ufoIt’s that time of the week again when our resident classic rocker waxes lyrical about the world he knows best.

And what better place to start this weekend than the first St James’s Park gig in seven years?

With the the sun shining on Tyneside it’s time for Self Made Man to offer his thought on the latest Kings Of Leon mega show. 


In a few hours’ time, Kings of Leon will hit the stage at St James’s Park as live music returns to the home of Newcastle United for the first time in several years.

I hope fans enjoy it because all the signs suggest that rock concerts in this part of the world are becoming an increasingly rare occurrence.

Correct me if I’m wrong but I can’t recall a major rock band appearing in the North East this year – and by “major” I mean an act capable of selling out the Arena.

I hope reports suggesting that SJP has struggled to sell out for this weekend’s event are inaccurate because disappointing attendances are a surefire way of ensuring you miss out the next time a band tours.

Back in 1997, the Newcastle Arena infamously failed to sell out for the visit of AC/DC – a fact that hurt Geordie frontman Brian Johnson very much – and we’ve paid the price ever since with the region not being considered for subsequent tours.

Last year, I rejoiced when Neil Young played Newcastle for the first time since the seventies but that Crazy Horse tour was very much an exception to the rule.

In 2013, Deep Purple and Fleetwood Mac left the North East off their itinerary as did Rush, who, having not visited these parts for well over a decade, had included us on their schedule for their previous two tours.

And even workaholic tour obsessive Joe Bonamassa didn’t pay his accustomed visit to the region on his latest tour.

Just this week, Slash announced a UK Arena tour and, surprise, surprise, Newcastle was off the guest list.

Those of us who want to see him live, can always travel 90-odd miles down to Leeds, who boast a spanking new area in the heart of the city.

It’s presence is great news for Yorkshire and the North in general, less so for this far corner of the country.

For years, Glasgow, Manchester and even Sheffield have been preferred as a stopping off point rather than Newcastle and now it seems we may be slipping further down the pecking order.

And it’s not just the superstar acts that are giving us a skip. The excellent Blackberry Smoke won’t be heading up the A1(M) on their forthcoming tour and a glance at this month’s Classic Rock magazine’s gig guide shows they are not alone in turning their backs on us.

The Stadium of Light in Sunderland has proved a magnet for mega-acts with Bruce Springsteen and the Kings of Leon themselves playing to sell out crowds there in recent times.

One Direction were their latest “attraction” and while none of us on these pages were there, we should be applauding the continued success of that venue.

If Newcastle and Sunderland have become rivals on the music scene as well as on the football pitch, then surely that has got to be a healthy situation.

Our indoor venues may be missing out to their competitors. Let’s hope the reverse is true with our stadia.

Ian Murtagh