Sam Wonfor reporting for Culture desk updating duty.
We've been flashing back to the eighties on the Culture desk this week.
Following a preview interview a couple of weeks ago, Barbara went to see former Spandau Ballet frontman, Tony Hadley at The Sage and returned with a broad smile.
IT'S midnight on Christmas Eve but disaster of disasters: Christmas doesn't come.
Auntie Margaret's (Paula Penman) efficient fairy magic is hopeless as there just aren't enough wishes to bring Christmas into being.
Cue a classic voyage of discovery for Max (Christopher Price), the nervous, gawky goblin tree decoration who is normally relegated out of sight to the back of the tree.
When I arrived at The Sage on a cold, dark and frankly miserable Monday night, I needed more than a drink to instil a bit of seasonal goodwill.
But it turned out that Mr Hadley and company - an eight-piece band to be exact - had enough good cheer to go around for everyone.
Over two hours, the Spandau Ballet frontman, who opened against a star-spangled backdrop with Bowie's Life on Mars, cajoled, seduced and surprised with a medley of hits, fusing rock covers, power-packed Spandau numbers and a Christmas classic to round off.
Yesterday we proved that country music was great and today we're going to do the same thing for disco.
Many people might argue that Groove Is In the Heart by Dee Lite is not disco at all but dance music but I reckon they're pretty much the same thing.
I have not heard a single record that Dee Lite made other than Groove Is In the Heart and I very much don't want to. They got it right first time and it would wonderful to think they shrugged their shoulders, realised they couldn't top their first single and promptly split up. (Actually, they released three albums over a period of five years, which is a bit disappointing. Ho hum..)
You might think you don't like country music, but that's only because you haven't heard Gram Parsons.
Born into a family of wealthy Southern landowners, Parsons joined and then quit The Byrds, hung out with the Rolling Stones and promptly died of a heroin overdose at the age of 26.
As if his turbulent life wasn't enough to seal his mythology, after his death Parsons' friend and manager Phil Kaufman stole his body from Los Angeles International Airport, drove it to the Joshua Tree National Park and staged an impromptu cremation.
Two average support acts ensured that by the time the main attraction
bounced on stage, the audience was well up for it.
With no mucking about, they opened with their two biggest hits, I Found Out
and Emergency, both giving rise to anthemic sing-a-longs that are the
hallmark of a great live act.
Things tailed off a little bit after that as the band do not yet have
enough quality material to sustain such momentum.
A rapping gorilla, a crack addict fox and futuristic sailors. Not your
average night out in Newcastle.
But this is no ordinary show as we journey through time and space to the
world of the Mighty Boosh.
The brainchild of Noel Fielding and Julian Barrett, the BBC 3 show has a
huge cult following - reflected here in the scores of fans dressed as Boosh
I read a story in one of the papers today which offered the notion that someone had suggested, that maybe, at some points during Saturday night's X Factor performance, Britney Spears may have dallied with the action of miming to a backing track.
Whoever was asking the question clearly missed the show.
I would put my house, car, job, husband, child and life on the fact that Spears mimed badly throughout her whole sorry performance.
But of course she got a standing ovation from the sycophantic four - Masters Cowell and Walsh and Missus' Cole and Minogue.
Every Christmas I seem to find my inner magpie.
Yes, that's right: not my inner child, not my inner Nigella Lawson (I wish), but my inner magpie.
As the economic downturn takes hold, those of us living in the world of books are waiting to see if spending on books shifts. The views are diverse; according to The Bookseller (the weekly industry magazine) this week, literary agents are beginning to feel a cooler response from publishers and are finding it harder so sell books.
More general research around the kind of cultural offerings that find it harder to survive in tricky economic times proposes that spending on book buying by readers will continue even as they stop spending money on theatre, music and the cinema. It will be interesting to see how it all pans out.