Dave Stewart announces homecoming gig to celebrate 65th birthday at Sunderland Empire

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One of Sunderland’s most successful musical exports has announced a rare Sunderland Empire gig, the Echo can reveal.

Dave Stewart, who rose to fame as one half of the Eurythmics with Annie Lennox, will play the theatre he visited many times as a child on September 10.

Dave Stewart

Dave Stewart

Though the Barnes-born star has enjoyed an illustrious career of more than 100million album sales, in which he has appeared in the spotlight and behind the scenes producing albums and co-writing songs for the likes of Bono, Gwen Stefani, Katy Perry and Joss Stone, this will be the first time he has performed on stage at the theatre.

He’s announced the date to coincide with his 65th birthday on September 9 and says he could think of no better place to celebrate the milestone than in his home city.

Speaking to the Echo from Barbados, Dave said: “People often get a gold watch and retire at this age, but you never really retire as a song-writer and I wanted to do something to mark the milestone.

“I have so many fond memories of the Empire. My grandmother had a tiny shop at the top of Ettrick Grove selling tobacco, snuff and newspapers and one year she treated us all to tickets to see Peter Pan. I was only about four-years-old and I remember seeing this 50-year-old woman dressed as a boy flying through the air and it was magical, it made me think anything is possible.”

Dave Stewart, who is known as the Ringmaster, will be marching home

Dave Stewart, who is known as the Ringmaster, will be marching home

The Brit and Grammy Award-winner added: “My next memory was my brother coming home from the Empire (in 1963) after seeing The Beatles and him saying how amazing it was.”

Dave had planned to play the Empire in 2012 on his Ringmaster tour, but had to cancel the date following the death of his close friend, director Tony Scott, who he’d just returned from holiday with before his tragic death.

The prolific song-writer will bring a flavour of Nashville to Sunderland with a host of American musicians - steel guitar player Dan Dugmore, bass player Michael Rhodes, guitarist Tom Bukovac and drummer Chad Cromwell - who’ve played with the likes of Joss Stone, Sheryl Crow, Neil Young, Stevie Nicks and more.

Dave, who will play only one other date for his birthday, in London, said: “The sound we all make is so authentic when we’re on stage together. They are world class musicians who are legends in Nashville, which is the city to which all the best musicians gravitate.”

Dave Stewart

Dave Stewart

The gig will cover Dave’s extensive back catalogue, from Eurythmics hits to No 1 records he’s written for other artists, such as Stay by Shakespears Sister, as well as new material.

The former Bede Grammar pupil, who will be releasing a new album ahead of his birthday, has also hand-picked three local bands, Social Room, Lilliput and Picnic, to support him on the date.

Despite living in America, Dave still keeps up to date with what’s happening in his home city and has long supported emerging artist from the area, including signing fellow Sunderland musician The Lake Poets, who will be in America at the time of Dave’s Empire date.

He said: “I watch what’s going on in Sunderland all the time and the football club have me crying some days and leaping for joy the next.

On stage with Nashville Players (In Nashville)

On stage with Nashville Players (In Nashville)

“I always keep an eye out for musical talent. It’s so hard to get noticed these days, wherever you’re from. There’s so much seaweed and flotsam out there, but you have to be the psychedelic jellyfish that stands out.”

Dave will stay in the city for around a week after the gig to meet with Sunderland Museum and Winter Gardens about a planned exhibition celebrating his life, as well as to host a number of song-writing master classes through The Canny Space in the East End.

•Tickets for Dave Stewart at Sunderland Empire on September 10 are on sale now in person at the Box office on High Street West, from the Ticket Centre on 0844 871 3022 or online at www.ATGtickets.com/Sunderland*