Sunniside Live headliners dedicate set to Bradley Lowery

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Heather Small put on a big show for the first night of this year's Sunniside Live festival.

The M People singer performed some of the band’s hits which helped make her name including Moving On Up, as well as her own solo material including the anthemic Proud.

Heather Small at Sunniside Live

Heather Small at Sunniside Live

She shared the top of the bill for the first night of the festival which, for the first time in its three-year history has been extended to two days, with acid jazz legends Incognito, who had the 4,000-strong sell-out crowd dancing into the night.

Band leader and guitarist Bluey said: "We dedicate tonight to a little boy called Bradley Lowery. It's amazing how music and sport can bring people together."

Following the opening sets, which also included performances from dance act K Klass and DJ Allister Whitehead, the festival continues today with a programme of music running from noon until 10pm.

Headliners Happy Mondays will follow sets from The Farm and Chris Helme from The Seahorses, as well as home-grown acts Social Room and Lord Swans.

Crowds at the opening night of Sunniside Live

Crowds at the opening night of Sunniside Live

Sunderland father-and-son duo Nutopians will also perform after receiving thousands of votes in a Battle of the Bands contest to appear at the festival.

The Nutopians, made up of Ian Jackson, 52, and Phil Jackson, 20, received 4,100 online votes in the contest to find a local act to perform at the annual festival.

Organisers were inundated by requests from local bands to play at the event, which has always celebrated local talent while also bringing big names to the city, so they decided to put it to the public vote.

Speaking ahead of today’s performance, Ian, who is also in a well-known local tribute band called 1977, said: “We are excited to appear at Sunniside Live alongside some amazing acts, especially as it is in our home town. It’s the cherry on the cake.”

Incognito

Incognito

Sunniside Live is the brainchild of Sean Maddison and Helen Davies, who own Sunniside bars Bar Justice and Gin & Bear It, and Sean say he’s delighted at the response to this year’s festival.

Sean said: “The Friday night sold out and the Saturday looks like it will too, which is great. All we ask in future is that people buy their tickets early so we can book even bigger bands.

“It’s great to have the calibre of acts we have this year but that can only get bigger and better the more people support it. It’s not often you get acts such as Incognito and Happy Mondays playing in the heart of Sunderland city centre.”

Speaking about whether the festival has driven footfall to an often under-used area of the city centre, Sean said: “It has raised the profile of Sunniside 100% and it’s not just businesses here that benefit, the whole town does. Bars as far up as Green Terrace get people in who have been brought into the city by the festival.”

Incognito

Incognito

In light of the recent terror attack in Manchester, in which more than 20 people died at an Ariana Grande gig, extra security measures were taken at this year’s festival.

For more Sunniside Live highlights and interviews, see Monday’s paper and follow our social media platforms on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram for live updates from today’s performances.

Last night's crowds

Last night's crowds

Incognito

Incognito

Incognito

Incognito

Crowds enjoying the music

Crowds enjoying the music