CHART-topping artist James Bay will play an exclusive set in Sunderland.
He may be riding high at Number 1 in the album charts with his debut record, but the Brit-winning singer-songwriter is taking time out of his busy schedule to perform an intimate set at Pop Recs in Fawcett Street on Monday.
Bay’s gig comes as the record store looks for a new home, and he hopes his visit will help ensure the future of Pop Recs.
He said: “You can’t pull a dusty old box of mp3s out of the attic, it’s as simple as that. A record store is more than just a shop, it’s a community, a place where the sound tracks to our lives are discovered and where musical and personal relationships are born.
“The UK is dangerously close to losing all of its record stores. We can’t lose another, especially one as important as this. Pop Recs needs to stay.”
Bay will perform the anthemic single Hold Back the River, which is currently at Number 2 in the UK, at the gig.
Tickets go on sale tomorrow from the record shop for what’s set to be a sell-out event.
Frankie & the Heartstrings drummer Dave Harper, who books the acts at Pop Recs, said: “James is huge at the minute. It’s his second week at number 1 here and he’s huge in America too. He’s on the level of Ed Sheeran.
“He doesn’t need to do this, but he’s aware of what we do here and has been for months. He has the same tour manager as us, who’s a top guy, and James himself used to work in an independent record shop. So he knows how hard it is and is happy to support us.
“We’ve been talking about this for a while, but we didn’t think we’d be able to get a pop act this big to play. In terms of current artists, this level of entertainer, he’s the biggest we’ve had so far.”
Sunderland duo, Hyde & Beast, who James is a fan of, will also perform.
Monday’s gig may be one of the last at the current home of Pop Recs, which was set up in the former derelict Tourist Information Office in June 2013.
Since then the record store’s hosted gigs by Franz Ferdinand, Edwyn Collins, The Charlatans, The Vaccines, The Cribs and is a platform for local artists to showcase their work.
However, at a recent cabinet meeting, it was agreed to sell the council’s freehold interest in 50 Fawcett Street, the ground floor of which houses Pop Recs, to Minton Group, to turn the properties into student accommodation as part of the wider regeneration of the city centre.
Dave said: “We’re in a situation we didn’t want to find ourselves in, we’ve brought a lot of big names to the city and we’re in the process of finding new premises so we can continue that.
“We’re also reliant on the support of the people of Sunderland. It’s an organic process, we don’t make a lot of money from this and we don’t receive funding. This is what people make of it, it’s there for them.”
•James Bay will perform at Pop Recs, in Fawcett Street on Monday. Doors are at 6.30pm. Tickets go on sale from 9am tomorrow morning from Pop Recs. Tickets will be limited to two per person. They are priced £5 or £2.50 for people in receipt of benefits.