“ Address: St Mary's Square / Gateshead Quays / Gateshead / NE8 2JR / England „
During my time in England in June of this year I spent a few days in Gateshead and one of the attractions I visited was The Sage, a remarkable building situated on the waterfront next to the Gateshead Millenium Bridge. When The Sage was being built I was living in Cumbria at the time and was always intrigued by this building. Most people say that it reminds them of a giant shell, I always think it looks like an armadillo.
The day we chose to visit the building was a nasty one, rain was lashing down and the scene across the river was dull and miserable. I was fascinated with the structure of the exterior and loved the way the silver steel outer shell shone brighter as the rain slashed on the roof. On entering, the first thing I did was look up to the roof, the stainless steel panels of which there are 3,000 and the sparkling glass panels create a reinforced wrapping for the concourse and buildings beneath. It is an amazing design.
The entrance foyer, front of the house and ticket office is large and spacious. I liked the fact that there were many information stands displaying leaflets and brochures about events for the summer. Looking through the leaflets I recognised faces of actors and musicians and was amazed that some of these performers were still touring. Wilko Johnson of Dr Feelgood fame, springs to mind. I admired the artwork on the Americana leaflet and wished the event had been taking place during my stay.
As it was quite damp and cold outside I felt the need of a hot drink. My husband wasn't too bothered but he did fancy a sit down. I went to the cafe named after Sir Michael Straker and ordered a big mug of coffe with milk. The cafe was very busy but I was served promptly with a smile. I asked if I could take my drink away from the seating area as I wanted to sit near the windows on the concourse so I could look at the Millenium Bridge. The young man who served me said this was acceptable so off I went. There are some super views from the concourse and as usual I couldn't wait to sart snapping away. The photos didn't come out so well because of the dull, grey skies but it was great to look out at the Baltic Gallery and the Tyne Bridge.
There is a shopping area on the concourse selling books, musical instruments for children and adults, games, cards, posters, old fashioned sweets etc. This area is very jolly and colourful, I liked most of the things that were for sale and could have bought everything. I did think prices were a bit high though.
After I had finished my coffee I walked up the stairs to take a look at the different halls. Only Hall One was accessible so we had a quick look inside. What an amazing sight, all those wood panels. I bet the acoustics are brilliant. I would love to see Bruce Springsteen perform in this hall. Hall Two, the Northern Rock Foundation Hall and the Barbour Room were closed but I do believe there is a public tour of the halls which costs £4 and a private tour for £7.
Standing at the top of the building, looking down on to the concourse, made me feel a bit queasy although I loved the way the different levels formed a spiral, it was like being wrapped in a giant sized snail. It's great how the design of the building enables people to sit outside the halls on every level close to the giant windows so they can look out at the scenes of the waterfront. Lord Foster and his colleagues certainly had a good eye for architectural design.
Even though the rain was near to torrential I was determined to go outside at the back of the building to take pictures of the Baltic and Milennium Bridge. The wind was very strong and I struggled to keep upright. I can see now why so much steel was used in the construction of the building and why that spot was chosen. A more lightweight construction would probaly not endure the elements.
The next day when the weather was calmer we went to the Baltic and stood on the Millenium Bridge. The view of The Sage from this spot was stunning with the jade coloured Tyne Bridge in the background. The silver coated armadillo certainly highlights the waterfront and the regeneration of this area has been a success.
I enjoyed my visit to The Sage and went back again on our last morning in Gateshead. If ever I am in the town again I would love to attend a concert in Hall One. You can't miss this building - it is on the Gateshead waterfront between the Tyne and Gateshead Millennium Bridges.
The Sage is a music centre for performances and other music related things. There is a divide on whether the Sage looks good from the outside but what nobody can deny is that it looks very striking and aesthetically its position on the side of the river Tyne certainly makes it an eye catcher. The outside is made out of glass panels, with beautiful curves an a quite bizarre overall shape- the picture here does not really do it justice.
What is more important is that there can be no disputes about the inside- everything is perfect. There are two main halls, one smaller hall which lets you feel really close to musicians and a larger hall which is made almost entirely out of wood- it looks absolutely stunning.
Besides these main halls, there are several other rooms which can be hired out for various purposes- mainly for music type stuff.
The main attraction at the Sage is obviously the people who play at it, and these people are all huge musicians, who though they typically carry a hefty price tag, are certainly worth seeing at one of the most fantastic concert halls you will ever see.
The Sage is a music hall venue located in Gateshead, Tyne and Wear in the North East of England. The distinctive building is situated right on the bank of the River Tyne and across the river lies the city of Newcastle-Upon-Tyne. It's shiny, wavy silver exterior looks like a mirrored snail shell and is visible at a distance. You can clearly see the building in the East from the train if you are coming into Newcastle city on the main East coast railway line. It is also visible from Newcastle's own internal rail transport system line, the Metro train. If you are on foot or travelling by car, the building can be seen from the Quayside and accessed by foot via the blinking eye style Milennium Bridge or by car via the Tyne Bridge.
The building is certainly visually stunning, an iconic work of art which fits in beautifully with Newcastle-Gateshead's attempts to remodel and develop this area of the Quayside. Along with the contemporary art gallery The Baltic and the futuristic looking Milennium Bridge the Sage is a visual representation and beacon of modernity.
As well as being the preferred concert venue of choice for many touring musicians The Sage also holds business conferences, events and exhibitions. It also contains a special music library (26 rooms education centre) where scholars or members of the public can access written works (books and magazines) relating to all things musical. There is also CD booths with sets of headphones available for listening, computer access to music based software, free internet access for those wishing to research and access to subscription only music websites. There is a small grassy ledged outdoor area, a music garden if you like, where live performances can be undertaken.
There are three venue halls inside the Sage known as Halls 1 and 2 and the Northern Rock Foundation Hall (which is used for performances and rehearsals). If you buy a ticket for a particular concert or event your tickets will be clearly marked with which Hall it is being held in. There are two main entrances to the Sage, East and West. Your concert ticket may direct you to a particular entrance but in actual fact both entrances lead to a main hall area so it is not essential that you follow any directions. There is a main information and sales desk just through the doors. Here you can purchase tickets or seek information about upcoming events. Merchandise sellers for touring musicians also set up their stands here.
There are four bars in the Sage as well as the Sir Michael Straker cafe and brasserie where you can eat a wide range of meals and snacks. The seating area for this cafe is quite busy but offers stunnning views across the river, particularly beautiful at night time when the Milennium bridge is coloured with her rainbow lights. Having recently attended an event I can say that the bars are busy and seating areas congested prior to a performance. The quality of service, food and refreshments, however, are second to none.
I recently attended a rock concert in Hall 1. To access the hall it is necessary to climb one set of stairs from the main hall, or use the lift. There are numbered doors around the hall where staff check tickets on entry. The hall is oblong shaped with a main floor directly infront of the stage. The floor is slightly tilted so that you don't see the heads of the people in the rows in front of you! There are two balconys around the sides of the hall, the first being the level you reach when you enter - you must step down to be on the main floor. These balconys have only two rows of seats. They allow an elevated view of the stage and a more intimate seating area.
Whilst the beauty of the architecture in Hall 1 is undeniable I rather felt like I was stuck inside a tin of sardines. The hall was smaller than I imagined it would be and if you are on the floor level it is easy to feel like you are being overlooked by the audiences on the balcony levels. The doors around the edge have no handles and in darkness are impossible to discover without assistance from staff should you need to exit the hall. The enclosed design is meant to enhance the accoustics and the sound quality of the music being performed. I can't deny that the music sounded fantastic!
Tours of the building are available for groups of ten people or more. The tours include learning about the history of the quayside site, musical education, the technology of the Sage and learning about the crucially important design of the Sage, including the answer to the all important question - why is the building shaped like a giant snail?!
The Sage is accesible from the A1 if you are driving. Parking is available alongside the building. If you are attending a concert event you are allowed free travel on the Metro from any station to Gateshead interchange. It is a ten-fifteen minute walk from the Metro station through a busy, traffic heavy area. Stick to the paths and follow the traffic light instructions.
The Sage is a brilliant asset to the Newcastle-Gateshead area and as a local resident I am very proud of having this venue in the city. I would definately recommend visiting this building if you are a tourist and entry is free. You should pick up an Official Newcastle-Gateshead pocket guide from the Tourist Information Centre or your tour guide for a detailed map and more information. I would also recommend trying to see a performance in the building to have the full experience!
The Sage has a comprehensive website with more information about the centre and detailed directions. You can also book tickets for performances direct from the site. Agencies also buy a percentage of seats so if you try here and they are sold out I recommend trying an agency like See Tickets.
The venue is host to musical education, performances and conferences.