Toon In

Finlay Pelling runs us through Newcastle's vibrant venues and explains how the Toon's music scene is most definitely not dead

FInlay Pelling
27th February 2017

I was recently told that Newcastle did not have a good music scene which, as well as being heresy and blasphemy, is an utter lie. The music scene in the Northeast is thriving and exciting, and Newcastle is home to a number of small independent venues which form a crucial part of the city’s cultural identity. I have thus selected a few which I deem to be essential landmarks in one’s Geordie education:

Think Tank? Underground (Head of Steam)

Firstly it is worth noting that Think Tank? is effectively three different venues, two of which are in Digital. Its underground counterpart, however, takes residence in the basement of Head of Steam, opposite Central Station. With a circa 90 capacity and a fully serving bar, this venue is extremely intimate and puts you up close and personal with up-and-coming musicians. It is also worth noting that the likes of the Arctic Monkeys, Maximo Park and the Futureheads have all played shows here. Upstairs is Head of Steam, a fantastic pub with a great selection of beer which is open until 3am and a good place to enjoy a drink with the artist afterwards. A great little venue and a staple in the Newcastle music scene.

Where: 2 Neville Street, NE1 5EN

Who to see: Neon Waltz, Cassia, The Marsicans

"The music scene in the North East is thriving and exciting"


Every city with a thriving music scene has one independent venue which transcends all others (Glasgow has King Tut’s, Nottingham has Rock City, Southampton has the Joiners), and Newcastle is no different. Cluny is perhaps the most loved venue in Newcastle, with its 280 capacity and its penchant for signing on exciting up-and-coming bands to play raucous intimate gigs. Located in the Ouseburn, which in 2015 was home to the BBC Radio 6 Music Festival day sessions, Cluny is a craft beer bar as well as a venue, but it is the two-tiered back room which draws the plaudits and is frequented by both promising local and national bands of all genres. If you have not been to Cluny yet, it’s a seminal venue and one not to be missed.

Where: 36 Lime Street, Ouseburn, NE1 2PQ,

Who to see: The Amazons, Benjamin Francis Leftwich, Palace

Wylam Brewery

You must have been living under a rock for the last few months if you haven’t yet heard of the Wylam Brewery. Located in Exhibition Park, this brewery doubles as a venue and since its conception has already hosted the likes of Jamie T. As you would expect, the beer is fantastic and excellently complements the live music on show there. The Palace of the Arts as it is known is an awe-inspiring art-deco building and the Grand Hall can accommodate up to 1000 people. Though it is substantially larger than the other two venues, it is an excellent place to watch live music and enjoy some high quality real ale.

Where: Palace of Arts, Exhibition Park, NE2 4PZ

Who to see: Evan Dando, The Undertones, Hayseed Dixie


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