The Common Good
Old and new. That’s what I love about The Common Room. Old in the sense that it’s situated in Neville Hall (built in 1869-1872), which is one of most gloriously gothic buildings in Newcastle. And new in the sense that The Common Room was only established in 2017. It was set up to lead the redevelopment and manage the assets of The Mining Institute, but also to support the north-east economy. To that end, they have a programme that engages with the business community and provides education and enrichment for young people. But – thankfully – they’ve also opened up their wonderful spaces to other events too, including gigs. I say thankfully, because this place is an incredible place to catch live music. I’m talking acoustics, atmosphere – the whole damn caboodle. What’s more, The Common Room have got a fantastic programme lined up for the coming months, which should have gig-goers really licking their lips.
On November 19 they have Crack fave Callum Pitt who will be supported by Melanie Baker. Pitt is one of the very finest singer/songwriters in the region, with an indie-folk sound that arrows straight for your heart. He’s also one of the most captivating performers around, and if you’re a fan of Bon Iver, Elliot Smith, Sufjan Sevens et al then you’re sure to go a bundle for Pitt. Melanie Baker, meanwhile, hails from the Lake District and is another indie-folk artist who pens heart-in-the-mouth melodies. “I write about what I know and how I feel. If other people can relate to that then sharing these songs feels like an integral part of the process.” Baker is only twenty-two but she’s already amassed over a million Spotify streams and has received airplay on BBC Radio 1, BBC Radio 2 and BBC Introducing. In short: she’s the real deal, and the pairing of these two stellar talents has ‘Gig Of The Month’ stamped all over it.
Moving into December – December 3, in fact – there’s another treat in store when Matt Deighton visits the region. Deighton is a real hero of the British folk underground. He’s also a favourite of some of the UK’s most feted stars including Paul Weller who Deighton played guitar for in the late 1990s. Noel Gallagher is also a fan (when Gallagher quit Oasis’s European tour in 2000, he said that Deighton should replace him). If you’re not au fait with Deighton’s stuff then you should dive into his back catalogue, pronto, especially if you’re a fan of Nick Drake or John Martyn. Yes – I’m really putting him in that kind of company.
Early next year one of Newcastle’s finest bands, Ghost//Signals will be at The Common Room with their anthemic-indie-pop (14 January). The band banged out their fantastic ‘Lives Defined By Winter Skies’ album earlier this year and it a full-bodied release stuffed with sky-scraping tunes that were replete with hooks by the score. Also on the horizon are Large Plants (4 February) the post-apocalyptic downer-fuzz-rock side project of Jack Sharp, former singer/guitarist with psych/folk luminaries Wolf People, and Tengger (17 February), a travelling musical family made up of Pan-Asian couple, itta and Marqido, who create their brand of psychedelic new-age drone magic through the use of harmonium, voice, analogue synths, and – get this! – toy instruments. I am so at that gig…
And before you ask, yes, The Common Room does have a bar/cafe. The bar/cafe even has a name. 5 Quarter. And very lovely it is too, and it’s not just open when there is stuff on (Mon-Wed 10am-7pm; Thurs-Sat 10am-11.30pm). 5 Quarter has innovative cocktails, classic wines, artisan beers and a range of hot beverages. What else? Locally sourced food? You got it!
The Common Room is also available to hire – for all manner of events, from gigs to weddings – and you can find out about that, as well as all the other good stuff they do (and ticket information), from the website, below. Stop press: Just heard that The Common Room are offering free room hire of the Wood Hall and Lecture Theatre for gigs throughout January.
The Common Room, Neville Hall, Westgate Road, Newcastle, NE1 1SE. thecommonroom.org.uk