Sunderland sees the sunny side of Sunniside Live

Thousands of music fans flocked into the heart of Sunderland today, for Sunniside Live 2016.

Saturday, 16th July 2016, 9:34 pm
Updated Saturday, 16th July 2016, 11:19 pm
Fans enjoying The Brand New Heavies

Organisers put attendances close to a capacity 4,000 as the sun shone on a succession of new bands and established names.

Headliners the Brand New Heavies were a smash, while able support came from North East groups Smoove & Turrell and Dennis, special guests Alison Limerick and Shola Ama, and a host of up-and-coming local bands.

Fans enjoying The Brand New Heavies

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Life-long fan Lucy Banwell was delighted to get the chance to see her favourite band in her home town: "The Brand New Heavies are the best acid jazz band in the world," she said.

"Getting to see them play in Sunderland is amazing."

The event was organised by Helen Davies and Sean Maddison, who run both Bar Justice and newly opened Gin & Bear it Bar at West Sunniside and supported by Sunderland BID.

Helen was over the moon with the turn-out: "Last year, we had about 2,500 people, so this is brilliant," she said.

The Brand New Heavies take to the stage

"We have been so lucky with the weather - I've had about four apps running on my phone to keep track of the forecast. The good weather has brought a lot of people down on the day - it has been fantastic."

Helan and Sean drafted in Frankie Francis from last years headliners Frankie and the Heartstrings to pull the musical line-up together. Frankie has been keen to give local bands a chance to showcase their talents.

"Helen just rang me up and said, 'I've booked the Brand New Heavies for next year - what should I do with them?' which is how I became involved," he said.

Frankie is already involved in promotional work and books bands for the family zone at the Stadium of Light: "It is great to be able to give some of our great new bands a chance to appear on the same bill as groups that have been doing it for years," he said.

Lucy Banwell with partner Alan Farrington
Shola Ama charms the crowds
Fans enjoying The Brand New Heavies
The Brand New Heavies take to the stage
Lucy Banwell with partner Alan Farrington
Shola Ama charms the crowds