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Local boy made good

Local boy made good

Newcastle’s own Neil Tennant comes home in September as his band Pet Shop Boys play two special shows at Sage Gateshead as part of their spectacular 2014 Electric tour. The shows on 2 and 3 September are the first in a run of concerts and special announcements that will celebrate Sage Gateshead’s tenth anniversary year. Neil said: “It always feels special to come home and perform a show, and the Sage has established itself in the last ten years as one of Europe’s very best venue

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My North East

My North East

A new 200-page coffee table book featuring stunning landscape pictures and full interviews with more than 60 of the region’s famous sons and daughters talking about their favourite places, views and memories of the North East will be available from 20 October, price £20, by Anne Graham and Michael Hamilton. All profits from the book will go to the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation. Sir Bobby was the inspiration for the book. Read his interview and see his favourite North East places along with 60 other grea

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The gospel truth

The gospel truth

The Lindisfarne Gospels weigh the same as two adult female domestic cats, have three kilometres worth of words and took up to ten years to produce. But when it comes to their value, measurement is almost impossible. As one of the most important books in the history of Christianity, the gospels are virtually priceless and are usually housed at the British Library in London under strict security. But as anyone who has recently spent any time in the North East k

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Dancing to his own tune

Dancing to his own tune

Andy Fraser – founding member and bass player of 1970s seminal blues-rock band, Free – wrote the band’s mega-hit All Right Now and Robert Palmer’s Every Kinda People as well as songs recorded by Joe Cocker, Chaka Khan, Rod Stewart, Three Dog Night, Frankie Miller, Etta James and Bob Seger among others.  Now he has his own Andy Fraser Band and is at the helm of McTrax Records, which releases his own work and also spots and nurtures new talent, such as British singer songwriter Tobi

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TV detective drama George Gently filmed in the North East

TV detective drama George Gently filmed in the North East

Gently does it in Geordieland By Michael Hamilton Pictures by Dave Foster TV detective drama Inspector George Gently was filmed for the first time where it is actually set – in the North East – for the new two-part show on BBC1 screened on Sunday September 26 and October 3. We led the call to film the series here at home, last year. In exclusive interviews both Geordie actress Jill Halfpenny who starred in last year’s series and Tyneside writer Peter Flannery – who also penn

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Newcastle writer Lee Hall, who penned Billy Elliot, on the phenomenal success of his stage play Pitmen Painters

Newcastle writer Lee Hall, who penned Billy Elliot, on the phenomenal success of his

Portrait of a playwright Tyneside writer Lee Hall shot to fame with the 1999 hit movie Billy Elliot and adapted it for the stage in 2005, winning an award for best new musical. Now his latest award-winning play The Pitmen Painters is back touring in the North East.  Exclusive interview by Michael Hamilton MH: Tell me how The Pitmen Painters came about. Lee: It came about by accident in a way. I saw a copy of William Feaver’s book in a bookshop and thought that’s a

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Our Friends in the North writer Peter Flannery talks about BBC TV's George Gently

Our Friends in the North writer Peter Flannery talks about BBC TV's George Gently

Our friend in the North Hit BBC detective series Inspector George Gently is set in Northumberland in the Sixties - and was actually born in the North East Exclusive interview by Michael Hamilton * Following this interview the good news is that the next series of George Gently is to be filmed in the North East Award-winning Geordie screenwriter Peter Flannery – who wrote the epic BBC drama Our Friends in the North in 1996 – was browsing in books

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When I rock the mic…

When I rock the mic…

Open Mic UK is coming back to the North East in search of up-and-coming singing talent to challenge for top spot in the national competition. Competitors in the past include Lucy Spraggan and Jahmene Douglas. And previous winner Birdy has just been nominated for a Brit Award in 2014 as best British Female Solo Artist. It’s open to all singers of all genres, whether they are rappers, folk singers, a vocal trio or crooners. Head to the Mill Volvo Tyne Theatre, Westgate Ro

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A Streetcar Named Desire

A Streetcar Named Desire

A Streetcar Named Desire A National Theatre Live Young Vic production, broadcast live Empire Cinema, Sunderland 17 September     Loads of people love the cinema. I’m not one of them. No, I haven’t seen Star Wars, The Shawshank Redemption, The Godfather or any number of movies people tell me I should see. I’m with Holden Caulfield – to me the pictures are phoney. Okay, I like The Jungle Book and Toy Story, but film is simply not my medium. On the other hand I adore the theat

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Martin Barre at the Cluny

Martin Barre at the Cluny

Hot on the heels of frontman Ian Anderson’s tour earlier this year, Jethro Tull’s legendary guitarist Martin Barre has also hit the road, playing the Cluny In Newcastle on 6 December. The tour comes off the back of Martin’s new album Order of Play which includes some Tull classics including Locomotive Breath from Aqualung. Martin said: “We wanted a live CD to be a summary of the last two years of our work and this was the idea opportunity. “Fans had kept asking for a CD

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Review of 2014

Review of 2014

Theatre event of the year (TOTY) The Pillowman – unquestionably the best thing I’ve seen at the theatre for many a year. I knew nothing about the play when I went to see Newcastle University Theatre Society perform Martin McDonagh’s black comedy of power and freedom at Northern Stage. Over the years I’ve seen so much theatre that it takes something really outstanding to blow my mind. This did made it explode, not least through stunning performances from Dan Lockett and Ruaidrhi Johnston. An in

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Lofgren plays Gateshead

Lofgren plays Gateshead

Photo: Jo Lopez Legendary American songwriter, virtuoso guitarist and pianist Nils Lofgren returns to the UK this month for the first time since 2011. You can catch him at the Sage Gateshead on 23 January. After touring with Bruce Springsteen as a long-time member of the E Street Band on both the 2012-13 Wrecking Ball tour and the 2014 High Hopes tour, Nils is back to perform his own live show. Known for his world-class guita

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First Aid Kit

First Aid Kit

Newcastle City Hall 20 January Nominated this month for a Brit Award in the International Group category, First Aid Kit are a Swedish duo who play folk-rock based around sweet harmonies that Simon & Garfunkel would be proud of. Indeed they sing a version of Simon’s ‘America’ here, having explained how nervous they’d been singing it in front of him when he was honoured with The Polar Music Prize in 2012 – the same year First Aid Kit’s song ‘Emmylou’ was named in the top 10 songs of the year b

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Ian Anderson tour

Ian Anderson tour

Ian Anderson rocks his band’s namesake   Progressive rock pioneer Ian Anderson is bringing ‘Jethro Tull – The Rock Opera’ to the Sage Gateshead on 13 September. The show honours the 18th century English agriculturalist after which the band was named back in 1968. It tells the story of the original Jethro Tull's life, reimagined as if in the near future and illustrated with Anderson's best-known material from the band’s repertoire. The set-list will include many songs that Anderson

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Tom Paxton back on the road

Tom Paxton back on the road

Picture: Michael G. Stewart Fifty years on from his first UK tour in 1965, US folk music legend Tom Paxton is back on tour, and you can catch him at the Sage Gateshead on 13 May. This tour will also mark the release of his studio album Redemption Road released on 13 April. The past five decades have seen Tom record many enduring songs, and play thousands of live performances around the world, as well as a Lifetime Achievement Grammy Award in 2009. Celebrated amongst his peers

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Gretchen Peters

Gretchen Peters

Sage Gateshead 22 March Gretchen Peters’ first UK gig was in the North East 19 years ago. It’s been a slow rise and the 57-year-old New Yorker still plays Hall Two when she comes to The Sage, but this time it was standing room only at the back.  The mainstream aren’t likely to warm to an artist whose last album – the brilliant ‘Hello Cruel World’ – was by her own description her ‘existential crisis album’ while her new record, the magnificent ‘Blackbirds’ is according to Peters, her ‘de

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Eddi plays the Playhouse

Eddi plays the Playhouse

Scots singer Eddi Reader brings her blend of traditional and contemporary vocals to the Playhouse in Whitley Bay on 13 May.  From intimate gigs at local folk clubs in her home town of Glasgow in the early 1980s, to harmonising with Annie Lennox and making her debut on the silver screen alongside Zac Efron, Claire Danes and the Jools Holland Orchestra in the 2008 Hollywood film ‘Me And Orson Welles’, Eddi has enjoyed a remarkable career, becoming a notable figure in contemporary British

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Community-focused opera at North East Cathedrals

Community-focused opera at North East Cathedrals

Young people from across County Durham will join local singers and professional musicians in a celebration through words and song of the 800thanniversary of Magna Carta in the majestic spaces of both Durham and Middlesbrough cathedrals. The Great Charter opera will take place in Durham Cathedral on Saturday 13 June and at Middlesbrough Cathedral on Saturday 20 June at 7.30 pm. You can buy tickets for both performances through the Gala Theatre, Durham Box Office on 03000 266 600, or www.gala

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Theatre Royal goes Wilde

Theatre Royal goes Wilde...

Much-loved television star David Suchet is coming to Newcastle Theatre Royal in a brand new guise as Lady Bracknell in The Im...