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The Mirrored Snail!
The Sage (Gateshead)
Member Name: cyberem78
The Sage (Gateshead)
Date: 16/04/09, updated on 16/04/09 (273 review reads)
Advantages: Visually stunning, high tech architecture, fantastic sound quality, educational library.
Disadvantages: Can feel claustrophobic, gets busy.
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.
Summary: A brilliant music venue in the North East of England.
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