FROM superstar concerts to music festivals and all-week club nights, the North East has some of the best nightlife in the country, as Liz Lamb reports.
TAKE That, Oasis, Whitney Houston, Beyonce, Pink, Girls Aloud, Lady Gaga. When superstars go on tour they come to the North East.
These big-name acts have all graced the stages at North East concert venues in recent years with many choosing to open their UK tours here in the region.
One of the most popular venues is the Metro Radio Arena in Newcastle, which so far this year has played host to Pet Shop Boys, Leona Lewis, Whitney Houston, Rhianna and Westlife, to name a few.
The Tyneside venue has become so popular that earlier this year it made it onto a list of the world’s busiest venues. The arena came 10th in the league table ranked by paid attendance figures.
More than half a million people visited the Arena in the latter half of last year and the venue had a record-breaking 2009 featuring a diverse range of shows, from Pink and Beyonce, to comedy and family shows like Michael McIntyre and Walking with Dinosaurs.
The year culminated in 44 performances of Mamma Mia!, starting in December.
When the achievement was announced earlier this year Paul Tappenden, Metro Radio Arena marketing director, thanked the North East public for their continued support.
“It proves they still want to enjoy a great night out and support world-class quality shows, even when times are particularly hard, as during the current recession,” he said.
A five-night stint by comedian Peter Kay, who is performing at the arena in November, has completely sold out.
Other highlights for the rest of the year include Michael Buble, the Return of Michael Flatley as Lord of the Dance, Paul Weller and Disney on Ice 100 Years of Magic.
Another North East venue that attracts big names is Sunderland’s Stadium of Light. Last year two of Britain’s biggest bands, Take That and Oasis, played there, attracting more than 150,000 people to the city.
The two Take That concerts and the Oasis gig boosted Sunderland’s economy by at least £3.5m and were the largest concerts ever held in the North East.
Singer Pink also chose the stadium as part of her UK tour. When the date was announced, Steve Walton, Sunderland AFC chief executive, said: “Securing the opening night of another major music tour is a massive coup for both the club and the region and underlines the Stadium of Light’s growing reputation as a key concert venue in the North of England.”
Other places to catch a gig include the Carling 02 Academy, The Cluny in Ouseburn, both Newcastle, and The Sage Gateshead.
BARS AND CLUBS
THE North East has always had a reputation for a good night out thanks to the choice and diversity of the nightlife.
Whether it’s a traditional real ale pub, a trendy club or a late-night bar you’re after, Newcastle’s reputation as a party city is second to none.
The Central Station area has become one of the most popular places to party. On Collingwood Street there are a number of trendy bars and clubs.
There is Revolution vodka bar, an impressive venue housed in a former bank with cornice ceilings and marble pillars, while next door is Madame Koo nightclub.
Also on the same stretch is Baby Lynch and Florita’s. Both bars are a regular haven for trendy drinkers and clubbers.
Those wanting a more chilled-out vibe head to Centurion, Central Station’s original first class refreshment room, which is now a pub, The Forth, on Pink Lane, and The Telegraph, on Orchard Street, which has an outside terrace.
Other popular areas to enjoy a drink or a night out are the Quayside where there are traditional pubs in quaint 17th-Century buildings mixed with more contemporary venues such as the Pitcher and Piano, which boasts a waterfront location.
The Gate entertainment complex is another popular evening venue with Tiger Tiger nightclub and an assortment of bars and restaurants.
Other areas include Osborne Road in Jesmond, a street lined with restaurants and bars with outdoor seating, making it a popular location in the summer months and Ouseburn, which has traditional pubs and live music venues and is a popular area for creative types.
Of course, there are some highly regarded restaurants in the North East too with Rockcliffe Hall boasting the Michelin-starred Kenny Atkinson as chef.