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How Newcastle's dedicated live music pubs are saving an industry

For all of us 'vintage rockers' the Jolly Roger was synonymous with the 'good old days of live music'

Amid the anarchy of claims that Newcastle's live music scene is dying, AHA Newcastle Hunter Representative Nikki Taylor is taking a closer look at some of the city's dedicated live music pubs to learn how their commitment to original music is saving an industry...

If you class yourself as Generation X or even a Baby Boomer, it may be easy to look at Newcastle’s live music scene as an industry in rapid decline.

It’s an easy assumption to make if your viewfinder is tainted with memories of sweaty pub rock blasting out of venues on every corner and meandering (is that what we did..?) up and down Hunter Street among throngs of revelers dressed in black leather and flicking back manes of flowing golden hair, and that was just the men!

But, is it possible that we who remember the glory days of rock n' roll with longing and nostalgia, are mistaken when we cry out in tune with Don McLean, who we also remember fondly, that in Newcastle we are fast approaching ‘the day the music died’?

I am guilty of such predictions.

Having pushed my way down the front at many a Screaming Jets or Judge Mercy gig at the Cambridge, Palais Royale, Jolly Roger and Bel Air, it is hard to take a lap through town (did anyone else used to do that..?) without suspecting that if I were to crack open the window all I would hear is the chirping of crickets accompanied by the whining residents, aghast they have heard the clinking of glasses, especially those which may have held a cocktail, after 10pm.


Over the past few months, as I have been creating our weekly Gig Guide, and please check that out if you haven’t already, it occurred to me that a number of our venues are still hosting a plethora of original live music every single weekend.

The Hamilton Station, The Lass O’ Gowrie, The Stag, The Wicko and The Cambridge are hosting bands to packed houses each and every week, many of who represent our own homegrown talent.

Singer/songwriters, bands, duos, and soloists are belting out rock, indie, punk, thrash, metal and all kinds of things that I have no idea about, to capacity crowds on a regular basis.

I admit, until now it has flown under my radar because none of these original acts sing Horses and are unlikely to respond kindly to people of my vintage shouting out Horses, and there’s not an Am I Eva Gonna See Your Face Again response to be heard anywhere in the near vicinity, but as a live music lover it buoyed my heart to realise that all is not lost after all.

In fact, it encouraged me to take a closer look at what our dedicated live music pubs are doing to ensure the future of our city’s music industry, and as it turnd out, it’s a hell of a lot.

So stay tuned for the first installment of our look at some of Newcastle’s best live music pubs and what drives them to continue supporting and encouraging independent and original music.

First up will be The Hamilton Station... Here is a sneak peek:

An incubator for local, live, and independent music, the Hamilton Station prides itself on providing a platform for up-and-coming bands destined to make the Triple J Unearthed playlist and to headline some of the country's most iconic music festivals.

In the beer garden, a wall plastered with colourful bill posters takes pride of place and it's easy to see this is no place for the musically uneducated or for those tuning into repetitive commercial radio rock.

You will not hear chart topping songstresses like Taylor Swift or boy bands like Five Seconds of Summer or even 5SOS (what..?).

What you will hear are voices born of contemplation, lyrics crafted by an informed generation of artists who no longer limit their message to the tired narrative of sex and drugs, but who dare to contemplate an entirely new landscape for the experience of youth.

Bands like Raave Tapes, whose songs dare to tell their audience not to act like dickheads, have graced the stage along with other artists making their mark like Gooch Palms, Fritz and recent out of town act Belle Haven.

Stay tuned for the full story coming up soon...

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