Geordie Heroes Top First Ever Holy Island Festival

The Lindisfarne Story is running for home!

The show – performed by the band’s founding drummer Ray Laidlaw and guitarist Billy Mitchell – is topping the bill at the first-ever Holy Island Festival from June 25-28.

Although the Tyneside Seventies’ band took their name from the historic island off the Northumberland coast, the band never played there professionally.

Now 45 years on, Ray and Billy will be performing their hit UK touring show – which charts the history of the group in music and words – at St. Mary’s Church on Sunday 28 June.

The duo perform acoustic versions of hit anthems like Meet Me on the Corner, Fog on the Tyne and Run for Home and share ‘behind the scenes’ stories of the band, illustrated with archive video and stills.

The photoshoot for their smash hit 1971 album Fog on the Tyne was done on the island and the inner LP sleeve featured scenes and characters the band knew well from their stays there, including the Britannia B&B and the former Northumberland Arms, now The Ship Inn.

The original band line-up was: Alan Hull singer and guitarist, Ray 'Jacka' Jackson on harmonica and mandolin, Rod Clements on bass, Si Cowe on guitar and Ray Laidlaw on drums. They hit the big time with their No. 1 album Fog on the Tyne and Geordie yearning anthem Run for Home.
Ray says: “I’ve had friends on Holy Island for 50 years and some of them are still there. Others have been away and returned. That’s the power of Holy Island – it draws you back. Billy and I are thrilled to be bringing The Lindisfarne Story to Lindisfarne.

“It seems like a very natural and organic thing to tell the story of our music and the people and places that influenced us back on the island whose name we borrowed. It should be lots of fun. Come along ready to sing and laugh.”

Acclaimed North East songwriter and guitarist Martin Stephenson will also be playing the four-day festival, which is supported using public funding by the Arts Council England, Northumberland County Council and Newcastle University.

Island businesses have been keen to support the festival and a selection will host local musicians too.

There will be ticketed performances from the Royal Northern Sinfonia, the Sanctuary Ensemble featuring virtuoso saxophonist and composer Christian Forshaw and Viv Wood and Co. In 2013 Christian composed, and performed with Sanctuary in St. Mary’s Church, a piece specially commissioned to celebrate the Lindisfarne Gospels.

One-time Royal Ballet School prodigy turned choreographer Viv Wood will be directing and performing a special piece for the festival commissioned by Dance City. In 2013 she choreographed and performed Exile at St. Mary's Church to celebrate the Lindisfarne Gospel festival, then directed All The Things You Said – again on Holy Island – last year.

Historic Lindisfarne Castle and Priory will also play starring roles as venues for various associated arts events and workshops featuring pipers, young musicians from Newcastle University playing jazz, folk and popular music and a youth circus. The celebrated Royal Northern Sinfonia Orchestra of Sage Gateshead is the UK's only full-time chamber orchestra and the leading professional orchestra in North East England. They will perform at St. Mary’s Church featuring work from Danzi, Holst, Barber and Reicha.

Newcastle-based Five Ring Circus – the regional youth circus of the North East – will spend two days performing their family show two to three times daily and provide workshops for the young and young-at-heart to try their circus skills such as trapeze, juggling, unicycling, stilt-walking and acrobatics.

Chair of the Holy Island Festival group Reverend Paul Collins says: “Celebrations in 2013 for the Lindisfarne Gospels identified an interest in more events for visitors, islanders and residents across Northumberland and the Borders.
“This inaugural summer festival will offer four days of performing arts including music, singing, dancing, circus and theatre, offering something for everyone. “We hope it will become an annual event.”

There are only 250 tickets available to see The Lindisfarne Story at St. Mary’s Church on Sunday June 28, at 6.30pm priced £20.

Viv Wood & Co. will perform twice at St. Mary’s Church on Saturday at 2.30pm and 4.30pm. Tickets are £7.50. Christian Forshaw and Sanctuary will play St. Mary’s Church at 8pm. Tickets are £8.50. And Sanctuary will play at the Festival Eucharist on Sunday at 10.45. Martin Stephenson will play a free gig at the Crown and Anchor pub on Friday night.

Tickets for all the St. Mary’s Church shows are only available at:
The Holy Island show will be the only performance of the Lindisfarne Story this summer before their UK concert tour in the autumn. See for details.