|On the Millennium Bridge|
We arrived at about 1.30pm and although it was bitterly cold on the banks of the Tyne, the stupendous views down the river over the Blinking Eye bridge and exploring the little embankment market kept us happy and on the move.
After the market we strolled back over the Millennium Bridge to the Gateshead side of the river, adrenalin pumping in anticipation of what The Baltic might hold.
We'd heard so many good things about it - the building is certainly awesome, and we were greeted warmly by lovely peeps in the entrance and told enthusiastically about the exhibitions. We decided to go straight to the top floor and work down, so we could have a rest and a little sustenance in the rooftop restaurant before we started.
|View from the restaurant|
The views from the restaurant were brilliant and my peppermint tea and P's mocca also were spot on. Fully rested and raring to go, we duly decided to start making our descent down to the fifth floor - the children's gallery and official view station. There were lots of fun things for little ones to do as well as more educational activities - a great space for.parents and children and the all the kids were loving it.
|View from restaurant|
|Under the Blinking Eye|
This was the work of Marcin Maciejowski, who as the catalogue claimed, re-presents everyday images of our time. I'm afraid everyday is exactly the word I would use, as unfortunately, try as we might, the work did nothing to inspire, excite or move either of us.
Here's a close-up of one of the exhibits, which were basically slabs of stone, variously adorned with different media - a printing press, exposed film, a camera, pigment. There was a curator on hand to explain what it was all about and I must say he was kept very busy doing so.
At no point were we told that three of the five galleries were closed. And all in all it was a very poor experience, the best thing about it was the rooftop restaurant!
What a great space, we took our seats and prepared to be blown away by perhaps the best guitarist Britain has produced in recent times. Richard Thompson has had many reincarnations since his days with Fairport Convention, and his love affair with the electric guitar is renown. This concert was part of The Electric Tour and as we'd never heard him play an entire electric set, it was hard to know what to expect, except to expect the unexpected.
When the trio walked on stage, it occurred to me that Richard looked exactly the same as when we last saw him about ten years ago - the beret, the badge and the same dark clothes. No problem either about recognising the gorgeous dark chocolate vocals and the masterful guitar licks - Thompson's guitar playing is as near as it comes to a Zen experience. But it took no time at all before we realised this was a competely different animal.
The band was tight, in fact this was precision in the extreme. Overtones of Hendrix, Cream and Led Zeppelin psychedelia flowed forth, fluently and flawlessly executed, even though at times it felt as if the notes were being delivered by a scatter gun! Powerful and loud, with the drums (even though for sure the drummer was ace) completely drowning the bass, it was virtually impossible to hear any of the lyrics. This was the boys having a great time, a virtuoso jam session with all and sundry invited. It seemed strangely inappropriate for a sit-down concert though.
|Blinking Eye by night|
However, the encores were generous, with a couple of acoustic numbers thrown in, and I know the critics went home happy, though I'm not so sure about the audience, who like us, might have liked a little more of the Richard Thompson we know and love, retro and soppy as that may sound - and electric or not is not the issue.
There was just enough time after the concert to take some night-time pics of the bridge before driving home. I know I've been sounding like a bit of a philistine here, moaning about the art and the music, but overall I'm glad to say it was a fun day and we both had a great time, irrespective of whether the art and the music was to our taste or not.