Toon Talk at the Bar... The Dog and Parrot
By Simon Gallagher
Tuesday 26 Apr 2011 08:59:00
Browse all Simon Gallagher articles

If you're a nipper, you might not believe it these days, but not that long ago Newcastle as a city has a proud musical tradition. Venues like The Mayfair attracted the musical cream, and people still talk about legendary gigs they attended back in the day that would embarrass the new culture of supergroups playing soulless caverns like the Arena. Sadly, nowadays there isn't an iconic venue for gigs, and unthinkably the city is beginning to drop off British tours as bands swerve to Manchester and Glasgow.


In that context it's a wonderful thing to see a bar and venue like the Dog & Parrot still going strong (and thankfully no-longer called the Tut & Shive, which sounds more like a fucking rockabilly dance move than a boozer), with its balls-out first love of music. The bar, stuck right on the edge of the Pink Triangle, promotes itself as Newcastle's only Indie Rock and Roll bar, which would be a good thing if it didn't occasionally mean the place attracts bell-ends wearing glasses with no lenses in them.


The Dog & Parrot is almost like two different places, downstairs can be packed with respectable types whether day or night, generally getting on smashing and enjoying the ambient, eclectic music pumped in by either DJ or Juke-box,while upstairs it's a lot more grubby and basic. Not that that's a bad thing- the venue is one of my favourite in the city. I can't count the amount of times I've seen small, up-and-coming (i.e. usually pony) bands playing in that little sweat-box upstairs room, shitting myself as the floor sags perilously under the weight of a few too many sweaty bearded men with moobs and black-wearing fat lasses jumping around while someone screams into the mic (I am one of the above, guess which). The one gripe I do have with the place is the limited choice from the bar up there, which often means you have to go down and out into the street to get to the better-stocked bar downstairs.


The décor is beautiful, but probably wouldn't win any recognition from Feng Shui enthusiasts- crucially, the place has something that no new black and purple painted modern monstrosity can claim- shit loads of character. From the comfortable seats and settees, and the poster-covered walls, the bar positively reeks of the stuff, and looks exactly like a place purpose built for music fans, without pretension as a place to get pissed and treat your ears to some old and new favourites.


For a little place, the drink is smashing: they obviously pay good attention to their lines, as the last pint I had in there was one of the best I had that night despite being one of the cheapest. That's the other thing, the prices in the D&P won't make your eyes pop out of your head either, and judging by the alcohol to mixer ratio that goes into their dirt cheap trebles, the fellas behind the bar are more interested in patrons having a good time than making their first million.


As a mark of its success, the Dog and Parrot claims a pretty diverse clientele, with the faithful old mods and punks still seen propping up the bar and reminiscing along to their juke-box choices and a fair old smattering of students enjoying the bar's proximity to Newcastle College and its (usually-occupied) pool table. It's great as a launch-pad for a night-out or as a choice for extended last orders: either way I usually spend a lot more time in here than I initially planned, which can only be a good thing.

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