Review: The Pitmen Poets – Farewell Tour @ Sage Gateshead

This post is sponsored

On Friday 28th October 2022 I said farewell to The Pitmen Poets at Sage Gateshead. Returning after public demand, Billy Mitchell, Bob Fox, Benny Graham and Jez Lowe embarked on their final, never to be repeated, Farewell Tour of 2022.

It was an evening of history, heritage and stories about mining and politics all wrapped up into poetry and song. Held at Sage 2 there was a strong feeling of togetherness and community spirit, as we celebrated the people of the North East.

Billy Mitchell was of course up to his usual comedic self, telling jokes that only a Geordie could understand. He explained that he was the first in his families generation to not become a miner, but he could all clearly remember what life was like for their family members who were miners. Billy Mitchell sang a very emotional and honest song called The Collier Laddie’s Wife, it told a story about his Grandma who worked hard to look after Billy’s uncles who would all come home black as coal after being down the pit.

Benny Graham sang a jollie little tune about Stanley Market, that went something like this “foldi roldi roldi ray, foldi roldi roldi ray, we’re off to Stanley Market. It certainly got the audience’s feet a tapping as it told the story of all the produce you could buy (and you could buy anything) from the market.

If you are from the North East then you will know who Mark Knopfler is and you will have heard of his song Sailing to Philadelphia. Bob Fox did a rendition of that song and the audience was silent , listening to that song I may have had a tear in my eye. I don’t know what it is about that song but I always get a little choked up when I hear it. It was a beautiful version and Bob did it justice.

Jez Lowe brought some of sort of geordie western greek feel to the evening, with The Ex Pitmen’s Potholing Pub Quiz Team. This told the story of ex miners who after leaving the mine, would fall down a slipper slope and off the edge leading to joining the Pub Quiz Team. It was a funny song that made me belly laugh.

It was lovely to hear a range of regional accents from The Pitmen Poets, not only individually but together hearing the voices harmonizing together was beautiful. There was a sense of euphoria and protest in the Pitmen Poets Farewell performance and I could not help but think that all the political issues that were happening to the world back then are repeating now in today’s world.

I do worry about the future of artists such as The Pitmen Poets, it important that we keep the poetry, history and stories of the miners alive and fear that when they leave this earth, who will continue on that legacy?

I believe it is important that we learn about our history and culture so we can understand how our generations before us lived. As I sat completely engaged with the beautiful words that the The Pitmen Poets were singing- I have never felt prouder of my region.

Click here to find out where you can see The Pitmen Poets on their tour.

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