‘Tis the season for Split music

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Split Festival’s festive offering is set to be a Christmas cracker. Katy Wheeler speaks to Rob Coles from the gig’s headline act, Little Comets.

SUNDERLAND Minster is gearing up to have its rafters raised and rocked by a one-off Christmas gig organised by Sunderland’s Split Festival.

At the helm will be headliners Little Comets, who will be joined by a soon-to-be-released list of emerging regional talent.

Since forming in 2008, the talented trio has become well known on the gig circuit.

They are fresh from performing their biggest tour to date, on the back of the release of second album, Life is Elsewhere, and are looking forward to performing to a home crowd in an unusual venue when the gig takes place on December 15.

“We’ve never played that venue before,” explained Jarrow-born Rob, who is in the band with brother Michael and bass player Matt Hall, a former Biddick Comprehensive pupil.

“We’ve played a gig in Park Lane and at Independent ages ago, but it must be about a year and a half since we last played a proper indoor gig in Sunderland.

“We tend to do a lot of gigs around the country, but not as many in the North East for some reason, so it’s great to play somewhere a bit unusual.”

Rob, the band’s front man, says it was the lure of the Split Festival brand which attracted them to the gig.

“Even when we’re not performing at the festival we’re in the crowd. It’s great that, unlike other festivals Split has a real regional identity. There are so many people playing fantastic music up here and it’s great that Split gives them a platform.

“We do have an embarrassment of riches up here despite being small compared to other places.”

The band hope to play a mixture of tracks from their latest release as well as debut album, In Search of Elusive Little Comets.

As well as taking part in their own headline tour this year, the band played their biggest gig to date as part of The Olympic Torch Relay Celebrations.

The gig, which took place a day before the Olympics opening ceremony, saw Little Comets play to more than 100,000 in London’s Hyde Park and share a bill with Dizzee Rascal, Friendly Fires and Mark Ronson amongst other big names.

Rob said: “What was great about the last tour is that we now have enough material to fill an hour and a half and we can vary the set. We don’t pay much attention to reviews, but we like the music and the people who come to the gigs like it.”

Futureheads band member Ross Millard from Split Festival, which is held annually at Ashbrooke Sports Ground, said: “Little Comets had a great response at Split 2011, and since then the band have released another album and gained a far larger fan base.

“Their tour this autumn was a huge success so bringing them back to Sunderland after quite some time away is very exciting for us.

“Bringing quality music to the city is a big part of the Split philosophy, and having the Christmas Special inside the Sunderland Minster means it’s more than an average gig – it’s quite likely this band will never play in the venue again – catch them while you can.”

In keeping with the spirit of Christmas, a festive fayre of food and drink will be supplied by Sunderland gourmet deli Juniper’s Pantry, and the night will be rounded off by a DJ set from Frankie & The Heartstrings.

* Tickets are priced at £10 in advance, or £12 on the door, and are on sale now from www.split-music.co.uk or in store at Hot Rats in Stockton Road and ALS in Sheepfolds Industrial Estate.

* WE’VE teamed up with the organisers of the Split Festival to win a pair of tickets to the Split Christmas gig.

To be in with a chance of winning, answer this question: where is Split Festival held annually?

A) Ashbrooke Sports Ground

B) Stadium of Light

C) Sunderland seafront.

Email your answer and contact details to katy.wheeler@northeast-press.co.uk. Closing date: December 11.