Win tickets and drinks to the opening night of Sunderland's new £18million Fire Station Auditorium
The opening night of the city's new Fire Station Auditorium is set to be the hottest ticket in town – and we’ve got a pair to give away.
We’ve teamed up with the brand new venue to give away a pair of tickets, as well as a bottle of wine in the new foyer bar, to its opening night on Friday, December 10.
The lucky winners will get to see performances from Kathryn Tickell and The Darkening as well as special guest, and homegrown talent, The Lake Poets.
After delays due to Covid, there’s much anticipation about the opening of the new Auditorium, a mid-size venue for the city which can hold up to 550 people seated or up to 800 people standing.
The state-of-the-art auditorium, which has been built on a former car park next to the Fire Station in High Street West, will programme up to 300 events a year, in music, theatre, comedy and dance, and is operated by Sunderland Culture on behalf of Sunderland Music, Arts and Culture (MAC) Trust.
There’s already been a number of big name acts announced for its 2021 / 2022 season including Smoove & Turrell, The Shires, comedian Gary Delaney, The Fisherman’s Friends choir, Beth Nielsen Chapman and more.
Performing at the opening night gig is set to be a special set for Martin Longstaff, aka The Lake Poets. Martin’s music is often informed by his home city and its lost industry, with his Shipyards song familiar to a global audience after it was used as the title track on Netflix series Sunderland ‘Til I Die.
Like many Wearsiders, he’s seen the new Auditorium gradually rise into the city skyline.
He said: “As a Sunderland lad it is a huge honour for me to be the first performer on stage at The Fire Station. It’s a real privilege.
“Back in 2017 Paul Callaghan, who has been the driving force behind The Fire Station, asked me and singer Rebecca Young to help bury a time capsule under the site for the new building – what was then a car park.
“I’ve watched with fascination as the building has come out of the ground and four years later we’ve come full circle and I’ll actually be performing on the stage. It’s quite incredible.
“I’m also delighted to be playing alongside Kathryn, who I know and admire. She’s unbelievably talented. I remember playing Shipyards together with her and her band at Sage Gateshead and the whole audience fell silent – and then exploded with a standing ovation when we finished.
“I’ve had a sneak preview of The Fire Station Auditorium and it’s going to be incredible. It’s exactly the right-sized venue for the city, just what we need. It will be a venue that young musicians will want to play at – a beacon for aspiration.
“What’s also great about it is that the acoustics will be perfect. Music like mine will come across so well – the acoustics will be warm and beautiful, and the atmosphere amazing.
“So I just can’t wait to sound the first chord and sing the first note.”
Kathryn, the foremost exponent of the Northumbrian pipes as well as a renown singer and fiddle player, is also counting the days to the gig: “I’m just so excited, I can’t wait. It’s a real honour and a privilege to be performing the auditorium’s first gig. We’ve only been back from our Autumn tour for a few days, but we couldn’t say no when we were invited to perform.
"And to play with Marty in his home city is extra special. When Tamsin Austin (Director of The Fire Station) suggested a double bill with Marty we said yes straight away – I love his stuff and we get on well.
“I’m hoping he’ll sing Shipyards, which is just magical, but I might cry. My granddad was a County Durham miner and the song is so poignant and evocative.
“Everything I do is influenced by the North East, so to play the first night at such an important new venue is really special. I’ve watched the Sunderland music scene grow and thrive over the past ten years and been hugely impressed – there is so much going on in the city at the moment, and the music is just great. There’s such a buzz and it’s self-perpetuating because there are so many talented young writers and singers – I’ve been particularly impressed by the young people’s music projects that I know Marty is involved with.
“It’s a really genuine music scene, one that is led by local people and not arts professionals who have been parachuted in.
“So I just can’t wait for December 10 – our band The Darkening is quite dark and rocky, so there won’t be much traditional Northumbrian folk songs. I’m sure we’ll fit a clog dance or two in though.”
Kathryn was also excited at the prospect of Tamsin, formerly of Sage Gateshead, leading the venue: “She’s a real force to be reckoned with. She is driven by music, which she absolutely lives and breathes and The Fire Station is fortunate to have her – as is the city. She’ll be an asset to what is already such a vibrant music scene.
“I watched what she did at the Sage and she is incredible,” said Kathryn, who is a two-time winner of BBC2’s prestigious Folk Award’s Musician of the Year title.
The opening night tickets are the first in a series we’ll be giving away for December performances at the Auditorium.
The region’s chamber orchestra Royal Northern Sinfonia, featuring their new leader Maria Wloszczowska, will perform a candle-lit Christmas concert on Sunday, December 12 followed by British queen of soul and gospel Mica Paris on Wednesday, December 15.
Friday December 17, will see the main event to officially open The Fire Station, when Mercury Music Prize nominees Field Music will present The Firestarters Revue, with a line-up of guests including rising stars Martha Hill, Reali-T, Faye Fantarrow alongside Sunderland musicians Barry Hyde and Ross Millard (The Futureheads) and Frankie Francis from Frankie & the Heartstrings.
To be in with a chance of winning, answer this question: on which Netflix series does The Lake Poets perform on the title track?