ufoHe’s back and this week Self Made Man has a word of warning for all those rock fans who leave their next gig until another day…

Read our classic rock columnist exclusively right here every week.

And look out for his list of 2014’s top albums and gigs very soon. 


Anyone at the Metro Radio Arena this week to see The Who will have loved it.

I just hope Pete Townsend, Roger Daltrey and their band-mates enjoyed the evening as much as their audience.

I fear not because there were hundreds of empty seats scattered around the auditorium and the upper balcony at the back was completely empty.

It did not go unnoticed on stage with Townsend uttering a few caustic comments about the gaps.

The Who are not accustomed to such sights. For 50 years now, they have been playing to sell-outs across the world.

It’s been the same in 2014 – except in Newcastle.

Sadly, we’ve got a pretty poor reputation on this front and we’re paying a high price.

Back in 1997, AC/DC’s Geordie frontman Brian Johnson was embarrassed when his home city was the only venue not to sell out on the UK leg of their Ballbreaker Tour.

AC/DC have never been back to Tyneside.

Townsend remarked on Tuesday night that The Who would return next year when, hopefully, the Arena would be full to bursting point. Don’t hold your breath.

Of course, many of those who chose to stay at home on this occasion will point to the sky-high ticket prices and, of course, they have a point.

The cheapest tickets to see The Who were over £70. When you throw in the cost of booking fees, travel costs, parking, a couple who attended the concert would have got little change from £200.

But prices are the same throughout the country and I’m told The Who haven’t had to put up with swathes of empty seats elsewhere. Indeed at the Liverpool Arena on Thursday, a mate of mine tells me the touts were doing a roaring trade.

So what is it about rock fans in the North East?

The St James’ Park attendance when the Kings of Leon were in Toon was disappointing while at a much lower level, the Carling Academy rarely sells out for rock concerts.

Of course, this rant is not directed at those who love their live music, more so at the stay-at-homes, who no doubt are the first to complain when one of their favourite bands give this region a skip.

We better get used to it especially with Leeds’ spanking new Arena doing good business just down the road.

Just look at the acts who’ve chosen Leeds ahead of Newcastle – Slash, Fleetwood Mac to name just two.

And can we honestly blame promoters who ignore Newcastle because they fear they are going to take a hit when it comes to ticket sales.

I’m expecting Rush to announce a 2015 tour early in the New Year – and I’m bracing myself for a trip to Manchester, Leeds or Glasgow.

Ian Murtagh