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Gigs galore to remember for music lovers in 2013.

Byline: Gordon Barr Entertainment Editor

Olly Murs on stage at the Newcastle Metro Arena IT'S been another bumper year for gigs and big stage productions in the North East.

An array of top names, from Olly Murs to Neil Young and Alicia Keys to Rihanna have graced us with their presence.

Add to that big theatrical productions like Cirque du Soleil and Strictly Come Dancing, and it's been a great year for an ever greater night out in the region.

Today we recall some of the highs of 2013.

The year kicked off in fine style with some grand moves on the floor of the Metro Radio Arena courtesy of the Strictly Come Dancing tour, but the gigs tour got into full flow with the likes of Plan B, Example and the Girls Aloud swan song of three nights on the trot at the venue.

A few days later, Olly Murs took to the stage of the arena. I wrote at the time: "Is Olly Murs the Robbie Williams of his generation? Judging by the opening gig of his new tour in Newcastle last night he has all the credentials to be pop's new Mr Showman.

We've always known him to be an entertainer from his days on 2009's X Factor when he came runner-up to Joe McElderry.

But fast forward three years and he has more than come into his own. Fresh off his mega-selling Right Place Right Time album, Olly proved the Metro Radio Arena certainly was the right place for him to start his tour - and the time is certainly right for him to capitalise on his success.

It was a night to remember - and there were a few of those in 2013, especially at the Stadium of Light in Sunderland, where Bon Jovi and Rihanna both appeared in the summer.

The two gigs proved massive draws, with Bon Jovi at their rockiest best and Rihanna at her raunchiest.

The Stadium of Light was also the host of one of the biggest pop parties the region has ever seen.

The likes of Little Mix, JLS, Amelia Lily and James Arthur joined the cream of today's popsters for a five-hour extravaganza known as North East Live.

Back at the arena it was a tearful Meat Loaf who took to the stage as part of his farewell tour in April. "I'm going to cry right now," Meat Loaf warned me before the heavyweight of rock did indeed turn tearful. "How that hurt me, to have to do that to that audience, because that's what I care about. My heart was broken that night. I have tried everything I could do to make that up to them."

The 65-year-old could not fight back the tears any longer as he recalled that fateful Halloween night back in 2007 when, during his show, he walked off the stage of the Metro Radio Arena in Newcastle vowing: "This is the last show I may ever do in my life."

He had cysts on his throat, had been given steroids and the rest, as they say, is rock 'n' roll history.

But he played a triumphant farewell gig, gave the fans what they wanted and left Tyneside still a rock `n' roll hero.

She might one of the world's most critically acclaimed singers for over a decade, but Alicia Keys had never played Newcastle until this year.

The girl was most certainly on fire as she wowed a sell-out crowd at the arena in May.

Other big name acts to play the arena included Arctic Monkeys, Jessie J, Boyzone, JLS, Stereophonics and some boyband by the name of One Direction.

Of course it wasn't just the arena that played host to our musical favourites. As ever the Evolution Festival on the Quayside was a huge success and this year featured the likes of Paloma Faith, Ellie Goulding and Rudimental, as well as showcasing upcoming local talent.

There were far too many gigs to feature them all in this lookback, but we shouldn't forget the other venues, such as Sage Gateshead, Newcastle City Hall, O2 Academy Newcastle and the Tyne Theatre, who all played host to an eclectic mix of acts.

The Sage had the likes of Hugh Laurie, Sinead O'Connor and Alison Moyet to name but three, while the City Hall welcomed the likes of Leona Lewis, Emeli Sande and 5ive.

Over at the O2 Academy, Happy Mondays, McFly and Johnny Marr were among the star turns, while outdoor events such as the Mouth of the Tyne Festival attracted big crowds to see a variety of acts perform.

All in all a very busy year - and 2014 looks set to be the same. Don't miss our look ahead in the Chronicle on January 2.


Paloma Faith at the Evolution Festival at Spillers Wharf in Newcastle Bon Jovi rocks the stage in Sunderland ? Rita Ora at the Stadium of Light

Rihanna at the Stadium of Light in Sunderland

Little Mix peform at North East Live
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Publication:Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)
Date:Dec 30, 2013
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