Seven unforgettable nights as we bid goodbye to the O2 Academy - from Sam Fender to Blur reunion

The O2 Academy closes its doors, and in doing so shuts down 13 years of musical history, with some of the highlights of the venue’s glory days listed below

A series of renovations and new plans for the site of Newcastle’s O2 Academy venue mean a long line of historic gigs at the staple venue comes to a close.

The O2 Academy had played host to a number of bands over its 13 years under the O2 banner, and there are some that are simply unforgettable.

Buzzcocks marked the first-ever gig at the renamed O2 Academy back on January 18, 2009, while the final gig to close out the venue was rapper Example.

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    But the O2 Academy favoured some local legends, up-and-comers and a great deal of hidden gems throughout its time as a North East venue, and here are seven examples.

    The Specials - April 22, 2009

    One of six appearances for the legendary group The Specials at the O2 Academy, their first gig at the venue marked their 30-Year anniversary.

    A tour that obviously featured Ghost Town and a few other classics took hold of the venue, with plenty of Dandy Livingston and Prince Buster covers featured within.

    Blur - June 25, 2009

    Blur’s reunion just six years after their album Think Tank released marked the return of Graham Coxon on guitar

    Marking their reunion tour with style, legendary Britpop group Blur took a hit-heavy setlist with them to Newcastle’s O2 Academy.

    Everything from massive hit Parklife to classic Modern Life is Rubbish track, Popscene, were on the cards for Damon Albarn and company.

    Two encores continued the set later and later into the night, with renditions of Song 2 and The Universal saved for the very end.

    Blondie - June 15, 2010

    Iconic 1970s star Debbie Harry brought her Panic Of Girls tour to Newcastle’s O2 Academy with a resounding setlist of hits from the Blondie days.

    Hanging on the Telephone, One Way or Another and Heart of Glass were all belted out at the show, as well as a small selection of Harry’s solo works.

    Adele - September 14, 2011

    One of the most popular, consistently chart-topping musicians of her era, Adele enchanted fans with her performance at O2 Academy.

    Years before the release of tracks like Hello and I Drink Wine, the now 34-year-old had belted out 17 tracks on her Adele Live tour.

    From a cover of The Cure’s Lovesong and Bob Dylan’s Make You Feel My Love to an encore that featured Rolling in the Deep, there’s no doubt Adele’s presence at O2 Academy is one still felt on Tyneside.

    Pixies - September 21, 2019

    With another album on the way and a tour set for Newcastle’s City Hall in August, fans of Pixies will no doubt remember the last time they took to the streets of The Toon.

    A demanding and legendary 39-track setlist that featured Caribou, Mr. Grieves and Where Is My Mind? all featured in a show that marked the rock band’s European tour.

    Pixies are set to return to Newcastle next month, marking their latest performance in the city since this O2 Academy run.

    Sam Fender - February 17, 2020

    Before the local legend took the world by storm with his monumental chart-topper Seventeen Going Under, Sam Fender took his tracks to O2 Academy.

    At the time the songwriter found himself touring his first album, Hypersonic Missiles, and took the title track as well as a few fan favourites to the venue.

    Just a year later and Fender would sell out Newcastle’s Utilita Arena, a rise and rise that feels bittersweet knowing that Fender paid his dues to the historic O2 Academy.

    Elbow - September 13 & September 14, 2021

    Notable for marking themselves as one of the few touring artists to play back-to-back dates at the O2 Academy, Elbow stormed the venue for their Giants of All Sizes tour.

    Usual hits Grounds for Divorce and Mirrorball were on show for the crowd on both nights, which featured a 17-track showcase on both nights.