Five of the Best: For Music Buffs

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Blog post by Rachel Kershaw writer of Life in Geordieland, the blog guide to NewcastleGateshead. In this series of blog posts – Five of the Best – Rachel has had the hard task of picking out five events, pop-ups, exhibits and activities from the 80-day programme that she thinks are the ones not to miss!

During Great Exhibition of the North 2018, Newcastle and Gateshead will not only look and feel like a great place to be, it will sound amazing too! We’ll have the chance to indulge in some of the best musical talent to come from the North as well as experiencing specially curated presentations, talks and art exhibitions showcasing music from across the area.

Sunderland-born culture vulture, BBC Radio 6 Music broadcaster and DJ Lauren Laverne is the lady behind the line-up of a week of gigs and events at Sage Gateshead that will help kick off Great Exhibition of the North. Lauren’s ‘Great Northern Soundtrack’ will celebrate music from Newcastle to Manchester and Sunderland to Sheffield and includes artists such as Róisín Murphy, Nightmares on Wax and Kathryn Tickell and The Darkening.

Here are the five music events I am most looking forward to, there are plenty of others to choose from too so be sure to check out the full Get North 2018 programme.

1. The Great Northern All Star Band – Sage Gateshead – 23 June

Ever since I was a student at the University of Sunderland I have been aware of the hot bed of musical talent to come from the area. I’ve seen local act Field Music perform live several times and they never fail to impress so I was mega excited to hear that the band’s Brewis brothers, David and Peter had been hired to host an all-star karaoke night – The Great Northern All Star Band feat. Field Music at Sage Gateshead. Guest vocalists from around the North will join Field Music on stage to perform Northern anthems as chosen by the public for ‘The North in 100 Songs’, which will also be a free exhibition on display at Sage Gateshead this summer. You can listen to the full playlist of chosen songs on Spotify!


2. World Headquarters Featuring Voices of Virtue – Sage Gateshead – 29 June

World Headquarters in Newcastle is one of the friendliest nightclubs on the planet and it has been entertaining music connoisseurs for a quarter of a century. Its 25th birthday coincides with Great Exhibition of the North so cue a spectacular party to which you’re all invited! For one night only, World Headquarters will re-locate to Sage Gateshead where special guests, the ‘Voices of Virtue Choir’ will perform live with a full band alongside DJ Tom Caulker for an unforgettable evening of high energy soul anthems. Much of the music may have originated on another continent, but Northerners have a deep connection with soul music that shows no sign of fading anytime soon. Don’t forget your dancing shoes, it’s sure to be a night to remember.


3. Mr Drayton’s Record Player – Sage Gateshead – Various Dates

Mr Drayton is a vinyl champion and pop music know it all! Join him for a potted history of Northern pop as he takes us on a musical journey playing classic albums by Northern artists on his trusty record player. Expect plenty of pop music banter and a night out with a difference in these unique events that form part of Lauren Laverne’s Great Northern Soundtrack. Mr Drayton will be heading to Sage Gateshead on Sunday 24 June, Wednesday 27 June, Friday 29 June and Saturday 30 June.


4. Aeons: A Sound Journey for Newcastle along the River Tyne – 22 June – 30 June

Aeons is a brand new, exciting and free event is a way to enjoy a walk along the banks of the River Tyne like never before. After collecting your headphones from Gateshead Millennium Bridge you’ll begin a spine tingling adventure accompanied by specially commissioned music featuring the dulcet tones of Gateshead’s own Becky Unthank alongside other talented Northern vocalists. This sound walk created by Opera North will take you under six historic bridges out to the fringes of the city along Hadrian’s Wall Path, it’s a chance to experience both the sights and sounds of the landscape in a unique and magical way. Don’t forget, you will need to book your place although limited spaces will be available for those who just walk up on the day and chance it.


5. Original music especially for the Great Exhibition of the North Water Sculpture

Every day throughout Great Exhibition, the River Tyne will be host to a brand new Water Sculpture. Curated to perform in time to music, you will be able to choose from three exclusive pieces of music which have been written especially for Great Exhibition of the North. Enjoy a new song from Mercury prize nominated northern rock band Maximo Park, a collaboration between Kate Rusby and Royal Northern Sinfonia and a track by Darkstar.

I couldn’t tell you what it means,
But I know that the compass reads:
North By North East
North By North East

Maximo Park

And here I stand, I gaze on the new,
From this great north land,
Like me they grew

Kate Rusby


There’s more…

  • You can be part of the music of Great Exhibition of the North and perform with hundreds of others during the Opening Weekend. Whatever your musical ability – you can Get in the Band!
  • If you’re new to classical music or could listen all day, Royal Northern Sinfonia will be offering you free tasters so you can get a taster of their performances. RNS Samplers will take place at Sage Gateshead throughout the day on Saturday 7 July (free but ticketed)
  • The public spaces within Sage Gateshead will be transformed with a new sound installation using real world noises of the North. In Protomusic #1 Rotherham-based artist Mark Fell  uses music techniques and technologies to present sounds from the North.
  • I’m excited to hear that BBC Music Introducing will be joining the Great Exhibition of the North programme with a free afternoon celebrating emerging, Northern talent.
  • Throughout the 80-day programme, you’ll find lots of ‘Inspired By’ events taking place all across the North and The Music and Dances of Northumbria is one of them. Alnwick Garden is a magical place at any time of year but this summer it will come alive with the musical traditions of Northumberland. On certain days during Great Exhibition of the North, visitors will be able to listen to the captivating sound of the Northumbrian smallpipes and maybe even take part in a traditional ceilidh! Local musicians will be busking throughout the beautiful gardens too.

What are your favourite activities, events, pop-ups and exhibits along the Get North Innovation Trail? Let us know on social media via Twitter and Instagram: @GetNorth2018 and Facebook @Great Exhibition of the North 2018 #GetNorth2018 

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