Sunderland sees the sunny side of Sunniside Live

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Thousands of music fans flocked into the heart of Sunderland today, for Sunniside Live 2016.

Organisers put attendances close to a capacity 4,000 as the sun shone on a succession of new bands and established names.

Fans enjoying The Brand New Heavies

Fans enjoying The Brand New Heavies

Headliners the Brand New Heavies were a smash, while able support came from North East groups Smoove & Turrell and Dennis, special guests Alison Limerick and Shola Ama, and a host of up-and-coming local bands.

Life-long fan Lucy Banwell was delighted to get the chance to see her favourite band in her home town: "The Brand New Heavies are the best acid jazz band in the world," she said.

"Getting to see them play in Sunderland is amazing."

The event was organised by Helen Davies and Sean Maddison, who run both Bar Justice and newly opened Gin & Bear it Bar at West Sunniside and supported by Sunderland BID.

The Brand New Heavies take to the stage

The Brand New Heavies take to the stage

Helen was over the moon with the turn-out: "Last year, we had about 2,500 people, so this is brilliant," she said.

"We have been so lucky with the weather - I've had about four apps running on my phone to keep track of the forecast. The good weather has brought a lot of people down on the day - it has been fantastic."

Helan and Sean drafted in Frankie Francis from last years headliners Frankie and the Heartstrings to pull the musical line-up together. Frankie has been keen to give local bands a chance to showcase their talents.

"Helen just rang me up and said, 'I've booked the Brand New Heavies for next year - what should I do with them?' which is how I became involved," he said.

Lucy Banwell with partner Alan Farrington

Lucy Banwell with partner Alan Farrington

Frankie is already involved in promotional work and books bands for the family zone at the Stadium of Light: "It is great to be able to give some of our great new bands a chance to appear on the same bill as groups that have been doing it for years," he said.

Shola Ama charms the crowds

Shola Ama charms the crowds