|Issue 5 - May 1972|
|Getting It On|
It occurred to me that perhaps rock musicians weren't joking when they suggested that music can save your soul. In almost every civilisation on earth man has used music as a basic form of expression. A form of expression that has manifested itself throughout man's activities.
For example one has only to compare the war dance of the North American Indian, Hindu and Christian temple chants and dare we say it ... the events at Woodstock in '69 to see a constant and important thread running through our lives.
Music then is one of the few forms of human communication that has consistently drawn people together with the purpose of getting high. I think that anyone among us who has attended concerts by their favourite musicians will agree. Recent concerts in Newcastle by, for example, Leonard Cohen, Grateful Dead and Lindisfarne have recently turned on masses of people at one time and it was with this thought that another strange thing occurred to me. How is it that such a fine band as the Dead could come all the way from California to play a packed house in Newcastle when Lindisfarne, a local band, had to play regularly in London before they reached the ears of the vast majority of the north-east audience? Obviously something is amiss.
A quick glance at the entertainments page in the local papers could reveal part of the answer in that the music events, and this stands true for poetry and the more 'serious' classical music trip, are almost non-existent. It would seem that local musicians (surprisingly with such little cultural activity in their environment, Geordie musicians are many and good) have either to stick to folk clubs and the like or take the well trodden path to London and hopefully fame and fortune. Then they can return and play to a packed house in the City Hall. As for electric bands and the prospect of making a living as a musician ...
Eventually we must accept that the role of the musician in society is of high importance at a time when we're faced with ever increasing amounts of leisure time. The old concept of the rock 'n' roller bashing out his three chord stuff in order to earn an easy and materially profitable living has never held much water; just ask any one of the millions who have tried and failed.
So ... back we come to the original question. Why is there such a huge lack of musical events and facilities in the area especially where it's most needed, in the form of smaller, cheaper testing grounds for unpublicised performers? The blame can be spread over many heads including the City Council, the musicians themselves who in the past have split the area at the first sign of stardom and the generally apathetic north-east public. A large proportion of the public blame should perhaps be laid at the door of the freak community to whom music apparently means so much. Maybe it only means so much when it's coming from expensive stereo systems and California superstars.
The musicians themselves can be exempted somewhat on this score, when after all their main trip is and should be, producing music. Try asking Rod Stewart how much time he'd be able to devote to his music if he'd had to personally arrange all the Faces concerts in the last two years.
To do an in-depth analysis of all this shit would take a long long time but obviously the situation can be improved with just a little effort and commitment on behalf of the community. If there is anyone you'd like to hear in concert in Newcastle, be it Bob Dylan, Yehudi Menuhin or the guy next door, try adopting a more positive approach - somebody's got to do it all, so why not you and your friends.
The following list is very incomplete but it's a start and can be successfully produced and enjoyed. If our lives are to be lightened and perhaps our very souls saved by music then somebody has got to get it on ...
Bridge Hotel, Nr High Level Bridge, N/cle 1, tel 27780. 2 upstairs rooms. Accommodates 95 and 65. Cost: £2 and £1.50 respectively. Licensed. Open until 12.00. Contact landlord, Paddy Foley.
Byker Community Centre Headlam St, N/cle 6, tel 655777. 2 halls and 1 room. Accommodates 400, 150 and 200 respectively. Cost: enquiries to Education Committee. Open until 10.30. Contact K E Vlaeminke (pronounced Flemming).
Central Hall, Gosforth, N/cle 3, tel 856514. 2 halls. Accommodates 400 and 100. Cost: £13.65p for concerts, £7.35p otherwise. Open weekdays until 1.00, Saturdays until 12.00. Contact Manager, Mr Howe.
City Hall, Northumberland Rd, N/cle 1. Fixed seating 2,241. Cost: £100 for progressive, £85 for light entertainment. Open weekdays 12.45, Saturdays until 11.45. Special licence for Sundays. Contact Civic Centre, tel 28520 ext 325.
Civic Centre, N/cle 1. Banqueting suite available only for dinners, lunches and conferences. Cost £105 - £183.75p. Open until 1.00. Contact Fortes who have the contract at Civic Centre), tel 28520 ext 388.
Durant Hall, Ellison Place, N/cle 1. 2 halls. Accommodates 250 and 100. Cost: £6 for 3 hours, £9.50 for dances. Open until 11.00. Contact R E Coulson, 18 Caldwell Rd, N/cle 3, tel 855080.
Friends Meeting House, 78 Jesmond Rd, N/cle 2, tel 812924. Hall and stage available April-July during day. Accommodates 200. Cost: £5 for any 3 hours. Open until 10.30. Contact warden.
Gosforth Assembly Rooms (Greggs Caterers), 47 High St, Gosforth, N/cle 3, tel 855874. Accommodates 200. Very difficult to contact - Mr Hopper.
Guildhall, Sandgate, Quayside, N/cle 1. Accommodates 450. Cost: £30 for dinners, £25 for straight functions. £60 all day. Contact Civic Centre, tel 28520 ext 325.
Mayfair, Newgate St, N/cle 1, tel 23109. Accommodates 1,000 but Tues, Wed, Thur and Fri only. Cost: rough est £200 for dances, £100 for exhibitions. Licensed. Open until 1.00. contact Mr Wilkins.
New House Private Theatre, Pilgrim St, N/cle 1, tel 21507. Fixed seating 200. Monday to Saturday, afternoons only. Cost: £16 for 3 hours and projection equipment available with signing of contract. No stage therefore no concerts. Contact Mr Piken.
Odeon, Pilgrim St, N/cle 1, tel 23248. Fixed seating 2,450. Cost: £245 for commercial lettings, less for private but subject to various conditions. Contact manager.
Sallyport Tower, Tower St, off Melbourne St, N/cle 1. Accommodates 60. Cost: £5.25p for social functions, £2.10 for meetings. £10.50p all day. Contact Civic Centre tel 28520 ext 325.
University Theatre and Gulbenkian Studio, fixed seating 450 and 200 resp. Available late nights after plays Sundays and summer vacations. Cost £65, rough estimate. Contact director, tel 27184.
Ellison Place Hall, N/cle 1, opens Feb 1973 and will accommodate 200.
Many thanks and love to Michele, Ian and Liz.