Teesside’s Greatest Gigs and Concerts

by Matt Falcus

The towns of Teesside have had a long-standing love of live music and entertainment.

From the earliest days of theatre and music halls, towns like Middlesbrough, Stockton and Darlington have had venues which attracted top name acts and the crowds to see them.

Over the years many of the great and good of musical entertainment have featured on the playbills of our region’s venues. Some were already big names at the time, whilst others would go on to fame in the years following their appearances.

Many of the venues themselves entered into Teesside folklore – places like the Fiest, the Globe Theatre, Middlesbrough’s Astoria and of course the Kirklevington Country Club. Some have disappeared from our townscapes, whilst some have even been brought back into use.

Read on to discover some of the greatest gigs and concerts in Teesside’s history.

Were you at any of them? Leave a comment below and let us know!

 

The Beatles

Stockton Globe
22nd November 1963

Possibly the most famous rock concert to ever have taken place on Teesside… not merely because of the fame and legend of the band at the time, but because the night they played was the night John F Kennedy was assassinated.

The Beatles at the time were at the height of Beatlemania. Most of the attendees at their concerts were young women, and the only sound that could be heard was the screaming. The music took second place.

That night, following the concert, the news broke about JFK and photographs taken by resident photographer Ian Wright reputedly show the band taking in the news, with concerned faces. These photographs now hang on the wall in the bar of the revamped Globe Theatre, which is once again playing host to many of today’s biggest acts.

 

Oasis

Middlesbrough Arena
8th April 1994

Middlesbrough Arena, the former Pavilion Theatre, today.

The band that would soon be topping the charts and the headlines were still relatively unknown in April 1994 when their UK tour took in Middlesbrough’s historic Arena venue.

The Arena was opened as the Pavilion Theatre in 1913 and in its day saw many top acts. It later became a cinema, and most recently a nightclub and live music venue. It was known as the Rock Garden for a time.

Oasis were soon to release their first single when they played the Arena, and when their first album Live Forever was released shortly after, they were bound for stardom.

 

Jimi Hendrix Experience

Imperial Hotel, Darlington
2nd February 1967

Jimi Hendrix in 1967

Still known and loved to millions around the world, Jimi Hendrix had a very short career spanning less than four years.

In that time he released some timeless music and gained a reputation as one of the most inspiring and talented guitar players of all time.

During early 1967 he was touring the UK. He appeared in the ballroom of the Imperial Hotel on Grange Road in Darlington. Around 200 people had bought tickets to the show, which occurred just as Jimi was starting to gain attention from a new single, Hey Joe, just released.

In fact, the Imperial Hotel was offered £300 to allow Jimi to cancel his appearance in order to return to London for promotional work. They resisted, however, and Jimi went on to perform a two-hour set during which his amplifier blew up, and one of his guitars was stolen from the tour van.

 

The Beatles

Middlesbrough Astoria Ballroom
25th June 1963

The Beatles on their 1964 tour.

The former Astoria Ballroom in Middlesbrough.

Of course, The Beatles did not only play on Teesside once. Their famous gig at the Stockton Globe in November 1963. They played there another time in 1964, and had also played at Middlesbrough’s Astoria Ballroom earlier in 1963.

This gig actually pre-dated Beatlemania and the band were promoting their hit single She Loves You. At the time they were a very new act to British audiences.

The Astoria, on Wilson Street, was another well-known venue in the town and still stands today. It has been a nightclub and the Chicago Rock Café in its time. Today it is the Grand Astoria.

 

The Sex Pistols

Middlesbrough Arena
August 1977

The Sex Pistols performing in 1977. Photograph: Koen Suyk. In: Nationaal Archief, Den Haag, Rijksfotoarchief: Fotocollectie Algemeen Nederlands Fotopersbureau (ANEFO), 1945-1989 – negatiefstroken zwart/wit, nummer toegang 2.24.01.05, bestanddeelnummer 928-9665, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

Under the pseudonym Acne Rabble, the Sex Pistols played Middlesbrough Arena in August 1977. It was the height of the punk era, and word had spread about their appearance.

Soon the police were called to disperse the crowd outside trying to gain access to the sold out gig inside.

The reason for the pseudonym was the fact the Sex Pistols had been banned in Britain, and had to resort to this in order to play live. Many in the crowd, however, took to spitting at the band in protest over their rebellious behaviour which had earned their ban from TV.

 

John Mayall & Eric Clapton

Kirklevington Country Club
1964/65

Eric Clapton, left, playing at The Kirk

John Mayall played the famous Kirklevington Country Club various times during 1964-66. He was one of many well-known musicians and bands booked by the venue which was famous as a place to enjoy a good meal, drink and dance.

Among Mayall’s band during this time was a guitarist known as Eric Clapton. He, of course, would go on to great things with the Yardbirds, Cream and as a solo artist. At the time, however, he was a guitarist in the background at this venue near Yarm.

 

Elton John

Darlington Arena
5th July 2008

A more recent concert that many on Teesside still talk about was Elton John’s appearance at Darlington Arena in July 2008.

The world-famous singer and pianist brought his lively show full of hits to the football stadium packed with 15,000 fans, despite the bad weather.

 

David Bowie (Davy Jones)

Stockton Globe
4th December 1964

A gig whose significance might have passed you by at the time, but turned out to be special in hindsight.

David Bowie in his early career went by his real name of David Jones. In December 1964 he was performing very early material with his band the Manish Boys.

But not only was the future Ziggy Stardust on the bill, his act was actually the support for Gerry and the Pacemakers, The Kinks and Gene Pitney – all in one night! The performance was at Stockton’s ABC, which was the name The Globe was using at the time.

 

Roy Orbison

Club Fiesta, Stockton
25th March 1980

The cover of a recording of Roy Orbison’s performance at Stockton’s Fiesta Club in 1980.

The Fiesta Club on Norton Road in Stockton earned a reputation as the Las Vegas of Northern England thanks to its continuous showbill of world-class acts. Any one of them could be included in this article as an example of an amazing Teesside gig – from Stevie Wonder to the Four Tops; Dusty Springfield to the Beach Boys.

One star in particular, Roy Orbison, appeared many times at the Fiesta, which was famous for its Fawns who waited on customers as they enjoyed a drink and a show.

For this article we have chosen his final appearance at the Fiesta, on 25th March 1980, towards the end of his career. This concert became the subject of an “authorized bootleg” recording and album entitled Roy Orbison: Live from the Fiesta Club 1980 and saw him perform hits including Dream Baby, Only the Lonely, Pretty Woman and Crying.

Interestingly, this particular performance was after the Fiesta in its most famous guise had closed in 1976, after accumulating significant debts. It had reopened briefly when this gig took place. Today the Fiesta building is a church.

 

The Rolling Stones

The Outlook Club, Middlesbrough
13th July 1963

The Rolling Stones in 1963

Former site of the Overlook Club in Middlesbrough today.

Middlesbrough played host to a significant event in the history of the Rolling Stones – a band still active today with its lead singer, Mick Jagger, recently reaching the age of 80.

Having established a loyal fanbase around their home territory of London, the Rolling Stones took part in a UK tour which saw them travel 250 miles north for their first gig away from the capital. This was at the Outlook Club in Middlesbrough (also referred to as The Alcove).

Those familiar with Middlesbrough may wonder where the Outlook Club was. No longer standing, this was a basement venue at 52-60 Corporation Road, opposite the Odeon cinema. Upstairs was a clothes shop known as Young Outlook.

According to https://www.udiscovermusic.com/, the Rolling Stones’ 10-minute set in Middlesbrough included “Poison Ivy,” “Fortune Teller,” “Money,” and “Come On.”

 

Status Quo

Stockton Globe
10th December 1974

Status Quo in the late 1970s

Stockton’s famous Globe Theatre (also known as the ABC) enjoyed a long time as a venue for some of the world’s top bands and entertainment acts. However, at the end of 1974 the theatre was to close down. It would become a cinema and bingo hall over the subsequent years, before being fully abandoned.

The final act to play at the theatre before it closed was Status Quo, close to the end of their tour in 1974. It was a loud, raucous and legendary night for music on Teesside.

Over the past few years the venue has been lovingly restored and re-opened as a live music venue. Happily, one of the acts to play there recently was Status Quo – 48 years after they last played.

 

Were you at any of these great Teesside gigs? Have you been to any other memorable gigs on Teesside that deserve a mention? Leave a comment below!

 

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