I wound up in Newcastle in the early eighties and to my surprise it just felt like home to me . It was heartening to find alternative bands and venues.
The scene was very factional - the main ones being The Bintons (Swami Binton, Fruitshop, Pel Mel), The Mansons, The Brasso's (Waiting for Brasso) and A Dog for Jonathon (later to become I'm Spartacus) and The Rejects. The different factions seemed to hate each other or at best have a grudging respect for each other. Jack Marx (A Dog for Jonathon) wrote a song called "The Bintons walk like Barney Rubble"... (Still he really liked their music). It was very entertaining when several of these factions were on the same bill (kinda like an indie West Side Story).
The two main venues were Norths and the Grand Hotel. Occasionally bigger venues brought in bigger bands and got local bands to do the supports.
I'll never forget the first time I saw Swami Binton...I said to my friend "that's the worst band I've ever seen". It was like witnessing a car crash. So naturally I went back for more. After seeing them 3 times I was hooked. I loved their lyrics especially. I saw people in the audience mouthing the words to their songs. Mark Davies said that he was astonished that people took their "pathetic rock" seriously.
Everybody made an effort to look like they belonged to their factions, and some went to a bit of effort to look like they made absolutely no effort at all.
Some good international acts were brought to Newcastle. I remember seeing Magazine and XTC at the Ambassador Nightclub (the carpet was filthy - like walking with suction caps on your shoes). Elvis Costello came to Newcastle on a Sunday. They took him to the Uni Radio station to play some of his favourite songs. He complained that he didn't see one person in the streets on the way in so he played "This town is nothing but a ghost town". My heart swelled with pride. Newcastle one day...Newcastle the next!