I’m a believer in church gigs

Frankie & the Heartstrings playing at Sunderland Minster. Below, Lilliput.

Frankie & the Heartstrings playing at Sunderland Minster. Below, Lilliput.

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I can’t get used to going to church to watch gigs.

However, judging by the success of the latest raucous offering at Sunderland Minster, I’m going to have to.

The day-long extravaganza – Sun Fayre – on Saturday, was arranged by Split Festival and Sunderland University Students’ Union, and pulled in everyone from the age of 15 to 65.

Sunderland exports Frankie & the Heartstrings were top of the bill in a line-up filled with local talent such as bands Reckoner, Good Child and the talented Cohesion.

The latter’s set, including the catchy track Bittersweet, got the crowds – some of whom had been at the gig all day and never moved – in the mood to see the headliners. The slightly sparse audience quickly started to fill up.

Last to play before the main billing were five-piece Lilliput.

Their lilting acoustics are rapidly gaining a horde of followers and fans, include Frankie & the Heartstrings themselves, who have invited them back to play a gig at their pop-up shop which opens in Fawcett Street on Saturday.

The band rattled their way through tracks which included The Dream, Until and Little Wanderer. Personally I would have liked to hear a few more. The iconic city church was packed to the rafters by the end of the support bands’ sets and the crowds began to jostle forward ready for the headliners.

Frankie and co were welcomed on stage to rapturous applause and launched into an energetic performance which began with a track from the new album The Days Run Away, She Will Say Goodbye.

The 14-song set included other tracks from the album, released next week, such as Nothing Our Way and finished with older hit Fragile.

Front man Frankie received a lot of love from the audience and gave it back as he seemed genuinely happy to tell everyone how pleased he was to be playing in his home city.

The night was rounded off with a huge applause from the buzzing audience and everyone was politely asked to finish their drinks and leave the church.

This successful musical offering was certainly a family-friendly affair and ended more peacefully than I’ve known a gig to.

Opening a church for such an event appears to be an inspirational idea and one which I hope will spawn future Minster gigs.

l To see a video of the gig log onto www.sunderlandecho.com

Monica Turnbull