It’s not just the fact that the Stadium of Light has played host to some of the biggest acts on the planet – think One Direction, Rihanna and Coldplay to name but a few – that makes the city a musical Mecca.
Hardly a week goes by when there isn’t some opportunity to enjoy live entertainment in the city centre and, while it may not always be provided by chart topping acts, there are still plenty of options for a great night out – and to even catch a possible star of the future.
A case in point is The Independent at Holmeside. It’s one of the city’s leading live music venues and has played host to some huge names, including Kasabian, the Kaiser Chiefs and The Maccabees.
With an obvious eye for up-and-coming talent, it’s a great place to pop in and see a huge variety of music styles.
And think of the dining out story you’ll have when you can boast of who you’ve seen on their rise to stardom.
For the past 30 years Sunderland has also been the home of The Bunker, where would-be musicians have learned their craft and has become a breeding ground for talent.
And not too far away, in the former ABC Cinema, is The Point, which has also become a venue for everything from funk performances to leading tribute acts.
One of the newest kids on the block is The Peacock, which uses its upstairs room as the perfect backdrop for live music and comedy nights.
In fact The Peacock is one of a whole host of city centre pubs which offers live entertainment. Its sister venue, The Dun Cow along with The Lambton Worm, Green and Chaplins all play host to music evenings, some of which also offer an opportunity for would-be performers to earn their stripes.
One of the new kids on the block, the recently opened Bonded Warehouse at Wylam Wharf, is also planning live music sessions on a regular basis.
And of course not all performance spaces are the obvious, conventional choices. Sunderland’s Minster also holds concerts and offers a chance to listen to music in unique surroundings.
Sharon Appleby, Head of Business Operations at Sunderland BID, believes the city’s music scene is going from strength to strength.
“It’s good news that we’ve got so much homegrown talent and a range of platforms that would-be performers can appear at,” she said.
“Sunderland has a long legacy of being linked with the performing arts through places like the Empire Theatre but now there’s also a huge number of other options for people to enjoy live entertainment.”
She added, “ over the last few years we’ve had events like Sunniside Live – which the BID supports – and also serves the purpose of bringing music fans into the city from outside of the area, giving us the opportunity to showcase what we have to offer.”
Ben Wall has been part of Sunderland’s music scene for more than a decade and now runs The Independent.
He believes there’s a steady market for live performance, across a whole host of genres.
“Over the years we’ve seen a number of different trends which have become popular and we’ve adapted to them,” he explained.
An 18-month long string of indie folk nights gave way to The Gathering, a programme of secret gigs where the performers weren’t revealed in advance.
Being able to adapt and change is no doubt why The Independent has survived so successfully, mixing up their offering to not only keep it fresh but to cater for differing musical tastes.
The current programme includes a monthly Blind Pilot night, where local bands and musicians get the opportunity to take to the stage.
“It gives them the chance to perform in front of an audience,” said Ben.
At the same time The Independent hosts a jam night, where musicians who aren’t in a band but would like to be can turn up and play together.
“It’s just a great opportunity to mix with other musicians and even make some new friends,” he added.