Music of Newport

Music of Newport, Wales
Welsh: Cerddoriaeth Casnewydd Cymru
Nickname: The New Seattle
Swedish musician Dennis Lyxzen, performing at Le Pub
Location Newport, Wales
Genre(s) Including Alternative, Grunge, Metal, rock, Hip hop

The Newport music scene, in and around Wales' third city, has been well documented and acclaimed for cultivating bands, singers, and famous music venues. It has been traditionally a rock city since the 1970s, but it has evolved over the years into forms of punk, 1990s alt-rock, and more recently metal and hip-hop.

The city has long attracted a number of musicians to perform or begin their careers in South Wales. Those associated with the city include Joe Strummer of The Clash,[1] Feeder, The Darling Buds, as well as Skindred, and Goldie Lookin Chain.[2]

In 2001 FHM described TJ's as "one of the Top 50 best nights out in the world, ever."[3] Newport is home to the UK's largest retailer of new LPs,[4] Diverse Vinyl, which was established in 1988.[5]

Newport became an alternative rock hotspot in the 1990s, when it was labelled as 'the new Seattle'[6] and credited for bands such as 60 Ft. Dolls, Dub War, Novocaine and Flyscreen.

Manchester-based film maker Nathan Jennings announced in 2017[7] that a documentary was in the works about the city's musical past and present, titled The Rock of Newport.[8]

History [ edit ]

Newport has had a noted role in the cultural scene of South Wales and in the western United Kingdom for many decades. Newport Art College, originally based in the Newport Technical Institute buildings and now part of the University of South Wales, attracted budding photographers, musicians and artists to the city from across the United Kingdom.

The college produced many later successes, but also drew a cultural scene to the city associated with its students and young people, such as Joe Strummer of The Clash in the 1970s. Groups linked to Strummer were established including RnB outfit The Vultures, The Gay Dogs,[9] and later many punk groups such as Cowboy Killers.[10]

The 1990s saw the rise of alternative rock and grunge in the United Kingdom. The now established Newport venues such as TJ's started to attract up-and-coming groups and artists.

The likes of Kurt Cobain and later Oasis either attended or performed in the city, and groups such as 60 FT Dolls and Dub War were formed. The reputation was furthered when John Peel began to draw attention to the city's famed nightlife.

Newport currently has one radio station, Newport City Radio, which broadcasts online and previously over FM.

TJ's [ edit ]

TJ's opened in 1985 on Clarence Place and became famous rock venue on the 'toilet circuit' of UK independent venues. Described by John Peel as "The Legendary TJ's", the venue was voted one of the top 50 'Big Nights Out' in the world by FHM in December 1997.[11]

Started by John Sicolo in 1971 with his wife Vivienne as a restaurant, he then expanded it with the neighbouring property to form the nightclub "El Sieco's", attracting local folk acts among others. It then remodelled in 1985 named TJ's after the first names of John and his late partner Trilby Tucker.

TJs Newport 2010

The venue came to UK wide fame in the music video for "Mulder and Scully" by Catatonia, and for being the location where Kurt Cobain proposed to Courtney Love.[12]

Primal Scream 03 West Midlands 1989

The venue claimed hosting bands early in their careers, including Oasis, Manic Street Preachers, Green Day, The Offspring, Lostprophets, Iron Maiden, Sonic Youth, Half Man Half Biscuit, The Stone Roses, Muse, Primal Scream, Descendents, NOFX, Misfits, Mighty Mighty Bosstones, Lagwagon, The Bouncing Souls, The Vandals, The Ataris, and Skunk Anansie.[13]

Sicolo died on 14 March 2010, aged 66,[14] and a tribute concert in his honour was headlined by Goldie Lookin Chain in the city's John Frost Square on 10 July 2010.[15] On 15 September 2011 TJ's was sold at auction for £242,000.[16]

On 2 February 2013, the building was damaged by a fire, suspected to be arson.[17] The historic building remains empty in 2016.

In 2012 Sicolo's grandson, Ashley Sicolo, opened the 200 Club on Stow Hill, the decor for which included TJ's memorabilia and copies of TJ's gig posters. It went on to close in 2013 due to noise complaints,[18] reopening named El Sieco's on High Street in Newport city centre.[19]

The Smiths [ edit ]

Newport famously only received UK chart toppers The Smiths once. In 1986 lead singer Morrissey brought the band to Newport Centre following the release of their widely applauded album The Queen is Dead, only to be mobbed by a throng of hooligans.

Writer Craig Austin described that "the delicate Stretford flower recuperated in the A&E department of the Royal Gwent Hospital (while the) frustrated audience responded to this perceived indignity by commencing the wholesale dismantling of the venue with undisguised rage. The band’s live sound engineer Grant Showbiz took to the stage to apologise on behalf of the band and promptly received a bottle in the face for his troubles.He was also taken to hospital, the police called, and six people eventually arrested. The Smiths were never to play either Newport or Wales again."[20]

Modern era [ edit ]

2000s Newport saw much upheaval, as the decline of the city's steelworks and docks became further ingrained. While the College and nightlife remained, venues such as TJ's were forced to close, facing mounting debts, noise complaints, and many other issues that plagued similar venues and cities across the UK.

During the period of Cool Britannia, groups like Manic Street Preachers, Feeder, and The Darling Buds formed the Welsh alternative movement popularly known as Cool Cymru.

Most iconic for the city was the surprise success of Goldie Lookin Chain, a hip hop outfit reputed for their humorous views on South Wales life.[21]

Recent years have seen the particular revival of indie venues, with Le Pub moving to a new location on High Street, backed as a community co-operative and driven by the creative mind of owner Sam Dabb. TJ's has been resurrected at El Siecco's, also on High Street, featuring memorabilia and relics from the legendary previous building. The old venue however remains derelict on Clarence Place awaiting sale. McCann's Rock 'n' Ale Bar also opened nearby.

The reopening of Grade II listed art deco building The Neon, formerly the Odeon Newport cinema, has offered a much needed venue for the arts, music, and events, in particular urban and hip hop performances which until recently were underserved in the city centre.

The resurge in vinyl sales has also proved a boon for the city, with the growth of Diverse Vinyl as the UK's largest source of new vinyl sales in the UK. Music studios have also opened widely, with up and coming bands facilitated at venues like One Louder Studios in Shaftesbury.

Idles lead singer Joe Talbot was born in Newport in 1984, and his father was a friend of Joe Strummer during his early Art College years before forming the Clash.[22]

The Rock of Newport documentary [ edit ]

The cover to the Stone Roses' single Love Spreads features the city crest, seen adorning Newport Bridge

Nathan Jennings, a Newport-born but Manchester based film maker, confirmed in 2017 that a crowdfunding effort would begin to help launch a documentary about the city's music past.[7] Covering topics ranging from the city's role in the production of the Stone Roses single Love Spreads to the gigs hosted by "Bowie, Bad Brains or Blondie to the likes of Oasis, The Offspring and Ozzy", it will make a case for supporting the future of Newport music focussed on an 'actively supported grassroots'.[8]

Details [ edit ]

Music acts [ edit ]

Liam Gallagher of Oasis
Acts who have performed in Newport

Acts established or associated with the Newport music scene

Goldie Lookin Chain


Solo artists

Festivals [ edit ]

Radio stations [ edit ]

Venues [ edit ]

Indie venues




Pubs and bars


  • Atlantica Bar & Club
  • The Courtyard
  • Breeze

Chain venues

  • Hogarths Newport
  • The John Wallace Linton
  • The Tom Toya Lewis
  • The Queen's Hotel

Recording studios [ edit ]

  • One Louder Studios, Albany Street
  • Record One, St Vincent Street
  • Kane Audio
  • Ty Du Recording Studio
  • Pentastar Studios

Record labels [ edit ]



  • Good Sweaty Fun
  • Words Of Warning Records
  • Rockaway Records

See also [ edit ]

References [ edit ]

  1. ^ "BBC Wales - Music - History of Welsh rock and pop - Newport music in the 1970s". Retrieved 2 May 2019.
  2. ^ "VisitBritain". Retrieved 6 July 2018.
  3. ^ Austin, Craig (20 August 2013). "Oh, Newport, My Lionheart: 30 Years of Music and Nightlife in the City of Cider and Steel". Wales Arts Review. Retrieved 2 May 2019.
  4. ^ "Talking Shop: Diverse Music, Newport". Long Live Vinyl. 3 October 2018. Retrieved 2 May 2019.
  5. ^ "Newport record shop celebrates 25 years in the city". South Wales Argus. Retrieved 2 May 2019.
  6. ^ "BBC Wales - Music - History of Welsh rock and pop - The new Seattle?". Retrieved 2 May 2019.
  7. ^ a b "THE ROCK OF NEWPORT – Feature Documentary". Retrieved 13 June 2019.
  8. ^ a b "Nirvana, The Smiths, The Clash, The Stone Roses - film project to chart music's heavy-hitters part in Newport's history". South Wales Argus. Retrieved 13 June 2019.
  9. ^ "BBC Wales - Music - History of Welsh rock and pop - Newport music in the 1970s".
  10. ^ "Guest Post: The 5 Best Bands from Newport, South Wales". RISE Propaganda.
  11. ^ Mansfield, Ruth (15 March 2010). "Owner of legendary TJs - John Sicolo - dies". South Wales Argus. Retrieved 23 October 2010.
  12. ^ "TJ's music venue owner John Sicolo dies in hospital". BBC. 15 March 2010. Retrieved 23 October 2010.
  13. ^ Domino records on TJ's
  14. ^ "Tributes paid to John Sicolo - TJ's owner and hero to music lovers". South Wales Argus. 16 March 2010. Retrieved 23 October 2010.
  15. ^ "Newport tribute gig to TJ's owner John Sicolo". BBC. 10 July 2010. Retrieved 23 October 2010.
  16. ^ TJ's Sold at Auction
  17. ^ "Police investigating suspected arson at former nightclub TJ's". South Wales Argus. 2 February 2013.
  18. ^ "Noise complaints force closure of Newport's 200 club, run by grandson of legendary TJ's owner, John Sicolo". South Wales Argus. 17 May 2013. Retrieved 6 March 2016.
  19. ^ El Sieco's opens
  20. ^ Austin, Craig (20 August 2013). "Oh, Newport, My Lionheart: 30 Years of Music and Nightlife in the City of Cider and Steel". Wales Arts Review.
  21. ^ News, Manchester Evening (14 October 2004). "Goldie Lookin Chain keep it unreal". men.
  22. ^ McSorley, Kevin (19 April 2019). "Idles a subversive band that disagrees vehemently with our government". Irish News. Retrieved 2 August 2019.
  23. ^ Knapman, Joshua (29 December 2017). "Gig venue's 'black book' reveals piece of Welsh city's music history". walesonline.
  24. ^ "Newport record label set up to launch budding bands". South Wales Argus.

External links [ edit ]

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