INTERVIEW: The Waiting Room | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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Ambience in a venue is an indefinable thing; you’ve either got it, or you haven’t. The Waiting Room positively bathes in it. Imagine a place where you could be sat on reclaimed cinema seats and stare, mesmerised, at the massive maps which adorn the walls; where you could have a bubble and squeak cake the size of your head served to you for tea by Rick Dobbins from Dressed Like Wolves; a place where performers ply their trade under a fairground waltzer canopy decorated with egg whisks.

Such a place exists in sleepy Eaglescliffe, in the borough of Stockton. To say The Waiting Room is quirky is probably an understatement; ostensibly a vegetarian restaurant, their back room also plays host to some of the most eclectic acts our region (and beyond) has to offer.

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“I think there’s a real sense of humour about the place, and a kind of warm camaraderie”

BBC Tees Introducing presenter Bob Fischer has fairly recently taken charge of the events bookings on Sunday evenings, and he’s building on the venue’s reputation for eclectic entertainment with gigs that have featured acts as diverse as Bagpuss songwriter Sandra Kerr and sport columnist Harry Pearson, to much-loved Americana-peddling folkies Cath & Phil Tyler and Leeds-based beat combo Biscuithead & The Biscuit Badgers. “There’s no focus whatsoever, really! And I don’t think there ever should be.” Bob says about his approach for the events. “I don’t ever want it to be predictable. So it’s stuff that I like, and stuff that I hope other people might like. With hosting the BBC Tees Introducing programme, I’m lucky enough to get a pretty unique insight into the local scene, and I’m proud to have brought brilliant artists like George Boomsma, The Shooting Of, Outside Your House and Quidgybopper vs Blue-John Benjamin to The Waiting Room. They’ve all risen to the eccentricity of the place and put in unique, fabulous performances, I think. You’ve never lived until you’ve seen Blue-John Benjamin perform Al Bowlly covers, dressed like Lord Byron in a feathered raven’s head.”

The intimate venue’s bohemian atmosphere suits Bob’s eclectic tastes, and future events feature the lo-fi beauty of Dressed Like Wolves (Sunday 3rd May); the sweeping lullabies of newly-forged seven-piece Tom Joshua (Sunday 10th); haunting traditional US folk from Anna And Elizabeth (Sunday 17th); and a spoken word and stand-up show from The Viz’s Simon Donald (Sunday 24th May).

With a hit-list of big names up his sleeve for the autumn, Bob’s events are contributing to put this tiny oddball venue on the North East musical map. “I think there’s a real sense of humour about the place, and a kind of warm camaraderie. So amidst that lovely, cosy atmosphere you’ll get a mixture of brilliant music and all kinds of other odd little events. With a few surprises, hopefully.”

The Waiting Room is located at Station Road, Eaglescliffe, Stockton-On-Tees.

Images: Tracy Hyman

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