Are these Sunderland’s 10 most memorable gigs?

TOP GIG : Bruce Springsteen at the Stadium of Light, Sunderland.
TOP GIG : Bruce Springsteen at the Stadium of Light, Sunderland.
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AFTER the Foo Fighters announced a huge gig at Sunderland’s Stadium of Light next year, we decided to look back at the city’s most memorable gigs.

The Beatles

On February 9, 1963, The Beatles were in the midst of their first nationwide tour, supporting 16-year-old singer Helen Shapiro. Sunderland Empire was the sixth date of the tour and they performed classics such as Please, Please Me and Love Me Do, as well a cover of Bing Crosby’s Beautiful Dreamer, at the sold-out show. They started at the foot of the bill but were soon promoted as Please Please Me moved up the charts. A month later, on March 22, their debut album was released.

The Rolling Stones

On February 20, 1964, The Rolling Stones gave the first of two Sunderland performances at the Rank and Odeon Cinemas. The next day they released their first Top 5 UK hit, Not Fade Away, which reached No 3. The Stones travelled back to Sunderland for the last time in 1965 to do two more dates at the Odeon. A concert at Roker Park was even scheduled for 1970 until the FA put a stop to it.

Led Zeppelin

On November 12, 1971, one of the world’s biggest rock bands played the Locarno Ballroom (now Tesco’s). For 75p a ticket, fans were treated to songs like Immigrant Song, Black Dog and an extended version of Whole Lotta Love. Led Zeppelin IV had been released four days previously and they had just returned from Japan to finish off the year with a 16-date UK tour.


Promoting their 11th and penultimate studio album Futuristic Dragon, Marc Bolan brought T-Rex at Sunderland Empire on February 15, 1976. It was just a year before the car crash that killed him at 29 years old and was slightly waning at this point in his career. A ticket for the performance was £1.25 and was a packed-out show with a setlist spanning the band’s entire career. Songs like 20th Century Boy and Children Of The Revolution were included.

The Clash

Sunderland saw The Clash play two nights in 1985, firstly at the Bunker on May 10 and then at the Drum Club the next night. Touring their final album, the punk band were at a chaotic stage of their career and they broke up soon after.

David Bowie

On June 23, 1987, Roker Park was one of the venues for David Bowie’s Glass Spider Tour. This was a memorable gig mainly for the fact that Bowie’s opening phrase to the crowd was “Good evening, Newcastle.” Extravagant stage props and heavy rain also dampened the performance slightly, but with hits like Fashion, Let’s Dance and China Girl all in the repertoire, it was still a show that will go down in the city’s history.


The first big gig that the Stadium of Light held was Oasis in June 2009. Supported by The Enemy and Kasabian, the Britpop band played to 50,000 people and set the template for the bands that followed. It wasn’t too long after that tour that the Gallagher brothers decided to call it a day, but with sentimental classics like Slide Away and Don’t Look Back In Anger all included it set the standard for what was to come for the city.

Take That

Take That first performed at the Stadium of Light in 2009 to 60,000 people after newly reforming. They returned in 2011, with Robbie Williams rejoining them on the Progress Live tour where fans were the first to hear the five-piece sing together for the first time since 1995.

Kings of Leon

Promoting their fifth studio album Come Around Sundown, Kings of Leon were the fifth headlining band to play at the Stadium of Light, in 2011. The band saw the Stadium turn its attention to more rock-orientated music rather than the commercially popular music of Take That and Pink. The performance, including a career spanning set-list laid the foundations of other rock bands like Red Hot Chili Peppers, Bon Jovi and band Foo Fighters to play.

Bruce Springsteen

In June 2012 the Stadium of Light saw Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band play in the pouring rain for an epic three hours and 45 minutes. Springsteen was on form playing hits from his lengthy career, as well as newer songs from his Wrecking Ball album. He shook members of the crowd by the hand and took requests throughout the energetic show.

* Tickets for Foo Fighters at the Stadium of Light go on sale on November 21.

Can you remember any of these gigs? Have we missed any that you think should be in the top 10? Leave your comments below.