Teesside’s newest concert venue was enthusiastically launched on its opening night. Well, the venue isn’t exactly new as The Middlesbrough Event Centre has previously been known as TFM Soundworks, Venue and most recently Tees Valley Arena, but The Middlesbrough Event Centre is (kind of) a new addition to the North East live music circuit.
One may question whether Middlesbrough can sustain another venue alongside the existing Empire and soon to be reopened Town Hall and Crypt, but such fears were happily put aside for the opening night show featuring local heroes Maximo Park and upcoming Teesside band, Mouses.
Indeed the spick-and-span-looking venue was packed out to welcome local lads Maximo Park, fronted by Billingham-born singer Paul Smith.
The local connections don’t end there, of course, as Smith also attended Hartlepool Art College and the band formed when they all met at university in Newcastle. The fact is not lost on the audience, who were in fine voice for a Sunday night, striking up the ‘Tees, Tees, Teessiders’ chant.
Smith even recounts: “I’m not saying Middlesbrough is rough or owt, but me brother was held up with a gun in this very venue when it was Riley’s pool hall.”
The band themselves are all in fine form, playing Teesside for the first time since December 2015 when they performed at Hartlepool Borough Hall.
After an opening double hit of ‘What Did We Do To Deserve This?’ and the title track of their latest album, ‘Risk To Exist’, the boys really get into their groove with ‘The Hero’ and an impassioned version of the anthemic ‘The National Health’, which featured the trademark Smith scissor-kick.
‘Questing, Not Coasting’ is among the highlights of a set which ended with fan favourite, ‘Girls Who Play Guitars’.
The audience roared them back for an encore of the instant classic from the new album, ‘Get High (No, I Don’t)’, featuring a loud call and response with the crowd, before ending with the sonic ‘Apply Some Pressure’.
It was a great gig to launch this ‘new’ venue and here’s hoping for many more.