Billy and Ray to tell The Lindisfarne Story

editorial image

Lindisfarne are said to be the most famous band ever to come out of Newcastle and two of their flock are arriving in Berwick to tell the tales behind some of the iconic songs.

Singer and guitarist Billy Mitchell and drummer Ray Laidlaw arrive at The Maltings on Thursday, September 4, for the first night of their ‘Lindisfarne Story’ tour which will take in 50 dates around the UK this autumn.

The band disbanded in 2003 and members went their separate ways, with some of Billy and Ray’s ex-band mates also still playing Lindisfarne hits.

“People asked me when we decided to call it a day if the band would ever get back together- that will never happen but me and Ray wanted to keep playing the tracks,” Billy told ‘WOW’.

“Lindisfarne songs meant something to people so they wanted to keep hearing them.

“Myself and Ray didn’t want to throw the towel in so we decided to take them on tour and do them a bit differently, with just one guitar which is how they all started out.”

Hits like ‘Run for Home’, ‘Fog on the Tyne’, famously re-released with Paul Gascgoine in the early 90s, ‘Lady Eleanor’ and ‘Meet Me On The Corner’ are written in Geordie folklore and that is something Billy is immensely proud of.

“We’ve done the show 15-20 times in the last few years and a lot of people were teenagers when we started out.

“Often you’ll get fans coming up to you saying that our show is like the soundtrack to their lives which is a great feeling.

“We were only teenagers ourselves when we started out. We had no grand plan we just picked up our instruments and got on with it.

“We are very lucky our careers have been so long but being a musician isn’t the type of job you can retire from. It’s not just a living, it’s a life. We’ll probably be doing it until we drop!”

When people speak about Newcastle, Lindisfarne are often uttered in the same breath as Ant & Dec and Alan Shearer and the band’s appeal shows no signs of declining with ‘Run For Home’ often blasted at St James Park and at the start and finish of the Great North Run.

“We are very proud to be Geordies and of how highly thought of Lindisfarne are by people in the city and beyond.

“’Run For Home’ is one of those songs that will stand the test of time. The late, great Sir Bobby Robson chose it as one of his Desert Island Discs and it’s still played on the radio an awful lot.

“Myself and Ray get a band together every two years to play the Sunday for Sammy concert at Newcastle City Hall and we usually close the show with that.

“It’s a great event to be involved in as it gets all the Geordie entertainment maffia together. Tim Healy, Mark Knopfler, Kevin Whately, Denise Welch, Jimmy Nail- if they’re available they’ll be there!”

The City Hall is a venue Lindisfarne hold very dear to their hearts, having played there well over 100 times.

The venue’s future looked under some threat last year but Billy said there’s no way they could ever get rid of it.

“There would be an almighty hue and cry if they ever got rid of the City Hall.

“People would be up in arms.

“For me it’s the best venue in the city; you can’t beat it for atmosphere.

“We took ‘The Lindisfarne Story’ there to a full house last year. It’s still special every time we play.”