Opera House, Newcastle - Saturday, 1st November 2003

by Margaret Kilner, photos by Eddie Bailey

"I can say, I was there"

Lindisfarne walked on stage to a ripple of polite applause, played a few obscure tunes and finished by nine o'clock so we could all go home for our cocoa and an early night.

Well, actually no, it wasn't like that at all. The moment the house lights went down a huge roar of applause went up, then the band appeared, looking somewhat bemused at the strength of their welcome. It seemed the only way they could get the acclaim to stop was by starting to play.

And play they did. I don't propose to describe the set in detail, but suffice to say it was based on earlier running orders in this tour, but with a few more of the old classics interspersed, Road to Kingdom Come and January Song being two of these welcome additions. The newer songs were equally well received though - the first mention of Promenade got a huge cheer. Never have an audience been more heartfelt in their applause or sung so long and loud. More than once the band just let us get on with it by ourselves. Billy said afterwards that it was the best audience he had ever played to.

The last quarter was one long standing ovation and emotions ran high, both in the audience and on stage. We were sitting - when we weren't standing - quite literally in the middle of the stalls and it was a special place to be. Never have I been part of an audience like this before, cheering, singing our hearts out, clapping and waving arms high and all supercharged by the knowledge that this was for the last time. 


The four encore songs, Fog on the Tyne and Clear White Light inevitably being two of these, made a fitting end and as the last chords sounded, the final white spot on Dave dying away into total darkness, it was clear that this really was the end.

Many, myself included, were reluctant to leave the auditorium afterwards, perhaps numbed by the occasion and feeling that to walk out would make the unthinkable real. But walk out we had to. However, many people stayed on for a final drink and to take the opportunity to say personal farewells to band members. We too chose to stay, deliberately making this choice in the knowledge that we would miss the last train. It was worth it, even though we had a 35 minute walk back in the rain afterwards. The atmosphere in the bar was good and I have finally put some faces to names from the message board too.

Now, two days later, my emotions are still fluctuating. On one hand I am sadder than ever that it has all come to an end. On the positive side, I can say that this was the best night out I have ever had and I am just so grateful to have been part of that incredible audience. It is a shame that there had to be a last night, but it has happened and at least
                                        I can say, "I was there."