Cast and the Commitments among first acts to perform at new Sunderland live music venue

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A NIGHTCLUB which has been closed for eight months is re-opening as a live music venue.

The Point, in Park Lane, now houses the largest live music stage in Sunderland city centre after the new owners ploughed thousands into turning the former Union club into an events venue.

The Stars from the Commitments will christen the stage on Friday as the first act to perform, with indie rockers Cast performing there in June.

In-house promoter Phil Hughes, from Insangel Promotions, said: “We’re limiting tickets to around 700, but the capacity is actually 900 and we now have a specially-built stage with a sound system.

“I think Sunderland has been crying out for a music venue this size. Our main competitor size-wise is the O2 Academy in Newcastle. We sit between Academy 1 which has a capacity of 1,600 and Academy 2 which holds 400.

“They’re a big franchise and Newcastle is on the touring circuit, as we’re not a primary city on the list we need to work that bit harder to get acts to come here.” Last summer, a forfeiture notice was placed on the doors of The Point by Parkinson Bailiff Services Limited. But the complex, on the site of the former ABC cinema, at the corner of Holmeside and Park Lane, was bailed out by Sunderland businesswoman Lorraine Griffiths.

The Point in Holmeside.

The Point in Holmeside.

It is still home to Arizona and Purple Bar, but the former Union nightclub has been rebranded as the complex’s name, The Point.

The complex opened in 2005 after a £5million revamp and also underwent a £2million refurbishment by its former owners in 2013.

Phil said: “Though the new owners have had the venue since August, they didn’t want to open the former Union section until it was ready.

“Nightclubs are dead now. Why go to a club when the bars are open late and you don’t have to pay to get in?”

He added: “Sunderland is still in the ’90s when it comes to music tastes. People like indie and Britpop. Big gigs like Cast will help to get our name out there as a music venue. Everyone knows and remembers them from when they were younger.

“In the future, we very much have a wish list of acts we’d like to get. Someone like Paolo Nutini would be great. We also want to go down the retro route with bands like Supergrass and Toploader, as well as up-and-coming acts.

“We want to bring proper bands to Sunderland and we’re willing to pay that bit extra to bring them here.”

There are also plans for an Oktoberfest-style beer festival at The Point later in the year.

l Cast play The Point on June 26. Tickets are £25 from Pop Recs in Fawcett Street, Hot Rats in Stockton Road, Purple Bar, in Park Lane, and online at www.seetickets.co.uk