Sheffield to Newcastle
I sleep poorly therefore sleep in. But I have my packing honed to a military efficiency and make the van three minutes before departure. The weather looks British but still feels suspiciously Mediterranean, a warm breeze playing under a lid of cloud. It’s the last show of the first leg before a fortnight’s break and we’re sorry to be stopping. We all feel we’ve improved each night and want to keep going until that stops. The sun burns off the smoky, tattered clouds and Iain plays Bob’s Theme Time Divorce episode kicking off with the half-comical hoarse whoop of Tammy Wynette. Dylan’s absurd parody of the late-night disc jockey has been good company on our little hauls up and down the English highways though the playlists occasionally rely a little too heavily on kitsch.
Great white letters painted on the road read THE NORTH as if it’s some mythical realm where the usual rules don’t apply. To the west I see a humpback of the Yorkshire dales, to the east the wastes of the North York moors. The A1 carves north in glinting sunlight taking us over the River Swale on to Darlington, the sky now a cloudless pale blue. We’re in Newcastle within the hour and I dump my bags in the dressing room and scramble. I follow my nose through the pleasant university campus uphill to Leazes Park which lies in the shadow of Newcastle United’s football stadium, whose white steel struts hover above the trees. I take a seat by the bandstand as two pensioners come haring past on mobility scooters blaring cheesy ska from a big PA speaker mounted on one’s rear. Well, THAT happened. I amble downhill in a vaguely Tyne direction, passing through a new university development of impressive architectural diversity and panache. Then I’m in town, a little reminiscent of Edinburgh sometimes. There’s the merest hint of the North Sea in the air. I loop back through an indoor arcade, flip through a few album sleeves and buy some shoelaces. This counts as a successful day out. The streets are busy and it’s heartwarming to see students gadding about in numbers. After check and scran I seat myself in the plush balcony of the City Hall, listening to my pre-programmed background music play through AdLib’s incredible PA. There’s not a soul in the cavernous room. Stuart, the lighting director comes out onto the stage making minor adjustments. Then the security crew fan out around the venue in yellow jackets and headsets. A guy comes over to my zone and I automatically take my feet off the seats like a cowed schoolboy. A few early punters trickle in and target their seats. They have two hours to wait. A woman holds out a freshly bought T-Shirt to inspect then folds it tidily and carefully eases it into her bag. A little gang of young folk arrive and sit in the front row of the back half of the stalls. I have no idea why they’re here — they look relatively hip, for God’s sake — but I’m hearted to see them. We shall endeavour not to blow it for them tonight as we have blown their tomorrow.
9 Responses to “Sheffield to Newcastle”
A great gig me auld foxes furry entrails! We had a little drink or three around Newcastle. We started at Rosie’s bar in China town breathing in the heady atmosphere and feeling far too old and not where it’s at by the fleeting glimpse of students vaping by on scooters with a trail of fog and aspirations passing our view from the bar. I had left my travel camera at the hotel and quickly transitioned back through the sterile entrance to the premier Inn central to a non descript nod of the receptionist acknowledging my ID as a guest and not some nair do well chancing it for another smash and grab. Our collective then proceeded around the seedy underbelly of Newcastle the pubs where people actually talk to one another rather than the soulless bars and chains where it’s what you wear and what mid afternoon aperitif you order is as important as the company you keep or the mixer you order with your G&T but no mixing with anyone outside your social circle. Our group of four had a walk past Eldon Square boy has that changed, along with the skyline of a changing and vibrant city it seems to me like things are on the up with the construction work going on and new tower blocks and offices blending in the old like hand in glove. The bright blue LED hue of one looks to me like a neon blue kingfisher emerging from the beige and green of a silt trodden river bank. On to Trillions rock bar we only wanted a round but there was a group on in half an hour … admission £10 each! So we kicked that into touch you would have thought during these turbulent times of everything being FUBAR that there would have been room at the bar for the four Amigos and some extra coin in the till but alas no so onto the City Hall we went!
As per usual we all lost each other on gaining entry….it’s traditional we all have a separate nights out and compare tales and the craic back at the hotel. Only this time it was slightly different as Baz found me and brought me a Luke warm can of Carlsberg as we all had got slightly better vantage points for the four troubadours I was easy to find, so drinks singing and manly pat’s on the back ensued plus a bit of banter with the friendly Geordies in the seats next door. And then the Encoure I thought sod it! I made my way to the front of stage and started taking a few photos which is one of the passions left in life along with live music. Thankfully the security let me stay and snap away I did and I was rewarded with a fantastic shot of Iain with a characteristic stomp on the monitor and looking larger than life! I gave him a thumbs up after the final song but was greeted by a look of confusion and derision. A great night out and the best performance yet and i have been to quite a few …thanks lads!
P S I hope the Invite to the NHS gig still stands
The sound has not changed in 20 years you all still sound great . You shoud try to get get david cummings to do a reunion tour . Iam sure it would be great . That old saying better with age . You guys are living proof. Love the new songs there just great . Have a great tour when you come to the U S you have to come to N J .
Justin you still sound the same just like you did
Thanks Guys for a fab night in Newcastle, got the train up from Taunton,
Great trip up 6 of us
Beer , the beautiful country side and me mates all havin fun
Had a little cry , had lots of laughs
You make giging fun ( Stevie Nicks )
See you soon
Sheffield ,my husband loves you and has for as long as I can remember so we same for his birthday.He has loved your music forever. We brought our 12 year old to this, his first gig, he loved it.I’ve always liked your music, but you blow me away! Been to see , madonna at leeds , Coldplay at Bolton, killers at arena all were amazing but you have blown my mind with how good you were. I’m trying to get us to see you again at barrowland but my boy is too young, until next time, xxx carry one being amazing!!! T, G and C
Had a really lovely emotional night in Newcastle last night. Love to hear the old songs and the new ones sound so fresh and poignant. Carol, my wife, who has been a devoted fan since seeing you in Boulder way back in the 90’s was in tears from the first song with Iain. Treasured memories. Thank you and the band so much.
*write not like
Oh the shame of not checking my comment before sending!
I think I love the way you write prose almost as much as the way you like music. We were at City Hall last night and loved every single second. Thank you and thank you to the band for an amazing night!
Looking forward to c you trouadours! Tonight in this soulless city!