As 2023 draws to a close, Kayleigh Fraser looks at some of the musical highlights of the year across the North East.

It has certainly been a year to remember for music in the North East as stars from across the world performed to packed out stadiums from Middlesbrough to Newcastle - here are some of the top gigs that took place this year.

The year 2023 is finally coming to an end which means it's time to say thank you for the music by recognising all the gigs, stars and top artists that graced the region with their presence this year.

Whether we hosted a Grammy nominee, a Texan R&B legend and even saw a epic Geordie homecoming, the North East welcomed a whole host of stars to the region in 2023.

Here's a look back at gigs we loved this year in the North East - which was your favourite?

The 1975

January 25, Utilita Arena, Newcastle Upon Tyne

The Northern Echo: The 1975's Matty Healy.The 1975's Matty Healy. (Image: Jordan Curtis Hughes)

Frontman Matty Healy emerged from a black sofa and shook himself awake in Newcastle this year.

Whilst performing his set, Healy also tucked into a raw steak - much to the surprise of the horrified audience.

"Sharply split into very different two acts, the show manages to be everything all at once," wrote our reporter Phoebe Abruzzese.

"The first half feels like an avant-garde, arrogant, art-pop mental breakdown, whereas the second half is more reminiscent of The 1975 we know from 2016 - the northern boys that made it big."

Read our review here.

Sam Ryder

March 23, O2 Newcastle City Hall, Newcastle Upon Tyne

The Northern Echo: Sam Ryder.Sam Ryder. (Image: ADAM KENNEDY)

Fans queued around the block to secure their spot in front of the stage and they were overjoyed to meet the man of the hour.

Before the show, Ryder personally greeted every member of the crowd and thanked them for coming. Some even managed to grab a quick selfie with Sam himself.

According to those there, the Eurovision star "had the room under his command" immediately.

Read our review here.


May 23, Stadium of Light, Sunderland

The Northern Echo: Beyoncé. Beyoncé. (Image: MASON POOLE)

Who runs the world? Beyoncé, according to the thousands of North East fans who sat through the blistering heat before the packed out gig at the Stadium of Light.

Fans were wowed with a musical spectacle with pitch-perfect singing from Beyoncé herself, outfit changes a-plenty and stunning production.

Almost 45,000 fans, many donned with pink cowboy hats, descended on the Sunderland stadium for the sixth show of the global icon’s Renaissance would tour, and third UK date.

Read our review here.


May 29, O2 Newcastle City Hall, Newcastle 

Our reviewer Gavin Havery wrote: 

A curious grin played out on the lips of bassist Alex James throughout the frenetic two-hour 26 track set that comprised Blur’s warm-up show in Newcastle ahead of their comeback European tour.

As cool as a cucumber, he was the first band member on stage before the art pop rock ‘90s chart toppers thrilled a 2,600 capacity audience at Newcastle O2 City Hall on Sunday night.

Read our review.

The Northern Echo: Blur.Blur. (Image: Tom Pallant)

The Arctic Monkeys

June 5, The Riverside Stadium, Middlesbrough

The Northern Echo: The Arctic Monkeys.The Arctic Monkeys. (Image: Adam Kennedy)

Fans took over Middlesbrough's Riverside Stadium in June for the Arctic Monkeys and were treated to a smorgasbord of international talent, including supporting sets from energetic Scandinavian rockers The Hives and rising stars of the indie world The Mysterines.

"Each of these did not disappoint", wrote Adam Kennedy.

The Arctic Monkey's Middlesbrough set was stronger than Sheffield Steel.

Read our review here.

Sam Fender 

June 9-10, St James' Park, Newcastle

The Northern Echo: Sam Fender at St James' Park on June 9.

June witnessed the homecoming of all homecomings for North Shields born artist Sam Fender who played two sold out shows at St James' Park - a venue he said he "dreamed" of playing one day. 

It was a sea of black and white as far as the eye could see as exhilarated fans waved black and white flags long past sunset for the star.

Our reviewer wrote: "What impressed me the most was the sheer hold Fender has on his fans and every single person who attended the show; whilst there were some technical hitches mid-way, the audience kept the atmosphere going by leading several Newcastle United chants."

Read our review here.


June 10-11, Stadium of Light, Sunderland

The Northern Echo: P!NK Sunderland.P!NK Sunderland. (Image: Sarah Caldecott)

P!NK filled the Stadium of Light with chaotic yet fun energy this summer with her wacky and eccentric show that saw her flying from one side of the stadium to another.

Fans greeted the stars entrance with joy and fervour, and she met their enthusiasm with an energetic performance of Get The Party Started, all while bungee jumping above the stage in what was an impressive display.

The finale was met with "thunderous applause".

Read our review here.

Rod Stewart

June 30, Chester le Street Cricket Ground, Chester le Street

The Northern Echo: Rod Stewart.Rod Stewart. (Image: Mick Burgess)

Despite the rainy and bleak weather, the crowd went wild as Stewart took to the stage to perform his classic hits and fan favourites Da Ya Think I’m Sexy and The First Cut Is The Deepest.

Impressively the constant rain didn’t stop fans from having the time of their lives, and the audience certainly made sure to keep a fun atmosphere.

Our reviewer said: "To witness a global star, leave such a mark on the hearts of people in the North East is breathtakingly special."

Read our review here.

The Who

July 19, Chester le Street Cricket Ground, Chester le Street

Rock legends Roger Daltrey and Pete Townshend, aka The Who took to the stage in Chester-le-Street as fans from across the region flocked to the cricket ground to catch a glimpse of the band on the North East leg of their UK tour.

Supported by UB40, featuring Ali Campbell, and a full orchestra, the band performed music from throughout their incredible back catalogue

He said: "Having not toured the UK for six years, it’s great that at this time of our careers, we have the chance to go to places that are not on the usual touring map Edinburgh Castle and Derby, as well as the other cities across the country that we haven’t been to for decades, will make this very special for me."

See pictures here.

The Northern Echo: The Who.The Who. (Image: Dave Lawrence)


August 5, Darlington Arena, Darlington

James joined by Editors and Maximo Park was the highlight of 2023's concert season in Darlington for many, as thousands flocked to the arena for the much anticipated day of music.

Our very own Andrew White who reviewed the gig said it "was a truly magnificent concert and one that will live long in the memory - not just for me, but, I suspect, for everyone present."

Read our review here.

The Northern Echo: James in Darlington.James in Darlington. (Image: Adam Kennedy)


November 4, Utilita Arena, Newcastle

The Northern Echo: JLS in Newcastle.JLS in Newcastle. (Image: Picture: DARCIE RAWLINGS)

JLS made an epic return to Newcastle in November in their greatest hits tour following their rise to fame in 2008 after placing second on the X-Factor.

Our reviewer Darcie Rawlings wrote: "Appearing to roaring fans through four frames in the centre of the stage JLS opened with eyes wide shut. The atmosphere was coupled with dramatic smoke machines, trap doors and wide screens behind them that played cleverly shot scenes reminiscent of the band’s early-day music videos."

Read our review here.

Noah Kahan

November 12, O2 Newcastle City Hall, Newcastle

The Northern Echo: Noah Kahan.Noah Kahan. (Image: NORTHERN ECHO)

Grammy-nominated folk-pop artist Noah Kahan treated North East fans to a mesmerising show in November in a show he described as one of his “favourites” from his tour thus far.

Not long left to take advantage of our latest offer - get more exclusive music reviews from The Northern Echo for just £4 for four months by clicking HERE.

Despite the freezing cold, fans queued in Newcastle for hours to catch a glimpse of the artist.

Kahan also recently received global recognition for his chart-topping 2022 track Stick Season which has recently gone viral on TikTok and other social media platforms.

However, the 26-year-old’s latest accolade is a Grammy nomination in the best new artist category alongside fellow acts Ice Spice and Gracie Abrams.

Read our review here.