot more to this duo than meets the eye. They’re German, for a start, despite that a sound inspired by heavy Southern blues rock. Grabke, meanwhile, has never had any formal guitar lessons and admits he doesn’t know chords. Somewhat more eye-opening is the fact that drummer Philipp Mirtschink doesn’t have any cymbals in his set up.

These guys are anything but average and they sure as hell proved that with their performance. Sell-out show or not, The Picturebooks were there to leave it all on the stage. Mirtschink’s drumming was so animalistic that he sent two sets of sticks smashed into the crowd and even found himself just drumming with his hands at one point. Match that with Grabke’s slick riffs and melodic, yet gritty, cadence and the result was an electrifying performance that wouldn’t have been out of place at Wembley, never mind The Cluny.

Overall, this was a truly breath-taking show that felt more like an ‘experience’ than a simple gig. The pair rounded off their set with These Bridges I Must Burn, with Grabke shaking the hand of the entire audience from the stage. To sum up The Picturebooks’ performance in one word is easy – ‘passion’.

Images courtesy of Danny Koetter