My own private city | Man Power: Newcastle


My own private NEWCASTLE

LAGASTA’s series “My own private city” is an inner journey into the cities of our favourite artists and producers around the world. More a personal affair than a typical city guide, the series offers a rare glimpse into a city through the eyes of an artist/producer.

From rooftops and studios to street corners and hidden gems, and from parks and neighbourhoods to favourite personal spots, we take an intimate trip to different places through memories, stories and photos. And it’s nothing short of an unforgettable experience.

Next in line is Newcastle’s finest Geoff Kirkwood, aka Man Power. Insanely prolific and compulsively defying expectations of who he is as a musician, a DJ, a label head of the ever-excellent Me Me Me Recordings, and as a lifer in this world of music, Geoff Kirkwood is hard to pin down. While best known as the man behind ‘intergalactic house’ alias Man Power, Kirkwood is as comfortable writing and presenting experimental symphonies, ambient hauntology and Audio Visual orchestral performances and recordings as Bed Wetter or delivering raucous kinetic Techno as MPX. For everything in between, he is Man Power. 

Now, Man Power takes us for a ride into his home city of Newcastle by sharing his favourite places and faces and some gorgeous photos. 

This is Man Power’s own private NEWCASTLE. 

I’d been living away from my home region for several years before the first UK lockdown. Initially I was in Berlin and then I lived in Monterrey, Mexico for 5 years. I came back to the North East of England at the start of the Pandemic to look after my elderly Grandparents. I was used to travelling fairly constantly by then, and I was splitting my time between 2 continents on a near weekly basis anyway, so in a lot of ways it was hard to ever have a sense of home. Being in full isolation and living alone in one place for the pandemic has often been a strange but rewarding experience.

It’s permitted me to come back and take the time to view my region with strangers eyes, and I’ve now realised that its my favourite place in the world. It’s my firm belief that the whole region really needs to connect and work together now if we want to see it achieve everything if can do. We’re not as populous as other parts of the country and in the past that’s allowed us to be turned against each other and exploited for our labour and our resources. With that in mind I’m not making this about solely Newcastle, which I’d guess I’d claim as my home city, but about the region in general and the parts of it I enjoy.

586 Records. Newcastle.

Every city needs a good record shop and Newcastle has a few, but 586 is ran by my friend Tony Daly. Tony is a great DJ and well known out of the city in certain musical circles.

He’s also been a pivotal figure in steering the direction the city’s music scene has taken for over 15+ years. I first met him via his seminal Suono parties which brought bona fide musical icons to the city in a pre social media period when you actually couldn’t just google them and pretend you’d heard of them (i believe they played a big part in the resurgence of Greg Wilson’s career for instance). Tony’s influence also looms large over further generations simply due to his willingness to share his knowledge with other people. For someone who is otherwise capable of being super impatient and downright grumpy (sorry if you’re reading this Tony, but I don’t think this is news) he has boundless patience and generosity when it comes to helping other people learn about the history of this music that we all love.

That spirit makes his lovingly and expertly curated shop an essential stop for any music lovers visiting the city. At the time of writing they’re currently moving to a new premises and should be announcing where that is soon, so my suggestion is to keep checking the website for now.

Namaste Cafe. Park Ave. Whitley Bay. 

This place is just fantastic. Its essentially an independent family ran Indian grocery shop that has a kitchen in the back where the (absolutely lovely) owner makes phenomenal traditional home-made style curry’s which you can buy fresh or chilled from the counter. The real secret delicacy here is the Keema Toastie though!

World Headquarters. Carliol Square, Newcastle

This is where I throw my Us & Them party every week. I also work for the club in creating projects that open out its usage to the wider community and that aid in social regeneration in the region. WHQ has been open on its current site for almost 20 years and has a history that goes back to the early 90s. It was the first club to be opened and ran by a black owner which was quite a difficult thing to be in the North East in the 90s. That outsider nature has lead to them being fiercely independent for the whole time they’ve existed. They’ve carved out their own community and eschewed anything that wasn’t on their terms. As I’ve got older, been at clubs around the world and got to see the club and music industry from the other side of the curtain, the desire for independence has become something that has resonated with me more and more.

Its a place that I feel is really inline with how I feel about music and people, and community, and I feel really happy and fortunate to be able to do things in such a storied space. It’s played host to so many legends that i admire like Frankie Knuckles, Theo Parrish, Moodymann, David Holmes, Hunee and loads (LOADS) more. It also helps that it’s one of the best small clubs I’ve been in from a dancers point of view.

Three Tanners Bank. The Fish Quay. North Shields 

This has become my local pub now I’ve moved to Tynemouth, which is a village at the seaside 20 minutes out of Newcastle Centre. There’s a lot in Tynemouth Village I could go to, but this is in the edgier Fish Quay area of North Shields. I remember the Fish Quay from my childhood as being completely industrial, but now its steadily turning in to an area for food and entertainment.

The majority of the newer places feel a bit tame and modern if I’m honest, although you still have some of the old school type pubs such as the Low Lights Tavern and the Prince of Wales which I love. Three Tanners Bank is great though. It’s owned by the Devine twins, a couple of friends (one of them did a bunch of my Tattoos about a decade ago) who originally took the century old building on as an arts studio. They’ve very recently converted it in to a proper bar now and it just hits all the spots for me with everything from drinks offerings, to the music played, to the way it looks and feels, and most importantly what the rest of the clientele is like in there.

The Little Dumpling House. Ridley Square. Newcastle 

A small but perfectly formed traditional dumpling house in the centre of town that is as cheap as it is tasty. The dumplings are as good as I’ve tasted anywhere in the world, but go for the “Bao Burger” too as its delicious.

St Lawrence Church. Byker Wall. Byker.

The Byker Wall is a brutalist 1970s experiment in futuristic (for the time) social housing. They cleared the slums of Byker on the outskirts of the city centre and re-homed an entire of what were then modern new building and surrounded it with a vast unbroken wall made up of over 600 living spaces. The project was designed by Ralph Erskine and is admired around the world. It was also a massive failure and fell foul of an ignorant local council who eventually broke up the communities who had been relocated to the new houses and flats.

Over time life on the inside of the wall became synonymous with crime and poverty. Erskine had planned the project with community at its core. Every house is supposed to be in easy view of a communal area and of a church. St Lawrence Church was built in the 1800s but is now part of the structure of the Byker wall itself. Rather than demolish the church physically made physically it part of the future he saw for Byker.

The wall dips so you can see the churches spire from the outside, but you can only see how they’ve absorbed this relic of the old Byker Community if you travel inside the boundaries of the wall.  It’s such a strange thing to look at and It feels like a hidden monument to both the people of the old town and to the noble ideals that were sabotaged by the people tasked to enact them.

Ye Olde Cross Inn. The Old Village. Ryton. 

My old friend and former DJ partner just took over this village pub along with his lovely other half. Its set in the picturesque countryside old village of Ryton. The whole community clubbed together several years ago to buy the pub and run it as a social enterprise, and they installed Mick and Hannah as landlords just this summer.

Mick has already managed to make it a surprise hot spot for interesting and forward thinking ales beers and lagers. He’s also been bringing incredible music talent to perform at the pub too, including people like the legendary Richard Dawson, so it’s turning in to quite the destination for people who want something special outside of the city. It still feels like a country pub when you go there though. Just a really cool one.

Horticulture Restaurant, Market Lane, Newcastle

Horticulture is best known as a lively bar with a terrace, but the top 2 floors are actually a restaurant. Most weeks it’s where I take DJs who play for me and I’m still not tired of eating there, which tells you everything you need to know. The food is contemporary middle eastern served as small plates, so its ideal for big groups who want to try a bit of everything.

Ernest / The Cluny / The Tyne, Ouseburn Valley, Byker.

This is cheating a bit as I’m naming 3 pubs. There’s actually loads in the Ouseburn Valley these days, with notable mentions due for the Cumberland and the Ship too, but the 3 mentioned are the 3 I spend the most time in and they form a kind of beermuda triangle (see what i did there?).

Ernest is an amazing artists led space which attracts a really nice cool but not cliquey crowd, the Cluny is a brilliant live music venue, and the Tyne Bar has a fantastic and idyllic outdoor area. They’re 3 pubs you’ll usually find me in.

Common Ilke. Tynemouth Station. Tynemouth.

Its the best clothes shop in the region (for my tastes) and it’s literally at the end of my street. Massive range of amazing vintage items including stuff like 50 year old Jackets from the Korean war alongside more contemporary work wear items from Levis,, Ralph Lauren and Carharrt, plus new items like Novesta Trainers and Nigel Cabourn pieces (who I also see shopping in there regularly too).

Flat Caps Cafe. Carliol Square. Newcastle.

This is just next to my office and it does the best bacon sandwich known to man.

Four blistering jams from Man Power. 

Man Power has returned to Throne of Blood with a great EP entitled “Closing The Loop”, which was released back in February and it’s still on repeat on our car stereo. With this finely crafted four-tracker, Man Power once again delivers the goods. Four blistering jams rooted in everything exciting about rave culture but forward facing enough to ignite post-lockdown parties. Steam the whole thing below.

Get it here.


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