“THE best party in the country.”
That was the verdict of headline act JLS as they rounded off the nine-hour North East Live extravaganza on Saturday.
The biggest pop concert so far to hit the region saw 11 acts take to the Stadium of Light’s stage – and induced screams of excitement from about 35,000 fans.
Young and old queued from noon to claim their space on SAFC’s hallowed pitch, and spent the day watching acts including Middlesbrough’s James Arthur, Amelia Lily and seasoned pop-pros JLS.
The foursome, who have said they will split after a farewell tour which starts at the end of the year, said it was a “special day” and that they were pleased to be playing one of their last gigs at the Wearside venue.
Singer Aston Merrygold told the Echo: “We always get distracted by the crowds up here – they are one of the loudest.
“The love we get up here is unbelievable, so for us to be here for North East Live is very, very special.”
The crowd got louder as the day went on and increased as some of the bigger name acts, such as The Wanted, hit the stage.
Little Mix were one of the main attractions. The X Factor winners produced some of the loudest shrieks from fans, and South Shields natives Perrie Edwards and Jade Thirlwall said they were excited to be singing back on home turf after spending time in America.
The band’s set included their second number one track Wings, and a cover of En Vogue’s What’s It Gonna Be.
Covers seemed to be the order of the day, with every band paying homage to other artists.
Rising star Conor Maynard, who found fame on YouTube after performing cover tracks, sang Daft Punk’s top 10 single Get Lucky, while Amelia Lily sang her own version of Bruno Mars’s Locked Out of Heaven.
Surprise hits with the crowd included lesser-known acts Lawson and The Vamps, who played during the earlier part of the day to smaller crowds, but received applause equal of that of the headliners.
International popstrel Rita Ora put on the most theatrical performance – emerging from backstage in a floor-length red cape to blare out her chart-topping hit RIP.
The trouble-free event, which also hosted X Factor graduates Union J and powerhouse girl group Stooshe, was also helped by the weather as the rain held back for most of the day.
Organisers pronounced North East Live such a success, they have already started planning a “bigger and better” follow-up to take place at the Stadium of Light next year.
Watch this space ....