Round-up of 2015

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Round-up of 2015

Round-up of 2015

Posted: 10 Dec 2015

Review of the year

by ne4me’s regular contributors Rob Mason and Anne Graham

 

Teessider and veteran folkie Vin Garbutt

 


Theatre event of the year:

I really enjoyed Susan Wear’s debut play ‘The Duke in the Cupboard’ at the Customs House in South Shields (a venue that remains a favourite). ‘Yes Prime Minister’ at The People’s Theatre just before the General Election was as well timed in its planning as with the delivery of the punchlines, but most enjoyable was ‘Abigail’s Party’ at The Royalty Theatre in Sunderland in February. A very funny production, and it strikes me that all three of my theatrical highlights this year have been jolly ones. Normally I go for the dark stuff (and I don’t mean in the bar). Maybe I’m mellowing as I get older. RM

Having moved to north Northumberland, all my 2015 choices are up this way or over the border, Edinburgh now being as close to home as Newcastle.  Without doubt my pick of the stage crop is ‘Waiting for Godot’ at Edinburgh’s Lyceum Theatre. Starring Brian Cox and Bill Paterson – two of Scotland’s finest actors appearing together on stage for the first time – it was a masterclass in tragi-comedy and surely has to transfer for another run to another theatre – somewhere, anywhere. It would be worth the trip, wherever it might be. AG

Concert of the year:

There’s some serious competition for this section. I’ve seen Gretchen Peters several times and never thought she was less then 10 out of 10, so her March Sage gig is right up there (and I’m looking forward to seeing her at The Gala in Durham in February – see Highlights of 2016 no doubt!).  I also loved seeing Teesside folkie Vin Garbutt recently, the first time I’ve seen the old troubadour in almost quarter of a century.  Veteran Dutch prog rockers Focus were brilliant at The Sage, but just pipping them to the post for me is The Dun Cow’s first birthday party bash. The pub next door to the Sunderland Empire – and now under The Head of Steam banner – isn’t the best venue for a gig as it can be hard to see but the line-up was terrific. It was the first time I’d seen the excellent Skylark Song. Then came Barrie Hyde of The Futureheads followed by the increasingly rocky Lilliput and finally the wonderful Lake Poets – now showcasing the album produced by Dave Stewart of Eurthymics and recorded in Nashville. It was a superb evening. RM

A little bit of history was made on the Holy Island of Lindisfarne in June 2015 when The Lindisfarne Story – featuring the band’s original drummer Ray Laidlaw and later band member Billy Mitchell – played at St Mary’s Church for the island’s inaugural music festival. This was actually the first time anyone from Lindisfarne had played a public concert on Lindisfarne itself and the show, which encompasses chat and banter from Billy and Ray against a visual backdrop of the history of the band as well as excerpts from its best-loved songs, went down a storm to a packed house. AG

Pub of the year:

A hat-trick for The Ship Isis which has been my choice for three years running. A Camra pub of the year two minutes’ walk from the Sunderland Empire, The Ship is traditional and ornate pub that sells good beer. That's it. Less is more. RM 

Continuing the north Northumberland theme, I’m going for The Barrels in Berwick-upon-Tweed. It’s a wacky and wonderful place, packed with eclectic memorabilia, presumably from the pub owner’s travels, which includes a dentist’s chair, French signs and framed photos including one of Iggy Pop in the nude. The Barrels does regular live music and also serves a great variety of proper beer. AG

Restaurant of the year:

Arabesque near the Empire Cinema (not Empire Theatre) in Sunderland. It’s been there a while but it’s a recent discovery for me. It’s not in the most salubrious street but once you close the heavy door behind you you’re transported to ancient Egypt.  The décor has you imagining Tutankhamun will be your waiter, although our waitress turned out to be Irish. The Egyptian food is fabulous – there’s plenty for vegetarians like me – the portions are big and the prices are small.  That’s a recipe for success in my book and we’re booked in again just before Christmas. They do belly dancing evenings as well. RM

The Jolly Fisherman at Craster gets my vote. Perched on a cliff just yards from the sea, it has fabulous views from its picture windows, great cooking (especially the fish, as you’d expect), cool and stylish décor and a proper pub bar popular with locals as well as visitors. What’s not to like? AG

Sporting event of the year:

If it was a hat-trick in my pub choices then the sporting event has a touch of déjà vu as well. Shall I go for the five-in-a-row game or the six-in-a-row one? The six-in-a-row derby was the bigger score but the five-in-a-row match had THAT goal from Jermain Defoe so it’ll have to be that one. RM

Thanks to Rob for rubbing it in! I’m steering clear of men’s football this time and breaking my own rule of only featuring North East events that I’ve actually been to. I’m nominating the women’s World Cup with a special nod to Berwick’s own Lucy Bronze for bringing much-deserved attention to women’s football and for playing so gallantly that she has been nominated for the BBC Sports Personality of the Year Award. AG


 

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