Fans got the chance to take selfies with their idols as Ireland’s biggest boyband hit Sunderland.
Louis Walsh’s new boyband HomeTown wowed crowds at HMV in The Bridges signing copies of their debut UK single, Where I Belong.
The six-piece have already hit the top spot in Ireland with the track, and hope to emulate that success in Britain.
More than a hundred excited followers turned up yesterday to see the band who spent an hour posing for pictures and chatted with the youngsters.
The band, consisting of Brendan Murray (18), Cian Morrin (20), Dayl Cronin (21), Dean Gibbons (21), Josh Gray (17) and Ryan McLoughlin (21), said it was a great way of meeting the fans they usually speak to on social media.
Dayl said: “We chat to our fans on Twitter so it’s great that they can meet us and have access like this. And for us we get to meet them and have a bit of banter.
“They bring us all sorts of gifts, the good stuff like chocolate and crisps. They also do portraits of us, which are great.”
The band were last in the region to perform at the South Tyneside Festival.
Cian said: “We love it in the North East, the festival was class, a lot of fun. We’ve supported The Vamps on tour, but this was a totally different crowd, it was very mixed. We had a great day out.”
With One Direction announcing a hiatus, could HomeTown step into the boyband breach?
“I think there’s always space for boybands on the market,” said Ryan. “It’s not like we were waiting for a gap, we’re just going to keep doing what we’re doing.”
The band was hand-picked by pop Svengali and former X Factor judge Louis Walsh, who managed Boyzone and Westlife.
Cian said: “Louis knows what people want in music, and putting it together. We might not see him all the time as he’s very busy, but he’s always on the phone or emailing us. He’s the one pulling the strings”
Ryan said: “We had to audition in front of Louis over seven to eight months, which was a bit nerve-wracking. There was 1,000 boys to begin with, but we got to hang out and make friends.
“When the six of us were chosen we stayed in a hotel in Dublin for a week and got to know each other.”
Describing their sound, Cian said: “We’re a band who like traditional acoustic guitar and we put a lot of focus on our vocals, we’re not too over-produced.”
Emma Milne, 17, from Washington, said: “I’m met them before at a radio station and they’re always really friendly. I love their music, I think they have the potential to go to No 1 in the UK.”
Kayleigh Criaghan, sales assistant at HMV, said: “Signings are coming back in popularity, I think because more people are buying vinyl again. We had Bars and Melody from Britain’s Got Talent in the day before doing a signing and a lot of people came for that too.
“The fans are generally always well behaved, they are just excited to get pictures with their favourite bands.”