O2 Academy: What better way to kick off the list than with the Weatherspoon’s of live music venues, the O2 Academy; your one-stop destination for all the questionable cover acts and ‘bands inexplicably still touring despite having not been relevant for at least 10 years’ you could ask for. The interior is characterised by a lifeless, blue glow, and sleek, uncomfortably symmetrical furnishings; the sort that only a soulless corporate-owned venue could provide. All this being said however, the Academy undeniably sees some quality acts pass through its doors, filling a crucial role in the city as a mid-sized venue. Just don’t get tricked in to purchasing any of the incredibly underwhelming ‘Agwa bombs’ on offer at the bar.
Newcastle SU: Just your run-of-the-mill ‘large room with a stage’ really. Its lack of any notable features is perhaps redeemed by the convenience of its location, plus the ability to avoid those godawful transaction fees by buying direct from the SU.
Riverside: Located, as the name would suggest, down at the quayside, Riverside unfortunately has no affiliation to the legendary Newcastle venue of the same name (which, in a tragically predictable twist, is now office space). Nonetheless, Riverside is undoubtedly an excellent venue, with a balcony for those trying to avoid the pits and the capacity to regularly book more established acts. Alternatively, you can pay £6 for the Saturday club night, which is summed up quite aptly by my friend’s observation that “I’ve never been groped as much as I have at Riverside.”
Bar Loco: Not primarily a music venue, but there’s always some weird and wonderful live music going on at this quirky pub. Some personal highlights include an impromptu jam of about 15 folk students, the world’s smallest yet proportionally-intense rave, and performances by none other than Ojay, the legendary bassist of Northumberland Street.
“I’ve never been groped as much as I have at Riverside.”
The Cluny: Based in a former bottling plant, The Cluny is, in a nutshell, a very cool place. Generally hosting up-and-coming acts, its indie cred is somewhat diminished when one discovers it is actually owned by Head of Steam. However, the cheerful atmosphere and tastefully DIY aesthetic more than makes up for this.
Think Tank: If you’ve ever been to ‘Digi Mondays’, chances are you’ve drunkenly stumbled into Think Tank. As well as hosting some quality club nights, Think Tank predominantly functions as a stage for local and touring acts alike. Under the manic gaze of a massive, omnipresent Jeffery ‘The Dude’ Lebowski – part of an impressive collage of cult-pop culture imagery adorning the walls – the awkward layout of the room adds to the rough-yet-intimate vibe. Similarly, the barely-elevated stage allows you to get up close to acts. Though don’t expect Foo Fighters to be playing here any time soon.
Metro Arena: Admittedly I have yet to see a concert here. All I can say on the matter is that my friend has tricked me into paying £50 to go and see, of all bands, Disturbed and Avenged Sevenfold. Take from that what you will.