Newcastle's a great city to wander round: there is so much to see.
We walked down from the Metro at Monument, where Lord Grey stands and surveys the beige stone vista of Grey Street, to the River Tyne, to look at the series of bridges that span it.
Newcastle is a bridge museum, displaying the bizarre double-decker High Level Bridge (trains on top, cars underneath), the red and white Swing Bridge (jauntily nautical), the bridge-like Tyne Bridge, and the eyelid (is it the Millenium Bridge?).
Only in Geordieland would you find the High Level Bridge, because in Geordieland the abnormal is normal, yet if you're not Geordie normal you're cast out of the tribe and have to go to Art College to recover.
A cormorant dried its wings in the cold easterly wind, and we crossed the eyelid to the Baltic, and went up in the glass lift to the almost-top floor where we watched a woman preparing the floor of an exhibition hall, which was probably more arty than the art that was destined to be displayed there.
Buskers were braving the February grey as we crossed back over: one of them talked to us through frozen lips.
The Cluny 2 was pretty chilly inside, but the soundchecks warmed us all up. Shippy was wearing a rather natty blue cardy, and I realised how many of the Newcastle musicsters I know now.
Gem Andrews played first, and I recognised quite a few of her songs from the last time I saw her play, probably two years ago. She has become much more confident, and the venue, a blacked-out theatre, is ideal for a listening audience. The bar is upstairs, so the clinking of glasses and the scrape of the ice-shovel happen elsewhere, and there is no bar to lean on and murmur.
The audience gave Gem a really warm and well-deserved welcome.
My set was similarly received and I was slightly nervous to see Cav and Joe Guillan's hair silhouetted against the back wall, with Keith the drummer, but they came up afterwards and said they liked it so I was really chuffed. Rob Ayling from Voiceprint came and I gave him a listening copy of the songs I recorded at the Cluny Studios two weeks ago.
The Green Goddess is a bit of a stranger at the moment cos I haven't been playing her much, and a couple of times I was caught out by the chords not being where I thought they were, but generally, it was a relaxed place to play and I really enjoyed it. I could see Mike and June smiling and that helped too.
Martin had Fin McCardle with him and between them they made a whole-band sound.
Martin was really on form and I noticed a woman to one side weeping with laughter. A gentleman journalist was there taking notes, and he kept putting his little spiral-bound away and then getting it out again and scribbling when Martin made another joke- it was very funny! I joined him for Hamilton Square, during which my shoe heel fell down a hole in the stage, and later for Sweet Saviour. Before that, Martin invited Shippy up on stage to sing a song for his friend Elvis, who died a year ago. Shippy had written a lovely song for Elvis (called Elvis cos he wore glasses like Buddy Holly's).
At the very end of the gig, two people were waiting at the door: they had gone into the main Cluny venue and watched Punishment of Luxury by accident, thinking they were Martin's support act, and hadn't realised till the end! Oh Bless! They had driven over from the Lake District too. Martin promised to put them on the guest list for his next gig.
This morning I was supposed to be going over with him to do backing vocals for the stuff we've been recording with Joe and Cav and then over to a garden to perform a song to be filmed by Phoenix Films, but I was so worried by my ten hour journey on Friday (yes, it was ten, not nine!) that I decided to drive home straight away in case it happened again. Length of journey? Four hours. Gaaaaah!
BTW, the Irrepressibles are playing at the Queen Elizabeth Hall tonight. I wanted to go and review the gig but I'm worn out. I am wishing them the best gig of their lives on this Valentines Day.
Also I have a Valentines song on Myspace, it's going tomorrow to be replaced by a 15th of February song instead!